O'Brother In the Studio: Effect Pedals & the 'Wall of Sound'

Atlanta’s O’Brother draw from an eclectic mix of influences like Radiohead, the Melvins and Queens of the Stone Age, but manage to create a compelling cohesive sound all their own, thanks, in part, to the three-guitar attack of Tanner Merrit, Johnny Dang and Jordan McGhin. O'Brother's sophomore album Disillusion is out now.

Recording Disillusion was definitely a new and exciting process for us. It was our first time leaving home to make an album in a new place. Also, there were plenty of new toys in the studio for us to play with that had an enormous impact on the outcome of the record.

Our first LP Garden Window was tracked in Atlanta at Favorite Gentlemen studios owned by our good friends in the band Manchester Orchestra. At the time, their studio was pretty new and they didn’t have very many options in terms of amps and pedals. This meant that we primarily used all our own gear that we tour with and are used to using. So when it came to translating that record into a live scenario everything was pretty much the same.

With Disillusion the process was different. Each guitar part was dissected and then tracked through several different amps or pedal combinations, many of which, we were not initially familiar with. We would then listen back to the different tonal options, decide which was most appropriate, and then do several more takes with that setup. This approach, in my opinion, yielded some of the most interesting guitar tones our band has ever achieved. However, having access to all of those different amps and pedals is unrealistic for live shows, so adapting the songs to that setting has been different.

Luckily, we made friends with a few really awesome guitar pedal companies. We had met Ryan from Fuzzrocious Pedals not too long before going into record. He had sent us several pedals to try out and we fell in love with a few. Namely “The Demon” and “The Rat Tail”. Also, Mike Sapone (our producer) introduced us to Walrus Audio and we used several of their pedals on almost everything. After recording, we got in touch with them and started using a lot of those pedals live.

When rehearsing for this tour, we really had to nitpick what guitar effects were “necessary” live. I view our live sound differently than our recorded sound. It definitely has more of a “wall of sound” vibe. So a lot of the sounds and effects we use in studio aren’t as necessary. Overall, we love playing the new songs and feel it translates really well to a live setting.

Photo by gilphotography

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