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Hero Jr. by Steve Rose

Hero Jr – for those who doesn’t know the band, can we get some background?
Hero Jr. is a rock band influenced by classic 70s British rock, American vintage Grunge and punk. We are Evan Haughey on vocals and guitar, Dave DuBrava on bass, Ryan Keyes on drums, and myself on guitar. The four of us come from different rock backgrounds and generations, but are fans of bands from all genres that can both write quality songs and perform them fiercely on stage.  We are all about being on the road and going for it live. We are not a jam, band but we never play our songs the same way and always change up the sets because we have two and a half hours of original material. The way we approach bringing our songs from record to the stage is inspired by and in the spirit of Zeppelin and Hendrix. We’ve been on the road from day one and have played over 800 national shows in all the band’s incarnations since 2010. 

The way the band has evolved and how we’ve grown is amazing, and we have become family through our music. We have a great work ethic, and have booked and managed ourselves from the start. It’s a given that we have to write and perform at a high level, but that is only a small part of what we need to do as a band to move up the food chain, and the bond we have solidified over working together as a business inspires our music and is a huge part of our fan appeal.  We are very DIY and we love being creative and working together.  Whether we are in front of 10 people in a club or thousands at a festival Hero Jr. is the band I’ve always dreamed of being in.

The story of how we all came together as a band is unique and will be told in detail in the March issue of Music Mayhem Magazine and will also be up on the their website today.

You’re about to release a new single ‘Deep End Price Tag’ – what can you tell us about it?
“Deep End Price Tag” is one of nine songs Evan and I wrote in a week that we blocked out to write the new album.  We sat in the living room on acoustic guitars, very organic and stress free, and everything just flowed.  Evan and I have great chemistry, even though we are loud and electric we write the old fashioned way.  If the songs are tight as compositions we can crush them when we plug in.  At that point we bring the songs into the band and fine tune the arrangements while we all find our parts.  We always rehearse three days a week if we are not on the road, which gives us time to experiment.  We never have a plan but we know what doesn’t work and we know how to stop when the song is finished. 

We put a small studio in the living room and are recording totally live, vocals included, without headphones.  We didn’t overdub.  We monitor the vocals like we do in rehearsal and when we nail a take the bleed through is minimal and plays a part in the ambience of the recordings. In such a small space, and with the blasting volume, it’s kind of hit and miss so we experiment with microphone placement until it feels right.  All our favourite albums were made in similar fashion, with vibe taking priority over the purity of the recording.  Everything, including the new video for the first single was done live in the living room, with the only ‘out of house’ addition the recording process is our long time mastering engineer and South London wiz Ed Woods.

Hero Jr. by Steve Rose

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your musical background?
I started playing guitar when I was 12.  Not for wanting to play an instrument, but because my parents said I had to in the name of “culture”.  I was into sports and my first guitar experience was in a group, with a fat necked nylon string, and a circle of girls.  I hated it.  I was “offered” the same choice the following year and had an amazing private teacher in a music store near my house.  He had a file cabinet of popular songs with chord charts and I could choose one per week to learn, along with my note exercises.  Although I don’t recommend it he also got me high.  Needless to say, that was the end of my sports career.  

My first electric was an old Gibson SG I got in the used section of the first Guitar Center in W. Hollywood in L.A.  I stayed in my room and practiced until my fingers could’t take anymore.  Even though I ended up forgetting most of my “theory”, I studied jazz and played in the school band and in school musicals. My first die hard musical loves were Jimmy Page and Neil Young, and I could have swore Page talked to me through his playing.  I understood all of the places he was going, especially when he went for things and almost fell off the cliff. The Zeppelin energy was like a drug for me, best pocket ever for heavy rock.  Neil Young had the same thing, and was also an amazing storyteller and untamed shredder.  Cortez The Killer has always been a favourite. I have always been attracted to well written songs and bombastic dynamics.  My other big love is blues and classic R&B and 70s funk, Sly, The Meters, BB King – there is so much amazing vibe and creativity out there. 

In Los Angeles I was working with a lot of Europeans and ended up signing to Warner Music in Germany.  I really didn’t fit into the Munich pop writing world but I also didn’t have a band to rock with so I kept writing and learning to write while I was doing it.  I would say the major turning point in my career was working with Andre Lewis (Zappa, Buddy Miles, Johnny Guitar Watson, Mandre and tons more). 

When my Warner contract ended there was a one year period that my contract wouldn’t allow me to sign elsewhere so I took a blues gig with Dre.  I sucked bad.  He was going through a rough patch and he needed cash and had gigs.  At the beginning I was just a body with a guitar so he could pay for his party habit.  My rock chops and volume did not cut it in hotel bars and jazzier venues and Dre beat the crap out of me.  When he called me a “punk ass white boy without a pocket and dynamics” he was not lying. Dre was my dude and he  linked me to all my British blues/rock heroes via the culture of all their influences from the 50s-70s American blues scene. It took a year and change but he did it and my guitar playing started to turn around and I began to develop my style.  Dre was a child prodigy and funk/blues genius, playing a strap on keyboard through amps, like a guitar, he was a motherfucker.  Sadly few of his solo recordings do him justice because he was like Prince, Sly and all those old school dudes in one…right down to the purple pimped out fedora.  I miss him a lot and have a debt of gratitude for his patience, mentoring and non-forgiving badass attitude.  RIP brother!

While living in Munich I began traveling to London to work. As a writer, I was beginning to get more opportunities so I put the guitar to rest and was back at songwriting to get cuts. I got some of them but was never satisfied and always longed for rock music. Besides Dre, I worked on projects with artists that had real rock cred and those projects brought me back to my guitar.  The first was working with Henry Small (Prism, John Entwistle’s Rock, Burton Cummings) who was, and still is, an important mentor and friend, and then Tony Carey (Blackmore’s Rainbow). The Tony Carey and Planet P albums we made indirectly led to my meeting with Evan. I eventually moved to London, where I stayed for ten years. I love the British music vibe and I found it very inspiring to live there.  Besides Nashville, London is the only city that I get goosebumps straight off the plane.  Maybe it’s the spirit of The Stones, Zeppelin, Floyd, Sabbath, and many of my go to bands.  In London I began working with more indie and alternative writers.

Hero Jr. by Steve Rose

What’s your relationship and history with Orange?
I was introduced to Orange by my Livingston studio mates Romeo and Michele Stodart from Magic Numbers. I was playing vintage Marshall JMP 50 watt combos and AC30s but did not want to take them on the road in America. I ended up getting introduced to Orange USA in Atlanta and started using an OR50 and a PPC212 cab.  You guys guaranteed I would love my Orange and I haven’t played may Marshall’s since. Sometimes I will use a Rockerverb 50 MKIII and, on occasion, a Dual Terror. The RV50 through a PPC112 is great for outside sessions and I love the way all my Oranges take effects, especially dirty ones. It’s the only amp I’ve played that can handle my 90s Green Russian Muff on top of the Orange gain. I love the Orange gear and it suits my style.  The PPC212 has the best bottom end and it compliments Evan’s rig to the point that together we often sound like one big guitar.  The Orange pedals are great as well and I am always using the Kongpressor and Fur Coat on sessions.  I always keep a Mini Crush on the road and love that thing. The Getaway driver is another killer pedal, especially the speaker simulator output.  That’s a great backstage with headphones vibe. All of the Orange gear is built great and sounds warm and fat.  A-1 rock all around!  Orange has become part of Hero Jr.

What’s your current set up?
All Orange in the amp department.  Mostly the OR50 / PPC212 and sometimes I take the RV50 out.  Those combos kill both big and small rooms as a half-stacks. I’m a Gibson guy and play a 72 Les Paul Standard as my number one. Les Pauls and Orange are the best! Gibson just sent me a Custom Shop 60s Standard re-issue that has a similar feel to my 72.  I’m not a real tech person and mostly go by feel. I play the same guitar all set unless I break a string, which I never do since I switched to DR (11-50) Strings.  Game changers! It’s the first time I actually noticed a dramatic difference in strings and everything sounds better with them, and they (knock on wood) NEVER break. I rarely use effects but at times use a Dunlop Echoplex Delay, Echopark Harmonic Boost, vintage Phase 90, Memory Man and Green Russian Muff, and a CAE Wah.  If the guitar and amp can’t do it by themselves nothing will help. 

What’s next for Hero Jr?
Four rock and roll gents having a go at world domination and bringing our living room to as many people as possible.

Find Hero Jr & Ken on social media: Instagram // Facebook // Ken on IG // Hero Jr. Website //

“I’ve had the same two Rockerverb MKII 100 heads and cabs since 2011. Not once have I had any problems with my Orange gear. I’ve never even blown a fuse or a speaker. My band, Evanescence, tours all over the world, playing in different climates from cold and dry to hot and wet. My gear has been shipped back and forth across the Atlantic many times, been in cargo holds in the belly of airplanes across the pacific and always performs when the time comes. It’s more reliable than just about every piece of gear that I’ve ever had!!!” Troy McLawhorn of Evanescence

“My Orange Rockerverb 50 mkIII has been all over the country, dropped, had beer spilt on it, kicked, plugged into shady power outlets and is still here to break my pinkie toe when I accidentally kick it in the studio!” Ryan “Fluff” Bruce (Guitar Influencer)

“I’ve been touring with the same head and cab for over 800 shows with Hero Jr. and I’ve never had [knock on Orange wood] a problem. My rig sounds as killer as it did when it came out of the box 7 years ago.” Ken Rose of Hero Jr.

“These new Oranges have been the most road worthy amps I’ve ever known.  I started using an OR 100 and Rockerverb 100 in 2015.  The only thing that took out the OR 100 was playing it in 2 different rainstorms.  It survived a brutal rainstorm at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans but another storm in New Jersey killed it. The Rockerverb is still going strong 4 years later.” Tim Sult of Clutch

“I use the AD200 MK3 head and OCB410 cabinet, an absolute unit!!! The tone I get from the amp is unreal, depending on the artist I’m playing for I can change it up between a warm vinyl like tone or beef it up so that the bass is absolutely pounding!” Mandy Clarke of KT Tunstall

“My Terror Bass amps have been absolutely rock solid since I got them. I’ve never had a single problem. The same was true when I was playing the AD200B heads. Despite being 200 watts of sheer tube-destroying power, they never once needed repair work. You can drop them from waist height and they always survive (which has, thanks to various stagehands, happened more than once unfortunately).” Glenn Hughes

On my amps…

I appreciate the story of how I became an Orange user because it embodies my “put up or shut up” philosophy of rock music.  Before I moved to America to join our band, Hero Jr., I lived in London, where I worked mostly as a songwriter, producer and studio musician.  My main amps were vintage Marshall JMP 50 watt 2×12 combos from the late 60s and early 70s.  Being a Jimmy Page and 70s rock fanatic I was religiously partial to the Les Paul / Marshall sound.  There was something about the raunch, honk, and presence through that rig that inspired my playing.  I am not really a “technical musician” and I’m extremely sensitive to what instrument and amp I’m playing through.  I’m not the dude that can pick up anyone’s guitar, plug into any amp, and just start shredding.  If it doesn’t feel right it’s not happening for me.  I’ve always been that way!  For the majority of my work I’ve played the same 1972 Les Paul for over 20 years. 

Enter Orange.  To make a long story short, seven years ago I had finished co-writing and producing an album with my friends in the Indianapolis, Indiana rock band Hero Jr.  The band’s singer, Evan Haughey, and I wrote the songs for that album via SKYPE.  We had such a good connection that the hook-up between my studio in London and the studio in Indiana felt like one living room.  We ended up recording the record back and forth between the two studios.  In June 2012 I was invited to the Hero Jr. album release event in Indianapolis.  The plan was to rehearse for a couple days and play the new songs that we had all recorded together.  I came over to America to do that show and the vibes were so cool I never went back to London and joined the band.  When the music feels that right there is no need to think about it!

From that day the never-ending Hero Jr. tour started.  All my gear, except a couple guitars and pedals, was in London and the vintage amp I was borrowing on tour was melting down by the end of each set so I needed a rig.  A friend, and Orange user in London, suggested I talk to her artist representative about potential touring rigs.  She said that the new Orange gear was killing it and that the artist support system at the company was amazing.  She was right.  The dudes at Orange were very cool and really wanted me to find the right amp for my style.  They said I would not be disappointed by Orange and that I would probably not want to go back to my Marshalls.  They were right.  A week later I became an Orange Ambassador and was touring with my first Orange rig, an OR50 and PPC-212 closed back cabinet.  From the get go I was floored.  Not only did I feel that “connection” that I needed to be inspired, but the fans and technical staff at the venues we played all mentioned the clarity and balls of my sound and were impressed.  I was really in love with my amp and spent the next 6 years and over 700 shows playing that OR50. 

I got my Rockerverb 50 Mk. III last year to take on a short spring tour supporting John 5 And The Creatures.  My relationship with the RV had an auspicious start as it arrived just a few days before the tour started, and being such a picky creature of habit with my gear, and having limited gear space on tour, I wussed out and left the RV 50 at home.  My initial opinion was…great amp but not as vibey as my OR50.  As soon as I got back from the tour I realized I was very wrong!  A couple things happened.  First, my OR50 went down and wouldn’t be repaired in time for a short string of shows.  I rehearsed for a few days with it and still felt that homesick (ampsickness!!) longing for my OR50. 

Once we started playing I began to get used to the RV and noticed that it was ballsy, yet clean, and cut really well.  It fit. I usually use one setting and control the tone with my volume on the guitar.  With the RV I could crank the gain but when I rolled off my volume I got the vintage cleanish sound I am used to.  That amp killed it.  Like I said I’m not a technician, but the RV felt like it had headroom for days.  Most importantly I felt it the RV catered to my style of playing and to the band.  Evan and I have a cool dual guitar style together.  We groove so intuitively that it almost sounds like one big guitar.  The RV fit right into that.

The second bonding experience I had with the RV was in the studio playing guitar on a few outside non-rock recording projects.  The versatility of the RV was amazing.  On one session, which was ambient alternative, like Sigur Rós, I used the clean channel as my basic setup and ran a lot of effects.  The RV takes effects really well.  The front end is very tight and balanced and the amp was as true to my vintage effects as it was to the modern gear.  I didn’t have to change settings once on that gig.  In addition to a killer gain channel the amp sounds great using a combination of the clean volume and attenuator to get a bluesier, natural overdrive sound. The RV rocked in the studio on all styles of music.  Whether it was vintage soul/funk with a Strat or Tele, Blues, or Hip Hop, all my sessions were great and I have used the RV50 as my number one studio amp ever since.  Even through a PPC112 the RV has amazing range and depth.

The third bonding session with my RV happened during the shooting of the three videos Orange will be releasing, where I played a Strat, Telecaster, and Les Paul, through it in order to show how the RV played true to the characteristics of each guitar and the effects I used.  Prior to the shooting I used the amp for a short road trip and on some studio sessions and although I was sold on the amp I didn’t really use a lot of different settings.  When it came time to shoot the videos I was kind of winging the settings to show the versatility of the amp with each of the three guitars.  I’m sure that Derik, my videographer, caught me saying, “Fuck, this amp is really the shit” more than a few times. 

During the shooting of this video is when I realized the RV is one of the best new amps on the market.  It can do everything I need in any situation I have been in, live and studio.  I am so impressed that, besides being a monster rock amp, there is so much versatility in the RV.  Both channels have different clean and overdriven possibilities, the EQ is musical and the attenuator really does its job if you need to play soft.  Set up with the gain just right I can even get my Page on!!  After getting to know my RV50 in so many ways I have decided to get and ABY and see what it’s like in my touring rig with the OR50.  I’ve been using Orange amps and pedals for a while now and one thing is for sure.  From the Mini crush all the way up to the RV and OR, Orange has a sound and personality that is perfect for the music I make.  The build quality and harmonic/tonal consistency is awesome.  I don’t use reverb, as I prefer room ambience, but the built in reverb is an added bones for anyone that needs on board verb.  I never use the effects loop so I cant comment on that.  Orange has been my only amp since 2012 and I’ve never thought to change or try others.  Great dudes.  Great gear.  “Put up or shut up!!”

On my music…

I love all kinds of music but I have always had a special thing for 60s and 70s guitar rock.  Maybe it’s because the genre evolved from Soul, R&B, Blues, and improvisational Jazz and has few boundaries.  Bring on the 60s and 70s, add volume and fuzz to the mix and it’s just right.  I favor pre-80s music because, in my opinion, talent, craft and vibe were as important aspects of the business as the need to sell records and many of the “corporate” record people had their roots in music.  They hung out with the artists and bands and released records that, for the most part, touched them, and in turn resonated with the public. 

I grew up as a songwriter and always wrote my own tunes.  My favorite artists have always been Zeppelin, Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, Neil Young, The 3 Kings, Miles, and too many more to mention.  The mixture of raw rock power and good songwriting is important to me.  When Evan and I sit down to write a Hero Jr. album we usually start on acoustic guitars.  A typical session starts with a lyrical concept or a lick.  Evan and I are very in tune with each other and we share our ideas freely, trusting that we will always get where we are going.  So far it’s worked like a charm.  We always have an abundance of ideas and work well as a selfless team with one goal, getting the best out of each other during the initial creative phase of developing ideas.  We generally write from our social observations and from the obstacles we encounter in our lives and how we grow.  Our songs always come out having multiple meanings to our listeners. 

Evan and I are different people so each song means something different to him than it does to me.  Even before people hear a song it usually has two meanings coming from two different places.  Before we bring a song into the band we have a finished melody, lyric, and song outline with the main licks and an arrangement in place.  From that basis we start rehearsing and after pushing, pulling and trying many variations of dynamics and parts the song comes out Hero Jr.  This process is so important and is a big part of who we are as a band.  We know when we are finished with a song that we have tried every possible combination of ideas and that we all agree it is “airtight”.  We are very lucky to have our four man family and a creative check and balance system that actually works. 

Both on and off stage we are a band.  I do not think I could have given up my writing and producing career if I didn’t feel this bond and team energy.  My one music biz dream has always been to be in a band that could carry on the tradition of my heroes and stand the test of time.  I think we all feel that way and that’s one reason Hero Jr. has been able to slug it out for seven years of ups and downs on the path to wherever it is we are headed.  We love what we create and I believe rock fans, besides loving the music, react to the “brotherhood” and vibe of a band that is not only talented but scrappy.  Before we go into the studio to record, we take the songs on the road to see how they work in front of people.  We are a live band first and we want to get that feel in the studio.  We have recorded our last three albums and EPs live, with no overdubs. 

To get the songs right it’s important to play the new tunes out live in front of an audience.  Classic rock fans are relentless and you know when they are not into a tune.  It’s what we love about the genre!  We usually record all our rehearsals and shows to hear what works, as the feeling on stage is totally different when you listen back to a show a week later.  When we all agree we are ready, we set up in a studio facing each other in a semi-circle and start recording.  We separate the amps a little but are not afraid of amp bleed as it acts like glue.  Letting the bass bleed into the drum overheads allows for a “surrounding” bottom end that anchors the whole song.  We play each song a few times and usually have a good take in three tries.  If we don’t we move on to another song. 

Keeping it fresh and “unrehearsed” is important in the studio.  We are never stressed out and we really do trust each other on such a level that we all end up being one when the take is right.  I’d say 80% of our last three recordings are from the first three takes.  For me there is no better musical feeling than being in a well-oiled touring rock band.  It’s what got me into this when I was 13.  The vibration of “real” rock music touches every part of me.  I’m grateful for music, creativity, my bandmates, and for Orange.  Seriously. I use all the products I endorse and there are no better rock tools for me than my Orange gear.  “Put up or shut up!”

-Ken Rose, Chicago, IL.

5/5/19

Some guitarists are purists. Like Orange, they refuse to ever “go digital.” We like those guitarists. They are our bread and butter. We share with them an affinity for analogue tone. Digital hardware, be damned.

Why won’t they make the switch? After all, digital promises fewer repair headaches and a plethora of tonal options. The reason they’re sticking with analogue is that it sounds better. There’s no way around it, folks. What vinyl is to MP3s, analogue amps are to digital modelers. Analogue offers a level of presence and warmth in one’s tone that just can’t be achieved with a digital signal.

We’ve compiled a short list of Orange Ambassadors that are all-analogue, all the time. Check out their own reasoning behind staying true to their tone:

Scott Holiday of Rival Sons
In this day and age we’ve all messed around with digital amps…and the technology is pretty good now! Almost like the real thing even! The only problem is..It’s NOT the real thing. And the real thing wins…every time. That’s why digital platforms are imitating it..Because nothing will ever beat the sound and feel of valves/tube amps/analog circuitry. There’s almost a living breathing quality to a great tube amp…an immediacy…an almost human quality in responsiveness. I’m not saying ‘reject technology’ or to not appreciate it…I do! And I implement said technology within my rig. What I’m saying is: nothing will ever beat the sound of a great tube/analog amplifier.”

Ken Rose of Hero Jr.
“I am one of those ‘freaks’ that can feel analog reacting with my body. In most cases I prefer analog because it feels like the amplifier and the effects and the tape, or whatever is analog, is directly connected to my expression and creativity. I am not dissing digital by any means, as I use it daily, but I personally feel an aural and auditory kinship with analog.”

Andreas Kisser of Sepultura
“Analogue sound is the truth, is what the digital world tries to emulate but never gets quite there. I only use the sound of the amp, straight to the guitar, no distortion pedals. That way I can feel the real sound of the guitar, the wood, the pick-up and the strings. Analogue is where the evolution of a musician is, you break your limits and create something new.”

Tim Sult of Clutch
“I prefer the warmth and depth of an analogue tone. It makes the wood of the guitar and cabinets sound more like a living being.”

Danko Jones
“Lately, I’ve seen bands playing live without real amps. I mean, wtf? If you’re a rock band and you’re not playing through real live amps during a show, it’s not a rock show.”

Orange Ambassador Ken Rose of the band Hero Jr is currently touring with John 5. Check this page for daily content from Ken featuring the Crush Mini combo, Getaway Driver Overdrive pedal, and Fur Coat Octave Fuzz pedal

Content brought to you in partnership with zZounds


April 10th, 2018 – San Jose, California, USA

Let it be known that Ken Rose of Hero Jr is literally one of the best undiscovered guitarists out there. This solo from “Oceans Dead” proves it.


April 8th, 2018 – Fullerton, California, USA

Wanna take the Crush Mini into full-blown nastiness? Put a Getaway Driver overdrive pedal in front of it!


April 3rd, 2018 – Tucson, Arizona, USA

Here’s everyone’s response when they first see Ken solo: “Why haven’t I heard of this guy before?” The Fur Coat Octave Fuzz pedal is a great way to boost into a lead.


April 2nd, 2018 – El Paso, Texas, USA

The Crush Mini is an awesome practice amp for hotel jams. But plug into the speaker out on the back and you can easily power a 212, or even 412, speaker cab.


April 1st, 2018 – Albuquerque, NM, USA

In case you didn’t know, Ken Rose is a ridiculously good guitarist. That is all.


March 31st, 2018 – Dallas, Texas, USA

Today we have a full song from Hero Jr. playing “Jump Ship” in Dallas. You can hear a ton of “flare” coming out of Ken’s OR50, even from the opposite side of the stage.


March 30th, 2018 – Houston, Texas, USA

Thankfully Ken wasn’t in the shower for this video. Here he is warming up with his Getaway Driver through a Crush Mini.


March 29th, 2018 – Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Today Ken decided to practice his amp on the toilet. Hopefully he doesn’t “stink it up” (sorry).