When guitarist Marcos Puriel announced he was leaving red-hot rock act P.O.D., the band knew exactly to whom they would turn. God? No, it was long-time friend Jason Truby. Truby had known the band for years, since P.O.D. had done club tours with his former band, Living Sacrifice. So when the Atlantic Records act called him, Truby was ready to step up his career a notch.
Truby brings to P.O.D. a knowledge of guitar that includes open tunings and jazz theory, and he's already applied some of that learning to the groups latest disc, Payable on Death, which is quickly approaching platinum status.
Guitar.com spoke with Truby about his long-standing relationship with the band, his struggle to perfect his craft, and his application of some really cool chords to the heavy side of rock 'n roll. Meet Jason Truby.
Guitar.com: Jason, it's Adam with Guitar.com.
Jason Truby: What's up, Adam?
Guitar.com: I'm doin' all right. Are you down in San Diego today?
Truby: No, no, no. Wer'e in New York.
Guitar.com: It's been a cool year for you, hasn't it?
Truby: It's been a huge change of a year, man. It's been pretty wild.
Guitar.com: Now you knew these guys going back a ways?
Truby: Yeah, quite a ways. Just about eight years.
Guitar.com: And the band you were in before was called Living Sacrifice?
Truby: Yeah. We toured around the club circuit in the U.S. with the other guys. And you know, you're in poverty and you miss meals and you sleep on the floor. And you know, you make good relationships when you struggle with friends. Those life long things come back to bite you in the tail.
Guitar.com: So you moved out to San Diego to be with P.O.D., right?
Truby: No, believe it or not I kept my roots are in Little Rock. So I basically do a lot of flying. Who knows what the future will hold but for right now the roots are down in Little Rock (Arkansas) and that's where the fam is.
Guitar.com: Were any of your band mates affected by the fires [Editors note: At the time of this interview, San Diego was being surrounded by massive forest fires that burned hundreds of homes to the ground.]
Truby: No. They said they could see them, but there was just a bunch of ash everywhere, but everyone was safe.
Guitar.com: I actually played in a band based in Chula Vista (where P.O.D. got started).
Truby: Oh really, that's cool.
Guitar.com: It was a long time ago.
Truby: Tha'ts a beautiful area, man. It's too bad about the fires. Everything will just have to grow again.
Guitar.com: And it will. So tell me about your guitar playing. What got you started? How long have you been playing?
Truby: Wow. Man, basically, gosh man it's been.over 18 years ago. And man, to be honest I had always been turned on to music but I heard some guitar work when I was really young by a guitarist named Phil Keaggy, and it just flicked a switch in me. So I got my hands on a guit, and wasn't able to take lessons, so I locked myself in a room for about seven years. And anything that came in I tried to emulate it. I learned anything I heard. And anyway, after a few years of trying to figure things out, discovering on your own when no one's there so that's kind of exciting I delved into classical and jazz, and I started teaching. And the next thing you knew, I developed a passion for it, and I never stopped.
Guitar.com: Did you end up getting any kind of musical education in high school or college?
Truby: No. I strictly went the hardest possible route you could go. The one of most resistance. But because I loved music and I don't teach this philosophy but I went and I taught myself. I could go and pick up a book, I could go online. I had the ability, and because I loved music and had a passion for it, I did that. And then when I started teaching I was like, I can't not know what I'm talking about. And I had my own language for music theory. So I had to go back and re-learn what the rest of the world called all that, and make ends meet.
Guitar.com: How does that come into play with what you do now?
Truby: Well, music is there's all kinds of analogies but it is an ocean, man. And so you can't bottle that thing up. So when you're in a genre, and you're in a band, you have to put some kind of cap on it. But it helps because and I don't have an agenda but one thing that I hope that happens with me being with P.O.D., and being with guys that are really creative and have a flair and have their own brand, is to be able to say, "Hey, there's a whole lot more to a rock band than a rock chord." You can have a jazz progression, you can have like 9th chords, and diminished fifths, and you can have moves that happen with melodies and chord movements that you might have heard by Wes Montgomery or Steely Dan, and then all the sudden it turns up in a rock format and creates kind of this new flavor.
And that's what I hope happens. We expand on things like that. And then when you get in a professional situation it can be, I know what I want to feel and hear. And then you can say, Yeah, I know what that is. "Let's talk about the movements we can make," or "Let's just do what we feel. " You've got both things that you can work off of. So it does help.
Guitar.com: What kind of tunings are you guys using?
Truby: I haven't done a whole lot of open tunings on the album.
Guitar.com: You're in standard tuning?
Truby: No, no: We're scaled down to D, and we occasionally drop C. But I'm a huge fan of doing like real open tunings, like DADGAD, or some C sustained tunings. So we did some stuff behind the scenes with that. But it's like maybe on an acoustic where I was enhancing something and I wanted to make like a really broad, octave spectrum. So there would be like an extremely low C, and then an extremely high C, and then tune it so sustain and stack some heavy chords up with it.
Guitar.com: So primarily when the band is playing, you're playing a D standard tuning?
Truby: Yeah, but it's a scaled down D. I didn't just drop the E to D.
Guitar.com: Right. The whole guitar is dropped a step to a D standard tuning, and then sometimes you drop the low string another step to C.
Truby: Yeah. That's the case when you can do a really cool 9th chord, but it's a long pinky stretch. So that's if you want to add that low C, and put it in a register thats a little more comfortable singing, and then you can make that 9th stretch a little simpler with that dropped C.
Guitar.com: It's cool that you're not just relying on the easy way out. You're thinking about adding some of those altered tones in there and making it a little more interesting.
Truby: Yeah, man. I just love music and I don't want to pigeonhole myself. The thing that is so cool about this situation is that the guys are so cool, and they let me be me. I'd be over and have some riffs and I'd be on acoustic guitar, which I love deeply, and I'd be playing some stuff, and they'd say, "How come you're not doing that?" And Id say, "You know, I thought it was a little too beautiful." And then we'd start layering stuff and moving the chords and making them a little bigger, and next thing you know, we had this really heavy beauty happening that we really liked.
Guitar.com: When you're in the studio, how do you separate those tracks so they can all be heard? How do you take that big heavy guitar and make it stand out, and yet still have those cool overdubbed parts somehow still recognizable?
Truby: Well, sometimes, when I can, I blend them. I'm using chords that I'm using four fingers on, and I'm moving- when I mentioned jazz earlier, jazz does that, except the chords only pop out occasionally. You'll have the chord pop out in the middle of a melody line that's being run. So I took that philosophy and was like, "You know, it's going to make playing live a real booger, but let me try a lot of that, as much as I can." Obviously you have to overdub some things because some things are impossible to play. But so I do a lot of real awkward chording at times, when I can.
And we really relied on what amp to facilitate what sound. You don't just fire up distortion as high as you can, and then go," Oh if I lay it down it's going to sound great because I've got a great amp and I've got the distortion on. "So we really sought out some tones with some really old vintage amps, and mixed them with the new stuff, Mesa Boogie amps, and got some great tones where you could blend having that heavy background with that nice, clean chord movement over it.
Guitar.com: Tell me about the gear you used.
Truby: Primarily Mesa Boogie for playing live.
Guitar.com: Triple Rectifiers?
Truby: Yeah, Dual and Triple Rectifiers, and F100 for some clean tones. And I run most of it through a Bradshaw and a whole slew of effects. [Editors note: Truby is referring to a Bob Bradshaw switching system which allows him to more easily control his effects.] But I'm not really a huge effects guy. I like it when it's called for. I don't want to hide behind effects.
Guitar.com: What are some of the effects that you use most often?
Truby: Obviously we occasionally use the delay, a delay. A couple different delays. But a (MXR) Phase 90, Roto-vibe. We do a lot of breakdowns, so we've got basic choruses. Right now, one thing I want to do, you were talking about melodies earlier, I want to get a nice loop so that when were in some really extended chorus at the end of a song, I can hit a manual loop that records me playing, and then I can do the added melody over it, which is tricky. And as far as guits: Les Paul.
Guitar.com: Any certain model of Les Paul?
Truby: Actually a '58 is what we used in the studio.
Guitar.com: Real, vintage '58s? Or the Re-issue?
Truby: No, real. A little souped up.
Guitar.com: Are they yours?
Truby: Well, they weren't then. But I went back and Gibson made me some that kind of fit my you know those '58s are heavy. If you've ever played one, it'll break your neck after playing for an hour, if you're standing there. But there's something about that tone that was amazing. So we kind of constructed some to fit my style made them a little bit lighter but stuck to the '58 style.
Guitar.com: So Gibson did that for you?
Truby: Yeah, they're just great guys there.
Guitar.com: So what were some of the vintage amps you were using in the studio?
Truby: Oh, like a (Fender) Bassman and Leslie. And there were some in there that I've never heard of. And we worked with great people in the studio, a great engineer. And we would just seek and search, and flip this on, move this, try this, and then we'd start to find it. And then we'd hone in on it and say, "Well, let's mix it with this. "We'd pretty much just start with the basics and then we'd lead off of it until we found what we were looking for.
Guitar.com: Were you doing all Pro Tools recording?
Truby: Yeah, Pro Tools was in the mix. At first I was kind of leery about it, because I don't like anything that's put in some cookie cutter machine, and stamped out, and pressed and polished, and you lose its character. So we kind of had an even ground on that, "Yeah, let's use the Pro Tools because it's great for tracking. It makes things really easy. But let's keep it alive and raw and organic. Don't polish the character out of it."
Guitar.com: Do you get involved with a lot of the miking techniques, or do the engineers have it handled the way they want it?
Truby: Well, the engineers understand that aspect of it, so as were talking I might say, "I want a warmer tone." And they go do what they do and they come in with a warmer tone. Those guys know how to handle that.
Guitar.com: So do you do most of your tracking in the control room
Guitar.com: With just a long cable running out to your amp?
Truby: Yeah, all of it. It just makes things a little easier, then you're right there. You can look at who you're working with. Normally I don't care if people are in the room or not, but if you get in one of those moods where you're like, "Everybody out!" Then you can do that.
Guitar.com: So do you have any tips for kids learning guitar?
Truby: You know what, honestly, like I said earlier, I've taught gosh, I'm getting old I taught for 10 years. And I loved that. I gave this advice to all my students. It's a little bit lengthy so bear with me: Do what you can do in a practice room or in your bedroom or wherever. When you get it there, then go play it for someone else.
In other words, if all you understand is a G and when you first learn a G that's the most difficult chord in the world, it's no easier than the crazy jazz chords, because it's new to you. So you learn that, you get that down, you practice it over and over. You tattoo it to your brain before you ever go say, "Hey, look what I can do" in public.
If the G is all you can play, then you go play it because you know it inside and out. You never attempt to do things that you can't do outside of your rehearsal or practice time, unless you're like into some really advanced free play.
And if you can get training, by all means, do it. Because the hurdles you have to hop on your own its like weight lifting: most people cannot motivate themselves to do it. And so if you can get training, or you can take lessons in school, then do it. It'll definitely keep your little tails out of trouble, as it did mine, a little bit.
Guitar.com: Yeah, same here.