“I don't want to carry around a spaceship-sized board, so I try to keep it simple. The first spot goes to my Shure GLXD6 wireless – but since it doesn’t have an input for using its tuner without the transmitter, I have a TC Electronic PolyTune as a backup. That goes into the DigiTech Drop [which provides nine polyphonic drop tune settings from one semitone to a full octave], because we might use four to seven different tunings on any given night.
“The Drop goes into my T-Rex Octavius, which has become Norma Jean’s signature-sound pedal. The way it can mix in low and high octaves while also having a built-in boost is very helpful. It adds what I call a 'chaos' element.
“From there, I go straight into the Walrus Audio Iron Horse, which I use for a few key moments where I can crank the pedal and push it to the nastiest extent with a bunch of bonus feedback. In conjunction with the T-Rex, the Iron Horse gives me a doomsday sound by stacking layers of distortion.
“That goes into the Maxon ST-9 Pro+ Super Tube. I like it for the moments when I need a tighter, more razor-sharp-type tone. I usually keep it in Classic mode, with the drive off and the level cranked to 10. I needed a serious noise gate to help wrangle all that stuff in, and the only thing that’s been able to do the job is the Fortin Amplification Zuul Noise Gate. Its setting ultimately depends on whether the stage is carpeted or wood and how far I am from the cab, but the Zuul can handle it all.”
“Then we head into a Walrus Audio Fathom; it’s the perfect amount of reverb without being too much. That goes into a Boss DD-7, which I use on one or two songs. It’s a very choppy delay, but it and the Fathom work well together for the more ambient interludes and lower-volume moments.
“The last thing is a Line 6 HX Effects pedal, Ernie Ball volume pedal and Morley ABY switcher/combiner, which is separate from the rest of my stuff. I use it just for slide, running a patch with compressor, delay and octave effects, all of which make the slide slightly fuller-sounding. It’s a simple setup, and the HX Effects turned out to be much easier than putting a whole other ’board together just for playing slide.”
If I had to choose one pedal for a full show...
“The T-Rex Octavius impacts Norma Jean the most. It’s the only pedal I’ve found that does what it does. There are a lot of parts in our set that rely on that low-end muddiness.”
- Norma Jean tour the US with Memphis May Fire in July.