Rig Tour: Lower Than At­lantis

Front­man Mike Duce and gui­tarist Ben San­som walk TG through the gear be­ing used on the Safe In Sound tour…

Total Guitar - - CONTENTS -

Eye­ing up an empty Brix­ton Academy, Lower Than At­lantis gui­tarists Mike Duce and Ben San­som are pre­par­ing for their big­gest head­liner in the cap­i­tal to date. Since form­ing in 2007, the Es­sex quar­tet have man­aged to break through the glass ceil­ing that of­ten hin­ders Bri­tish artists. Tonight’s show will have the kind of pro­duc­tion only bands in the big league can af­ford. With the wind in their sails from the Top 10 suc­cess of Safe In Sound, Mike and Ben in­vite TG on­stage to get a closer look at their weapons of choice…

Mike Duce Fender Amer­i­can El ite St rat


This is my main gui­tar. It’s brand new from Fender with Noise­less pick­ups, as well as the in-phase/out-of-phase S-1 sys­tem. There’s nice hard­ware on it, as well! There’s a Hip­shot [bridge] be­cause I’m drop-tun­ing a lot from stan­dard and the songs go straight into each other. I was a bit du­bi­ous about them at first as I thought they were mainly used for bass; I found my­self check­ing the tun­ings and it’s ac­tu­ally been pretty good. I use cus­tom gauge strings – 56, 44, 32, 24, 16, 12 – which just came out of pref­er­ence over the years.”

Fender Tom De­longe St rat

2 “This is the gui­tar I’m most known for and one of my old­est. It’s got Sey­mour Dun­can In­vaders loaded into it with a coil-tap. I keep this in drop A tun­ing and use a 65 bass string on the bot­tom and a reg­u­lar gui­tar set for the rest. The gui­tar is only used for

Work For It… I was rock­ing Jack­son be­fore, a sig­na­ture model made for one of Fear Fac­tory [when Chris­tian Olde Wol­bers was the band’s gui­tarist]. All seven-string [gui­tars] look like you’re in fuckin’ Gor­goroth and I’m in a pop-rock band… So I re­tired that and re-rigged this old thing. It’s got a fat neck, 70s head­stock and the ma­chine heads are all bent… I like a bit of char­ac­ter; I even took the pick­guard off be­cause I like an ugly gui­tar.”

Fender Amer­i­can St rat

3 “This is a 2012 Strat that I haven’t done much to, other than swap the orig­i­nal pickup cover, which cracked. I was play­ing with it off for ages and it was a bit jaggy, so I stuck a cover on it. There are a cou­ple of ex­tra springs to lock the bridge off. I’m not us­ing the bar. It’s in a weird tun­ing – CGDGBD – and I use it for

Could Be Worse be­cause the riff has this weird chim­ing sort of sound. It’s just a tun­ing I stum­bled across to make cer­tain strings ring out, so I de­cided to write the song that way and make it awk­ward for every­one else.”

Fender Ja­panese St rat

4 “This was my very first gui­tar. All that’s changed is the pick­guard and the pickup. V-Man from Slip­knot put it in there and I don’t even know which one it is. He used to gui­tar tech for me, long be­fore he was in Slip­knot. He changed the strings one day and I found this pickup fit­ted in. He said, ‘Trust me!’ I’m pretty sure it’s a late 80s/early 90s model and it’s tuned to open C Ma­jor – CGCEGC – for English Kids In Amer­ica. I re­ally love that clas­sic Smash­ing Pump­kins sound: Billy Cor­gan do­ing the jin­gle-jan­gle stuff, which I play more of, and Ben has that James Iha vibe with pow­er­chords on a Les Paul.”

Kem­per Profiler & Pedal

5 “The only sound I’ve pro­filed my­self was an MXR Stereo Cho­rus into a ’68 Fender Sil­ver­face Twin reis­sue. That’s al­ways been my clean tone – be­fore I used to switch amps for my dirty tones, us­ing a JCM900 with an MXR Mi­cro Amp in front. Then for the fake seven-string sounds, I have a 5150 pro­file that came from Rory [Clewlow] from En­ter Shikari, be­cause he’s got a bank of them. Each song has its own drops and ef­fects pro­grammed in. I find it makes the set a lit­tle easier on my voice, plus it sounds heav­ier – we sound beefier when we do that.”

Ben San­som Gib­son ES -335

6 “I’m 6’7” so it’s kinda hard to get a gui­tar that doesn’t look like a toy on me [laughs]! That can­cels a lot of things out… though I might still use them in the stu­dio. This 335 is for EnglishKid­sIn

Amer­ica, which is tuned to open C. That’s all it gets used for; there’s no par­tic­u­lar rea­son I use it other than it com­ple­ments Mike’s gui­tar sound well. I feel like with him writ­ing a lot of the song struc­tures on one gui­tar, my role is more about filling the gaps in be­tween – so I have to be quite picky about what I’m us­ing.”

Gib­son Les PAU L Cl as­sic Cus­tom

7 “They started mak­ing [a run of] th­ese [Clas­sic Cus­toms] in 2011, with the aim of mak­ing a Cus­tom that was af­ford­able. It sounds re­ally nice – and even with­out the ebony fin­ger­board it has the Cus­tom Shop look about it. At the end of the set, every­one else throws their gui­tars around and I’d love to as well. But I’m not play­ing a Fender: if I throw one of th­ese – that’s it, game over! That said, I en­gi­neered and pro­duced all the gui­tars and bass on the new record and the Strats won more in the stu­dio, I’d say!”

Gib­son Les Paul

8 “This is one of my main two… I’m not sure what the ex­act colour is, but it sounds amaz­ing. It has a re­ally thick 50s-style neck, which I love be­cause I’ve got big hands. I’ve had it on loan from Gib­son since Novem­ber and it was in­stant love. I do like my Ebony Les Paul Cus­toms, but at one point all I had was black and gold gui­tars! Peo­ple think you only need one Les Paul or that they all sound the same, but they re­ally don’t. This is for HadE­nough and HereWeGo – any song where I need a thick Les Paul tone, this is prob­a­bly what I’ll pick up first.”

Gib­son Les Paul

9 “This is in tuned to A, which ac­tu­ally gets pitched down to G on the Kem­per. It’s re­ally heavy... my back is fucked from all th­ese years of play­ing it. I ac­tu­ally

bought it off some guy in Uxbridge for £1,500 – which was an ab­so­lute steal, be­cause I told him the 70s Les Pauls weren’t worth as much! It has Bare Knuckle pick­ups and if you look at the back, it’s com­pletely screwed – I re­ally need some­one to re­paint it.’

Gib­son Les Paul St an­dard

10 “Our tech had to get a drill to fit on the pick­guard. The new ones don’t come with the plate fit­ted, and be­cause I’m a bit OCD, I had to have them all the same. I would have gone mad oth­er­wise. Weirdly enough, I don’t think it re­ally sounds like a Les Paul – it’s got a push/pull thing for some coil-tap, which helps it sit in be­tween a Les Paul and a Strat. And that’s ac­tu­ally why I like it – any­thing I recorded with a Strat, songs like Boomerang and

Dumb, I use this gui­tar be­cause it gives a sim­i­lar sound, just thicker. It looks clas­sic but with mod­ern edges and touches here and there. I used a Tele to record BeechLike

TheTree so this will come out for that.”

Kem­per Profiler & re­mote footswitch

11 “I do a lot of en­gi­neer­ing and I’d re­cently been work­ing with the pop-punk band As It Is. They had this sound on their record which was a Bogner, JCM800 and a Match­less blended to­gether. I asked them to send it over to me – then I stole it for our record! Those are my three amps run­ning pretty much through the whole set – with dif­fer­ent set­tings and ef­fects for clean, crunch and boost. There’s an­other de­lay set­ting we made called Mad Dog, which is this crazy feed­back swirl that gets used be­fore the last song… be­cause you don’t want to end the penul­ti­mate song in si­lence! All our de­lays are timed in – we had to use a web­site called BPM Finder to work out the ex­act tem­pos of each song!”

“with mike writ­ing a lot of song st ruc­tures on one gui­tar, my role is about filling gaps in be­tween”

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