The Surrey, England-based quintet You Me At Six released their latest album, Cavalier Youth, on January 26, 2014 to rave reviews. Now, in support of this new recording, the band are touring all over Europe before hitting North America to play to hoards of fans on a near nightly basis. Busy schedule aside, lead guitarist Chris Miller was kind enough to take some time to answer gear questions for us. Check out what he uses and how it impacted Cavalier Youth.
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
Miller: My live sound for You Me At Six is very much humbucker equipped guitars with a Marshall JCM800. This varies in the studio but live I have always used this. I have a signature guitar with Ibanez at the moment which is awesome and I use that pretty exclusively live. It’s called the CMM1. It has a humbucker in the bridge which is also coil tapped and a p90 in the neck position so it pretty much does anything. Really handy. I have used Ibanez for years and used to use the old artist models from the 70’s as they were a cheaper than Les Pauls but were just as good in my opinion.
What about it makes it so important to you?
Miller: The key is the amp. In my opinion the JCM800 was the best amp Marshall ever made. It does one thing, big open huge classic distortion. It doesn’t do much else but it does this extremely well. They all sound different, but I have found a few I like and kept them for the last 6 or 7 years.
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
Miller: We always have this set up of 800 and humbucker equipped guitar as our safe zone when recording. It’s nice to know that the safe sound is fucking awesome hah. When recording we try any and everything to get the sound we are after. Vintage, new, expensive or cheap it doesn’t mean shit when your recording. It’s what is right for that particular sound or moment.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set?
Miller: I run two amps and quite a vast pedal board to recreate it. My JCM800 for the dirty sound and then an original TS808 to boost it for the heavier stuff. I use a zvex super hard on for solo boosts also. A two rock studio pro 50 for cleans. Nothing can beat this amp for clean. I have had 60’s blackface deluxe reverbs, AC30’s and JTM45s but nothing even touches this amp. It’s amazing. My board is controlled by a switcher made by ‘The gig rig’ called G2. It is amazing. Saves me tap dancing around turning 2 or more pedals on at the same time and controls my delay pedal via midi. I use delays on pretty much every song and play to a click so they have to be perfect.
What are the major pros and cons?
Miller: Pros: fun to have a lot of gear. Cons: more to go wrong.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what?
Miller: We always bring another guitar head with us just in case. Normally a JCM800 or 900 so it can be quickly swapped and dialed in as we know those amps so well. We have back ups for each guitar also as we play in a few different tunings.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
Miller: I don’t think the JCM800 will ever change. I have tried everything under the sun, but nothing has ever matched it for me personally.
Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.
Miller: I had a 70’s Marshall Plexi and it blew up whilst we were playing years ago. Couldn’t fix it and all the other bands where being dicks and wouldn’t lend me an amp. Sat and watched side stage the rest of the set. Hah!
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
Miller: I love it all. It’s been an obsession ever since I got my first guitar and I don’t think it will ever go away. Even though it sounds like a fairly complex rig, if it all goes to shit on the night I know I can still have a great show with just my guitar and my 800.
Check out the song “Hope For The Best”