Brent Hinds can be a hard man to track down.
If he’s not touring the world with Mastodon, jamming in the California desert with pal Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal or hewing trees into life-size totems at his Atlanta home, you might find the guitarist woodshedding with his new side project Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, a group of heavy music all-stars that also features Dillinger Escape Plan shredder Ben Weinman and Alice in Chains vocalist William Duvall.
Which is all to say the guitarist is often, and rightly so, inaccessible for phone calls.
Guitar World has been hunting Hinds to get the story on his new collaboration with Epiphone: the Ltd. Ed. Brent Hinds Flying-V Custom. After a few days of missed connections Hinds finally picks up the phone in New Jersey, where he’s been testing his new guitar during rehearsals with Giraffe Tongue Orchestra for their live debut this August at the Reading Festival in England.
“For five days in a row—from one in the afternoon to midnight—I’ve been playing the new GTO stuff, which goes from very melancholy to cascading to distorted to clean,” says Hinds. “And this guitar’s shining like a diamond!”
Hinds has long been associated with Flying Vs, and throughout his career with Mastodon he’s employed classic Gibson 1979 and ’82 models, as well as a Flying V Silverburst made for him by the Gibson Custom Shop. Though an agreement to create a Brent Hinds production series V was never reached with Gibson, the folks at Epiphone stepped up and the guitarist couldn’t be more smitten with the partnership. “I’m pretty disgruntled with the Gibson people,” Hinds admits. “But Epiphone, if I could give them all a hug or a Valentine’s card I would!”
Hinds’ Custom Shop Silverburst served as the starting point for the Epiphone design, and after a few rounds of prototypes they delivered exactly what he was after: a classic Flying V body style in mahogany with a killer Silverburst finish, “1958” rounded-profile mahogany set neck with a 24.75-inch scale length, ebony fingerboard, 22 medium jumbo frets and classic V headstock adorned with Hinds’ signature skull logo on the back. The Flying-V Custom is also equipped with his high-output Lace Brent Hinds Hammer Claws Humbuckers.
Because of his aggressive playing style, one of Hinds’ main design requirements for Epiphone was that his guitar needed to withstand myriad abuses and stay perfectly in tune. The company addressed his concerns by adding an Epiphone LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge, a traditional V tailpiece with a classic string-thru-body design, and Grover Rotomatics 18:1 ratio machine heads, which provide an incredibly accurate turning ratio.
“I emphasized to them that I’m gonna wank, spank, slobber, bleed, bend, crunch and crush all over this fucking thing and the guitar’s gonna need to be able to handle the monster behind it,” Hinds says. “But I’ve been playing the piss out of it and the guitar didn’t break a sweat on the tuning issues, going from drop A to drop B to standard 440.”
While Hinds is currently busy prepping GTO for their live shows and forthcoming as-yet-untitled full-length debut (which is scheduled for release later this year), he reveals that as we speak Mastodon are also working on a follow-up to their last album, 2014’s Once More Round the Sun.
“It’s shaping up to be a double album,” says the guitarist. “One is an album I wrote myself, and recorded with [drummer] Brann [Dailor] and [bassist/vocalist] Troy [Sanders] during the Once More Round the Sun sessions. My part is called Cold Dark Place, and it has to do with a nasty breakup that I went through. I wrote some pretty dark, beautiful, spooky, funky, ethereal, melancholy music, which also sounds like the Bee Gees a little bit. [laughs]
“The other guys are writing another album, which I haven’t even heard yet so I can’t tell you what it sounds like. But I’ll come in to give some noodle-y leads here and there. And for sure I’ll be recording with my new signature Flying V…while standing on top of a chair with a werewolf mask on. And that’s not a joke; I really do that. I never sit down to record. You can’t sit down and play a Flying V, everyone knows that.”