|DEAD LEAF ECHO’S
BOSS DD-2 Delay
Shoegazer is the only musical genre that derives its name from something related to stompboxes: its sound is marked by guitars (and also vocals) so heavily processed to require the use of several pedals during the live setting, which invariably forces musicians to pay a lot of attention to them: that’s what they are “gazing” at in most cases, it ain’t their pretty shoes. LG and his band Dead Leaf Echo have been gazing at these inspiring, colorful boxes for quite some time now, working in the meantime with producer John Fryer (Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode) and opening for the likes of Psychedelic Furs, A Place To Bury Strangers and legendary British ’90s shoegazers Chapterhouse. We thought musicians into the genre would be interested in knowing more about the band’s “footware.”
When did your love for the stompbox begin? What was your “first time”?
I believe my 1st pedal was the [BOSS] Blues Driver… either that or the Morley Triple Wah Pedal. It was a Wah, Volume, Distortion in 1. Really bad distortion. Everyone had the Boss DS-1 at that time for that, but I thought BD-2 was a little different… this was a high school band, and then the 2nd pedal was a real gem…the [BOSS] DM-2. The first Boss analogue delay pedal… I don’t think I realized how cool it actually was when I got it.
Is there a guitar pedal that changed your life?
A couple of the 80’s / 90’s rack units. I know they’re a bit out of style these days especially for live touring (they are a pain in the ass) but all the Alesis Quad’s and Roland units are what helped me craft my sound.
I think we can safely say that your band belongs to the Shoegazer/Dream Pop field, are there specific pedals that have been crucial to the genre?
For those genres there’s a holy trinity that I refer to: CHORUS, DELAY, REVERB. Of course different equipment for different eras. As the ’80s went digital, bands that were paving the way in those fields were really going wild with rack units. Now there’s so much boutique work going on. An interesting thing to see is all the reunion bands from the original scene (Chapterhouse, Ride) that used a lot of rack gear don’t have any of that stuff going on now. They are all down to pedals… and not as many as you would think. (Kevin Shields is always the exception).
Are there any quirks in the order you decide to route your stomp boxes?
My final reverbs/modualtion and loopers are always at the end. I’m putting my compression early in the chain so it runs thru the other effects. You have to spend a good amount of time working with gain stages and which disotrion/fuzz pedal is going to top out the other.
Tell us about your guitar(s) and amp(s) selection and the reason behind it.
2 guitars and a stereo setup. I use a 6 and a 12 for different songs and purpose.For live and recording… I have a Fender “Backbreaker” [i.e. Quad Reverb ’72]. 100W Modded out with 4 Jensen 12” 16ohm and then JC-77’s for the bright transistor clean stereo sound. The 12 string is a Rickenbacker knock off done by Italia with Tom Wilkinson Pickups put in it for HIGH GAIN! Can’t run compression with those pickups (need the JangelBox for it). I’ve used vintage Fender Jazzmasters (usually a ’69) and Telecasters on a lot of the records but wrote a lot on the Jazzmaster for our new record. So I recently picked up a late 90’s CIJ Strawberry Red Jazzmaster and put a mustang bridge and buzz stop in it. Her name is Ruby.
Ana uses a 72’s Telecaster Deluxe thru a Vintage Fender Twin Reverb.
Has a sound you got out of a new pedal ever inspired a song? If so please tell us which one and how.
Absolutely. With “so.wrong” I built the sound around a Digitech reverb in the Space Station… just that + a bass line + melody.
What are the kind of effects you couldn’t live without and which ones you doubt you’ll ever use?
Well I have to have my “Holy Trinity” and at least one fuzz/disotrion. Right now I have my friend John’s Super Shifter… which I’m trying out in my rig but I just see no use for it in my sound…. it is an interesting pedal and there is quite a lot of depth to it but doubtful to its use for me in this current project. Doesn’t mean I couldn’t end up using it for something else sometime though.
If you were a pedal manufacturer with unlimited engineering brain power, what pedal would you build that’s currently not our there?
Well if I had unlimited engineering brain power, I doubt a guitar pedal would be the 1st thing on my mind….. and also the thing is I’m not just a guitar player, I’m also a singer and a performer, so… add all that with cues, lyrics, visuals, lighting, and all the tap dancing it can get a bit much. I would build a telepathic pedal that has all my settings in one box but I wouldn’t have to step on anything, it would just build the sound out through sheer mental manipulation. Or maybe could go cyborg and have a midi port built into my brain.
We’ll hopefully get there one day… Have you ever thought about getting into modding pedals or building them from scratch?
Sure. It’s not something I’ve that put too much effort into because electrical engineering is not something that I have that much experience in. I was always into mods from the beginning, Keeley was the first guy and I actually sent my 1st pedal (Blues Driver) to get modded by him some 10+ years ago. There’s a guy who’s doing pedals called Butterfly Effects that works with Moon Sounds Records. They are doing some really cool pedals for way cheaper out in the UK.
What’s on your board these days when you play with Dead Leaf Echo?
It’s constantly changing… I’m always bringing pedals in and out due to the size of my boards and where we are traveling to. I have 3 different boards. My main one is a standard Pedal Chain w/ road case that came with it that has wheels and a handle which makes it easier to transport. The board itself is covered in velcro and that way I can sub in and out pedals very easily. It can hold about 10/12 pedals on it and I keep the power supplies taped to the inside so it’s 1 plug to power up the whole board except for the ZVEX SHO pedal which has to be powered by battery.
I had a huge board built for me before that was completely custom. It had a 2nd level riser above the main board that held my large MIDI controller (more on that later) and all the other pedals below it. It had power & midi wired in to it so I could keep everything plugged in all the time. Just open it turn it on and go. It looked gorgeous in B&W tolex but you had to use sticky adhesives to make the pedals work with the board it looked so clean but was a real pain when it came to swapping pedals. Also it was massive with an even larger ATA road case to house it. It was kinda ridiculous when Chisto and I each brought these 2 massive boards to SXSW and we’re playing an outdoor festival and every band has 2 pedals. We were just looking at each other like… why are we punishing ourselves carrying these 50lb boards all over Austin. Dead Leaf Echo is not at the level where we can have just guitar tech’s traveling with us for these set-ups. We did Echo Fest last year in Detroit and I just ended up putting pedals in my bag and just setting up on the floor before we played…not ideal but it had to be done. Now I have a smaller board in a soft case where I can set up the basics and then decide what extra pedals I can’t live without and set them up later on the side. Lot easier to get on the plane that way. Also hoping to score a Mono Case here real soon… they have the headstock suspensions which really make me feel at ease on the plane.
I have a lot of broken pedals these days as well… I’ve got a Real Mcoy Wah (that was loaded to me courtesy of our label) that has been in outpatient for over a year. The rubber grommets that hold the cradle keep ripping out. I want to get my 20th anniversary Digitech Whammy back on the board that has mysteriously died. It was dressed up in all silver and had a MIDI in/out which made it nice when controlling different parameters in MIDI. I still hate the knob on the more recent models. They are too sensitive and can easily switch from 1 octave to 2 which can mess you up in a live situation. I have 2 KORG pedals that I’m using together very early in the chain. A compressor and flanger: The CMP-1 and FLG-1 respectively. I’m using my old MIJ DD-2 for delay and a couple of the [BOSS] RV-5’s for 1 type of reverb. I have the Super Hard-On (which I “stole” from my bandmate Ana B… hahah) and also a clone of the SHO that was built as boost by someone unknown to me.
For distortions and fuzz I have 3 on the board now a Boss Turbo OD MIJ, a Turbo Rat (modded by Keeley w/ a 3 way selector switch that adds a lot of low in different settings) and an old Zoom fuzz for straight high-end noise.
I also have 2 Death By Audio pedals. A Fuzz War and Harmonic Transformer that are not on the board now (Too Big!). A muff clone is floating around in the studio and so many other weird combo pedals that are usually only good for 1 specific thing, not enough to keep them around on the board. Then a simple looper and then my final reverbs in the chain.
So I have been on a combination of digital rack units and have slowly been trying to whittle it down nothing in regards to the racks.I have to control them via MIDI and that means carrying around a whole seperate midi controller. I had for years kept trying to buy the Tech 21 midi mouse because it’s small and can fit on your board but never did – I was using this large Behringer Midi Foot Controller (the FCB1010). It was super cheap and built real tuff. It lasted me for over 5 years until I finally destroyed it during the finale of a show. It kinda looks like a Lays Potato chip now.
I’m down to just one Quad, but after trying a lot of different items have decided to go with the Eventide Space as it seems to have the most depth in recreating what I’ve already been doing – and beyond. I can’t get it under 10-12 pedals but I can’t do anymore than that. I eliminated all chorus pedals by using the built in Chorus channel’s in the Roland JC’s. They sound great and have the same chip of the Vintage MIJ CE-2s.And that’s only part of the equation. The other guitarist in the band Ana B brings a whole other style to DLE’s sound. She has the best sound for the smallest pedal board I’ve seen. A lot of bang for her buck. A JHS modded OCD pedal for Overdrive which takes down some of the shrill high-end which we constantly fight using Fender and Roland amps. A TC Electronics chorus pedal that has tri-chorus ?!? Her main reverb is the Quad with a Strymon BlueSky which she uses to dial in a sweet shimmer reverb and adds different colors on top for certain songs. She has a [BOSS] DD-7 for delay. She has a couple other nice pedals as well that add to her sound in the studio.
Wow, thanks for the detailed pedal geekiness! Will we see you at our next Brooklyn Stompbox Exhibit?
Of course I’m there every year. There’s a couple guys I always like to talk to every year and see what new gadgets they have. Always like to see the Eventide booth. It’s the closest that I will get to ever going to NAMM.