The Bay Area, San Francisco, California two man noise machine known as Black Cobra released their Southern Lord Recordings offering, Invernal, on October 11, 2011. The 8-song offering is loaded with the band’s signature brand of doom and sludge metal, metal that seems impossibly thick and loud to be coming from just two men. Black Cobra have their tricks though, as many bands do, so we asked vocalist and guitarist, Jason Landrian, about the secret to his sound found on the recent Kurt Ballou-produced (God City Studio) album.
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
Landrian: The MXR Double Shot distortion pedal is crucial to my guitar sound. Each component of my rig is crucial, but that’s imperative.
What about it makes it so important to you?
Landrian: It’s great because it has individual controls for the bass, mid and treble for 2 different types of distortion that you can switch between.
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
Landrian: I used some different head and cab combos than what I use live, but I was always using the Double Shot as my main distortion pedal. It’s been my go-to pedal on every recording.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set?
Landrian: I use the Double Shot live and in the studio, so that is key to the guitar sound. In addition, I use both an Ampeg bass cab with a Galien Kruger head and a guitar full stack with Marshall and Peavey cabs and a Hiwatt Custom 100 head. For vocals I use a Boss VE-20 vocal processor to get close to how we record the vocals on the album. For anything that we overdubbed on record, I use a Digitech Jam Man live to record loops and play over them.
What are the major pros and cons?
Landrian: The major pros are the sound and being able to get a full range of low end and high end. The cons with so many pedals is having to remember which songs use what on them and having to do some footwork.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what?
Landrian: I have 2 backup Double Shots and a Marshall JCM 900 head that I can use in a pinch if anything happens to the Hiwatt. The Hiwatt has such a better overall warm sound, but the Marshall will do if needed. The backup to the backup is a Crate Power Block that’s about the size of an old car stereo.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
Landrian: I got the Hiwatt after playing one on a European tour we did a few years ago. It just crushed the Marshall in terms of tone. I’ve had it about 3 years now. I don’t foresee ever changing the Hiwatt/MXR combo. I am always looking to expand though and have used a lot of really cool gear in the recording process that may someday make its way into our live performances.
Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.
Landrian: When I was using the Marshall, we had a show (in Ohio I think) where the tubes just died on us. We smelled something burning and then it just stopped working. Since I also use a bass amp, it wasn’t a total bust, but my highs and mids were just non-existent. We took out our trusty Crate Power Block and just cranked it as much as possible to finish out the rest of the set.
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
Landrian: After so many live shows I’m pretty content with our sound and gear. MXR and Hiwatt are a great combination!
Check out the song “The Crimson Blade”