Canadian stoner/blues rock/metal band Gypsy Chief Goliath are set to release their scorching 3rd full-length, Citizens Of Nowhere, on Friday, April 15th, 2016 via Pitch Black Records (pre-order your CD or digital download HERE and/or HERE). With nothing but the burning desire to always intake more knowledge and info on rad bands, we connected with vocalist/guitarist Al “The Yeti” Bones to learn more about some of his key gear and how it impacted the sound on his new album!
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
Bones: Definitely my Peavey Windsor heads.
What about them makes it so important to you?
Bones: I’ve tried several dozen amp heads. I’ve owned a lot of different ones, and for some reason, when I plug my Gibson SG, into my 100 watt modded Windsor head my tone is dialled in, and it is HUGE. I think a big factor of our sound is the B-standard tuning, so we use really thick strings and have 3 guitar players too. My string gauge is 15-63 and sometimes I’ll go a bit lighter, not much, but I do have a Fret King guitar that is 17-70, so I have been known to go bit thicker too. I use strings from a 10 string lap steel on it. SIT strings sent me a couple of boxes of custom gauge strings to my specs which was awesome, haven’t had to buy strings in quite a long time.
It’s not for everyone, but our tone comes from this side of the field. The Peavey Windsor was designed to model itself after the Marshall JCM 800. It’s an all tube head with the old Svetlana tubes from a Sovtek. The Marshall JCM 800 was always prior to this, my favourite head. But Windsor’s are so cheap nowadays used, I can pick up 3 or 4 of them for the price of one JCM 800. But also, the Windsor has a swampy tone to it. Yes you have the option of it sounding more “Marshall” but it has guts that the Marshall really lacked. This thing is a beast and is probably my favourite head ever.
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
Bones: Some rhythms. We mostly used HiWatts and a vintage Marshall Plexi for the new album. We tried to really keep EVERYTHING as vintage as possible. From the way the album was recorded, on analogue, to the gear we used. We even used a ’60s Rogers drum kit. Vintage Marshall cabs and late ’70s tube heads.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set?
Bones: We don’t. I think the two have to be separate entities altogether. I always felt it was important to give an audience something special that wasn’t on the record. So our volume live is insane with 3 guitar players. It’s much more rigid and we jam a lot live. People have always said, if we could just transfer what we do live onto an album, we’d be set! In my opinion, so much to the point that there would be no reason to play live anymore.
We all use full stacks and our bassist Darren uses either Ampeg or Traynor… often switches it up. I think he’s been using a Traynor head as of late with an Ampeg 8×10 cabinet. I always preferred to go for a more vintage approach recording, and then amping it up for the live show. I use my Peavey Windsor and a Yamaha T50 made by MJ Soldano live. The Yamaha (Soldano) runs through a 2×15 Tranyor Bass cabinet, and the Peavey Windsor runs through two 4×12 cabinets, and I ABY the two rigs together, which absolutely crushes any club we play. That’s just mine. LOL Dustin uses two 4×12 cabs with a 100 watt Sovtek and John uses a Framus head into two 4×12 cabinets.
What are the major pros and cons?
Bones: Well the pros are that if we get into a club that doesn’t have a great PA and not much is mic’d then we don’t really have much of a problem. Another pro is that our stage levels are pretty loud so everyone on stage can hear each other pretty good especially our drummer Saitti, assuming if he doesn’t have a drum monitor. The biggest con is, that we have to dial in very specific tones that do not cover up each other’s frequencies so we can all be distinct in our sounds. Also to that point is the volume. It MUST be controlled. The idea is to start at a very moderate, almost being conservative level where we can all hear one another, and then move up accordingly, so that we can get into that Stoner sonic area, where the riffs are felt in the chest, and the harmonies step up above everything when we really get going. It ain’t easy being greasy, but this band has 3 guitar players, so it’s obviously a guitar-driven band, so if the riffs ain’t being heard, we have a problem.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what?
Bones: I’m endorsed by Fret King and Vintage Guitars through the John Hornby Skewes company out of the U.K. I love both brands. A lot. I stopped using my SG for YEARS, and never had any issues. My Vintage guitars are absolute workhorses. They are just awesome. But as of the last two years or so, I switched back to my Gibson SG, cause I think I was bored, and it has gone back to being my primary guitar. But backups are a Left Handed White Gibson Les Paul Custom, and amp head-wise, I have another Peavey Windsor as well as a Trace Elliot that I also like using for that British Rock tone. Dustin has a shit load of sweet heads too, as backups. He has a Krank head, and a Peavey 5150, and John has an old Traynor.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
Bones: I’ve had the Gibson SG since 1999. It’s been everywhere, and has seen a lot of shit. Paint is wearing off of it everywhere (FINALLY!) and a tuning peg is bent and faces the East lol, but other than that it’s been my baby for some time and she serves me well.
Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.
Bones: One time in 2000 or 2001 I had an old early ’80s Marshall JMP. It was the one before they added a Master Volume to it. So I throw this thing on standby about an hour or two before the show to get the tubes nice and hot, ready for the gig. Right before we go on, I flip the switch on the JMP and the thing just fried out. Completely dead. No light. Nothing. The fucking thing failed me, when I needed it most. I used to use a JCM 900 a lot, and one night that got chucked into the trailer at the end of the night, by someone, and the next night it didn’t work. So those kinds of things lead me to the Peavey Windsor. Why spend a thousand bucks on a Marshall, or more, and risk some really shitty things happen to it on the road, when I can get 3 or 4 of the Windsor’s for that price and not have a care in the world?
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
Bones: Thank you very much for the time. It’s appreciated. Please check out our website www.gypsychief.com for news, music and tour dates, merch or look us up on YouTube, and spread the word. Underground bands need the support and while this is always what we wanted to do with our lives, our machine can’t function without a little help from the people who dig us. If people can spread the word, it helps immensely!
Check out the song “Black Samurai”.