What was the moment that started it all for you, in terms of guitar?
“It was definitely watching my dad play old outlaw country songs in his spare time. He’d occasionally jam around a fire or something, but he mostly did it in his spare time to unwind. Hearing someone instantly make something out of nothing was very appealing to me.”
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What’s the one guitar or piece of gear that you couldn’t live without?
“It is 100% my grandad’s 1955 Les Paul Jr. It’s the one guitar I loaded in the truck when we were put on an evac notice in 2020. There were a lot of wildfires in my area. It was freaky! Fortunately, everything ended up being fine and we didn’t have to leave. Strangely, one of the questions I have repeatedly asked on the podcast is ‘if the house is on fire what’s the one guitar you are saving.’ I never thought I’d have to actually answer that myself!”
Do you have a ‘one that got away’?
“I traded this super weird short scale Japanese guitar once. It was labelled ‘Marquis’ and had four independently switchable pickups. It just looked awesome. I should have just ponied up the extra $200 and kept that guitar. I have never been able to find it again. I was trying to be responsible, and I regret it!”
If you ever had a signature guitar designed, what would it be?
“One of my current favorites is my Grez Guitars Mendocino Baritone. It just sounds insane. It’s a gorgeous guitar as well. If I were to make the concept fully my own, I think I’d opt for an offset style (it’s a singlecut) with a half-inch shorter scale length. Barry probably wouldn’t do that though. He’s not an offset guy! But as is, it’s such a unique sound due to the way the hollow body interacts with the Lollar Gold foils. It’s amazing.”
Speaking of signature products, you recently launched the Slice Of Pie pedal in collaboration with Big Ear pedals…
“It’s kind of a funny story. Grant, Karen [Big Ear Pedals] and I are massive pizza fans. We talk about it amongst ourselves all the time, and it is obviously a reoccurring ‘thing’ on my podcast. At the beginning of lockdown, Karen started hand painting pedals. To showcase her abilities, she made a few designs right off the bat. One of those was a pepperoni pizza graphic. As soon as Grant saw that, a lightbulb went off. He formed the basic concept and called me roughly five minutes later. He said something along the lines of ‘Is this too crazy?’ And I said, ‘It absolutely is, and we should totally do it!’”
Why did you settle on a fuzz pedal?
“I’m a bit obsessed with fuzz. I’ve branched out quite a lot over the years, but fuzz is the first effect that really made me fall in love with pedals. Big Ear makes some of my favorite sounding circuits, and I know how detail oriented they are. Not only with the presentation, but sonically as well. Once Zach Broyles from Mythos Pedals was involved, that sealed the deal.”
How was the R&D process developed alongside the Big Ear team?
“Painstakingly! It is clearly very detailed, but there is even more going on than meets the eye. Jesse Rhew from Rude Tech helped us with the enclosure design. Which is something much more challenging than it may look. Totally engineering the folds/screw placement/welds/angle etc. from scratch is an entirely different ball game vs just ordering a 1590B style enclosure and drilling it.
On top of that, it had to look perfect or the whole project would be a waste of time. F5 Metalworks out of Oklahoma took the aesthetics over the finish line. Tons and tons of powdercoat textures/colors were tested as well as several print gradients. They even had to make fully custom fixtures to accomplish this.
Grant and I talked extensively about what we wanted and how we needed it to perform sonically. Zach Broyles was contacted because that dude has fantastic ears and really knows how to dial things in. Once he outlined the foundation of the fuzz, Big Ear spent countless hours tuning the circuit and having folks from the Nashville pedal scene lend their opinions as well. It was a crazy process. The most detail oriented collab I’ve been a part of by a wide margin. And I think it shows.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“It was a reoccurring thing that kept happening with podcast guests. People just kept saying ‘Put it out there. You will never know what happens until you do.’ And that’s a big ole fact. Everything good that’s happened to me career-wise has been the result of trying things and seeing what happened. Conversely, most of the negative things that have occurred to me have been the result of inaction. Whatever your ‘it’ is, put it out there.”
Have you ever had a ‘Spinal Tap’ moment?
“One of the first shows I played was for a bunch of friends at an outdoor party. One of our friends lent us this really cheap Epiphone with several major issues that made it too expensive to fix. We were playing on a grassy hillside, so we moved a large rock by the ‘stage’ before the show to smash it on. When the time came to smash the thing at the crescendo of the song, it simply would not break. I smashed it, maybe 20 times. It finally split, but it was significantly less dramatic than intended. I kinda just looked like a big flailing idiot.”
What’s the first thing on your rider?
“Whatever cuisine the city I’m in is known for. If I’m in Philly, get me the best cheesesteak. If I’m in Miami, hook me up with a Cubano. If I’m somewhere without a regional specialty, hook me up with the most legit NYC style pizza in the area.”