Young Erwin Looveren, Belgium asks :

<...i'm curious how did you got that guitar sound with Lake Of Dracula... the way i want to go is kind like "Red Transistor" guitar sound...>

umm... let's see. The overall characteristics of a guitar sound seem to be very specific to a lot of different elements. One primary element was that I always played the guitar as hard as possible with my strumming hand. In that band I played an old Fender Mustang guitar, which has a shorter scale/smaller neck than many standard electric guitars. I had replaced the original pickups with a very loud Seymour Duncan single coil pickup to get a thinner treble sound with more volume than the original pickups, which were very weak and difficult to distort properly. I used the biggest, heaviest picks I could -- triangular Fender Heavy picks -- and .011 gauge strings (rock guitar players seem to favor .010s or .009s -- I would break those on immediate impact). The heavier strings stayed in tune better and gave a tension I liked. I feel like playing an instrument is a battle versus the instrument, not vice versa and this gave the instument a little better chance of dealing with severe punishment.

I tuned the low E string down to A to make a "bass" string an octave below the a string above it. All of the guitar on the album is as played live, with some parts merely "doubled" (overdubbed twice to create a thicker sound). The amplifier was a very broken Roland Jazz Chorus with only one speaker in it. I used to run the guitar into one channel of the amp, back out through its parallel port, through a fuzz pedal called a "DeArmond Square Wave Generator" (which I used for the really distorted parts) and then through a volume pedal before it went back into the amp back into the other channel. The nice thing about using both channels was that I could use different EQ for the "clean" and "dirty" sound and also blend them together with the volume pedal. The clean side had a lot of extra bass eq on it to bring out the low string and make it sound not unlike a bass guitar. (This technique is also utilized by Todd from US Maple amongst many others) For the delay effect I used a Boss Digital Delay pedal with the setting for the time broken off. It happened to be stuck in my favorite position, which is a very short slapback inspired by Bob Quine's bloodcurdling solo from the song "Waves Of Fear" by Lou Reed.

Cheap amps and fuzz are the way to go, I'd say. I'd bet the guys from Red Transistor had very shitty gear.

It's really what you do with the guitar, not what gear you have. One thing I can say from experience is that more distortion does not necessarily equal more power. It can make more sheer noise, but that noise can tend to be undifferentiated and unexpressive. One could turn on 100 distortion pedals and leave the room, but I think I'd prefer to hear a guy making a clean guitar fucking scream for mercy.

- Dr. Weasel.

Jason Sublette writes:

"Out of all the things you have been involved with, it is your work with the hot boys of Arab on Radar that has really impressed me. The recording is so much more raw and aggressive than Robert Weston's slick disco sound on "Queen Hygene II". Given the high pitches tunings used by the band and the singer's voice, I would imagine it would be tricky to get an accurate recording of the their rock-ass live sound. How did you differ in your approach with "Soak the Saddle" and "Rough Day at the the Orifice" than Luttenbachers and LOD records (besides the meddling of Jimmy O'Rourke)?"

Well Jason, thanks for the kind words. When I helped AOR record "Rough Day" (their second LP, on OP POP POP) I mainly tried to facilitate what THEY wanted out of the sound. I like the way the record sounds, but I think you'd agree that it doesn't exactly have the mass and impact of their overwhelming live sound. During the mixing of this album (and that's where the "sound" of the record really came from), the band thought they wanted to load the mix with a lot of unnecessary treble and high end in order to get a more "intense" sound. I had to beg and plead with them not to do this because I knew the result would be tinny, weak and unnecessarily shrill. In my opinion, the visceral impact of a recording/mix has a lot to do with the entire range of the frequencies.

For the new recording, "Soak", the boys let me mix the stuff alone. I tried to simulate the largeness of their naturally sound while making sure the eardrum blasting energy and rough edges remained. It's definitely a rawer, bigger sounding record. There's things about the recording that could be improved upon (of course), but I'm glad to say I think this third album really captures the blistering raw impact of the band a million times better than any past release!

By the way, let's not chastise Mr. O'Rourke, now! He didn't meddle with the records you noticed his name on, he helped them to be what they are. Jim has always been a selfless supporter of a lot of musicians, including LOD and the FLS and I owe him great thanks.

On the Luttenbachers "Gods of Chaos", Jim was kind enough to donate the use of his equipment and a big chunk of his valuable time in the editing stage. The editing ideas/structure/transitions were preconceived by the band ahead of time, but Jim did add a few helpful opinions here and there. On the LOD album, Jim was one of the engineers in the tracking stage along with Randy Lancelot. I was solely responsible for the final mix and some of the overdub engineering. Hats off to Jim O'Rourke, a nice guy and a real avant garde workaholic!!!

-- Dr. Walter

Lively little Richard Jaspering akses:

> Is there a secret to heavy-boom-type metal drumming? Boom boom, death metal. Special breathing techniques, anything fancy? Or just play fast. I am a proficient hip-hop drummer! Thanks very much.>

Well, bro-heim, there are no secrets really. The key to achieving barrier-shattering plateaus of speed in grind/Black/Death/whatever Metal drumming styles is obvious: practice, practice, practice. I started working on double-bass drumming and blast beats (you know, that snare drum splattering all the kids dig so much) in late '94 after the dissolution of the Constructive Destruction/Destroy All Music Luttenbachers line-up. The double-bass stuff came very slowly and I still consider it a weakness of mine, technically. Basically this, like the blast stuff, is an issue of getting the left limbs up to some kind of reasonable par with the right half of the body. Legions of rock drummers (and right handed people) wander though life neglecting the development of the left side of their body. One can only play a smooth double bass fusilade of 16nd notes or a grind beat as fast as the slowest limb will allow, so ambidexterity is crucial. Another tip to develop a successful grind/blast beat (you know, the kind made popular on records like Immortal's "Battles in the North", the first two Napalm Death albums, Terrorizer's "World Downfall" and tons of neo-Grind/Hardcore releases e.g. Spazz, Drop Dead etc. ) is to temper the rest of your right hand snare hitting technique. A lot of cheesy metal drummers really wallop the snare with an as-loud-as-possible rimshot on slower back beats and then can barely muster any volume when it comes to the fast shit. In the average live setting, the snare is rendered completely inaudable at this crucial point! Moderation, son. Bring the volume of the back beat down and the volume of the blast up. To develop a smooth Grind/blast beat one needs to understand that all that is happening in this technique is the illusion of even distribution of 16th notes across three (or four if you got double bass) limbs. The left and right arms are playing single stroke sixteenth note rolls (left-right-left-right -- no tricky stuff, just fast) and usually the legs are doing half time of that (eighth notes). It's a bit uncommon to see drummers doubling the stuff on top with full-on double bass 16th notes below, but I've seen it done and frankly, I'm JEALOUS!!! It's a pretty lofty goal. The guy from Krisiun does a variation of this beat with the increments reversed (unison snare/high hat 8ths on top and 16ths on the bottom) basically the whole time and it's fucking staggering. Stamina is only built with practice. I find that the more I relax, the better and longer I can play this beat.

---Doc Walta


the doctor is in


If you have a question for the doctor, click his photo above or email him at:

Please include:
"Q for Doc Weasel"
in the subject field of your email.

Dr. Weasel is here to help you with your problems in music, health and romance. A true professional, he has been practicing for over a decade.



No prescription necessary.
These and many other of the doctor's wares are available for purchase at the CATALOG page.

You can see a live
show and watch an interview with Weasel at the
SGTV page.

You can listen to Weasel's
Internet Radio Set
at the
RADIO page (natch!).