KO MELINA

I was turned on to The Dirtbombs more than a few years back, thanks to some good friends. My favorite record of theirs quickly became “We Have You Surrounded.” (The Sparks cover is amazing!) So, in keeping things strong in support of the bass, I was super excited to connect with Ko Melina. She spoke to me as she walked her dog through a Detroit summer thunderstorm. She had me missing the Midwest and laughing non-stop.

Cordtangler: Tell me how you got into playing music. 

Ko: In a really weird, roundabout way. 

CT: Perfect. Say more.

K: I was bartending at the Garden Bowl in Detroit. Steve Shaw (Detroit Cobras) was starting a new project called The Breakdowns and asked me if I wanted to play bass. I had only played piano as a kid and keyboards in the Come-Ons with Pat (Pantano, The Dirtbombs), but I said, “Why not?”

I then told Steve that I didn’t play the bass.

He said, “Well why don’t you just get one and see if you can do it.”

My friend Steve Nawara showed me the basic layout of the bass but I mostly learned how to play it by myself. Being from Detroit, I grew up on Motown and always thought that the bass lines were really easy. Then when I sat down to figure them out, I was like “Holy shit.”

The song that really did me in was “Bernadette.” The bass is all over the place! (The actual first song that I learned though was “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MGs.)

So, after I learned to play the bass with The Breakdowns and continued with The Come-ons. In both bands, there were personality clashes so they both broke down. At that point, I said to myself, “I don’t want to play in a band, this is kind of ridiculous. I’m going back to bartending.”

Two days after I quit playing music, I got a call from Long Gone John from Sympathy (for the music industry). He said, “Hey, I’m putting out this thing called the Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit that Jack White is putting together. How do you feel about doing a song for that record?”

I was like “Okay, I guess.”

I didn’t really have any songs, I didn’t have a band, I didn’t have anything, it was just me. So I had to hurry up because Jack had finished recording everybody else and was waiting on me.

I pretty much finishing writing the song “Black and Blue” (while we were recording!) and had to do different parts on the fly. That recording was the start of Ko and the Knock-outs.

CT: How did you end up in the Dirtbombs?

K: Before I was in the band Tom Potter played “fuzz” bass and Jim Diamond “bass” bass. I had come off tour with Ko and the Knock-outs. The band had some shows booked. Jim had booked some studio time with a band that he couldn’t get out of it so he asked me to fill-in. (I had done back-up vocals for the Dirtbombs before so I knew all the songs.)

After the tour, Tom quit the band so I learned different parts of the songs and played “fuzz” bass. After I did that for a couple of years, Mick (Collins) said, “I just wrote this whole album and I want you play it on the baritone.” So, basically I had to learn all the Dirtbombs songs like 3 times. (laughs)

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CT: I love your Bass and that Fender VI. What’s the story behind those?

K: My first bass, which I still have, is a Fender Musicmaster. I’ve always liked that bass. It’s a short scale bass and I’m little. Long scale basses are harder for me to play. I also got a Mustang in Japan and another Musicmaster in England at some point. As mentioned, I started playing the Fender VI with The Dirtbombs. People are always like “What is this? Is it a guitar, it’s not a guitar?”

It does make it difficult to be on tour and find strings. I learned very quickly that I needed to bring tons of back-up strings and try not to break strings because there is a 99.9999% chance that no one is going to have a pair of back-up baritone stings I can borrow.

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CT: By the way, you play really, really hard. 

K: I don’t know why I play so hard. I guess I feel like if I don’t put that much energy in, it doesn’t feel right. All the guys in the band are like, “You don’t have to play that hard.” I guess I don’t know how to play any other way. Maybe it’s my own inability to do things right. (laughs)

We did a show in NY at The Knitting Factory, when it was still in Manhattan. About half way through the show I remember getting angry because I thought someone had spilled beer all over the stage and it was really slippery and I couldn’t figure it out. I looked over at Troy (former Dirtbombs bass player) and he had this terrified look on his face. I was wondering, “Why are you looking at me like that, what’s wrong?”

And then I realized I had cut my hand open really badly and I was bleeding everywhere. And then I went into shock! I ended up going to the emergency room halfway through the show. They kept playing through the show and I got back on the last song. I ended having to get 11 stitches across my fingers. So, yeah, that was fun.

CT: Have you ever had any carpal tunnel issues?

K: Yeah, really, really bad. Right before I started working on my radio show for Little Steven, I had messed up my arm on a European tour and it was all wrapped up. I had never really done radio before so Little Steven wanted me to take a couple of weeks training. I was struggling and he needed to take a call so we decided to take a break. After I got back, he said, “Oh by the way, I was on the phone with Pete Townshend and he says that if you just raise or lower your strap by an inch that it will help a whole lot.” I was like, “What!? Wait a minute. You were talking to Pete Townshend about me!? Oh my god, I can’t believe this!”

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CT: With Dirtbombs, what’s the approach in the studio?

K: We usually tour a whole bunch, then we get off tour and don’t talk to each other for a while. Then Mick we call and say, “Alright, I have these dates locked up, does everyone want to go into the studio?” So we’ll go into the studio and Mick directs the songs, and we record them. And it’s really the first time I’ve heard the song or played the song. After we go on tour they tend to change a lot.

CT: So, do you guys tend to record the instruments separately? Live?

K: We do a live track and then the overdubs. Most of the time I have to do overdubs. (Laughs) It makes more sense to do it live mainly because of the two drummers. The Dirtbombs are a live band. I can probably speak for everyone else in the band when I say playing live is really fun for us.

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CT: Tell me about your own songwriting process. 

K: It’s always different. Sometimes, I try to sit down and write songs by myself and that doesn’t usually work out very well. Most of the time, I’m driving around and I’ll come up with a part in my head. I’ll hum it out to myself and record it on my phone. Usually though, I really like to work with other people. I don’t trust myself to write a good song. (laughs) I’ve done a lot of writing with Eddie Baranek of the Sights. And Fred Thomas from Saturday Looks Good To Me. It’s always fun and I feel like it works better. It feels like all the best songs are written by songwriting teams, anyways. Although, every once in a while a song will come and it’s just me!

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CT: You guys have played some really big shows.

K: I’ve played in the band for 10 or 12 years in different capacities and we would play our own shows but, after a while, we started to get these opening slots for these huge shows. We opened for the Hives, we opened up for TV on the Radio, or we opened for Spiritualized, which was amazing for us.

We did a month with TV on the Radio and only had half an hour, so we figured we had to do something as a band that people would remember.

We took inspiration from Jay Reatard (from when we opened for us in Australia earlier in the year) because the dude went non-stop. He would just play one song into another, into another and another. It was amazing to watch. He just hit you like a fucking bus. You don’t have time to take a breath and by the time you breathe, the show’s over.

So we decided to play non-stop, no matter what. Broken strings. Just keep playing.

We also realized that we could maximize our playing time if we could break down our equipment while we were still playing. We’d play our set without stopping. Ben and Nick would keep playing drums, Mick would leave the stage, and slowly, one by one, we’d leave the stage and carry the equipment off as we left. Like after Mick would leave the stage, he would come back up and help me get my stuff off. Then we’d help the bass player get his stuff off, and then we’d help the drummers get their stuff off until Pat was the only one left, playing the snare drum.

CT: That’s brilliant.

K: People were like, “What the hell is this?” ‘Cause nobody does that. It was super fun.

CT: Bass versus Baritone?

K: James Jamerson was the best bass player of all time! When I played “bass” bass, I played flat wound strings because Jamerson played flat wound strings. I always had the Kustom “Tuck-And-Roll” because he had one. I’m like bass 10, treble 0, mids 2. I like bass to be bass.

When my friend Steve gave me my first bass lesson, the one thing that he said that always made sense was that the bass is the voice of the drums, the notes of the drums. I always liked that idea: like the drums but with a bit of tone. So I like the idea of almost all bass with no treble (because that’s what the guitars do). With the Dirtbombs, it’s almost the complete opposite. It’s my Fender VI going through a Fender Deluxe.

CT: You seem to have a thing for Fenders?

K: I’ve always liked Fenders. They sound and feel good to me. Even when I went from a Mustang bass to a Jaguar (Fender Vl), everything still has that same shape and I like that shape. I learned how to tune with 6 in a row instead of 3 on each side. I can’t seem to think 3 on the side, and I can only think about 6 in a row. (laughs)

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CT: Other musicians you were really excited to meet? 

K: That’s a funny story. I was doing merch. for the White Stripes for a little bit. We were in England and they were doing “Top of the Pops” at the BBC, and I tagged along.

Crazy famous people are there, which I discovered when I got there, like Paul McCartney! I was like, “Oh my god, I’ve got to meet him. I mean, when are you ever going to meet a Beatle?”

Someone has this on video somewhere. Paul was right down the hall and there were a million people there for his autograph. So I pushed through all these people and got up to him. And he looks at me and I freeze. I’m like “Hi, uh, Mr. Sir, uh Paul McCartney, uh…” He says, “Yes?” And then I asked him for a hug.

He looked around, shrugged, and said, “I don’t see why not!” Then he gave me a big hug and everyone cheered. I got embarrassed right afterwards, and ran away! Ha ha.

Then it became a hunt for famous people. I tried to meet J.Lo, but she had too many security guards. But I met George Foreman! I told him I loved his grill. (There’s a video of that too.) And I met Herbie Hancock.

Otherwise, I’d say I was really excited to meet Jason, from Spiritualized and Spaceman 3. We once played on different stages at the same venue in Minnesota. Our shows overlapped so I couldn’t see their whole set and was sad to think that I would never have the chance to meet him. That night, he ended up checking us out and has been to every show of ours in England since then.

We were in England and Jason asked Mick and I if we would come down a sing on what became Songs in A&E. I felt bad because the night before recording we played a show in London and had a lot to drink. I ended up staying out way too late… and he calls me the next day asking, “So you ready to come to the studio?”

It was tough but I made it and he’s a pro and said, “I’ll give you credit because most of the people I know would’ve cancelled.” (There was no way I was going to cancel!)

I did my best to sing that day but we still had work to do, and he said he’d call me in a couple days and we’d figure it out, with me back in Detroit.

But a couple days turned into a week and I still hadn’t heard from him. And then I read on the Internet that Jason was close to death. He apparently went to the hospital right after we left, with a double pneumonia. To this day, whenever I see him, he’s like “Yeah, you almost killed me.”

So that made me happy, I never thought I’d meet him and almost kill him.

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CT: Pedals?

K: I have a ton. When I took over for “Fuzz” Bass from Tom Potter, in the Dirtbombs, I had no idea. I just played the bass. I thought pedals were for tuning or to help you play better! I hadn’t really thought about pedals as being something to enhance your playing. I started with a standard dod classic fuzz pedal and, after I played more and more, I got more into different pedals and tones.

For a long time I used the 70’s Shin-Ei Fuzzwah. They’re really great but very expensive now. I had 10 or 12 at one point, but once Radiohead started using them they shot up on eBay to $500 or more.

I really like the Zvex stuff. I think they are awesome. I’ve got pedals people have made for me, which is awesome. I have pedals that I’ve made from a kit that aren’t quite that awesome.

The one good thing about touring internationally is that we get to go to places like Japan. When we were there, we had one of the Guitar Wolf folks, Hijack, show us around one day and I asked him to take me to place that has fuzz pedals. He took us to this one place that was the size of a garage with floor to ceiling fuzz pedals. Only fuzz pedals, no other types of pedals.

What I do now is I loop different fuzz pedals. This way, nobody’s going to steal my sound. (laughs). I also have a pedals inside of pedals: I have one, built inside of a Heavy Metal pedal that sounds really great if I loop it through a Zvex Fuzz Factory and then loop it though another pedal.

CT: Thanks Ko. I really, really appreciate it. It was so great to finally meet you!

K: No problem. Happy Birthday!

Photo Credits: Top Photo: Doug Coombe, 4th image: Joseph Patel, 5th image: Marianne Spellman, 6th image: Zach Saginaw (Shigeto), the rest supplied by Ko (if we missed anyone, sorry! happy to add you). Go to Astro Coffee P.S. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday! Until my dad and I got into a fight at dinner and got ejected from the restaurant. 


 

BRAD DAVIS: Fu Manchu, Creepy Fingers

I recently caught up with the awesome Mr. Brad Davis. Years ago, with my band at the time, I had a great time opening for Fu Manchu’s “The Action is Go” tour. With Brad, I remember dragging an SVT up a fire escape, in the rain, for a show on Vancouver Island, as well as being turned onto the Flaming Lips’ “Zaireeka” record. He was also one of the first people I met who made pedals by hand. I’ve been a fan of his Creepy Fingers pedals ever since.

Cordtangler: I sometimes go down to The Starving Musician in Berkeley to try out your pedals and drive the guys in the store crazy.

Brad: Yeah, I’ve got a new order going out to those guys next week. I’ve got a couple cool ones in there that I haven’t built for them before. I’m doing a pedal with a little fuzz circuit that I took out of an old Vox amp. The Vox, Super Beatle, it’s kind of a “fuzz facey” circuit. I don’t think the Beatles really used that amp on anything. By the time the Super Beatle had come out, the band had pretty much moved onto using Fenders. It’s cool-sounding either way, pretty heavy.

CT: What’s it going to be called?

B: I don’t know. I talked to John from Starving Musician into buying one so I’d have an excuse to build it.

CT: Maybe I’ll call down and asked them to put my name on it, sounds cool.

B: Oh yeah!

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CT: When did you start playing?

B: The first instrument I started playing, for real, was guitar, around 6th grade. I had seen a Bubble Yum commercial, where they were using the same early computer-generated graphics that they were using in the Cars “You might think I’m crazy” video. In the commercial, there was a girl lounging on a chair, strumming an electric guitar and the camera followed the cable over to her amplifier, which had computer-generated musical notes flying out of it. I saw that and said, “I need to an electric guitar and right now” (Laughs).

I bought a Schafer Strat copy, which was made by the Schafer and Sons piano people, and a little Peavy combo with a distortion button on it. I was ecstatic about that distortion sound. Back then nobody really explained what that sound was so I was looking for it and really craving that sound.

CT: Have you ever thought about building a pedal that emulates the Peavey circuit?

B: Haha, you know, it was pretty horrible sounding but I loved it. Sometimes stuff that’s horrible sounding is actually pretty awesome though. It was the Peavey companion 15 and you could run it on 8 D batteries. It was “15 watts of awesome.”

CT: I think everyone started with a Peavey amp.

B: I had a couple. The Bandit 65 is a big favorite. Scott Hill has one of those too. Which I believe got used on a couple of early Fu Manchu tracks.

CT: How did you get into playing bass?

B: I was working in a music store from El Toro, California, that Scott used to come into all the time. I was playing drums in a local band, and Fu Manchu was having trouble getting a hold of their bass player, Mark Abshire. They had shows booked so they were getting worried. I told them I could fill in if they needed. I had first listened to Fu Manchu when I was about 17 because a friend taped the first 7-inch for me, so I was familiar with the songs and I knew those guys. I ended up borrowing a bass, and filling in. That’s when I started!

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CT: At home sitting around playing, are you more guitar or bass?

B: I mostly play guitar. I’ll rehearse bass if there’s a song I’m listening. But touring with the band, I get so much time playing bass. Guitar is more fun to play as a solo instrument at home.

CT: Man, I know. Playing bass, at home, sometimes feels like practicing the tuba. What was the most memorable show you’ve ever played?

B: Fu Manchu in Madrid. We flew out to play this one festival. There had been these crazy winds all day. I remember being on stage and looking out into the audience. Someone had thrown all these flyers up into the air and they whipped around really violently. It was crazy. Then we got into about our fourth song and all of a sudden there is a guy on stage jumping around in front of us, which happens. But this guy, I later realized, was someone who worked at the festival trying to get us off the stage. There were two stages at this festival. I remember that looked up at the stage adjacent to us. This was a huge festival stage and the roof is lifting up and slamming back down. It was like looking at this happen to a four-story building. So we took off and just ended up sitting backstage. The winds were so violent that we couldn’t go back on and that was the end of that. We flew all the way out to play four songs.

You can see the entire thing, including us getting interrupted on YouTube.

It was a bummer because we were having a lot fun and we were really into it. I really wish we could have played the entire show. I really hate disappointing fans. It was crazy. I don’t think any music resumed until the next morning. People started rioting and set a car on fire.

CT: The nicest pedal you first remember playing?

B: The first pedal I ever owned was the DOD American Metal Pedal, which I thought was awesome. I’d actually like to get another one, just to hear what it was that I liked about it. I was so impressed by it. I also really started with Rats and Big Muffs. The green Russians were coming out about the same time that I joined Fu Manchu. Also, the Fuzz Face, which is probably still my favorite fuzz circuit out of them all.

CT: What would you consider your “holy grail” pedal?

B: It would probably be my 1966 Germanium Fuzz Face. I love that pedal. I love the saturation. I love the “woolyness”. The organic feel. I love the way that they clean up with the guitar volume control. It’s very simple and versatile.

CT: Tell me about how you got into building pedals and starting up Creepy Fingers?

B: The first pedal I ever built was a Tonebender Mark ll and that was a Build Your Own Clone. I really liked the sound of it. At that point though, I was in the post-90’s world of the Pixies and Nirvana. People expected to step on a pedal and it would suddenly quadruple their volume. So, I was like, “Wha?” It was really quiet, so I started building more circuits.

The first real Creepy Fingers pedal was the Sugar Boost. It’s based on the Dallas Rangemaster, treble booster. I have it in my hand. The date on the inside of the pedal is December 2006 and it says “prototype boost”. It has a different sound from the classic nasal treble boost sound. It’s more of a hi-fi, big, saturated boost to the tone. I really liked the sound of it and I liked it better than a lot of pedals that I had bought in stores. I would show the pedal off to my friends and they really liked it and wanted one too. I was teaching guitar lessons at the time so I thought it would be a good way to supplement my income, doing something that was fun.

I actually noticed on Reverb.com recently there was a pretty early Sugar Boost. It has hideous wiring. It’s like when you look at an early pedal that you’ve built it’s like listing to a demo from your first band and you’re like “Oh no!”

CT: Does that mean you’ll buy it so you can put it into retirement?

B: Ha. No, they still sound good so I like them out there. I think it’s an under-rated pedal. People tend to gravitate towards the fuzzes so it’s really nice to see the Sugar Boost out there. It’s a different kind of distortion, and really dynamic.

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CT: Who are some of the folks out there doing cool stuff?

B: David Main from D*A*M, for sure, his stuff is top notch.

John Lyons from Basic Audio is a great guy. We’ll collaborate sometimes.

Steve from Pigdog. Those pedals are very authentic, 60’s style, tone benders and stuff like that.

Jim Roth (Built To Spill), his company is called Jerms. He does a lot of recreations of everyone’s favorite pedals and his ear is amazing. Actually, one of the most favorite pedals that I own is the Mark I Tone Bender that he built me. I have a bunch of Jim’s pedals and they’re all awesome. You’ll open his pedal and it will be completely identical to the pedal he’s recreating.

Also, Adam Grimm from Satellite amps is a friend of mine.

CT: I’ve never played his amps they look really cool.

B: Yeah, I was down at his shop last month and got to play some amps he was working on. He owns the rights to the White Higher Fidelity amplifier. It was an amp that Fender manufactured under a different name in the 50’s. It was a little combo amp, similar to a tweed Princeton. Those sound fucking great. I got to play through that, as well as an amp that he was building for Paul Frank. His Satellite amplifiers are great too. He has an amp called the Barracuda and other amps in varying wattages. They’re cool, and vintage sounding. It’s like you’re playing a vintage amp but not thinking, “This is the tweed deluxe sound.” It’s his own version of vintage amplifiers that don’t exist.

CT: From what I recall, with the exception of a tuner and a wah, your bass sound seems to be about plugging right into a loud SVT.

B: I like to have a dirty-sounding bass but often times what you have to do to a bass signal to get that distortion isn’t worth it. Usually, you have to lose your low-end. I’ve definitely had people contact me, looking for bass fuzzes but they are also not prepared for the consequences of distorting their bass. To distort is to add distortion to the harmonics, which are basically treble and they start to overshadow the low-end of the instrument.

You can add low-end back in with a clean blend, which can help but I haven’t been able to find a substitute for the sound of a 300-watt, pre-1980’s, Ampeg SVT and the high-output pickups that I use in my G&L basses. My pick-ups will drive the SVT to distort way, way quicker than a regular passive pick-up will.

Also, when you have two guitars that are as insanely distorted as Scott and Bob’s, you’re just making a mess if you try to get that distortion too. I need to keep the low-end a’ flowin. I definitely like the wah; it’s a fun thing to step on here and there to keep things exciting.

CT: Have you ever checked out those RMC wah pedals?

B: Yeah, those are made by Geoffrey Teese. He’s a very knowledgeable guy about wah pedals. He knows how to give them a vintage flavor that I feel is lacking much of the time in modern wahs.

CT: If you could design a specific bass pedal what would it be?

B: I’d probably do something in the octave fuzz realm. Circuits like the Foxx Tone Machine or the Univox Superfuzz. They have large coupling caps and they sound really good on bass guitars, and the octave texture is a really good addition to the bass. It makes a buzz saw kind of tone and it stays out of the way of the more important mid- to low mid-range frequencies that you need in bass to determine what you hear in the notes being played.

CT: Have you ever thought of building an amp?

B: I’ve built an amp but to produce them in a house is a pain volume-wise and the overhead is a lot more. Building a pedal, the parts are way more affordable. When you’re trying to build a decent amplifier, the transformers are really expensive and if you can’t turn that amp around, you can end up eating a lot of money. I still feel like I’m still learning with pedals and it’s been over 8 years. Someday maybe, I’ve got time and I’m always dabbling. But I have a ’72 Marshall Super Bass and I don’t know why I’d want to build an amp when I’ve got something that sounds that good (laughs).

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CT: By the way, what kind of SVT do you use?

B: I have what I think is a 69’ SVT. It has the black letters not the blue. I think it was converted; I don’t think it had the original 6550 tubes. For touring, I also have a 79’ or 80’ blackface SVT that I got for like 300 bucks.

CT: What?

B: With the cabinet and road case!

I also have an Acoustic 360. They’re both really great amps but with a vintage SVT there is something about the power and the immediacy of the low end that I don’t get from modern amps. Even if you’re playing with some 1000-watt something or other, there’s just something soft about the attack. With an SVT, you feel like your going to throw-up if you’re standing too close to it. It’s rad.

CT: I have an old 360 pre-amp in the garage that I haven’t looked at in years. It has a built-in fuzz right?

B: The fuzz circuit is actually really close to the Mosrite Fuzzrite. Which is mostly used for fuzz guitar for surf. Almost a thin raspy sound but you can blend in the low-end. I haven’t done it yet but I know there are a couple other pedal builders who have made an Acoustic 360 fuzz. There’s a guy, Bob Thompson (Big Drill Car & John Doe), who I play with sometimes. He’s a great bass player who does a lot of session work, and I built him a small pedal version of the entire pre-amp.

CT: That’s really cool.

B: It sounds pretty close.

CT: I’ve never seen the power amp.

B: It’s very important to have the whole rig. The cabinet has this 18” speaker and it’s really bizarre. The speaker is pointed downwards and the sound travels down, then travels back, then travels up and shoots out of this port on the top. It’s strange because when you are standing close to it, it doesn’t sound as loud. When you stand ten feet away from it, the waves seem to finally have space to form. It’s really crazy and hard to mike. It’s kind of ridiculous: they decided to put the power amp in the cabinet that you’re banging around all the time. I guess they were trying to make the pre-amp lightweight but it makes the power amp more susceptible to breakage. Mine still works though.

I initially wanted to buy the amp when I saw the band Smile using one. (Which is the band that our current drummer Scott used to play in.) Years later, I then walked into this music store in Huntington Beach where they had one for $500 for the whole stack. More recently, I was talking to the bass player in Smile and he told me that he sold his 360 to that same store. Fate!

I usually bring the pre-amp down when we record and have some done some fun stuff. We’ve used the tuner function to make synth. sounding notes.

CT: Oh yeah, it has a pitchfork tone that you can tune with.

B: Yeah, I don’t know why that’s in there, it’s so stupid.

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CT: Are there any Creepy Fingers owners you’re excited about?

B: Definitely. There are a lot of good players that have Creepy Fingers pedals out there. Billy Gibbons included. He has a couple of them.

CT: That’s crazy!

B: Oh yeah, he’s one of my favorites. I have a poster of Billy and Dusty in my pedal-building domain, which is a complete shit storm mess right now. Billy is a fan of the Pink Elephant, which is based on the Ampeg Scrambler, octave fuzz.

There is a guitar player named Blake Mills, who’s incredible. I definitely recommend checking him out. He likes the Harakiri Fuzz and the Sugar Boost.

I built a couple pedals for Reine from Dungen. Who is another one of my favorite players right now. He’s using fuzz pedals, and is really creative and definitely hitting back to my favorite period of guitar playing. He had a Schaller fuzz repair that just needed a new potentiometer but then I built him a clone. It sounded exactly like it but with a little more temperature stability and he actually replaced his Schaller with the clone. He also has a custom Fuzzbud pedal.

I built a pedal for the guitar player from Steely Dan, which he has but I don’t really think he is a big fuzz guy (laughs). I’m planning on building him something else.

Mark Ribot. He’s amazing and plays with Tom Waits. He has a Fuzzrite pedal that I built for him.

Ed Mundell, formerly of Monster Magnet. I have a signature pedal that I build that he sells through his website. It’s called the Infinity Fuzz.

Of course, I’m always excited that Bob [Balch, in Fu Manchu] uses the pedals and gets a lot of crazy sounds out of them. I’m always inspired by what he does.

I gave J. Mascis a bunch of pedals a while ago because I’m a big fan. He then contacted me and ended up buying three more. I was stoked to see them in the background of a video they shot for the recording of the last Dinosaur Jr. record.

Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips has one of my fuzzes.

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Dave Catching, who used to play in Queens of the Stone Age and plays in Eagles of Death Metal and Mojave Lords, has a ton of the pedals, which he keeps at the Rancho De La Luna so a lot of people end up using them.

CT: Yeah, I met him when he was playing with Mondo Generator. He’s a good guy.

B: He rules.

CT: I know you’re about to head out with Fu Manchu this summer, but are there any other projects that you’re working on?

B: Yeah, I’m wrapping up a project I’m doing with some of my buddies. It’s me, my friend Dave Bone, Neil Fallon from Clutch and Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath and Dio). After working around everyone’s schedules for a year, we’re nearly finished with mixing and, hopefully, we’ll have a release this summer. It’s an old school metal project called Dunsmuir.

CT: Man, that must be awesome to work with Vinny. He must some amazing stories?

B: Oh yeah, he’s great. He is one my favorite heavy metal drummers so it was a dream come true. 

CT: Wow, you guys have the ingredients for a great band!

B: I mean, Dave and myself, and everyone really, we love metal, which isn’t something we get to express in our regular projects. Most dudes start out in bands playing metal. That was the deal in my hometown at least.

We’ve been stockpiling a bunch of riffs. Dave and I have both said, “This means we need to make a metal record!”

CT: Looking forward to it.

Thanks so much, Brad!

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