Artist Interviews

Interview – Dave Davidson

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Dave Davidson is an American guitarist / vocalist that performs as part of Revocation and Gargoyl

#1 – Sometimes it’s difficult for beginners or the average Joe to relate to top-level players so curiously, what was the worst piece or pieces of gear you had as a young player?

It would probably have to be my Yamaha Pacifica that my mom bought me when I first started out. I loved that guitar but it was really a piece of work. The nut came loose so the low E string would constantly pop off and the pickup screws fell out of the neck position so the lipstick pickup was all sunken in and floppy. It probably didn’t help that I torched the pickguard a couple times because I thought it would make it look cooler. It would be hilarious to try and play a show on that thing one day. 

#2 – Which guitar tones got you going as a young player? Like which tones would you hear and just need to go practice immediately? 

It was  more about the player, the riffs and the attitude for me back then. A lot of those old death metal, black metal and thrash records didn’t have the best guitar sounds or mixes in general for that matter, but the riffs were so deadly that I totally looked past the tone and even began to love it for what it was. Nowadays I definitely appreciate good tone and strive to get the best sounds possible for myself but back when I was a kid everything was so new and fresh it didn’t matter if a recording was muddy or if the guitars sounded like buzzsaws, I was all in no matter what if I dug the band. 

#3 – Prior to your sig Dimarzio Imperium set, you used the Dactivators, the super 2, the liquifire and other models. What qualities from those pickups carried over into the design of your set? 

Honestly when I spoke with Steve Blucher who designed the pickups for me I asked him if the Imperiums were based off an existing model and he told me he basically started from scratch with my signature set. I swapped out a bunch of different pickups and gave him detailed notes on what I was hearing, what I liked and what I didn’t like and he would send me out prototypes that we then refined over the course of like a year or so. I’m incredibly pleased with how they came out, I really think they’re some of the best pickups I’ve ever played and I’ve heard really great things from everyone who’s tried them. 

#4 – I have to say, I was so happy to see you release an affordable version of your signature model 7-String with Jackson. How did the design come together and how did you ensure the import model had a level of quality you wanted to put your name behind? 

After the success of the custom shop run Jackson and I spoke about doing a pro series line. I was super impressed with the prototype they sent me and it was different enough from the custom run to set it apart but still maintain the overall look. The Jackson team build incredible guitars so I have to give them the credit when it comes to the overall quality. The pro series WR7 is really a fantastic guitar for the price, it’s been rad to see a bunch of people playing it live and in the studio. In fact, we’re about to hit the road with Skeletal Remains in the fall and I know their guitarist has been playing one live so we might have to trade one night haha. 

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The Pro Series Dave Davidson Warrior

#5 – Is there a chance we could see a 6-string version of the 7 or perhaps one similar to the two-tone warriors you use for some of the older stuff?

It’s a possibility for sure, I’ve got another pro series warrior in the works right now based off of the latest custom shop run we did so we’re waiting to put that out first but I’m sure I’ll have a discussion with  the Jackson folks about a new model for next year. 

#6 – Your tone in your other project; Gargoyl is a lot different and more effect driven. The music obviously gives you the chance to stretch into other types of playing and with that, different gear as well. Was it an exciting process and what gear did you use on the recordings?

I just finished tracking the guitars for the Gargoyl debut and we definitely made use of a wide range of gear. It was super exciting but also pretty labor intense because there’s a lot of dynamics and different tones that we were dialing in. My favorite piece of gear that I used has to be my ’69 Gibson 335. It’s just a magical guitar and sounds great for cleans but we also used it on some distorted sections as well. For pedals we used a Strymon Sunset and Flint, Proco Rat, ZVEX Fuzz Factory, and probably a few more that I’m forgetting. I think we used about 4 or 5 different amps as well including an EVH 5150 III and a modded Marshall. It’s probably the most tonally diverse record I’ve ever done. 

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Gargoyl

#7 – You have been doing private lessons while on tour for years now, YouTube is full of killer lessons in pretty cool places. Do you still have the opportunity to do rewarding stuff like that or music store clinics while on the road?

Yeah I still teach when I’m home from tour and if we’re not headlining I’ll teach on the road as well. I find teaching to be very rewarding, it’s amazing to watch students progress on the instrument and I feel like I’m always learning as well so it helps push me to become a better musician.

#8 – What was your rig like prior to your switch to the EVH 5150 III early on the the band’s career and what turned you on to the amp in the first place?

Before the EVH I was using  a VHT Pitbull Ultra Lead. It was a great head, the high gain channel had a great mid range cut and the clean channel was quite nice as well. I was already endorsed by Jackson at the time and my A&R guy who worked there also worked at EVH and sent me a head to check out. We were on tour with Darkest Hour I believe and I was pretty blown away when I gave it a try, it’s been my go to head ever since. Obviously there’s so many great amp companies out there nowadays but the EVH works really well for my sound and the company in general has been very supportive of me which is important when you’re a touring musician. 

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Revocation!

#9 – We’ve talked in the past about you being more of an analog kind of guy but with so many very high profile bands switching to Kemper and AxeFx based rigs for touring convenience, especially when heading overseas, do you ever at least halfway consider it?

I’ve definitely considered it for more of the one off fly out gigs. In my experience gear is always breaking at festivals or isn’t at the stage in time when you need it so I’ll probably invest in a Kemper at some point to help cut down on a bunch of variables. I actually just did a ToneCrate Kemper profile pack that sounds awesome. It’s pretty incredible how those Kempers can profile heads, there’s some alien technology going on somewhere inside those things for sure haha. 

#10 – Between collaborating with Marty Friedman, jamming jazz with Alex Skolnick or touring with Joe Haley, is it difficult not to let the fanboy inside run free even while being a well established guitarist? 

Yeah it’s crazy to think about sometimes, 16 year old me would absolutely be freaking out if I knew I’d be working or jamming with those guys in the future. Those guys are all so humble though and there’s a mutual level of respect that helps keep things chill. 

#11 – When Phil left the band after 15 years, what was the transition like as a songwriter when it came to working with his successor Ash Pearson? 

The transition was pretty smooth overall. Obviously you have to acclimate to a new player whenever they enter the fold but Ash is a killer drummer so he was able to adapt to our sound and also bring his own style into our music. It was very invigorating when we started writing together, it felt like a fresh start which I think helped the creative flow. 

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#12 – With every coming album, does it get more and more difficult to make a setlist? Cutting songs at this point must be 

Yeah it’s becoming pretty daunting, we’ve been focusing on the new material though which has been fun for us. I think it’s important to move forward, of course it’s nice to play some older songs that might be considered “classics” for us or nostalgic for some people but we’re very passionate about the new material so that’s mainly what we’ve been picking from. We’re about to embark on a co-headline tour where we play the new album in it’s entirety which I think will be a unique experience for our fans. 

#13 – Do you think technical metal will soon be at a point where the human body will start to pretty much max out? Where do you think the genre goes from here?

Image result for Dave Davidson

I think we’re pretty much there now but then a new band will pop up and raise the bar of technicality once again haha. I think it’s more important to think musically rather than technically. At a certain point you’re going to max out on tempo or be sacrificing power for speed but a great song will always stand the test of time. 

#14 – Your picking style incorporates a lot of chicken picking type playing and there are some blistering chicken picking shredders out there, so I have to ask which players influenced that side of your playing?

I took a finger picking blues guitar lab at Berklee that opened me up to some of that stuff but honestly a lot of my hybrid picking is influenced more from the jazz realm. I first started learning about comping when I was in my high school big band, I used my fingers to produce a warmer tone for chords that eventually developed into adding in hybrid picking on some of my riffs and solos. Players like Wes Montgomery influenced me early on when I was first exploring using my fingers as a sound source. “Four On Six” was one of the first jazz solos I ever learned. I was blown away that Wes could play all those lines  with his thumb, I think it opened up a new doorway for me because it showed me you didn’t have to be confined to only using a pick. 

#15 – Revocation has been a touring and recording machine, what does the next year or so have in store for yourself, the band and your loyal fans?

We’re going to be pretty busy up until 2020 with our co-headliner with Voivod followed by a South American run that’s in the works. We might take a little break in the Spring to do some writing and then after that we’re planning on doing a European summer festival tour.

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I have to say, this is the crowning moment in my short time running the show here at HASR. Dave has been my personal favorite guitarist for a good while now. Having followed his career for some time, I’ve had the chance to see what hard work really looks like. Whether it’s sitting in backyards teaching devoted kids his craft, touring endlessly, talking gear with fans or just being a generally humble guy, there’s no mystery here. Signature guitars and pickups don’t fall out of the sky and neither does a whole career of great albums with stellar reviews. Thanks to Dave and Metalblade for making this happen.

WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / GARGOYL / JACKSON / DIMARZIO

One of my favorite lessons and songs

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