The title of The Sees’ new record, Conversations With My Future Self, in many ways, implies the record’s theme. Released last month, it is the debut album from the Brooklyn quartet. Featuring eight songs, they freely travel between the past and future, with an epic scope that speaks to the ambition that drives these four talented musicians. Interestingly enough, a lot of the album’s themes stem from lead singer and guitarist Jamie DiTringo’s adoration for Back To The Future. As it did for many who grew up in the 1980s, the film had a profound effect on DiTringo. It not only interested him, a curiosity that remains to this day, but it also inspired him. Moments come and immediately go, and the future quickly becomes past. It’s concepts and ideas like this that form the core of this record.
Conversations With My Future Self is an impressive statement from still a very young band. They did not actually form until the fall of 2022, but their shared history extends back much further. They have played together in the past, but this is the first time that DiTringo has stepped out front. He has never before fronted a band, but that burden is softened by his shared history with his bandmates. The Sees sound self-assured throughout the record, working on a solid foundation of poise and determination.
Today we are joined by DiTringo and bassist Alex Daly for Geared Up. The two discuss their favourite guitars and effects machines that help them achieve their signature sound.
First things first, what’s your current setup?
Jamie DiTringo: “Guitars: Danocaster Jazzmaster, ’74 Fender Telecaster, Gibson SG ’61 Re-issue, Gibson Hummingbird Acoustic
“Strings: D’Addario NY XL 11|49
“Amps: Carr Rambler, ’77 Fender Silverface Champ
“Main pedalboard: My pedalboard was built by Jerry Nepomuceno (27” x 17” with a hinged tier) and I absolutely love it. I recently transitioned into the switching system world and have an RJM PBC6X as the brains behind the setup. In the six loops of the switching system, I have an Xotic BB Preamp and Xotic EP Boost, Interstellar Audio Machines Octonaut Hyperdrive, Keeley Fuzzhead, Electro Harmonix POG Nano, and Strymon Cloudburst.
“I have a Dunlop Volume pedal for volume swells and control of overall volume, a Dunlop expression pedal for changing the intensity of all the delays, and an Analog Endeavor AUX2 Controller to toggle through the songs in our setlist. In the MIDI loop of the RJM PBC6X, I am using a Strymon Mobius, Strymon Timeline, and a Strymon Big Sky.
“After the RJM PBC6X (and before the amp), I am using a Strymon El Capistan for an on-the-fly echo sound, a Strymon Flint for tremolo and additional reverb, Electro Harmonix 1440 Looper for both pre-programmed loops on ‘The Calling,’ and on the fly looping for texture. The last pedal before the amp I added an MXR/Custom Audio Electronics Boost/Line Driver if I want to add a few dB of a clean boost for a lead part. My tuner is a TC Electronic Polytune Mini.
“Everything is powered by a Strymon Zuma with a Strymon Ojai and GigRig Isolator.
“Guitar cables: Evidence Audio Reveal.
Alex Daly: “LaBella strings, Sadowsky PJ/FrankenFender PJ bass, Origin Effects Cali76 Compact, Jad Freer CAPO preamp, Line6 HX Stomp XL (acts as a switching system as well as having some niche effects blends on there), Earthquaker devices Avalanche Run V2 delay/verb, Phil Jones Amps.”
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
DiTringo: “Strymon Timeline. I love and own a ton of delays but the Timeline can achieve everything in one box.”
Daly: Jad Freer CAPO. “After rolling through Broughton/Darkglass/SansAmp preamps for years it’s the first one that I can get the ‘right’ sound out of consistently and quickly through pretty much any speaker/DI/amp.”
How did you come to possess this piece of equipment? Vintage shop, regular shop, borrowed money, gifted? Give us the details.
DiTringo: “I bought the Timeline probably ten years ago or so. It is from my favourite store in New York City, 30th Street Guitars. I am always buying pedals, especially delay pedals and overdrives. The Timeline has every conceivable delay sound imaginable. Now that I am using the Timeline through the RJM PBC6X, utilizing MIDI, I feel that I am using the pedal in more ways than ever before. It’s like finding a new pedal within your favorite pedal!”
Daly: “I spend way too much time reading other people’s opinions on Talkbass.com. That was the first place that brought Jad Freer to my attention. I then purchased one directly from my favourite Italian electronic audio maestros and haven’t looked back since.”
What made you choose this particular piece of gear and were there any close seconds or alternatives?
DiTringo: “I own a lot of delay pedals and didn’t have a Timeline so I had to have one! It’s as simple as that! At the time of purchase and until recently, I wasn’t using the pedal the way I am now. This is all due to programming the pedal through Strymon’s Nixie software and the RJM PBC6X.”
Daly: “It’s got a versatility that I haven’t seen from other preamps. It’s also capable of putting out quality sounds at both ends of the spectrum. Clean settings give a great clarity and glassy tone like a Broughton DI/pre or Phil Jones, but mixing up gain and the B channel can give near SVT levels of tube warmth and a really full drive.”
Did you use this gear during the recording of the new album?
DiTringo: “The Timeline is all over the record; heavily used on ‘The Calling,’ ‘End Of Scene,’ and ‘Turn The Lights Out.’ All the delays are tied to the BPMs of the album, so everything synchs i.e. main delay melody on ‘Turns The Lights Out.’”
Do you have a special way that you recreate your album tones in a live setting, or is it more just plug-and-play?
DiTringo: “Since I started using the RJM PBC6X, all of our songs have specific presets to recreate the album sounds. I always tweak things and add some more flavour so if I can improve on the recorded sounds live that’s always the goal!”
How easy is it for you to tweak the device and get the tone/sounds you need?
DiTringo: “It’s comforting that all my sounds are locked into the switching system so if a dial on a pedal shifts somehow it won’t matter because it’s all saved. You can tweak things within the RJM PBC6X pretty easily so it’s saved for future use.”
Daly: “The CAPO makes it really easy to dial in tone in a new room. It’s the only thing that touches all of my tone all the time and the two blend-able circuits give me the option to instantly warm things up or act as a gain boost. The dials are really balanced 1-10 so small tweaks are straightforward. The HPF and pre and post-DI options are also great. Having something of that quality and ingenuity on the pedalboard means I don’t have to worry too much about what surprise a backline might throw at me.”
What was your first-ever instrument?
DiTringo: “Fender Squier Stratocaster.”
Daly: “My first bass was an early 1990s pos chambered P Bass. It now serves as the body of the Frankenbass PJ.”
What brand do you usually lean towards when looking up new options?
DiTringo: “I use a lot of Strymon pedals. They all sound incredible and I just love working with them.”
What’s your dream setup?
DiTringo: “If I can run a wet/dry/wet setup that would be the dream. Having time-based effects separate from the overdrives and run everything in stereo? That would be the dream for sure.”
Is your jam setup the same as your road setup? Any notable differences (other than output, obviously)?
DiTringo: “I have a few different pedalboards and a couple of boards that can be used live but write a lot on them. Once you start using a switching system and move from pedal-stomping life gets a lot easier live.”
What was the first rig you ever bought that felt like you had “arrived” as a musician?
DiTringo: “I love my guitars a lot. But when I play out of the Carr Rambler amp I just shudder at how warm and clean the amp sounds. There is so much depth to its warmth that I just want to play through the amp for hours.”
Daly: “The Warwick FNA Jazzman with zinc strings into the Trace Elliot Stack just captured everything about the music I was playing in the time I was playing it. So much clank and power.”
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