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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

MUSIC TO MY EARS

I love my job. Making music is all I ever wanted to do, and I'm blessed to be able to do so, and doubly so by the people I do it with - Chris, George, Chan, Rob, You.... We all say; "it's all music", when we start a project, the gist being that music is music, and work is work, but sometimes you find yourself working on a project that reminds you of why you started doing this crazy shit to begin with, and for me, lately, that project is the Aquiesce record that Chris and I are currently involved with. You may ask; "Jackson, what's so special about Aquiesece?" For me, sorry Paul, it's simple - Guitars. Big Loud Gibson Guitars put through Big Loud Amplifiers. I have had the pleasure of working with Rob Machold, Chris, and George on killer drum sesssions, and it's very satisfying work, but Guitars is strictly pleasure (I'm not saying I don't want the money Brett). I spent the better part of the last two days with Brett from Aquiesce (http://www.acquiesce.com/) recording his tracks for their forthcoming release (the label is screaming for it...... in Finnish......Finnish the record?). We used an aincient Vox AC30, which sounded fantastic once we figured out how to use it, and mic it properly. Weird things them AC30's, fucking Brits, leave it to them to design something so great, and so tempermental, and well, just plain different. After workin' that amp all day, and some of the next, we switched over to my Marshall Slash series 100/50 watt head. Brett loved it, and well he should, it's great. By this point we were severley pissing off the neighbors, two days straight of blaring full volume heavy duty wattage, but man, that's the sound. That's it, and the only way to get it is to trurn it up all the way. That's where the 'eleven' bit from Spinal Tap comes from, and why it's so funny, because it's so true. The easiest job any audio engineer ever had was to walk over to the Marshall, and turn all the nobs all the way up. They are all in a row, so you just run your hand down the line, zip, one motion, and bam! The greatest sound ever. The sound that got me into this crazy world; for me it was 'Detroit Rock City', for another it might be the Black Crowes first record, or some Weezer song, but all the same, that's the sound.

Comments:
As much as I love my PODxt, there is no way that that anyone could successfully model Detroit Rock City's guitar sound...

And always remember, If it were at all possible, if it were at all conceivable to actually build a city on rock and roll, you'd still have to use mob cement.
 
One thing's for sure, Ted likes them guitars loud.

The loudest guitar I ever heard was the first time I visited 150 Beekman, aka the Seaport or Sex Circus Studio, where Ted and Rob Kendall had built themselves a little den of iniquity. I went there with Annie to play some rock and roll with Kory, the drummer, who had just moved in after Rob had moved out.

So who saunters out with a bright pink mohawk, wearing a chef's outfit, but our friend Ted, who plugs his ruby red tele (complete with ruby red slippers sticker) into a Sun amp running through the Hiwatt cab. No pedals, he just cranks the thing up (it's gotta be, like, a 100watt guitar amp) and blasts out the loudest thing I'd ever heard. It was incredible, a physical sensation, so loud you could hear the mob cement far below buckling.

I knew I was in trouble...
 
That is a GREAT Ted story...

I have a similar one where I walk out of a friend of mines’ house heading home which took me by Ted's place and I heard the muffled, but quite load, cranked up guitar amp emanating from his house. You have understand where Ted lived then, very quite, very serine housing area loaded with full bird colonel’s and I’m hearing “Wild Thing” 100 yards from his house out on the street. I walked around to the back of his house and into his basement and there he is standing in front of his buddy’s Marshall with thing totally wide open (I think an MXR D+ might have been plugged in as well), my hair was being blown back it was so loud.

We chatted for a bit and as I headed back out, Ted rolled up the volume knob on his friend's Les Paul and picked up "Wild Thing" right where he left off. I happened to glance back at his house while lighting a cigarette and there was his Mom at the kitchen window, probably making dinner. She saw me, smiled, and waved in complete oblivion to the space shuttle being launched in her basement.

If you haven’t met Ted’s Mom, make it a point to. She’s one of a kind, as is Ted. Truely great women.
 
My Mom and I are truly great women?
 
Sorry about the typo...

Come to think of it, you would make a pretty good women Theo.
 
I am, and have the photos to show for it....
 
So do Marshalls sound so good turned up to 11 for the same reason that vinyl does?

Also, some other choice Les Paul sound is from our hero Luke Haines on the song Meet Me At The Airport on the Baader Meinhof record. Not quite the Ace sound, but super sexy nonetheless.

-Ken
 
Marshalls sound best fully cranked because that's the nature of the design, everything all the way up is it's natural setting, you take away to suit to taste instaed of add. You'll find most guitar amps designed during the late sixties and early seventies to operate that way - home base is all the way up. It wasn't until the late seventies that guys like Tom Scholtz and Ediie Van Halen (okay, let's not get into a fight, who knows who was first, those guys are good examples....) began fucking around with the gutty wuts of their Marhalls and introduced saturation at lower gain stages....what was your question Ken? Oh, as per vinyl, I am not sure vinyl sounds better louder or not, sepends on which copy of Revolver I have pulled out, my older one has more surface noise having been beaten throughout the seventies and eighties before I bought a replacement. The replacement has smaller grooves, it's a eighties re-issue from like Germany or something, and, bieng who i am, I like the older scratchier version ....off topic agian, vinyl sounds better louder because everything sounds better ;ouder - to a point, and since vinyl is analog, it's rounder, and if it's in good shape will beat out a digital remaster of excellent quality at a loud volume.
Luke Haines, don't know him, Les Paul through a Marshall?
 
The sound from vinyl I was thinking of was that where on CD, I guess because it's digital, when you change the volume, everything seems to change with it perfectly in-line. On vinyl when you turn up the volume, different things all of a sudden come out in the music. I guess that's because it's analog?

Luke Haines is one of my favorite song writers. He's from The Auteurs. Well IS the Auteurs for all intents and purposes. And he plays a Les Paul and gets really nice sounds out of it. Not sure what amp he plays. May be a Vox. I played you a part of that Baader Meinhof song once in the studio, asking what that sound was, wondering if it was distortion turned up so high it was breaking up.
 
Hmmm, I looked around for live pics of Luke, and he also plays Telecasters. The one time I saw him live he was playing a Les Paul. But still, I'm pretty sure he plays Voxes. FWIW, he's quite English.

-Ken
 
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