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Interview: Periphery Guitarist Misha Mansoor

If there's a fall tour that's got the Guitar World office abuzz, it's got to be the Frak The Gods tour -- a month-long run of shows that kicks off this Friday in Baltimore, Maryland. The mini-tour will serve as a studio break for headliners Periphery, who will be joined on the road by The Human Abstract and The Contortionist.

A week from kicking off the Frak The Gods tour, we caught up with Periphery guitarist Misha Mansoor to talk about what fans can expect from the tour, and get a studio update on the -- not one, but two -- albums Periphery are working on.

You can find all of the dates for the Frak The Gods tour on Periphery's official Facebook page.

GUITAR WORLD: So are you guys still holed up in the studio right now?

We're actually practicing for the tour right now. We're preparing some new material that we haven't really played ever, or with this lineup. We're playing this song from the end of our first album [2010's Periphery], "Racecar," that's 15 minutes long. We're trying to prepare that one for the tour, and as you can imagine, it's a bit of work! It's basically like learning three songs in a row that don't have breaks. [laughs]

Are there any other surprises fans can expect on the upcoming tour? I know you guys played a new song, "Face Palm Mute," at Sonipshere.

Yeah, we're going to play "Face Palm Mute," which is one of the songs that's gonna be on the new album. At least... we're still writing and we're still touring with stuff, which is a very different approach from the last album, which was pretty much written by me on a computer. This time around, we're jamming on the ideas before we committ to them, so it's very possible that the version we're playing live right now might not be the version that ends up on the album.

We're also working on "All New Materials," which is a song that a lot of people have been asking us to play for a while, but we just haven't had the time to practice and make sure that we can nail it.

Speaking of "Face Palm Mute," you guys are working on two different albums. Any idea which album the song will be on?

It'll be on "the regular album," but we have a concept album we're working on as well. The concept album will come out second, hopefully next year, but it'll definitely be recorded next year. But "Face Palm Mute" will be on the album that we record first and hopefully that album should be out in late spring/early summer.

Any idea on a title for that one?

Nah, we just call it "the regular album" for now. It'll probably have a really silly name if it has one.

You guys parted ways with your former guitarist, Alex Bois, recently. Who will be taking his spot on the first leg of the tour?

On this U.S. headliner we're going to be taking our good friend Mark Holcombe, since he lives like a mile away me. It's very convenient.

I guess what we've found so far is that we have enough friends who can play our material in Europe and in the States that we can have fill-ins in the time being, and that works out pretty well. So we still have the core five members of the band and we just have live fill-ins. We're going to try that out and see how it works, but I'm really excited to take him out on the road because he's an awesome dude.

Have you had the chance to put much thought into a permanent repacement yet?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's kind of our approach right now. If at some point it's like, "This guy feels right, I'd be cool with this guy being the one," then we would consider that. But I feel like there's no reason to rush it.

And you guys aren't the only ones dealing with a member loss. The Human Abstract just lost their singer...

Right. I actually pointed them in the direction of their new singer when that happened. There are good musicians out there, and if you're willing to work with them -- and that's to the internet and networking and all that, sometimes you can find new members pretty fast when you need to.

In terms of your life setup for this tour, is your rig fairly unchanged? Are you still running the Axe FX?

Yeah but we're actually trying something cool and different this time around. We've been using these Mackie monitors -- the HD 1221 wedges -- as just a personal monitoring system. And what we used to do was plug the Axe FX into that, so instead of having a cab behind you, you have a wedge in front of you, and it's super consistant with the Axe FX being direct. You get the same tones every night, which is kind of a big problem with monitors whenever you play anywhere. The monitor, the board, the room -- it's all going to be different. And sometimes your guitar tone will be really awesome, and sometimes it won't be.

But then the rest of the mix was very inconsistent because of that very reason; it was only the guitars that were consistent.

So what we've put together for this tour is to take a board that would be used for an in-ear rig, and each guitarist has two of these wedges, and we hook it up to this board so that every member has their very own individual stereo mix tht can be adjusted on the fly. It sounds incredible.

I can set things up just how I want and pan things just how I want, so I'll have a little bit of Jake coming out of the right one, a little bit of Mark coming out of the left one, I have just the right amount of kick... It's nice, everyone has their own mix. You get the mix control that you get with in ears, but you get the power because you have air shooting at your body, so it's kind of a cool middle ground.

What guitars are you going to be taking on the road with you?

That is a loaded question, my friend! [laughs]

I'm probably in the range of 10 different guitars I'm going to take out with me. This is our headliner, so I thought I'd go all out. Plus, we're doing this VIP meet and greet thing where kids can meet us and try our guitars out, so I figured I'd get all the brands I'm playing.

I've got my Decibel custom seven string, which is one of the sweetest seven strings -- it looks insane. I've got my Bernie Rico six and seven strings that are going to be coming out, which are kind of like my road work-horses because they're so reliable. And I might have a third one that might be ready in time.

I'm bringing a Jackson custom shop model that they sent me -- because I'm working with Jackson now -- and they also sent me this Adrian Smith Strat, which is like the coolest guitar ever. It's very un-me, but it works well.

There's just so many guitars, I'm afraid I'm gonna miss some. [laughs]

I've got a Mayones six string, which is really sick. I've got an Ibanez RJ420Z. I'm gonna bring out my Ernie Ball BFR Petrucci with the Rosewood neck.

Why so many? Not that too many guitars is ever a bad thing...

You've gotta realize on six strings we play in the three different tunings and on seven strings we play in two, so I'm trying to have it where we don't actually need to tune the guitars. It takes out that variable of tuning; when you have three guitars and one's out of tune, it just messed everything up. We should sound a lot better for having a mobile Guitar Center with us on the road. [laughs]

Periphery are hitting the road as part of the Frak The Gods tour with The Human Abstract and The Contortionist on September 2. You can find the full tour intenerary here.