Sunday, November 09, 2008

Jimi interviewed by: Klisk

A couple of weeks ago I got a great email from Klisk, filled with some cool questions, and I thought I'd answer them in an actual post.

Klisk - 1) So in Laverite I noticed that Ryota plays a Jackson guitar, which I think is utterly awesome since it's not the usual fair. But that ties in to my question: Is there no longer a huge emphasis on VK bands nearly 'requiring' to play a Edwards/ESP/Killer/Fernandes/Etc style guitar, and it's more flexible now? Because lately I've seen a lot more variation, whereas in the years prior there was a huge brand-loyalty thing within the VK scene specifically.

Jimi - Glad you noticed that Ryota plays the Jackson; he's a fan of Randy Rhoads and I'm not sure but I recall Mayu of Lareine also playing Jacksons. I wouldn't say there's a "requirement" to play ESP and the like at all; that "brand loyalty" we seemed to see was all about endorsements. A band gets big enough and they'll enter an agreement to use those guitars/pedals/cymbals/sticks exclusively. It's a huge for a company like ESP to make a big deal out of, say, displaying Nightmare's dude's new guitars at their shop. ESP guitars cater more toward that sound so it's a logical connection. I would argue that any tiny little band spending that much money on a guitar without sponsorship is being foolish, though.
And personally I play a 5-string Ibanez. :)


Klisk - 2) When you guys are prepping for a live, what seems to be the most common way to cover up post-shave-beard-shadow amongst everyone, if waxing or plucking isn't an option? Just concealer? Or some sort of powder cover up? The answer to this has always alluded me even though I'm sure it's a pretty simple makeup trick.

Jimi - I think my facial hair is pretty thick, but still, I simply let it grow for a few days and then shave the morning of the show and just throw on my regular foundation (I use M·A·C). Yue and Ryota pluck, but Yue had sort of been letting himself go for the last coupla shows which was why he still looked stubbly! Ryota is like a naked mole rat. My beard is too thick to pluck and waxing sounds out of reach.


Klisk - 3) I'd assume that pretty much all the bands use whatever in-house amplifiers are provided at the live, if not only for ease, but because it would probably be pretty impossible to haul around amps as an indie band in Japan. Plus I think I read that most people use modeling amps at home simply because it's tough fitting an amp into common living quarters. Which is really different from the US, where we're almost always expected to lug an amp to the gig, at least in all the bands I've played with.

Jimi - I use the in-house Ampeg that Narciss and Area have, and I love Ampeg so I ain't complainin'. However, they charge you a tiny fee for "equipment rental" based on how much in-house stuff you use. Some bands want to minimize that cost altogether and will bring their own wireless mics, amps, and most of their own drum kit. This makes the whole place really crowded if you've got a night with like 8 bands and more than half of them are standard 5-pieces. Even Ryota's equipment (Digitech pre-amp, Marshall power amp, digital tuner, wireless, and random useless chameleonic neon light thing) seems like a lot. The only thing I bring with me is my Line 6 X2 digital wireless, which is seriously wonderful. I don't have the money or the space for my own amp, and we have no equipment truck to lug all the junk around, so this will have to do. The equipment fee also feels nominal when lumped in with the price of all the unsold tickets we have to pay for anyway.

Back in my home country when I'd play guitar in bands, I had a Line 6 amp that I'd lug around, and when playing bass I had this deceptively small amp whose brand I forget, but it was extremely powerful for its size. I used to run direct through the PA and use that as a monitor, which I would also trick the PA with because I rarely trusted their management of the bass sound in regards to the space. I learned this from my father the musician.

In both cases, I always had a car or at least a ride, so lugging junk around was never a problem. My drummers always had a van and plenty of band members willing to help load/unload.

As for Japan, most bands do have their own equipment vans, but it makes me nervous. I don't have a Japanese driver's license, and I don't recall if Ryota does. I know Yue does. The parking spaces are tiny, the roads are narrow, and the loading areas tight. It seems like more of a necessary evil than anything.


Klisk - 4) What's more common for effect pedals? All-in-one boards like the Line 6 Pod XT Live modeling board, or the Boss GT-8 board... Or are individual stand-alone pedals on a home-made pedalboard more common? Or is it totally a mixed bag and depends on the specific guitarist? I've found it's a pretty mixed bag with everyone I've played with, so it's another topic that pops up in my mind often enough.

Jimi - Yes, it is a mixed bag. I have seen home-made pedalboards that look like a shoegaze band got lost in what they were doing. Rarely do I see individual stomp boxes, however. Most of what I see, and indeed what Ryota uses, is, if not the Boss GT-8 exactly, certainly a very similar Boss board. He has two; one is a much older model he uses for our studio rehearsals, along with his black Fernandes guitar, and the sleek black Boss for the actual show. I love them and I'm saving up for one. Wish I still lived with my parents so I could use rent money on it! It'd be nice to have a Pod, too, to play around with.



Many of you have asked great questions in comment threads, shoutboxes, and other comments, and I would love to give them a voice on the main page. If you have something about playing in a band, Japan, the music and/or VK scenes I'm involved in, send me an email! I'll put the best questions and their answers up here!

3 comments:

davygravy said...

Very cool info :)

Go said...

"The equipment fee also feels nominal when lumped in with the price of all the unsold tickets we have to pay for anyway."

lol/groan :)

Klisk said...

Cool! Awesome. Thanks for answering my questions, Jimi!

that "brand loyalty" we seemed to see was all about endorsements.

I assumed this was a lot of it, but years ago you even saw indie bands, at the least, always playing cheaper lines from those companies. (Like Edwards, of course.) Nowadays I see more variation among the indies, and even major bands alike.

I suppose it has to do with the eb and flow of the "scene", though. There was likely more money to be had during the late 90's with endorsments, or so I'd assume. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Also, about the bringing equipment, I guess what I meant is that it seems crazy to lug cabs around in Japan. But if many bands have vans, then I guess it's more common than I thought/previously heard! I think it's cool that some bands might just bring an amp, and use the club's in-house cabs. So thanks for clearing that curiosity up.

Sucks about the equipment fee, though! I've never encountered an equipment fee, but then again, I've never played a club that had anything other than a PA system and a Shure SM58. The rest of the stuff you're on your own.

The only thing I bring with me is my Line 6 X2 digital wireless, which is seriously wonderful

That's definitely one of the best wireless around without killing the bank! I use it for bass as well. :)

Does Ryota use a wireless setup, or is he cabled?

As bassist, I find that wireless is great. But as guitarist... I never use wireless. I hate how it degrades my "tone". So I'm all about the coily cables.

I have seen home-made pedalboards that look like a shoegaze band got lost in what they were doing. Rarely do I see individual stomp boxes, however.

That's cool to hear. I have a bit of a thing for boutique stompboxes, so I had to build my own board.

if not the Boss GT-8 exactly, certainly a very similar Boss board.

The GT-8 sure does seem to be a 'standard', even in VK. A lot of tone purists frown upon all-in-ones, though, but I like the possibilities. The Pod XT Live is another big one, but I don't think I 'hear' it's tone that often in VK. It's much more Boss oriented, like you hinted.

Anyhow... Thanks for answering my questions, Jimi! It's appreciated. :3

Oh! Another quick question:

I've noticed that a lot of Japanese bands in general use scales that you don't commonly see in American rock. Granted, both still, of course, share the reliable pentatonic scale. That aside, have you encountered this at all while playing in Laverite/has it improved your playing at all?

Thanks again Jimi!