In the last few years, Walrus Audio has established itself as one of the most creative and prolific brands in the boutique effects world, with a raft of hugely inventive, unconventional and great-sounding boxes coming out of the company’s Oklahoma HQ.
The creative fulcrum of Walrus’s innovation is Colt Westbrook. The pastor’s kid turned effects wizard shares his thoughts on the future of the most vibrant and varied aspect of the guitar world.
The last decade has seen an explosion in boutique effects makers, what do you think has driven that boom?
“I get asked this a lot and my answer changes a lot too! Today, I think that there are two journeys happening for players. A path to achieve timeless, grand tone, and a journey to find innovative tone. No matter where you fall, pedals are the easiest way to sculpt the sound of your playing.”
In an increasingly crowded market, it’s harder than ever to stand out – how do you think Walrus has done that, and how do you plan to continue that going forward?
“We keep our heads down and design pedals that our picky and pretentious friends would want to play. Then we set up a campaign that we believe our closest buds would think was cool. That’s it. We’re going to keep doing just that while keeping the door open to the guitar world to come into the circle.”
It seems like brands are managing to squeeze in more and more into a simple pedal than ever before, do you think this is going to continue, or are there limits to what is usable in a simple one- or two-switch box?
“I think the smallest boxes you’ll see have come out. Pedals can keep getting smaller, but boots will always be huge.”
How do you imagine the effects world is going to evolve over the next few years? Are there any trends, challenges or opportunities that you can see coming that you imagine will be impactful on the wider world?
“You’re going to see people obsessing – in a good way — with pushing the envelope and others hell-bent on preserving the past. Between the two is where great sounds are made and as long as that’s happening, the inspiration to design new gear will continue.”
Finally, for you personally, what’s the one dream innovation that you’d like to see happen in the world of guitars over the next decade? And why do you think it’d be such a good thing?
“I’d love to see the on-ramp to learning instruments not as difficult. Not everyone wants to do what the guitarists of our generation did: buy a guitar, find a teacher, have our mom drive us there once a week, and so on. There’s so much truth in the fact that good things take years to build. At the same, Gen Z requires immediacy in everything they choose to consume or partake in. You can look at that, scoff and keep walking or you can look at it and say, ‘How can I help?’”
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