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Spotlight: Aston Valladares of Towns

Aston Valladares
(Image credit: Ruby Boland)

ASTON VALLADARES

HAILS FROM: Adelaide, SA
PLAYS IN: Towns
SOUNDS LIKE: Instantly infectious pop-punk
LATEST DROP: "Swimming" (single out now independently)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
It’s basically a 2001 MIM Fender Stratocaster with one Seymour Duncan Invader in the bridge and one volume knob. I love it for sentimental reasons, but also putting it down to the bare minimum keeps me creative when I’m writing and playing because there’s less decisions to make – I just get to enjoy playing.

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
My grandfather was a full-time musician, and it always inspired me how he got do something he loved all day. So I always had guitars around growing up, and my grandfather showed me one or two chords and said, “Go for it.” I loved that I didn’t have a strict technique to follow, because it meant I didn’t have to sit in a box and worry about my method. My first guitar was a Squier Buller Stratocaster in Daphne Blue; it’s what I always saw bands playing, and my grandfather owned a couple so it was an easy choice.

What inspires you as a player?
Blink-182 are my biggest influence for many reasons. I’ve always loved being able to use a guitar to play all the songs I liked, and luckily for me, Blink songs were easy. I spent most of my time learning how to down-pick as fast as I could, and I honestly still do that whenever I can. I think I’m very particular about a really heavy-driven sound and a very clean sound when it comes to my playing and songwriting. Being the only guitarist in my band has made me become a very dynamic player to make it as interesting as I can for anyone seeing us live.

Are you much of a gear nerd?
I’ve become extremely obsessed with pedals over the last few years; it’s such a rabbithole, and I love knowing how pedals have changed throughout history. I’ve somehow acclimated two shelves of pedals I can’t let go of. It’s starting to take over my life a little too much. My dessert island pedal would be the Hungry Robot Wardenclyffe – it’s a chorus/vibrato/LFO/filter/pad reverb concoction that I love to death; probably the only pedal I’ve sat and played with on its own for four hours straight.

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
Probably the most unattainable at this point is a Gibson ES-335 in, like, a worn cherry finish. I also love the Bilt SS Zaftigs. I’ve seen a few original Fender Starcasters go up on Reverb and they’re always extremely expensive, but one day would be a dream come true to own. Something more just tricky to find is the red ProCo RAT pedal. I have a red pedalboard, so having a red RAT on there would make my eyes and ears smile.

What would your signature model look like?
I’ve already got this thought out 1,000 percent. I don’t care who makes it, but if you can, please hit me up. It would be a Thinline Jazzmaster-style guitar in either Daphne or Sonic Blue with a white tort pickguard, two Lollar P-90s, a three-way selector, one master volume and one master tone, Starcaster headstock and rosewood fingerboard. Normal full-length scale, six strings, and it has to plug in and make sound. I’m a sucker for some cream binding around the edges, too.

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
My brain told me to say John Lennon, but I’ve actually seen him yell at his bandmates so let’s give that one a miss and appreciate from a distance. I always have fun playing with any guitarist. I’m in a two-piece band, so I play alone a lot of the time anyway. Albert Hammond Jr. seems lovely and the way his Strat sounds is magical, so I’d happily play the rhythm to “Last Nite”. That counter rhythm thing in the verses sounds wicked cool.