This episode of In the Head of the Artists is with Test subject and Jabberwocky of Splintered Halo! NHC's resident guitar geek Martin McCann gets the lowdown on their set ups and finds out what they have been using both in the studio and live.
*Images from Waysted Photography
WARNING - this article may be steeped in guitar geekiness, proceed with caution!
You both have specific roles in splintered halo, with the visual aspect of the show being a big part of the bands live performance. Can you give us some history on your previous musical endeavours and what sparked you to get started with guitar?
Jabberwocky- I was always interested in music as a child, i was a big fan of film and game soundtracks and i got into Iron Maiden and Metallica when i was about 8.
I originally started playing bass when i was about 13, after a few years of messing about with a couple of bands i started playing guitar when i was 15 so that i could learn Final Fantasy and Zelda songs among other video game soundtracks. It was around this time that i was really heavily into Black Metal and began a one man project that lasted a couple of years but never really went anywhere. After that i started an instrumental video game cover band with my friends, we would play songs from games like Tetris, Street Fighter and Donkey Kong Country along with some covers of bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica and Pendulum.
My last band before Splintered Halo was a hard rock band that i played bass for, i was with them for a couple of years.
Test Subject - I came from a family that loved so many types of music, I can't even begin to describe it. I was shown bands like Black Sabbath at the age of 5, By the age of 11 I received an Epiphone Les Paul, But I hated it, If I had never brought a strat the next year I would be a drummer. Originally I started off with covers of songs by Metallica, Sabbath, etc. But around the age of 15 I started really enjoying classical music, And decided it was the direction for me too go with learning guitar. Over the last 7 years I have sat in a room practicing Anything from Mozart too Nobou Uematsu's (Final Fantasy's Composer) Pieces.
Tools of the trade - tell us about your favourite guitars, the one you go to first. What do you like about it above all others. And any close seconds, don't spare the details. And I'm sure there were some that got away, is there any you regret losing for whatever reason?
Jabberwocky- The first guitar i owned (and still my favourite) is my Ibanez Iceman, i bought it from a friend of mine that was selling that and a schecter, i really liked the look of the Iceman and i knew i needed to own it. Sam Totman from Dragonforce, Paul Stanely from Kiss and Daron Vartan Malakian from System of a Down are all big influences of mine, the common thread being they are all Iceman users.
My Iceman is my true love, i have a decent collection of guitars but the Iceman is my go to guitar, as for other ones i'm more of a collector in a sense, i can't stop buying guitars even though i don't need any more.
Test Subject- My current guitar is a Jackson SLATXSD 3-7, I don't particularly Float towards specific brands or models. Over the last 2 years I have been playing on 7 string, So alot of the decision of buying guitars has turned too "Which 7 string has the best features without breaking the bank" The answer at the time was the SLAT series.
These go to 11 - what's your choice for amplification and given the chance what would be your ideal rig for live shows or playing at home. Do you need a specific type (heads or combos) or can you make anything work for you ?? What's your thoughts on the latest amp modeling options - do you think it will retire the old classics?
Jabberwocky- I use a Crate GLX1200H amp head, i also own the combo GLX212. For Splintered Halo i take my amp head to every gig, i've used it for years and it's served me well. As i'm mainly a rhythm guitarist i can make do with most amps that have decent gain.
In my experience i'd say there's more and more people using amp modelling these days but you're always gonna have folk that will prefer a classic amp and use pedals to get the sounds they want.
Test Subject- Peavey. All the way too the ends of the earth, I have not found another Solid State Amp series with such a good clean tone. I currently use a Peavey Supreme XL.
Amp Modelling is a tricky situation in my eyes, I don't think any amp modelling option will ever beat the real thing, it can be damned close, But when I look at Twelve Foot Ninja, I see some insane things that can be done with the Variax/Line 6 POD setup that really makes me jealous.
Effects and pedals - There's a fair bit of variety in Splintered Halo's music - certainly not your run of the mill metal band. What are your current little boxes of tricks? Is there any effects that have survived on your board over the years?
Jabberwocky- Up until recently i relied on the effects that my amp provided, usually chorus, reverb and echo but i would add other effects if needed.
I bought a Sine Effects Disphoria Distortion pedal which i used for practices and i would highly reccomend Since Effects, they have some really cool stuff.
At the end of last year i bought a Line 6 Floor Pod Plus and i'm loving it! It has more effects than i know what to do with, i've only used it live twice, the first time was when we supported Devilment in December and most recently when we supported Evil Scarecrow at the end of last month. The most notable sound i've crafted with it is a really creepy clean sound that i use for the clean sections of Diabolus, Mad Love and Rise.
Test Subject- Tom Morello was a huge inspiration for me thoughtout the time I first started playing. I got a Digitech RP90, Which Crapped out around 5 years ago. Then I got an RP255, Which is Currently on the way out, I plan to either upgrade too the RP500, or start on a pedal board. I don't know yet, but I'll find out soon! The effects I would use in an ideal situation (As I said that pedal is on the way out) Would be chorus, Harmony, Delay & Vibrato.
Bits and pieces - when on tour or playing local is there anything specific you can't do without? From picks to strings, cables and capos - the little things can mean a lot. Any pro tricks you've pick up along the way you'd like to share with us?
Jabberwocky- Until i got my Line 6 Pod i would never go to a gig with out my Boss Tuner, i had that at almost every single gig i played. Other than that it's a case of making sure i leave a gig with all of my leads and picks which i'm sure you know can be a nuisance
Test Subject- A low B string.
And finally, which guitarist has caught your ear recently. What inspires you to keep playing and who was your first guitar hero?
Jabberwocky- I've been listening to Plini alot recently, he's an incredibly talented guitarist that has an amazing way of combining really soulful melodies with bizarre rhythms, i recently discovered that he's about a week younger than me and that infuriates me haha.
Splintered Halo is the main reason i continue, i've always loved playing guitar and there's never really been a time that i've ever considered giving it up but i'm more motivated than i've ever been to keep at it and improve because of how well we are doing as a band and we're constantly moving up. Iron Maiden were my first favourite band so i'd say Dave Murray would be my first guitar hero.
Test Subject - Malmsteen was my first "guitar hero" He really pushed me technically and really inspired me to pursue classical music.
Most recently the Guys from Haken (Richard Henshall & Charlie Griffiths) Have opened my eyes too some insanely fun things you can do with a guitar in terms of rhythm. Joining Splintered Halo was another insane Inspiration for me, My master Evilyn gave me permission to change the solo's of the songs as I pleased, which I have tried not to do as the Lead before me (Slender) Had some insane technical solos/Licks that I just had too Keep in. So he has also Inspired me to better myself over the last few months.
And there you have it - big thanks to the guys for providing the answers and also to Evelyn for making it happen. You can go check them out. You won't be disappointed.