Jason Goss is the rhythm guitarist in the American band; Toothgrinder
#1 – What was the first guitar you recall giving you that “I need that and I won’t sleep until I get that” kind of feeling? Otherwise known as G.A.S?
My first PRS I got when I was about 20 years old. I wanted a Custom 24 for years and had gotten the chance to play some at music shops. When I got it finally, it was a game changer for me; the riffs started flowing out and I didn’t want to stop writing.
#2 – Which players were the first to motivate and push you to take the guitar seriously?
Metallica (both James and Kirk) and Between the Buried and Me (both Dustie and Paul). My initial dive into playing guitar was Metallica, but then my progression as a player somewhat stalled until I discovered BTBAM.
#3 – Moving to today, you guys have a brand new album out on Spinefarm Records called “I AM” and the production is fantastic. How long did it take for the album to come together and was the writing process different from 2017’s “Phantom Amour”?
We began writing the record after our tour with All That Remains ended in Fall 2018. We had a few ideas prior to that, but we really dug in after that tour ended. From that point on we worked on the album continuously until we finished in the studio midway through February of 2019. The writing process was a lot more organic for us on “I AM” as opposed to “Phantom Amour”. When we went in to record “Phantom Amour” we wanted to evolve our sound and our pre-production process did not really support that desire, so we decided to write several songs from scratch in the studio. When we went in to record “I AM” our pre-production was the best it has ever been, as we had learned a lot from our previous two records. This allowed us to hone in on our songs and further develop them, which made for a much more natural album, in my opinion. We also went to a different producer for the first time in our career for “I AM”. We went with Matt Squire and it was an absolute blast working with him. I think the change was a positive; it gave a new and fresh feel to the recording process.
#4 – Staying with the new album, can you take us on a walk through the gear you and fellow Toothgrinder guitarist Johnuel Hasney used most on the album?
As far as guitars go we mostly used our PRS’s. We both have Custom 24’s, but Johnuel has a Floyd Rose on his, which was handy when tracking some leads. There were occasions where we used this one guitar Matt Squire has in his studio because it had an Evertune bridge which is an absolutely amazing tool to have when tracking rhythms.
For amps we did a couple of things. First of all, we always record a DI when tracking guitars for the album so that we can experiment with re-amping and tones. For the first time we used a Kemper for a lot of the sounds. It was an amazing machine that gave a us variety of sounds. Additionally, we re-amped a lot of the guitar tracks with my Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. I have the rack-mountable black face one from the early 90’s which is my favorite sounding amp of all time. It was awesome to use some traditional gear mixed with the modern age gear.
#5 – When crafting / dialing-in your tones, how do you and Johnuel work to have the tones compliment each other?
We both kind of do our own thing but we have a similar taste in gear so it works out very well. Additionally, we both like to cater our sound to our style of playing. Considering I play rhythms mostly, I like to make my tone as beefy as I can, so I do various things to accomplish this, such as using a wound 3rd string. Johnuel handles most of the solos and leads so he has a variety of patches that allow him to cut through the mix and achieve some sweet reverb and delays. We also work closely with our sound engineer while touring to make sure we are balanced and appropriate for live performances.
#6 – There’s just no denying the incredible relationship between Paul Reed Smith guitars and Mesa Boogie amps. It’s a long-standing bond and your sound is a piece of the evidence. When did you start using the dynamic duo and how did it fall into place?
I started using the combination of Mesa and PRS back when I got my first PRS. I already had a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier as one of my first guitar heads when I got my first PRS. Once we started touring we began forming relationships with the two companies through various means. I was already using their products before we even began working together so it was an obvious match. Then from there I went on to add a slew of additional gear from both of them.They are two of the best companies I have ever worked with. All good, laid back people in their Artist relations departments and they both have been very accommodating whenever we have issues or need help for fly out gigs, etc.
#7 – Moving to your live set-up, does a lot change between live and the studio for you and Johnuel or is it fairly similar?
I would say a lot does change. When we are in the studio literally all doors of experimentation are open. We are willing to try anything out to achieve a unique and appropriate sound for a song or part of a song. I think that just adds to the sound of the record and as a listener I want to hear the best possible record from my favorite bands, regardless of what gear they are using. Then when we move to a live setting we have to narrow down what we are using.
Many tours we are apart of have several bands on the bill and we are typically in 500-1500 cap venues. Therefore, space is limited and time is of the essence. So we try to streamline our process, but always maintain the integrity of the songs. Its the most logical way to tour these days, especially if you are traveling by plane. You can’t bring the catalog of options you have in the studio to the stage, at least not for where we are at in our career right now.
#8 – With Mesa Boogie amps not being light or cheap to repair, have you ever considered going the compact AxeFx / Kemper route that many bands are leaning on if even for overseas/fly-in work?
We have actually begun using Axe FX for our live performances. Johnuel had been using one forever, but recently I have started using it as well as our bass player Matt. It allows us to more accurately achieve the variety of tones we use in the studio and save a ton of space on stage and through our means of travel. They are super convenient for fly-in gigs, but also for saving space on stage. If you have ever seen our live show you know Toothgrinder likes to take advantage of stage space so this is another plus for us!
#9 – As far as pickups go, while PRS have incredible in-house pickups, have you ever been tempted to or actually tried swapping them out for anything?
I did once. I tried out some Seymour Duncan pickups for a year or so. Then I discovered the PRS Metal pickups and they just sounded better. I have no desire to change from PRS pickups at this time.
#10 – With the advances in amp sim software for Mac and PC, it’s sounding and performing better every day. Have you had the chance to dig into any of the great stuff coming out?
When we do pre-production / demo songs at home, we use plug-ins for all of our guitar and bass tones. It is very convenient as we simply plug directly into our interface and we can tweak tones whenever we want. It allows us to focus more on song composition and less on tone searching when we are just trying to write songs. We have been using BIAS FX for a few years now and it rules. I have as much fun dialing in tones on the computer as I do on an amp. It’s very different, but its all music and sound.
#11 – On the spot, 5 of your favorite recorded guitar tones in any genre.. and go!
Haha oh man, that’s a tough one.
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Gojira – Magma
Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect
Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
Metallica – Black Album
#12 – With the new album out it likely means a lot on the go for yourself and the band. What do you have planned for the next year or so?
We have a lot in the works, but nothing announced yet to the public so I will be vague with this answer. Yes, we have plans to be do a good amount of touring in 2020 and likely into 2021. I expect you will see us in the US this spring, probably at some outdoor festivals in addition to a number of clubs. You may be seeing us overseas one or more times later in 2020.
I truly love the assortment of musicians that I get to talk to for this page. While Toothgrinder may not be in my wheelhouse, I have always really enjoyed the stellar production and guitar tones featured on their albums. I am also a serious fan of anyone that plays a PRS through a Mesa Boogie Dual Rec because it’s a 100% lock that the tone will be great. Jason’s use of a thick rhythm tones, effects and his interplay with Johnuel Hasney all make for a huge overall sound that would work for a number of genres. Thanks to Jason for talking to us!