Released on March 18th in the USA, the EP A New Life is the HOT new release from Mother, a fucking rad new alternative hard rock quartet from New York City. Loaded with grooves and wicked, hard-hitting riffs, this album is not one to miss. Recently we manage to catch some time via email with lead guitarist Mike Gowen and bassist Johnny to ask them about some of the key gear used on this release. Read on to find out more!
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
Johnny: I would say that the piece of gear that forms the center of my sound would have to be my Rickenbacker 4003. I use various pedals to color its sound, but the Rickenbacker tone is always there.
Mike: Definitely my Gibson Les Paul Standard with Bare Knuckle Rebel Yell pickups.
What about it makes it so important to you?
Johnny: The Ric has that classic growly bass tone that is unmistakable for any other bass tone. I would be lost without that growly top end and big bottom. Out of every bass that I have owned, it is the only one that ever really “spoke” to me tonally.
Mike: I’ve always been a fan of a screaming guitar tone with a lot of mids and bite. My favorite players, David Gilmour, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Dimebag, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, all encompass a clear, articulate, vocal guitar tone that really soars in their music. You can feel every note they play. For me, the Les Paul is the perfect instrument to accomplish that and reproduce what I’m hearing in my head. The Bareknuckle pickups really help also. They’re hot, and extremely responsive, while still retaining clarity and warmth.
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
Johnny: I played it exclusively on every track.
Mike: I used my Les Paul, for almost everything, on each track. Some of the layered guitars were done with my ‘ 61 Reissue SG and Breedlove Acoustic for tonal variety; but all the rhythm tracks and leads we’re done with my honeyburst Les Paul.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set?
Johnny: The bigger challenge was to try and recreate our live sound as best as possible. We play loud, raunchy and distorted live and knew that bringing that tone to the studio would be difficult. Our producer, Dave Caggiano, really brought the magic there. Some layering in the vocals, guitars, and keyboards is always lost when transitioning from the studio to the live show. The hard part is picking and choosing what parts are the most important to keep in the live set.
Mike: Similar to what Johnny said, the challenge for us was to capture the energy and rawness of our aggressive live sound. For the most part on this album, I used the exact same setup that I use live. The foundation of my tone is my Les Paul into an EVH 5150iii. When we recorded, we split the guitar signal between my EVH and a ’78 Marshall JMP. The JMP brought some added clarity and bite to the modern sound of the EVH. They’re both very clean and articulate sounding amps, which is important to me, so they complimented one another nicely. I feel like we really captured my live tone. What you hear on the album is almost identical to what you’ll hear live.
Do you have a backup for this gear? If so, what?
Johnny: We try to run with identical backups, or at least close approximations of it.
Mike: Agreeing with Johnny, my backup is a 5150iii 50watt head. It sounds great and is easy to move so I don’t have to move around two 100watt EVH heads.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
Johnny: On bass, I have been using a Mesa 400+ for two years and my Rickenbacker 4003 for 6 years now. I would love to look at some of the new rackmount preamps that are coming out now using 6SL7 tubes for that Ampeg B15 tone in a smaller package. There is so much great stuff going on in the boutique market that it is hard to pick one route in the future.
Mike: I’ve had my EVH head for about 3 years now. It has 3 channels; which is great for what we do because I use different amounts of gain to achieve the dynamic flow in our music. I use channel two, which is based off of Eddie’s modded Marshall sound, for most of the rhythms. It cleans up really well when I roll back the volume. I can have a slightly dirty tone during verses and then swell into the choruses without switching channels so its a smooth and powerful transition. I use my volume knob a lot throughout a song so the clarity and response of that channel is really important. Then for leads I’ll use the third channel, which is slightly more saturated and with more gain. I rolled back the gain and boost the volume so my tone remains clear and the detail in my picking attack comes through. This way it literally is just a volume boost with a touch of added sustain/gain.
For the really clean tones live, I’ll use channel 1 – which also sounds killer with the gain cranked. We used channel 1 with an Ibanez TS808 in front for a lot of the rhythm tracks on our album and also for the lead in the final track, “To Live Within.” I honestly don’t know if I’ll change amps. I’ll definitely try out some different heads because I’m always open to new ideas, but I think moving forward I’ll always use the design and tone of the EVH as a guideline.
Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.
Johnny and Mike: We were doing a cover of The Who’s “Rain O’er Me” at an outdoor Superbowl celebration by The Meadowlands this year, and we blew out the generator right as we were going into the last chorus. One of multiple times where we lost power mid-set!
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
Mike: When purchasing gear, focus on creating your own identifiable sound. Go against the grain and try to separate yourself.
Check out the album ‘A New Life’