The blitz of year-end lists is upon us, and here at Gibson.com, that means looking back at a year of killer rock interviews. From Sammy Hagar to Kirk Hammett, we’re counting down our Top 10 Gibson.com interviews of 2013!
Corey Taylor on his go-to Gibson guitars:
“The J-200 is my go-to. It’s got a nice, deep, rounder body, and when it comes to acoustic stuff, with right strings, it really sings and has brightness but is still really dark. It doesn’t feel like I’m going to break it like a lot of acoustics do. It feels tough and has a great personality to it. For recording, I have a bunch of different Les Pauls. I’m such a spoiled Les Paul kid, it’s not even funny! I’ve been collecting them all over the world. I have a great ‘84 Silverburst. I’ve got an old, 1960 reissue, and I used a couple of those on the new album.”
Dream Theater author Rich Wilson on his favorite Dream Theater songs:
“I was lucky enough to get into the band from their first album after hearing their demo played on a radio show here in the UK, back in 1989. So I do have a love for the likes of ‘Only a Matter of Time’ from their debut. I don’t think that you can go far wrong with their Scenes from a Memory album, or the title track from Octavarium. I know a lot of fans were turned off by the straight-ahead metal of the Train of Thought record, but to me it was fresh and something that needed to do to avoid becoming predictable. From recent releases, I do love ‘The Count of Tuscany’ and ‘This Is the Life’ from their last album. I think their hardest challenge from here is to avoid becoming predictable, and I do worry that they might end up like Rush - releasing a new album every so often that nobody really cares about and then doing a greatest hits tour. I think that’s something they’ll need to be wary of.”
Mick Jones of Foreigner on his Les Pauls:
“Onstage, I generally use a Tobacco ‘burst Les Paul Standard, a 1997. It’s not one of my originals, obviously – I don’t take those Les Pauls on tour anymore. They’re too valuable and I don’t want them to get damaged or even stolen. But my Tobacco ‘burst is a beautiful Les Paul and plays so well. And sounds fantastic.
“For the Gibson Mick Jones Les Paul Custom signature [now out of production- Editor], it was simply a copy of the first Les Paul Custom I used in Foreigner – a three-pickup ‘59. I had it specially wired, had the middle pickup taken out. And Gibson replicated it. I know other players have said this, but I could barely tell the difference between my original and the Gibson replica. All the little cracks and dings are all there. I even embarrass myself sometimes, when I pick up the wrong one!”
Sammy Hagar on what he looks for in a guitar like his Red Rocker Les Paul or Signature Explorer:
“When I pick up a guitar and put it on, sometimes I put it on and go ‘Gah, this isn’t me.’ I feel like it’s a wrestling match. But more than any other guitar, when I put a Gibson guitar on, it feels right to me. The neck feels right, the setup, I don’t know what it is. The Gibsons, the way they sound, they just work for me. It wasn’t my choice, it’s just the way it is. And now I’m such a Les Paul guy, even over the Explorer. One of my most famous guitars is my old Explorer from the Danger Zone record. That guitar’s so famous that in concert, if I bring that guitar out on the road and put it on, it gets a standing ovation. It cracks me up! I usually put it on if I’m going to play ‘Love Or Money.’
“But my Les Paul, man, when I look at it, my Les Pauls look like my guitars. I just see them and think ‘I’m a Les Paul player.’ They do that, man. And what I look for is comfort. It’s not going to resist me when I try to do something. And I don’t know what that is, if it’s the shape of the neck, the frets, the action - I don’t like high action, I like it low but not so low that it’s hard to bend notes - so there’s a lot of things that really matter to me. And I like simplicity. I used to only play one-pickup guitars with a toggle switch, on and off. I didn’t even have a volume control, because being a singer I can’t be bothering around with adjusting my volume and tone controls. Just give me a big long cord, plug it in to my Blackstar, crank it up, put it onto the rear pickup and go. If I’m taking a long solo I might flip it to the front pickup and turn it back just a little bit, play with a little more finesse and a little more soul, but in general I’m wide open, rear pickup. It’s just my style, y’know what I mean?”
Jars of Clay’s Matthew Odmark on his prized Gibsons: a ‘63 Non-Reverse Firebird , a ‘90s Reissue Reverse Firebird and a ‘70s Les Paul.
“The Gibsons are very special guitars to me, and all have come to me in very serendipitous ways. The ‘90s reissue was the first electric guitar that I got from Gibson... When I made the transition from primarily acoustic guitar on the records and in the shows, that was the guitar I played first. She is meaty and manly and I love her. The ‘63 Non-Reverse was a bit of pawnshop serendipity. I still have the $900 price tag on the guitar! I love that guitar.
“In many ways, she needed a lot of love and work to be brought back to her glory, but I decided rather than make her a museum piece, I wanted a guitar I could play… It was only recently that I decided that I wanted a Les Paul. I had always wanted one, going way back to high school, and so I just painstaking began scouring for the right one… She is wine red and just kills in all the ways you want a Les Paul to kill.”
Frankie Poullain of the Darkness on his love for Thunderbirds:
“I started off on bass, then went to guitar… and soon realized I should go back to bass. I like Gibson Thunderbirds for the shape, the sound, everything. Some people say the sound is bloated but I think they have a very subtle sound. Thunderbirds are loud, but with nuances. The slender neck is superb, so they’re equally fragile and a bit cumbersome, maybe a bit awkward for some people? But I like that.
“There’s something very precious about the Thunderbird’s design. It’s like Salvador Dali-designed jewelry, there’s an intrinsic beauty in a Gibson Thunderbird. I think they’re very “human” basses. It’s hard to put into words. That’s why music exists in the first place isn’t it? It’s not something you can describe with words. Trying to describe sound in words is a waste of time!
“But my brown Thunderbird is on every track of Permission to Land, it’s got a really nice warm sound. My white Thunderbird is louder live. So I use both. And I like it that Kings of Leon’s Jared Followill has brought Thunderbirds back into fashion. He’s a great bass player – indie, country, rock, all in one. And he uses a lot of effects. I like it rougher. Just stick it though a Hiwatt with a bit of Rat pedal at times. Raspy!”
Leo Nocentelli of the Meters on what’s special about the ES-335 “Bourbon Street” model guitar:
“The only thing that’s different is cosmetic. It’s got a standard ES-335 neck and electronics. But here’s the story. I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana — the home of Mardi Gras. So the guitar is the colors of Mardi Gras: purple, gold and green. The body is purple, the binding is gold and the pick guard is green. The guitar has my name on the truss rod. And it is great sounding. They made two prototypes for me. I love them and play them exclusively. I feel it’s an honor for me and I’d like to see more people be able to get them and maybe continue my legacy with this instrument. I’d be honored to have a production model come out before I die.”
311’s Nick Hexum on why he favors Gibsons:
“The feel, the tone, the look, the whole package. Gibsons are always warm enough and then when add the chimey-ness of a P-90 through my Analogman King of Tone overdrive and that baby just sings!”
Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid on using KRK’s ERGO system while on the road:
“What we want to hear is the purest version of what’s coming off the tape into our ears, to the mechanism that receives it. When I used the ERGO for the first time, I knew I was going to spend real time on it in the studio. I spent an hour doing all sorts of different spots and checks. What it seems to do is cancel out the bad stuff and make more of the good stuff.”
A Perfect Circle and ASHES dIVIDE’s Billy Howerdel on whether he used any Gibsons during the recording of A Perfect Circle’s new single, “By and Down”:
“Always! (Laughs) It’s all I really play. My main guitar is a 1960 reissue that is actually a happy accident. I was a guitar tech for Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails on their Downward Spiral Tour in 1994 or 1995. I went through a ton of guitars; let’s say 137 Les Pauls I had gone through. This was, by far, the best-sounding and playing one. I usually repaired all the guitars coming through. This guitar, the headstock got ripped off when it was thrown into the crowd, so I was trying to find a donor headstock for it. So, I got to put it back together, and it got put back together at the wrong angle for some reason, and the two woods didn’t match up. But, it was definitely a happy accident, and it lent itself to being more playable. It’s my favorite guitar. Anyone who has ever played it knows it’s something special.”