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Spotlight: Josh Renjen of Drown This City

Drown This City
(Image credit: Nathaniel Smith)

JOSH RENJEN

HAILS FROM: Melbourne, VIC
PLAYS IN: Drown This City
SOUNDS LIKE: Concrete-shattering metalcore with an ambient flair
LATEST DROP: Colours We Won't Know (EP out Friday May 28th via UNFD)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
I’ve mainly been using an Ibanez RGD7UC. I purchased it from an online seller in 2016 and it’s been my go-to seven-string since. I love the feel and speediness that the neck holds, and the Tight-End bridge is comfortable and holds the string reliably. It’s stock loaded with a pair of BKP Aftermaths that are aggressive and punchy. Whilst I love the RGD and it has served me well, I do have a couple of guitars on order at the moment, which will replace it in my live rig.

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
I’m not sure if I can really put it down to one thing. I remember always wanting to play the guitar when I was a kid, but I don’t think it was until I was listening to Iron Maiden and Metallica in the mid-2000s that I really wanted to play. My parents ended up getting me some guitar lessons, and soon enough I was after an electric guitar. I ended up getting a B.C. Rich Warlock for some insane reason, which I just played metal riffs on until I purchased a tobacco ESP Horizon, which was the main guitar that I learned and practiced on when I was a teenager. I was involved in the school stage/concert bands at the time, so I ended up playing a lot of jazz throughout high school and at home, and I feel like that’s been a huge help to my own writing even today. 

What inspires you as a player?
Jon Deiley would definitely be one of my main influences as a guitarist; his work in Northlane has been a constant inspiration to my playing over the years. Mitch Stark from Silent Planet is also incredibly talented, and I’ve always been a sucker for Marc Okubo’s guitar work in Veil Of Maya. I think I just love groovy riffs and intricate leads, so I try to incorporate those elements into my own playing style as much as possible.

Are you much of a gear nerd?
I’m probably not as much of a gear nerd as I used to be. Over the years I’ve owned and used a number of different amp combinations, including a Peavey 6534+ and an EVH 5150III 50W, an Orange PPC 412 – that kind of thing. I’ve had a few different effects pedals and rack units for things like drop tuning and gating, and I guess my love for effects started when I first owned a POD X3 Live pedal board; that thing was so much fun back in the day. For the last few years, I’ve been running an Axe Fx-II Mk 2 that stores all of my edited patches and effects for my own playing and in Drown. I’m currently waiting on my order of the new Neural DSP Quad Cortex to arrive – once I’ve dialled in some tones and had a play with it, I’m hoping it will be the start of a live rig rebuild.

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
It’d be pretty damn cool to get my hands on a 1990 Ibanez UV77. I mean, the likelihood is low, but I can dream, right? There was a time when I listened to a lot of Steve Vai and other virtuoso guitarists, and feel like this would probably be my grail guitar if I was ever able to find one. If I had to pick another, I haven’t been able to try out Stephen Carpenter’s ESP STEF-T7B yet, so I would probably like to give that a go.

What would your signature model look like?
I’m not 100 percent on all the specs, but it’d definitely be a seven-string baritone in a 27-inch scale and a bevelled edge on the body. I’d have a three-way toggle with a coil tap on the volume knob for splitting, and a set of Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers loaded as well. It would be handy to have Luminlays installed too, and a reverse headstock just because they’re sick. 

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
Just for fun, it’d be wild to play through “Killing With A Smile” with the Parkway Drive boys. That just sounds like a good time, right?