HAILS FROM: Los Angeles, California USA
SOUNDS LIKE: Widescreen indie with a wry folk bite
LATEST DROP: Sucker Supreme (LP out now via Epitaph)
What’s your current go-to guitar?
I play a Fender Stratocaster with a humbucker on the bridge pickup, purchased from a Sam Ash in the suburbs around 2009. It’s yellow – painfully yellow – and I love it because it’s the guitar I know best.
How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
I think my first guitar was a super, super cheap Yamaha acoustic starter guitar from that same suburban Sam Ash, purchased when I was 13 for a music class at school. No glamour or history, but still life-changing.
What inspires you as a player?
As a late teen I was really into folk music, so I played a lot of flat-picking and fingerpicking. Anais Mitchell is known for her songwriting, but she also has a very distinct claw-hammery guitar style that I found to be very inspiring. As I got a little older I got into mathy stuff – I was listening to TTNG and Toe and those types of bands, but I was mostly playing bass. These days, when it comes to writing, I find myself looking for tunings that inspire simple, memorable chord shapes; never more than the lowest four strings on the guitar. I like big, stupid powerchords that still feel personal. I like to allow my vocal melodies to elaborate on the underlying harmony. If I’m writing guitar parts for a record, they’re probably informed by my deep abiding love for the wiry single‑note melodies of psychedelic Cumbia music, à la The Roots Of Chicha. I am, fortunately, not the only guitarist who plays on my records.
Are you much of a gear nerd?
I’m am not. I understand that people love to collect gear as a hobby on its own, and there are certainly musicians who have an ear for the distinct differences in timbre between comparable reverb pedals, or vintages of a particular guitar. Even so, gear is expensive, and a good piece of musical equipment should give you a lot to work with for a long time. Like I said, some musicians are experts and aficionados, but I’ve encountered plenty of people with expensive pedalboards who aren’t very musical at all. I do think I would enjoy building a pedal at some point. Electronics are a totally alien realm to me, and I have had a lot of fun cruising the internet for explainer videos and little breadboard synth kits to build.
Do you have any ‘white whales’?
Yes! I do! Keith Armstrong, who mixed my third album, has a teal Danelectro baritone guitar that I cannot find online. It’s a solidbody (mine is semi-hollow), and it’s got kind of a square headstock with the tuning pegs on both sides. Did I mention it’s teal? Keith knows it’s special, too. Decidedly not for sale.
What would your signature model look like?
Two necks, plastic body… Okay no, but the truth is I have no idea. I follow a luthier named Leila Sidi (TunaTone Instruments) and if you told me to come up with a custom guitar, I would just contact her as quickly as possible, because she makes beautiful instruments.
If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
Maybe Frances Quinlan of Hop Along. The guitar on the Hop Along records is frenetic and mind-blowing. Or the band Black Ends – or Screaming Females, who I’m sure Black Ends get compared to. I would want to make a big, giant, freaky guitar art piece with any of them, record a million angry and tight riffs to mix and match and layer on top of one another, like a big modular electric guitar orchestra that anyone could compose with. Or whatever. I’m open to ideas.