New Jersey’s Gaurav Bali and his band, Eve to Adam, blend hard rock with memorable melodies and tasty guitar work. The band has been building momentum over the course of their decade-plus history and relentless touring. On the eve of the release of their latest album, Locked & Loaded, I chatted with Bali about gear, recording and a wide range of topics. For more about the band, check out evetoadam.com.
GUITAR WORLD: How did you come to join Eve to Adam? Most of the guys in the band are originally from the South, and you're a New Jersey boy.
You're right, there's more Southern blood in the band now, but they actually got here fairly recently! I joined the band when Taki [Sassaris, lead vocals] and Alex [Sassaris, drums] moved to New York City from Florida and they saw my ad in the Village Voice. We hit it off right away and have been the core of Eve to Adam ever since. The "newer" Southerners are Luis Espaillat [bass/vocals] from Nashville and Adam Latiff [rhythm guitar/vocals] from Jacksonville. There really wasn't as much Southern blood here until this year, but I'm holding my own!
Your grandfather was an accomplished sitarist. Did that have any impact on you in your pursuit of the guitar?
Absolutely. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple of years before I was born and so I grew up only hearing stories about him from my family. I also have a cassette of him playing on the radio in India that my dad taped on an old hand-held recorder. I eventually ran it through some gear in my home studio to clean it up a bit and put it on CD and mp3 so it would be safe.
He was an award-winning sitarist in the 1930s, but pursuing a career in music was impossible because he got married and had kids. I think maybe my dad saw a certain sadness in him because of that and didn't want me to go through the same thing. I really feel that's why my entire family has always been so supportive of me. They know what a gift it is to have the opportunity to make music every day. So yeah my grandfather has had a huge impact on me because I realize how lucky I am to have the life he never could have.
Your slide solo in "Straightjacket Supermodel" really stands out as being unique in modern hard rock. Do you play a lot with a slide or was that just something you just tried and it worked?
I'm definitely not a slide player, but I feel comfortable enough to use it for certain things. I've used a slide for overdubs over the years, but I didn't really use one for a melodic solo until "Straitjacket." I had a great chord progression to solo over and really wanted to play something that would be an essential part of the song. I wanted it to sound creepy, melodic and memorable, and it didn't seem like a standard solo would fit. I started messing around with a slide, and much to my surprise the basic melody and vibe of the final solo came out pretty quickly. In fact, Eric Bass [Shinedown bassist and co-writer of the track] turned to me and said, “That’s way different than what I would've thought of, but it works perfectly!”
How was the experience of touring in support of Creed?
It was a blast and it spoiled us rotten. We were playing amazing venues like the Beacon Theatre in New York City and the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut in front of thousands of people every night. The experience of performing on these huge stages was priceless, as well as the friendships we built with them. For such a successful band to be so cool and gracious to their support act is rare, and we really appreciated it.
Also, the tour directly shaped the course of our new record, Locked & Loaded, because of our friendship with Mark Tremonti. He's a great guy, and we started hanging out a lot over the course of the tour. Eventually, he played us the Tremonti album [All I Was], and we said, “Who recorded this? It sounds amazing!'” When we found out it was “Elvis” Baskette, we asked Mark to get us in touch with him and put in a good word for us. Like a true brother, Mark hooked us up and Elvis ended up producing most of the songs and mixing all but one on the record. So touring with Creed had a major impact on our career in more ways than one.
You play the EVH Wolfgang primarily. Why is it such a good fit for your playing?
It just sounds and plays great. I actually began playing the 5150 III heads first. I loved the sound of them with my Fender Strat HSS Deluxe, but I kept watching videos of Eddie saying that the amps and guitars were really made to work together. When we played in Phoenix on the Creed tour, Erock [Creed guitarist] introduced me to Chris Cannella from EVH and we started to build a relationship.
A few months later, I got a three-tone burst Wolfgang and absolutely fell in love with it because it had everything I needed, like the D-Tuna, etc. Earlier this year, I got a black hard tail to perform three of our new songs that are tuned to drop C. The thing never goes out of tune. All the EVH stuff sounds great for what I need to do and is extremely versatile.
Your tone is dirty but at the same time very clean, almost like a David Gilmour. What are you using on the back end for amplification?
Wow, that's quite a compliment! Thanks. The "dirty but clean" tone is exactly what we were shooting for. The solos were primarily recorded with my three-tone burst Wolfgang USA played through a 5150 III 100-watt head. On a couple of solos, I also used a Bogner head, but I don't remember the exact model. That's one of the main things I love about the EVH stuff — the guitars and amps can get a very defined overdriven sound. It's also really cool that I was able to use my live setup for recording because my tone for the shows is basically identical to the record.
Eve to Adam’s new album, Lock & Loaded, will be released September 17. Visit evetoadam.com for updated tour information.
John Katic is a writer and podcaster who founded the Iron City Rocks Podcast in 2009. It features interviews with countless rock, hard rock, metal and blues artists. In 2013, he started Heavy Metal Bookclub, a podcast and website devoted to hard rock and metal books.