#1 – How long have you been into amp sims and what was the first one you tried?
Probably for as long as they’ve been a thing! I think the first decent sounding one was Pod Farm.
#2 – What was the first amp sim that really took your interest in them to another level?
I used the aforementioned Pod Farm on a few tracks for sure. After that there were some awesome freeware ones coming out for a while, like Lepou and X50.
#3 – After the game changer, what other sims and plugins have given you that “can’t stop playing it” type vibe? Which ones really stuck around?
S-Gear was quite an underrated one for realism on clean and crunchy tones, not so great for high gain. These days we are in a golden age of tone options, the Helix Native plugin is amazing. The Fortin / Neural DSP guys are doing amazing things. STL Tonality is another awesome one. I’m looking forward to trying the new Overloud TH-U which can apparently play Kemper profiles somehow. JST tones have a few that I can enjoy a lot as well like the Jason Richardson signature.
#4 – You have a fantastic home studio set up at Perfect Filth productions. If you were helping the average Joe on a budget create a good quality home recording set-up, what components would you suggest putting a little money into out of the gate?
You honestly don’t need a lot; I made my highest selling ever record on a shitty Dell PC with the cheapest soundcard you could get at the time. Obviously having better gear is cool but knowing your shit and getting good source tones is higher priority. I would always advise people to invest in the ‘ends’ of the signal chain first – your capture points like mics, DIs and interface, and then your playback like speakers, headphones and room treatment.
#5 – The rhythm tones on Every Hour Kills recordings are absolutely monstrous, how do you manage to create such a massive tone on recordings and furthermore, how do you recreate it in a live setting?
Thank you! It all starts with the source, you must obsess over tone a little bit like we do, and every little thing adds up. New strings, pick, pick angle, pickups, string gauge all contribute to the quality of the DI, and playing hard and accurate of course. Another thing that many people don’t realize is that bass tone is half of guitar tone, so having all those things in place on the low-end side are key to the end result.
Live I would typically use exactly the same patches I recorded with, so recreating it wasn’t too much of an issue depending on the venue / sound guy.
#6 – Take us on a stroll through your rig, main guitars and pickups for recording purposes.
Haha, this is always changing and I’m really pretty brand-agnostic. I do endorse Bareknuckle Pickups and they are amazing, but I also enjoy other brands like EMG and Fishman. My main guitars right now are Musicman, Kiesel and Jackson, although that’s always a somewhat revolving door.
#7 – If you had to recreate your main rhythm tone with only plugins, how would you do it and what plugins/sims/impulses would you employ for the task?
I just did a big test of this and the plugins definitely sound awesome to my ears. Some of my faves right now are the JST tones, Helix Native, STL tones and Neural DSP. For impulses I have a few billion but my favorites tend to be Ownhammer and ML sound labs.
#8 – Your leads are well known for being shreddy yet eclectic and unique. Talk us through some of the plugins you might use to fuel the more eclectic side of your playing.
I wouldn’t say this is fueled by plugins so much, although I do like playing around with chopping things up to create glitch FX, and running tones thru weird shit like bit crushers and ring modulators etc.
#9 – What are some of your freeware gems? Be it amp sims or otherwise.
There’s a ton of great stuff out there, Mercuriall and Ignite are doing some great stuff.
#10 – I know it happens to a certain degree now but do you think laptop rigs could eventually replace units like the Kemper and Axefx in live rigs?
Absolutely, I would have little qualms with doing that, I already used a laptop to run our synth and backing tracks which is just as important to the performance as any other instrument. Hardware boxes like the Axe-FX are nice too though, because they are built to be roadworthy and reliable, and have all the requisite parts and connections in one easy box.
#11 – If you could design your very own amp suite from pedals to post processing, what real life gear would you ensure was modeled in the suite?
I’ve tried pretty much everything, and my tone needs are nothing novel to be honest! A good old block letter 5150 into a Mesa 4×12 boosted with a Tube screamer does it for me. One newer amp design I really enjoyed is the PRS Archon.
Thanks to Alan Sacha Laskow for his time and support! As mentioned in the interview, he has a very nice home studio and a production company to go right along with it.