tone­mak­ers: Jamie still­man

Pro­duc­ing shock­waves from their epi­cen­tre in Akron, Ohio, we talk good vi­bra­tions with the founder of EarthQuaker De­vices

Guitarist - - Contents -


What was the first pedal you built and how did the de­sign come about? “The first pedal that EarthQuaker shipped was the Hoof Fuzz. At the time I was work­ing as tour man­ager for the The Black Keys. Dan [Auer­bach] has a green Rus­sian [Elec­tro-Har­monix] Big Muff that sounds par­tic­u­larly good – it’s big and fuzzy, but has a very clear sound – and I tried to make some­thing sim­i­lar to that. It’s the mid­dle clip­ping stages that make all the dif­fer­ence in that pedal.”


What do you think makes EarthQuaker De­vices unique? “The way I voice the ped­als is just how I like a gui­tar to sound. That’s partly what makes pedal com­pa­nies sound different to one an­other – ev­ery­one is im­part­ing their own vi­sion of what a gui­tar should sound like. I view the ped­als like chil­dren – I like them all equally, but there are some that are par­tic­u­larly unique! The Afterneath was a bit of a trend­set­ter in terms of am­bi­ent re­verb and there wasn’t any­thing like the Rain­bow [pitch-shift­ing mod­u­la­tor] be­fore that came out.”


What’s your best-sell­ing pedal and why do you think that is? “The pedal we’ve sold the most of is the Dis­patch Master [de­lay/re­verb]. It’s im­pos­si­ble to mess up the con­trols on it – ev­ery set­ting sounds good. When it came out there were very few ped­als that com­bined both de­lay and re­verb. The Avalanche Run, the big brother to the Dis­patch Master, is by far the fastest­selling pedal – we sold more than 7,000 of them in a year.”


Which no­table mu­si­cians use EarthQuaker De­vices ped­als? “Theresa Way­man from Warpaint uses a Dis­patch Master; Paul Wi­ley from Mar­i­lyn Man­son uses an Avalanche Run, In­ter­stel­lar Or­biter, Or­ga­nizer and Trans­misser; Matt McJunk­ins and Dave Catch­ing of Ea­gles of Death Metal both use EarthQuaker ped­als; Mark Mothers­baugh from Devo uses a Speaker Cranker; Jeff Tweedy from Wilco uses a Ghost Echo; Dun­can Lloyd from Max­imo Park uses an Ar­panoid, Bit Com­man­der and Sea Ma­chine… All kinds of bands. There’s a long list!”


What’s your best tone tip? “Don’t worry about the tech­ni­cal specifics. I think a lot peo­ple get hung up ask­ing ques­tions such as: is this in­verse phase? What’s the in­put im­ped­ance? Is it true by­pass? Are my ca­bles plugged in in the right di­rec­tion? To me, the im­por­tant ques­tion is: does it sound good?”


Tell us a se­cret about ef­fects you’ve dis­cov­ered… “A lot peo­ple buy stuff and use it in the way they were shown, but I think ex­per­i­men­ta­tion is the key. I re­ally love how the drums sound on Weezer’s al­bum Pinker­ton and I was talk­ing to [Pro­ducer] Joe Bar­resi who told me they ran all of the drum mics through Elec­tro-Har­monix Lin­ear Power Boost­ers. That to­tally blew my mind!”


What are your favourite ef­fect­spedal sounds on record and why? “The first thing I re­mem­ber that got me interested in sound was Steve Stevens’ solo on Rebel Yell where the gui­tar sounds like a laser gun. I re­mem­ber think­ing ‘What was that?!’ I had the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to find out when I was in an el­e­va­tor with Steve Stevens, but be­fore I could ask him the doors opened up and he walked away… But he did tell me he uses an [EarthQuaker De­vices] Ar­panoid!”


What’s your favourite vin­tage pedal and why? “I have this old Kim­berly fuzz that sounds amaz­ing. I traced out the cir­cuit and tried to recre­ate it but I couldn’t even get it close to the orig­i­nal sound. A friend of mine bought the same pedal and asked me to try and mod it to sound like my one. I said ‘I wish I could!’”


What new pedal trig­gers your GAS most now? “Death By Au­dio’s Evil Fil­ter is re­ally cool. I’m a big fan of theirs. I love the way their stuff looks too. Oliver [Ack­er­mann] and I re­cently be­came friends – I re­ally like his band a lot [A Place to Bury Strangers] and we have the same taste in aes­thet­ics. Holo­gram Elec­tron­ics’ Dream Se­quence and In­fi­nite Jets are re­ally cool and I re­ally like a lot of the Chase Bliss [Au­dio] stuff.”


What ped­als are on your own ef­fects board? “They’re al­most all EarthQuaker ped­als. I use the Speaker Cranker (that’s al­most al­ways on), the Erup­tor, Avalanche Run, Le­vi­ta­tion, Grand Or­biter, Hum­ming­bird, Trans­misser and Afterneath. The only ped­als that aren’t EarthQuaker are a DigiTech Drop and TC Elec­tronic Ditto.”­quak­erde­

The Dis­patch Master (left) is Jamie’s best seller and he’s happy Steve Stevens uses the Ar­panoid (right)

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