Dear Guitar Hero: Lee Malia of Bring Me the Horizon Talks Gear, Inspiration, Gary Moore and More
He’s the guitarist for one of England’s most dangerous metalcore bands. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is …
I’m really excited to hear your new album, Sempiternal. What can you tell us about it? Will there be more solos on it than on your last album [2010’s There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret]? — Gernot Musker
We have a new member in the band, [keyboardist] Jordan Fish, and he made it easy for me to write with him. Because he’s doing a lot of digital stuff, like keyboard parts and making beats, I was able to do more experimental, ambient-sounding parts, using effects in verses. I liked that I didn’t have to play the main rhythm riff all the time, because he did it on the keys. Overall, there’s a lot more twiddly things, but not necessarily solos. I play little bits, but nothing like a classic-rock solo.
I can’t seem to find an answer to why guitarist Jona Weinhofen left the band. Can you set the record straight for your fans? — Azrul Aiman Jinih Matrin
I can’t. Sorry. We’re not allowed to comment on it for legal reasons, so that’s probably why you can’t find an answer.
I have noticed your sound has changed a lot since you recorded Suicide Season [BMTH’s 2008 breakthrough album]. What kind of amp setup do you use for recording now? — Jessica-Lyn Saunders
I use a Marshall JCM 800 and a Marshall speaker cabinet. My main overdrive pedal on the CD is a Klon Centaur, and that’s the core of my sound. I don’t use that pedal live, though. At concerts, I use a Fulltone OCD Overdrive, because the Klon is so hard to get a hold of. The one I used belonged to the studio, but the company has stopped making them. They’re worth about £700 [$1,062] on eBay. The OCD is closest I can find to the Klon.
I fell in love with your First Act Custom Sheena guitar the moment I saw it. You never seem to play it anymore. You’ve switched to Les Paul Standards at live shows. Why did you change it up? — Mitch
It’s because I started working with Gibson. They were cool enough to give me some guitars, so I started playing them live. I’ve still got my First Act Sheena, though, and I played it on some of the songs on the new album. My main guitars in the studio were a Les Paul Standard, the First Act Sheena and a semihollow Rickenbacker that worked great for clean sounds.
Onstage, I’m using a Les Paul Standard and a Les Paul Supreme. The songs I wrote on the Sheena sound great on the Les Paul, because I use the same pickup in each guitar: a Bare Knuckle Warpig. I love the fit of the Les Paul, as well as the thickness of the neck and the overall weight of the guitar. I use a really thick set of strings [a custom .080-gauge set from Ernie Ball], so the Les Paul’s higher frets help with that.
Why do you use such massive guitar-string gauges? — Eric Bauer
I was playing normal strings for ages. We tune low, to C standard or drop-As, so I started using a .070 on the lowest string. When I got the First Act Sheena, they drilled the bridge so I could fit an .080-gauge bass string in there, and I started using that. Then Ernie Ball was cool enough to make me custom .080-gauge guitar strings, and I’ve been using them ever since. Since we tune so low, there is a noticeable difference in the sound of heavier gauge strings as compared to normal ones. I play a lot of single-string riffs, so the heavier strings keep it sounding solid.
When you’re playing live, what is your first and last activity before and after you hit the stage? — Paulina
I usually just put my stinky show clothes on and get offended by how bad they smell, and then go onstage. And then I change out of them as fast as I can after.
What do you keep on your pedal board, and what pedal would you say is essential to your overall sound? — Eliot Day
The OCD Overdrive I mentioned before is the most essential, since it adds to my distortion. My pedal board also contains a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, so it sounds pretty tight live. And if ever I do any leads, I use a Boss DD-7 Digital Delay and a Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb. Those have been my go-to pedals for leads since Suicide Season. They’re really good pedals; they might never break. They always work for me, so I’ve stuck with them. I have a couple Electro-Harmonix pedals, too, but I mostly just use the Boss ones.
I’ve been trying to get faster at shredding for solos, but I just can’t get it. Do you have any tips? — Robert Maros
I’m not the best shredder in the world. I’d say to start slow and learn your basic scales and learn how to alternate-pick perfectly. Once your fingers know where they’re going, you don’t have to think about it. Then it’s muscle memory. Just take it slow.
Why don’t you play shred solos and leads anymore, like on [2006’s] Count Your Blessings — Mark Castelan
I think the sound of the band has progressed. Shredding is amazing if it suits the group, but if I did a lot of sweeping on our current songs, it would probably sound like rubbish or like I was trying to show off. I’m just trying to play what the song needs. If it needs a solo, these days for us it’s probably not going to be a shred solo. It will be a cool melody. I don’t want to show off.