The solo project of Minneapolis singer/guitarist Jess Abbott of Now, Now, Tancred plays riff driven power pop that will intrigue fans of Weezer and We Are Scientists. Her songs follow paths more unpredictable than your average pop rock band, always propelled by inventive guitar work and melodies that are instantly hummable. Jess is obviously a very versatile electric guitarist, as demonstrated by the range of parts and tones audible on latest album Out of the Garden, and also by the fact that when she plays with Now, Now, her style is completely different – a lot less distorted and more subtle. We asked her a few questions about her new album and the guitar rig she sued to record it.
What records, feelings, events have been inspiring the songs in ‘Out of the Garden’?
Coming into womanhood shaped a lot of the lyrical content. Also horror pop movies like Scream. Really into a place where bright colors meet blood and gore.
Tancred’s power pop is very guitar driven, do you get your signature distortion from the amp or pedals?
I use both- I play through a Peavey Classic 50 half stack that I use for a little grit, and then I ramp it up with a Walrus Audio Iron Horse. I use the Headless Horseman edition of it because I’m a Halloween nerd.
What (else) do you have on your pedalboard and how do you use it? (If you actually use pedals)
I use an EHX Memory Boy for chorus and vibrato, a Nano POG for octaves, and a Nano Holy Grail for reverb when I need it. Pretty bare bones for this album. [On the board we also noticed a Walrus Audio Mayflower OD and Harverster High Gain OD, and also an EHX Linear Power Booster].
Tell us the story behind your electric guitar (or your favorite one, if you have more than one).
I use a white ’98 Strat Deluxe that I bought a year ago and swapped out the pick guard for a pearly blue one. I felt like Strat tones would do these songs better than the Tele I used before.
The guitar sound in your other band Now, Now is a lot more controlled than in Tancred. Do you use a different set of instruments/pedal for it or just leave out the heavier distortion pedals?
I use all the same gear as for Now, Now except a Telecaster instead of a Strat.