The Amazons' Chris Alderton: “Is it boring if I go with three distortion pedals? I do like things quite loud!”

Chris Alderton
(Image credit: Roberto Finizio/Redferns)

After two top 10 albums, The Amazons are back with their most uplifting work yet, the sun-drenched, acoustic-tinged How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?

Fresh from showcasing the new songs on home turf at this year’s Reading Festival, lead guitarist Chris Alderton discusses his unwieldy pedalboard and a “deranged” solo.

What guitar did you use most on the record?

“My main guitar, both live and in the studio, is a Duesenberg Caribou from 2015.”

Name three pedals you couldn’t have made the record without.

“I have a Fulltone OCD that I use as my main distortion and a JHS Muffuletta that I use on the ‘JHS’ setting – it always sounds massive. Is it boring if I go with three distortion pedals? I do like things quite loud! I very recently actually moved away from these, but I’m going to say it anyway because I still love them: I have a TC Electronic Flashback X4 and it’s a very affordable option. 

“It was one of the very first pedals I ever had and I’ve struggled to take it off my ’board. I only did so recently because I’ve moved to a MIDI controller that helps me change my settings. Strymon makes stuff with those inputs, which is kind of irresistible.” 

Will that make life much easier on stage? 

“Yes! My pedalboard is slowly getting bigger and bigger and it was a lot to do on stage. There’s a moment in Black Magic where I’m changing six pedals at once. It really was like tap dancing, and I’d be doing it a bar before the actual change to try and ease it. I got a GigRig G2 recently which has transformed everything. Now I can relax, focus on my playing and explore the stage.” 

What’s your guitar amp of choice and how do you like to set it? 

“It’s hands down my Vox AC15. I got that for my 18th birthday and I’ve never played a gig without it. I have it set with pretty much everything at zero apart from the master volume at full, and the ‘Normal’ channel at about halfway. If I’m boosting my pedals or really driving the amp, it almost compresses everything and adds a little bit of that tube sound.”

If I’m boosting my pedals or really driving the amp, it almost compresses everything and adds a little bit of that tube sound

Which of the new songs are you most excited to play live? 

“There’s a lot! We had so much fun recording this album and I did a lot of it in my flat in London. I was in an attic on the hottest day of the year and we were writing One By One. We’d got everything down, but it was missing something. I was in my pants with a Pink Paisley Japanese Telecaster, an EBow and a slide. 

“I recorded this deranged, heat-powered solo. It sits back in the mix, but it’s this ascending pattern that happens through the end of the song. I would really like to play that live, but we’ll need more guitarists on stage. It’s one of my favourite moments on the album and we actually kept it from the demo.”

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Since graduating from university with a degree in English, Ellie has spent the last decade working in a variety of media, marketing and live events roles. As well as being a regular contributor to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and GuitarWorld.com, she currently heads up the marketing team of a mid-scale venue in the south-west of England. She started dabbling with guitars around the age of seven and has been borderline obsessed ever since. She has a particular fascination with alternate tunings, is forever hunting for the perfect slide for the smaller-handed guitarist, and derives a sadistic pleasure from bothering her drummer mates with a preference for “f**king wonky” time signatures.