Crushing riffs and detuned guitars are what Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs or PigsX7 are all about, hailing from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, the band as mentioned a few times are influenced by Black Sabbath. We met up with them in the spring of 2019 and discussed the guitar gear arms race and what Orange adds to their sound.
Hi Adam Ian Sykes from Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
Hello I’m Sam Grant from Pig Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs.
Which artists inspired you to get into music?
Adam: Black Sabbath
Who are your main influences as a band?
Adam: ‘Changes’ by Black Sabbath
Tell us about your sound goals?
Adam: Think as long as we sound 30% like Black Sabbath.
Sam: Would be ideal.
What has using Orange added to your sound?
Adam: Kick to the chest and a kick to the groin.
Sam: Yes! Just like that.
Adam: I recently got some Orange cabs replaced, I was using, there is a lot more kicks to the groin.
Sam: Followed by…
Adam: The chest, the head…
Sam: Then as you keep pushing the pedal forwards it goes over peoples heads.
Adam: Pull their spine out from the skull.
How has it made a difference to your individual sound?
Adam: Moving to Orange the cabs in particular, there was a big boost in the low mids. The low mids, it’s a big part of my sound I guess. As much as a lack of practice… they are both quite important to my playing style.
Sam: Distinct flavour you manage to get.
Adam: I always have my volume on full, I don’t touch any of the knobs on my guitar because something may go drastically wrong. There is enough response from the amps to get round my technical inability I think.
Sam: I tend to to love the low end, the frequency range…
Adam: The groin kick?
Sam: The groin kick, the frequency range, the high mids I’m not too fussed about them.
Adam: It’s of the face, don’t touch the face.
Sam : Can’t touch the face.
Anything else Orange helps with?
Adam: We are playing in drop C which the amps tend to handle pretty well.
Sam : That is important because I think we write everything in C.
Adam: Ye, we try out best.
Sam: So far so good.
How do you decide who uses what gear?
Sam: I think in part there needs to be some decision made in what each of us are using.
Adam: I think in part the consideration is one up manship of how loud, how many cabs.
Sam: An arms race!
Adam: It is an arms race, we are deep in the arms trade. Well I have got more cabs haven’t I?
Sam: You have got two more speakers but one less head. That’s a shame.
Adam: Well I best get another amp. I’d like to have more amps and cabs than Matt Pike, then I would be happy. Twenty four is not enough.
Monolord formed in 2013 and hail from Gothenburg, Sweden. The trio have been releasing sludgy metal since then and show no signs of slowing up. Their new album No Comfort was released to rave reviews in September 2019 and their live shows are legendary. Orange caught up with the band at Desertfest 2018 and chatted all things Orange.
Mika: We are Monolord.
We just played at the Roundhouse, it is amazing the feeling, really amazing when come on stage and see all those people in that huge venue, it’s marvellous.
Thomas: Now in London we have played Koko, we have played the Roundhouse and Royal Albert Hall, I don’t know what we do after this.
Mika: What is there left to play?
Thomas: I think most of ones that recognise Orange amps was the early beat club, the German music show where Sabbath and all the other bands played on Orange stuff. After that the Hellacopters used Orange from like early 2000 when it wasn’t that common to play Orange, not in Europe. Around then I bought my first Orange amp, been using it since.
Mika: For me I got my first Orange when I started Monolord but ever since I was a teenager I have been seeing those here and there. A good friend of mine had a dad who had a combo.
Thomas: I am using two full stacks, one on my side and one on Mika’s side. Mika does the same he has one bass rig on his side and one bass rig on my side. On my side I have an old OR120 and the standard cabs and on Mika’s side I have an OR100. Together with that I have the High powered cabs.
Mika: I have the AD200 on my side with an 810 and on his side we have an OB1-500 with an 810.
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Youtube-Thumbnails-Monolord-no-logo.jpg17242584Danielhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Voice-of-Orange-Logo-METAL.pngDaniel2019-10-03 14:33:162019-10-03 14:34:44Our interview with Monolord at Desertfest.
Jose Rios has been part of the Free Nationals since it’s inception, he has also produced a number of the tracks across their four album career. Jose has been using the Rockerverb 100 MKIII since it’s launch and has been one of its biggest advocates. We met up with Jose before the band played a sold out show to 10K people at London’s Alexandria Palace in spring of 2019. He was relaxed but excited about the show and talked at length about his influences and how Orange is to him the voice of quality.
What’s up everybody, it’s Jose Rios from Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals.
What inspired you to pick up the guitar?
I picked up the guitar because of Stevie Ray Vaughan, my father listened to quite a bit of his music. That’s the whole reason I play, he introduced me to that stuff and I was hooked immediately. I learned about a lot of other people through him and I realised where he got his style from, through learning and listening to other records. But he is the reason I started playing the guitar. Jimi Hendrix obviously as Stevie Ray Vaughan was influenced by him, I think a lot of soul music, like the Motown stuff, that real clean chordy music. I really loved Jazz music but I wouldn’t consider myself to be a Jazz guy. But I do listen to a lot of that stuff, I incorporate it in my sound.
Why did you choose Orange?
Orange was just gritty, had a big sound and kind of sounded different than the other stuff in my genre/style. The reason I picked it up and started using it. Orange had the 412 and the Rockerverb head and it was a beast. I wanted that specifically, I wanted power!
What is it about the Rockerverb you love the most?
First of all the quality, how it’s made and how it looks, it’s incredible. I think it’s real sleek and clean, it’s built well and good quality all around. Speakers through to the tubes it’s just a solid amp, it’s clean, I don’t use the reverb on it, just the EQ. I don’t even have to turn it up that much because it is so loud! I have never gone past four I don’t think, because it is just so damn loud and i’m barely using the power that it has. But it breaks up nice, it has a nice clean tone basically the foundation for my board , I incorporate my sound through that, that like my medium, that rig and the pedals.
Talk us through your set-up at the moment.
Right now i’m actually using a Mexican Jag, that I put the same humbuckers into that were in my strat. The humbucker sound with that amp combined is like heavy duty man, it’s really powerful. My distortion pedal its a really creamy tone, cut through solo nastiness!
Do you prefer analogue or digital?
I’m just old school, I love the old guys and how they did it. They didn’t use digital, it was like amps, it was like analogue. I don’t know maybe I will one day switch over but right now I love my amp and I love having it on stage, I feel comfortable and i’m still as a player learning about it every day. Like tone and options on stage but right now i’m sticking to my guns and saying I need that 412 with me on the road!
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/JoseRios-FreeNationals-RK50-PPC412-2.jpg12001800Danielhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Voice-of-Orange-Logo-METAL.pngDaniel2019-08-26 10:00:572019-08-27 09:34:33Our interview with Jose Rios from Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals
The Wombats have been using Orange amps pretty much since they first started as a band. So before their headline show at Wembley arena Jamie, ‘Murph’s’ guitar tech took some time out to run us through his rig. The three Dual Terrors are the rock of the rig and a Tiny Terror is used as a different flavour
Hi i’m Jamie Matthew Murphy’s guitar tech with the Wombats and this is his rig.
So we have got all these guitars here, we have got ‘Blue Bob’ which is his main guitar, a paisley telecaster from 96′ I believe. It’s the one he uses the most, on most tunes, it is in standard tuning. Then we have a spare which is a brown tele, we have got a strat he uses on three or four tunes as well. A black and a white jazzmaster and a Fender Coronado too.
These are all going through a Sennheiser wireless system which are then combined in a Radial JX44 combiner, I have a remote down here which I can easily switch them when we are doing guitar changes. Then it goes through a G2 gig rig pedal board, now all this is midi automated as I think there is only two or three songs without a click track, so every song with a click track ‘Murph’ doesn’t have to touch his pedal board other than to turn tuner on or off but that’s it really, it’s all pretty automated. We shall move on to the amps.
We have amp one and amp two which are both Dual Terrors, amp three which is a Tiny Terror. Amp one and amp two both go to 2×12 cabinets, amp one the sounds on both channels are very similar, i’d say it’s a clean sound with a bit of bite and then when he hits his footswitch to change his channels it gets a bit louder and a bit more of a gravely version of the first one. But there is not very much difference with that and amp two, the clean channel is all down so there is no signal passing through it until he hits the switch and then you get a really gainy, driven sound. Amp three goes through a 1×10 and that is a purely uneffected signal, so it bypasses all the pedals straight to the back of the amp and it just gives Pete at the Front of house or monitors something to get some clarity if the other two are raging.
I’ve personally always loved Orange amps because there is not twenty knobs on them, you haven’t got bass, treble and middle control for tone. It’s very, very simple you’ve got six knobs, three for each channel and you get everything you need out of them, you don’t any more. They are perfect for what you do.
If we go to America or fly gig they lugged about in a backpack and can literally hand carry them onto a plane, they can take a knocking about, there is not really any signal you can put through that it doesn’t sing, it doesn’t sound as it should. They are not venue specific, for instance we played Birmingham academy last night and we are doing Wembley arena tonight, you don’t struggle with volume or with control with the amp. They have got more than enough punch for Wembley arena.
You get that classic british sound don’t you, that classic british rock sound from all valve analogue amps. It’s the simplicity that makes them, that’s what makes the tone so good I think. There is very little taken away from it by adding more, there is not much there but what’s there is perfect for a classic British rock sound.
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Voice-of-Youtube-Thumbnails-1920-x-1080-QUALITY-Wombats-photo-only0.jpg10801920Danielhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Voice-of-Orange-Logo-METAL.pngDaniel2019-08-19 10:00:122019-08-19 11:48:48Jamie runs us through Murph from 'The Wombats' guitar rig.
Drenge are a three piece band from Derbyshire, Eoin and Rory started the band in 2010 and in 2015 invited Rob formerly of Wet Nuns to join. Rob has been playing Orange for the last 2 years and is currently using the AD30 and the PPC212V cabinet. Rob explains how this combination gives him the perfect platform for his many pedals and how he was impressed to the versatility of Orange Amps.
Hey I’m Rob, I play with Drenge and I play Orange.
My first forays into guitar kind of started in the 90’s and sort of followed the influence back through time. Fugazi especially I found were the first band that I came across where they just plugged straight into amps and there was just one guitar, no pedals or particularly complicated going on rig wise. It was just that sound and using the volume control for your effect on the actual guitar, which is still something that I still do now.
I guess I had an idea in my mind as to what Orange amps sound like, definitely like the whole of the stoner rock, as much as I love that whole sound, it’s really not the right sound for this band. So I guess it did kind of surprise me when I got it and started playing with these guys, how much it didn’t have to do that sound, it didn’t have to do the thing, it is capable of lots of other guitar tones. It sounded fuckin’ great and really fuckin’ loud and what more do you want really?
I’d like to use both channels and do a switching thing because I like the sound of both channels but I have just been on the cleaner voiced channel. I’m kind of using pedals to do the aggressive stuff at the moment but I hope to explore the channel switching at some point very soon.
I’d always prioritise sound, having something that sounds excellent and you are not constantly worried it is going to give up on you, stop working, it’s a really well made thing, I’m very happy with it.
So I’m playing this Ampeg, it’s like a reissue of an old 60’s guitar that Dan Armstrong made and it’s made of plastic. This is like the Gregg Ginn of Black Flag guitar, he played one among many other cool people. From the guitar we go into a Boss tuner and then into a Octave TC which there is some tunes where on the recordings its double tracked so its two guitars. One is playing a riff and one is playing the riff but an octave above, so that just does those bits.
Then I have a Mellotron pedal that again there are some tunes on the record that have Mellotron parts and rather than switch over and play them on keyboards, we just have that. That is for a full wet, strings and choral stuff. After that it splits, for that i’m using the Orange Amp Detonator, which is ace it does exactly what its supposed to, it does it very well and not noisy, it’s great. After that we go into a Stone Deaf PDF which I use as a set wah sound, kind of honky lead solo stuff, to cut through and I have that on a pretty brutal setting which is pretty fun. Then the Rat, its like the most distorted that I go and then there is a Micro Amp as well which is after the amp crunchy setting, the Micro Amp is the next stage, then the Rat shreds your face off, then PDF does the shred your face off but with a very specific mid range.
Then we have the Melekko delay pedal which is ace, it’s quite an unconventional sounding delay, it does a lot of high oscillatory feedback stuff which is cool and then it goes into this guy. So I’m on Channel One which is the less aggressive, less gainy channel, pretty loud and it’s just full bass, quite a lot of mid and the treble is rolled off just a bit because of the brightness of this Ampeg. So that is the base of the whole thing and there are plenty points in the set where it is just that, it’s not like there is always pedals on. There is quite a few bits and bats where there is just the amp and I do quite like to use the volume control on the guitar to full on volume on the guitar to get it quite aggressive and then if it wants to be really clean will roll it off a bit.
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Voice-of-Youtube-Thumbnails-1920-x-1080-QUALITY-Drenge-photo-only.jpg10801920Danielhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Voice-of-Orange-Logo-METAL.pngDaniel2019-08-05 10:00:582019-08-05 10:16:36Our interview with Rob Graham from Drenge
Hailing from Saskatoon in Canada, the Sheepdogs have been playing their unique brand of country infused blues rock since 2006. The band came to catch up with Orange at Black Deer Festival just outside of Tunbridge Wells. Jimmy had just played the Main stage on the Sunday before sitting down with us to chat about how he started playing guitar and how the AD30 is perfect for his playing.
How did you start playing guitar?
I guess I was inspired by my dad’s good friend at the time, he is a fantastic guitar player. He played an old 65′ Telecaster and it was just the most beautiful guitar, he is a very soulful player and him and my Dad would play and sing, that was kind of my first inspiration to play.
What were your influences when you started playing?
I listened to Hendrix, Cream and Zeppelin, all that kind of stuff, Free! Traced the routes and got into the blues pretty heavy. So I was emulating people like Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Sutton Hose and then into 50’s and 60’s with Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. All that kind of stuff.
How did you join the band?
It’s kind of funny, they had a guitar player leave about 2/3’s of the way through an American tour and they were in a bind. I was good friends with their guitar tech at the time, he bet a weeks wages that I would be a good fit. So they called me up and gave me all the material the night before. I stayed up the night before and learnt everything I could as best as I could. We did one rehearsal and then we did the rest of the tour and I have been with the guys ever since.
How are you finding the festival so far?
Saw Kris Kristofferson, that was pretty amazing! That’s been kind of a dream of mine to see him, I’m a big time fan. It’s a gorgeous festival, beautiful landscape and a laid back vibe, its nice.
What’s your set-up on stage?
It’s not too complicated, I use an old Les Paul, pedal wise an MXR dyna comp for soloing, playing slide and for sustain overall. I have fuzz pedal, a delay, a tube screamer and tuner, I play an Orange AD30. I just love the sound of those power tubes, so I was looking for something that was kind of along those lines but a little more controllable and a lot more volume, so I could get more headroom. It was the perfect amp.
What do you usually look for in an amp?
It has to be reliable and versatile, I have a simple setup, I am a volume control player. So I need an amp to be nice and gainy, but I can dail it back on the guitar and it can be shimmering clean too. In order to have that you have to have headroom otherwise your tone gets too compressed. So there is kind of a happy medium between gain and headroom, I find that amp does it perfect.
What makes the AD30 so suitable for your genre?
It’s that EL84 breakup, it just does something different than any other power tube. It’s a little tighter, a little more top end response and the clarity suits that music fine. It gives me a lot of control, the top channel is great but its pretty gainy for what we are doing, so I use the bottom channel all the time. I will dial it back for different tunes and change the gain structure.
What else makes the AD30 so great?
It sounds fantastic but it’s also super reliable. We do roughly 200+ shows a year and I’ve used mine for the last three years, I have just had to change tubes. That is just super reliable and does exactly what I want it to do every night.
How does it feel being part of the Orange family?
It feels great, love representing fantastic amps that make me sound better!
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Sheepdogs-AD30.jpg10801920Danielhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Voice-of-Orange-Logo-METAL.pngDaniel2019-07-22 10:00:072019-08-19 15:10:02Our interview with Jimmy from the Sheepdogs.
I’m Tim Montana and I play for Tim Montana, and that guys an asshole!
First time i saw Orange amps, I was driving through Montana and I started to fall asleep and there was one f*cking was right in front of me in the road and I swerved – overturned the vehicle – and the thing just stayed there like it was sent from the heavens… and so I cranked it up, and the rest is history. It’s f*cking gorgeous.
Country music to me is a hot dude in yoga pants sitting on the stage playing the tracks. But, what Country Music used it be is what I’m all about. It’s speaking your mind, truth… it’s that in-between.. you know, the woods and rock and roll. It’s Country boys speaking their mind, and the country boys I know love to party.
So we got our first Orange Amps, probably 3 years ago, and we’re doing 100 dates a year out there… driving ourselves but we’re hammering the sh*t out of these things on stage, in the trailer – I mean, we take a lot of wild roads, we hit a lot of guard-rails and deer… we just keep blasting but these amps… they’re built to last, they’re built tough and we treat them accordingly. We’re not being you know… I used to have different amps I bring out and you’d wanna treat them like vintage gear, like ‘oh careful, you’re gonna break the tubes!’ but these [Orange] things… we use them constantly, every night out there. Between the Crush amp, which is a solid-state amp – which people used to be like ‘oh you gotta have tubes’ – but that Crush is perfect for clubs. The Rockerverb 100 is amazing for some of the stadiums and outdoor events that we do and they have all of our bases covered and they’re built for guys that want to beat the sh*t out of these amps and have them work every night.
So Orange – obviously they’re a British Amp company, but they sure make some American and Country Rock and Roll sound real f*cking good. And the clean channel, the dirty channel, we can go from ZZ Top to a Waylon Jennings thing in no time and they’re just versatile. They have everything that I need and the Brits got something right. The Brits may have lost the war but they won the amp battle and that’s why Orange is the voice of Country Music.
Described as the UK’s hottest new rock n roll band Bad Day Blues have supported greats such as ‘The Killers’ and ‘Manic Street Preachers on their way to getting radio play on Radio 2. The band’s bass player Adam came into Orange Amps HQ to go through the Terror Bass and why he thinks it’s the perfect touring rig. Adam was using the Terror bass through the OBC112 which a perfect combination of power and portability.
‘Hi i’m Adam Rigg from the Bad Day Blues Band.
Amps were kind of a necessity so I would us any old battered amp, whatever I could throw in the back of the transit van or whatever they had at the venue I would use. Until that is I started using Orange amps and then I was like ‘Ah, I kind of get the whole amp thing now!’ It sounds ballsy without being thin or weak, it sounds vintage, I like the tubes on it and it has a little bit of natural growl. Which is really hard to fake with any pedals or any kind of plug ins, it’s a very real authentic sounding amp. Which is why I use them. It’s not even about the sound of the amp it’s about the aesthetics of it, the look of it and the feel of it. It’s got that aura about it which is one of the reasons I dig Orange.
I really like the valves on the Terror bass, the fact that it’s small, its portable and i think it is Class D. But the preamp is the tube element, which means you get that natural growl. Which is perfect for the blues you want that kind of authentic vibe, you don’t want anything that sounds too clinical or too fake. I don’t use any pedals, I just plug my bass straight into it. I get a little bit of growl out of it if I want, or I can back it off and get it a bit cleaner with some palm muting. So it’s literally perfect for the blues.
That’s why Orange amps are so great, they are just so easy to use, I’ve never been one for loads of EQ’s and stuff. My bass has a volume knob and that is it and that is what I like about Orange, its an instant good tone. I always think if you get amps and guitars with tons and tons of switches on you are trying to make up for something, if it doesn’t sound great pretty much straight away then why bother with it.
I was surprised by the OBC112 because they are tiny or relatively small compared to the bigger amps next to them. But they are loud and they can handle it, I think they are 400 Watts, which is loud. I usually plug my terror bass into a OBC410 or I have had it in the 810 before and it is so loud. If anyone is wondering about a Terror bass and wondering is 500 Watts loud enough, it definitely is! If you can pair it up with a smaller speaker, you have a perfect rig. If you are jumping on the tube, you could carry one of those in your hands, bass over your shoulder and Terror bass in the other hand.
They are just one of those iconic brands, you have posters up on the wall when you learn how to play guitar of Orange amps. The fact that Orange amps are nice enough to be seen with me is lovely. The gear is great as well so that’s a plus!’
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Youtube-Thumbnail-Bad-Day-Blues-no-logo.jpg17242584Danielhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Voice-of-Orange-Logo-METAL.pngDaniel2019-06-10 09:30:452019-06-26 23:59:48Interview: Bad Day Blues
What’s your story? How do you get where you are today?
Hi there, my name is Amir John Haddad, they also call me EL AMIR. I am a guitarist, multi instrumentalist and a ‘Musician on a Mission’ !! I love all kinds of string instruments and I play flamenco guitar, arabic oud, turkish saz, greek bouzouki, banjo, electric guitar, bass, ukulele (yes, also ukulele) and many more. Basically everything that you can pick and plug I get attracted to….
“I believe in the emotion and power of music as well as the passion you have to put into what you do”.
I was born in Germany (Freiburg, Black Forest) into a multiethnic family and have been surrounded by music basically since I was a baby. My grandpa is from Hamburg, my mom from Colombia and my dad from the Middle East. I was exposed to Latin folklore, Oriental music and Flamenco as well as Rock, Funk, Heavy Metal, Jazz, Pop, Classical music, Worldmusic and many many more. I grew up in a very musical house. At the age of three I played a tennis racket pretending it was a guitar! Shortly after that I started imitating my dad and playing around with the guitar and the arabic oud which he both played. I was absorbed and delighted by the sound of strings, it was like magic for me! Soon my dad started teaching me how to play and when I was seven years old I started to receive private clases with flamenco guitar maestros. As a kid I already would play for hours and hours non stop. After previews live experiences at my kindergarten and elementary school I started to perform on a real stage at the age of twelve!! Since then my life changed and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My path was set…
After finishing High School I moved to Jerez de la Frontera, a village in Andalusia in 1997. Since then I have been living in Spain and I have had many amazing musical journeys performing, collaborating, recording, working or touring worldwide with my own bands and with some of the most renowned artists such as Radio Tarifa, Chambao, Juno Reactor, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Shankar Mahedevan, Jorge Pardo, Carles Benavent, Zoobazar, Armand Sabal-Lecco, Carlos Raya, Eduardo Cabra ‘Visitante’ (Calle 13) and many more. For me what has been always the most important part in all this was the amount of good vibe and new things I would learn each time I had the chance to meet another great artist and share the stage or the studio with him or her. It is the attitude that makes you move towards a direction where knowledge and wisdom are combined with discipline and hard work. At the same time it is important to find joy and happiness in what you do. Not always my path has been easy, not always things made sense to me yet is has been always blissful. Every encounter taught me exactly what I needed to know for the next step I took. Take this as an encouraging message for yourself, it might help you to start looking at things from a different angle and see yourself from a different perspective too.
What is clear is that I have always given the best version of my self in any situation and this is what made me grow and be where I am now. Where am I ?? (laughs)
Among all the many projects so far there is one that definitely speaks for itself and which I am very proud of being part of it. In fall 2017 I get a phone call from a very important artistic agency based in Vienna, who told me that Hans Zimmer was looking for a multi faceted guitarist. I recorded some guitar tracks for them, Hans gave his approval and next thing: I was in! I had always dreamt about meeting Hans and being able to perform his music. Then in spring 2018 I started working with Hans Zimmer´s new show The World Of Hans Zimmer a Symphonic Celebration as one of his new soloists sharing the stage with the amazing conductor Gavin Greenaway and singer Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance) The repertoire is amazing and the music is overwhelming. Gladiator, Mission Impossible, Pirates of the Caribbean you name it… So far I have done three huge tours through Europe with this project playing at the largest Arenas such as Wembley Arena London, Wizink Center Madrid, Olympic Stadium Munich etc. What I want to tell you with this is actually that all the small steps I have taken in the past along my career, going through many different moments of my life and changes have led me to be now at this point form where I can see with an even clearer vision where to I want to move on from now. The reward is the never ending path and the joy you have while evolving as a human being, musician and artist.
Nowadays I am considered to be among the top five best flamenco solo guitarists of the new generation and this is a very nice moment for me which brings also a lot of responsibility with it. The task is to reinvent yourself every day and be open for new paths and visions. It is not so much about the instrument itself rather than about the way you interact with your instrument. How much do you care about how and what you play? Do you want to show off or really dig deeper into the emotional tissue of technique and music? Do you want to reach out and touch peoples hearts?
To end this section here there is one important thing that really made me be where I am today: All the information, education and support my parents, masters, teachers, mentors, friends, family, colleagues, artists, producers, band leaders etc gave me shaped me to the one I am today. Of course I have found my own voice and personality within all this, still it is important to have an identity and to know where you come from. Another important thing was that I left my comfort zone (something I highly recommend, it’s worth doing as many times in your life as necessary) when I was young and moved to another country. Now when I look back this small step meant a huge change for my life and here I am!! Never know for sure where life (and my decisions) will take though. Nevertheless I will enjoy every second of it.
References and influences. What can we find in your music?
First my mom Elsa-Maria, I could already hear the Latin folklore from inside her belly. My dad who was my first mentor and teacher. Then the maestros Pepe Justicia and Enrique de Melchor, two renowned flamenco guitar figures who where essential in my approach and understanding of the flamenco guitar as a soloist. When I was very young I was exposed to south american music, oriental music, flamenco and classical music. My musical heroes (yes I had other heroes too, Gregory Peck or Charly Chaplin were some of them) at that time were (and still are) my dad Rimon Haddad, Mozart, Munir Bashir and Paco de Lucia.
Later on at the age of twelve (again twelve) the elder brother of my best friend gave us a cassette with Metallica’s ‘Ride the Lighting’ and ‘Seek & Destroy’ albums on it. This sound changed me for ever. I was in love with electric guitar. Further influences were artists like Mothers Finest (inventors of Funk Rock), Living Color, Bad Brains, Fishbone, Infectious Grooves, Jane’s Addiction, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Randy Rhodes, Steve Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, John McLaughlin, George Duke, Trilok Gurtu, Beethoven, Sade, Billy Holiday, Rachmaninov, Sara Vaughn, Dennis Chambers, Prince, Michael Jackson, Johnny Guitar Watson, Scott Henderson, Beasty Boys, Onyx, NWA, Public Enemy, Biohazard, Grandmaster Flash, Chris Whitley, Jeff Buckley, B.B. King, …do I really need to list them all? I would need to quit my career as a musician if I wanted to complete the list (laughs) there are so many…
I just love music! For me I would define music as a magic vehicle that is driven by heart, rhythm, passion and melody (we all know that a lot of practice and commitment is needed right?). Any type of music style that has these elements immediately catches my absolute attention. I feel like I want to become the music itself and dive into the sound and emotion of it. I have been sitting down for many hours practicing, learning songs, even whole albums and tracks of other artists. I am hungry for new music, specially the one that I create. It is a beautiful sensation to compose new music. It is the unheard audible, the unknown known. My musical radar is very wide. I have no boundaries and prejudice music-wise.
Mythical great, those instruments, samplers, amplifiers, mythical effects?
I always wanted to have a Jackson Guitar, I saw John Hayes from Mother’s Finest playing Jackson at one of their concerts when I was young and I was blasted by his sound.
Flamenco guitars by Jose Lopez Bellido from Granada. He is probably one of the most renowned flamenco luthiers in Spain. I have played his guitars since I was a kid.
Now I am playing my own flamenco signature model called “El Amir” built by Jose Salinas.
The First oud my father bought when he was young. I ended up learning on it and playing it live with the legendary world music band Radio Tarifa worldwide.
Gibson Flying V is for me a killer guitar. The concept, sound and the easy access to high frets makes it the perfect toy!
Hammond Organ, the sound is amazing I have a T200 with a built in Lesley, just beautiful.
I saw Luther Allison, a legendary bluesman blasting his Hughes & Kettner TriAmp live. The blue lights of the ‘see trough design’ looked like magic on stage (ok I was young at that time…)
Marshall JCM 800/900 just love’em.
Mesa Boogie Nomad 2×12 Combo (it’s because I have one…lol)
Morley Wah-Wha, Rat Distortion, Boss Distortion (the orange one), Ibanez Tube Screamer, RP14 Digitech, Blackstar HT Dual PreAmp, and many more…!!!
…There is something about pedals and their sounds that you just can’t get enough of them…isn’t it? The best thing is that they make our mind creative.
New versus Second hand?
I have bought new instruments, I have bought second hand instruments and what has always been the most important parameter to me besides it looking good and sounding nice was wether I felt comfortable performing the music I had in my mind with it or not. It has to feel ’right’ in my fingers. One of the most beloved electric guitars I have is an old Fenix Strat built by Young Chang former Fender Japan. It was my first electric guitar. One thing I have never done is selling one of my instruments and I probably will never (never say ‘never’ though) do so. They all have story.
New technologies, what is the best thing you’ve tried lately?
The best device I have tried lately has been the AcousticPre by Orange. A two channel pre amp with separate setting and EQ possibilities that suites perfectly my flamenco guitar powered by Carlos Juan Amplification and my electric-acoustic instruments.
It makes the sound rounder, warmer, more natural and more precise. definitely a pedal to must try out. Go to your closest guitar shop and ask for it!! You will be more than pleased, actually you will be blown away.
Also the Teleport designed by Danny Gomez. A new interface pedal that will make your guitar sound like whatever sound you want within seconds!
Equipment to take you on a trip or to work on the road?
I have been always very basic in terms of technology. I have used a lot GarageBand on my iPhone to lay down ideas. I also record a voice messages on my phone with musical ideas. I have a very good memory and I store loads of GB lot musical ideas in my head…
My basic pedal board has at least always a nice Distortion, Chorus, Wha-Wha, Delay, EQ, Line Selector, Phaser and Tuner. This makes a guitarist just happy!! I have plugged these pedals to so many different amps in different situations and have always been able to create a great and solid sound. Again, the sound is in your head and then you start to tweak and twist the knobs searching for the right frequencies and parameters until you get what you want. You gotta play around with it and find your sound. The smallest changes can sometimes achieve the hugest differences.
Also take enough string sets and picks with you! Also bring your own black gaffer tape, why? Once I made a guitar-strap out of gaffer tape!! These last two might sound primitive to you, still they are very important points. Can’t be too careful (laughs). Best equipment though is your positive, humble, professional and honest energy! That will help you anywhere…believe me! Ah, don’t forget to smile!
What do you use, Backup in case everything fails?
I always make sure to have an easy and direct access to the amp by skipping the pedal circuit and plugging my lead straight into the amp. In a live situation it is important that you can do it by yourself very quickly unless you have your roady standing next to you at the side of the stage.
With my fingers and technique I still can emulate the sound that I want to come out of my guitar without using the pedal chain. I have always a PreAmp (e.g. Blackstar HT Dual) with Clean, Crunch and High Gain channels to plug straight into a DiBox through the speaker simulator output.
You won’t believe how huge, powerful and clean I have sounded in certain venues with no need of an amp. Just through the wedges and/or side fills. Remember that the sound is first in your head, then in your fingers and then the pedals help to enhance that. A good sound engineer is key to your success on stage!! He is the fourth musician in a power trio so to say.
The studio is burning down … instrument / equipment that you would save?
If I had the time I would definitely hire a transportation company to get everything ‘outta there’ before the fire fighters come (laughs).
Since this is pretty unlikely I would take my father´s oud and my first flamenco guitar built by Jose Lopez Bellido. A beautiful cypress body with a german spruce top guitar from 1984 (does this have to do something with George Orwell?). The hard discs and my MacBook!!!! There is not only music on’em! What about everything else in your life? Then if I really had the time before the smoke would get too heavy I would grab everything else (laughs again) and don’t wait for the transportation company nor the fire fighters. Hey, I have a van, I could fit all of it in there right…?
What is your experience with Orange Amplifiers?
Though I have never owned one I know of there amazing sound, quality and versatility for almost any kind of music style. One of my bass player friends who comes from the punk and rock scene has been playing on his Orange bass head for ages and the sound is so deep and strong! (I love Glenn Hughes set up, sounds killer and blasts you away!)
So far I have played in some occasions through the TH100. It has a wide and strong sound for rock, hard rock and metal riffs. Very juicy distortion too. The riffs smack you in your face. Also the Rocker 15 Terror (Lunchbox Amp style) which has a very high definition, specially for soloing and shredding on high gain range with a great sustain. Amazing feel! Orange Rocker 30 is a great head!! I remember playing once through a Rockerverb 50MKIII and the wide range of the gain knob combined with the mid range scoop achieves that heavy, dark and juicy sound you need to rock out BIG TIME!
First impressions about the new Acoustic PRE?
After meeting at the Orange Booth at NAMM 2019 in Anaheim, I recently visited Danny Gomez from Orange Amps at his studio and we had a nice session where he showed me the AcousticPre and its possibilities. First of all I must say the pedal looks gorgeous and very classy. In white, not over-designed and very easy to handle. The two channel device has a unique way to use the channels separately and/or simultaneously while being able to combine both EQ settings and enhance any acoustic sounding instrument tremendously. It will give your instrument a warm and natural character with that extra attack which will make you want to keep playing more and more.
I have one of my flamenco guitars powered with a Carlos Juan pick up system, the VIP Double (the same model that Vicente Amigo uses). It is a stereo output system where I can choose from the piezo under the saddle or the sensor beneath the top or preferably both. Therefore the AcousticPre is perfect for me and makes me able to blend my two channels and EQ them separately. Even only with the piezo it already sounded huge and crystal clear capturing all the subtle nuances of my fingers and nails too. It is a great device for any live or studio situation. The sound is immaculate and you will make not only make the sound engineer happier but also the whole crowd!! Isn’t that what you want? (laughs)
What are your plans for the future?
Right now I am preparing and recording my new flamenco guitar album called ‘Andalucía’. An album with a nice concept where I make a tribute to every province of Andalusia, Malaga, Sevilla, Cadiz, Cordoba, etc. I have composed a song for each province and each title has a direct meaning regarding each province. CD Release will be on the 28th of February 2020 if all plans go well. 28th is the ‘Day of Andalusia’ and there couldn’t be a better day to release the album. On that day I will be in Moscow and St.Petersburg with Hans Zimmer though…not that I am complaining (laughs).
This year I will perform with my bands in new countries that I had never been before and I am thrilled to travel to new places and open new markets. I will also give many solo guitar recitals, masterclasses and workshops. Then again a huge Europe Tour in November/December with Hans Zimmer and the World of Hans Zimmer. So looking forward to this to meet again my bandmates who are like soul brothers and soul sisters to me! Such a great bunch of musicians and artists.
Actually I am very happy and honored to be part of the Orange Family and be and Ambassador to Orange Amps. I am looking forward to establish a solid and fruitful relationship and I am already enjoying the ride. I will definitely use the Acoustic Pre for the next World of Hans Zimmer Tour. Carsten, our sound engineer will love it, I already know!
Tips for readers?
Be yourself no matter what!
In the case you want to become a musician/artist or even both remember that the person behind the instrument is the one that will deliver the music. Therefore take care of that precious human being!!
Best three tips ever given to me by three wise men were:
“You can’t be too careful boy, you can’t be too careful…!” “Whenever you see the crowd turn left, you turn right boy!” “Whenever you feel artistically in a dead end, get out of your comfort zone and move on!”
I need to explain, what they meant was: BE YOURSELF NO MATTER WHAT!!
Thank you for stopping by and reading my interview. I had lots of fun answering these great questions and share my personal vision on things. Hope you enjoyed your time reading them too. See you soon at one of my next concerts, masterclasses, orange events, etc. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and don’t forget to visit me at:
www.elamir.es or www.zoomusicmanagement.com
All the best of luck and keep the good music alive!! Remember, you are great!!
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/El-Amir-2-Acoustic.jpg49127360Danny Gomezhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Voice-of-Orange-Logo-METAL.pngDanny Gomez2019-06-06 09:00:342019-06-18 13:47:20Our interview with El Amir
Hi, my name’s Ben Parker and I’m here today looking at the wonderful Orange Acoustic Pre Twin Channel.
So, first of all what I was really impressed with is the overall sound – there’s definitely a higher fidelity thing going on when the sound comes through from both the DI and the mic feeds. In dialling up the heat knob on the DI there’s definitely a kind of nice vintage vive to how the DI sounds.
I think when I’m looking for an acoustic signal (I’m looking for) something that’s definitely very pure and the pick ups I use are really true to the woody nature of the sound of the acoustic and what the Acoustic Pre has done is just maximise that sound. It’s not drawn it further into the electronic, it’s just warmed it up, made it sound more natural and enhanced the sound that’s already there. I think because it’s got that warmth to it, I guess because of the tube in it, it really lends itself. I like acoustics that sound like they’ve come from old records and that’s what the tube element does to the sound.
Initially, I didn’t think it was the sort of thing I would use in the studio but actually, with us playing with it today and the way we’ve set it up with the DI straight in and the mic straight in but then both into the computer and the interface. It’s funny how the manipulation of the DI separate from the mic and being able to flick between the two – it’s almost like whenever I record an acoustic guitar I would use this to have a great DI signal – which I always want anyway – because you might want to distort that or treat it slightly differently. Then you can blend in the real mic and decide what you want to do with the two signals. On the road, another set up I have in one of my other acoustics is a split system that takes a mic output and a piezo pickup output from the pickup of the acoustic guitar. So this is great because I can plug the mic into the mic input, the piezo into the DI and then send front of house my particular choice blend of those two sounds with the ability to EQ both channels separately and add reverb if necessary.
The reverb is really nice. Again, I felt it was quite vintage like a lot of the old stuff Jimmy Page used to use on his acoustic picking stuff on those early Led Zep records. It had that flavour to it rather than being a synthetic digital sounding reverb, it felt like it was responding more to what it was being given, like those old fashioned reverbs.
I do a lot of writing with people but I also do a lot of basic tracking here and I work a lot on my own stuff. I compose for film and TV, so it’s interesting, the acoustic guitar sound is always very important in a lot of the things I do, so I’m always interested in seeing different ways of capturing that rather than it being in that environment of mouse click sliders. It’s great to go to the real knobs and turn them and hear the difference. Always. I love that, so it’s nice to have this unit there to manipulate the signal in that way.