Oakland, CA-based metal band, Abstracter, are getting ready to unleash their new album, Wound Empire, on February 10, 2015. This four song effort is teeming with dark sounds – black metal, noise, crust, punk, doom, psychedelic, sludge, its got it all – that were recorded and mixed by Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios (Oakland, CA) and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege Mastering Studios (Portland, OR). We wanted to learn about Wound Empire‘s dark sound and as such talked gear with guitarist Robin Kahn.
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
Kahn: My Red Bear MK 120 gives me my signature sound. However I feel like my Les Paul and Black Russian Big Muff are just as essential.
What about it makes it so important to you?
Kahn: It has this beautiful tube sound, takes pedals well and has a deep growl which just rips your head off. It’s incredibly reliable and has never failed me. They are rare and made in Russia, which adds to its appeal.
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
Kahn: I used this amp with my Big Muff as the basis for all of the dirty sounds on the album. I used a bunch of other amps as well. The Sunn Model T took care of all of the clean tones.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set?
Kahn: Les Paul Studio → Black Russian Big Muff → delay pedals → splitter → Red Bear → Orange 4×12. From the splitter I also run everything into a Sunn Model T → Emperor 4×12.
What are the major pros and cons?
Kahn: The only cons this amp has are the ugly grey carpeting, no effects loop, and no higher gain stage because the natural tube tone is so killer that it’s kind of a bummer to have to use a distortion/fuzz in front. This amp is bare bones. I’d jump on a Red Bear MKE 120 if one became available which has an effects loop.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what?
Kahn: I don’t have a backup. I could definitely get by with the Sunn Model T and a Rat pedal if the Bear self destructed. It wouldn’t be the same though.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
Kahn: I’ve had it for 5 years and loving every minute of it. I’m definitely open to trying new things. I would be interested in trying a two channel amp like an Orange Thunderverb which was used as a “scratch” track on the album. Overdriven tubes sound great. If I had unlimited funds I would buy every amp I could get my hands on just to see what they sounded like.
Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.
Kahn: I never changed the original Russian tubes after I bought it. During a show it sounded like a brittle wall of noise and cranking the amp did no good to bring out any clarity. It was all my fault. I was a tube amp n00b. After replacing the tubes it sounded better than I ever imagined. Lesson learned.
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
Kahn: Upgrade your cab and use fresh tubes if you want a better sound. After upgrading to an Orange 4×12 from my old Carvin clarity increased dramatically and the real tone of the Red Bear was brought to light.
Check out the song “Lightless”