Posts

Yo, its Tyler from Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown and I play Orange Amps.

So I heard the music of Elvis Presley when i was in first grade and that was that pivotal moment where I became obsessed with music. When I was eleven I went into a guitar shop and I heard this guy called Roosevelt Twitty playing and he asked me if I liked the blues and I said “what’s the blues?”. He said; “it’s what I’m playing” and I said; “well then I love the blues!” I ran into him again and again, long story short, I put a dirtbike that I had on layaway and got an electric guitar and it’s been downhill ever since!

Blues lead me to guys like Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix, which lead me to the Black Crowes and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. So the blues led me to Rock n Roll which inspired me to get out of high school when I was seventeen and move to Nashville. There I started focusing on songwriting and forming a band, and I ended up with a band called the Shakedown. That’s kind of how it all played out.

I was actually riding around Nashville, with Graham Whitford who is also in the Shakedown and he said i’m going to stop into the Orange amps office and try some amps. So I said I will go with you and plugged into a Rockerverb. I wanted something I could get a lot of sustain out of and I tried the Rockerverb and got one, I loved it so much. I just use one channel on the Rockerverb, the clean channel and I drive it hard and I use the attenuator to set the volume and its as simple as that. I just love how much sustain I can get out of that amp. I just happened to rolling around with Graham in Nashville and played one and here we are.

So I always want an amp that has a good clean channel but also sounds big, if I don’t have a pedal on. But I don’t want an amp that is so distorted that I can’t have some control at my pedal board. So it’s this fine balance of an amp that’s big and full and that’s almost on the edge of being crunchy but still clean and precise. I like to hear, it’s hard to explain, I want the amp to sound glassy, like I want to hear the tubes and feel that play between the guitar and the amp.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Fluffer Pit Parties.

You released your latest album ‘Near to the Wild Heart of Life’ in January, a record I find – not necessarily more tidy, but more polished than a lot of your previous stuff.
I feel like when we started the band we wanted to be one kind of band and make one style of music, and that’s kind of what we did. We’d write a certain kind of song, record it a certain kind of way, play a certain kind of show, and we did that for several years, two records and about 500 shows. I think by the time we finished that we were both older and had been doing it for a while, and we’d discovered new music and kind of just began to be interested in doing things a bit differently. We were looking for a way to keep the band going, but also to keep ourselves very excited and interested in it. It’s easy, when you find success with a certain sound or certain kind of song to continue to do that indefinitely. Most people are glad The Ramones or AC/DC never drastically changed their songs or style of playing, as they’re both bands that do what they do incredibly well, that you don’t want them to stray from that, then there’s other bands that are equally as great, where part of their greatness comes from them deciding to switch things up and explore sonic territory with different kinds of songs, and those bands wouldn’t be as great if they didn’t do that. David Bowie wouldn’t be who he was, if he continued making the same record for 40 years. There’s that adventurous and rebellious nature in making music that can lead to spectacular failures, but also spectacular success, and I think we kind of looked at ourselves and the band and decided that for the third record, we could be going into either of those directions, but we had been in the game long enough to feel comfortable taking that risk.

Things that never used to interest us we began to find very interesting, changing the way we write songs, how we record them – just experiment more. Try to break out of our comfort zones. It’s our third record but in many ways it feels like our first record all over again, because we kind of just decided to ignore our past and do whatever we thought felt good, sounded good and what we were interested in, and in that process there was a lot of learnings both good and bad, but I think that’s what kept it interesting for us. Now that we’ve got that one record where we’ve started drifting away from what we were doing before, now it’s ok to explore some more. We play in a two piece band, and when a lot of people think of two piece bands, I think they typically think of minimalism, that the songs and recording will be done in a very minimal manner, and I think we’ve always had that opposite attitude where we’ve always wanted to see how big we could make everything sound, even if it was just the two of us, and I think that’s where we’re at now, with how we record those songs now. We did the minimal and lo-fi thing for a while and it was great, but for us there was no more adventure left in that. We know how to do that, and there’s no risk.


“There’s that adventurous and rebellious nature in making music that can lead to spectacular failures, but also spectacular success, and I think we kind of looked at ourselves and the band and decided that for the third record, we could be going into either of those directions, but we had been in the game long enough to feel comfortable taking that risk.”
Brian King, Japandroids


With this album we knew that it would alienate some people who were really into the old records, but at the same time, most great artists alienate people along the way. That’s just what makes their careers as a whole so great, that they’re bold and adventurous artists, and that’s the sort of the company we want to be in. I think my point is, that we don’t want to be that sort of band where you can reduce our sound to one simple song or record. As I mentioned before with David Bowie, not that I’m comparing us to him in any way, but with him – you cant just play someone a song and say ‘this is David Bowie’, you have to play them at least twenty songs as he covered a lot of ground.

You mention exploring new musical territory – I know you recently played a show with At the Drive In, a band which sound is pretty different from yours, is that one of those newly found sounds or someone you’ve been listening to for a while?
At The Drive In is a band Dave and I was really into ages ago when they first were around, so to get to play with them was really cool as they were a band we’ve always looked up to and idolized. Even though our music is very different from theirs, we share a similar ideology behind the music and how we play it. Both bands go out on stage and try to perform as intensely as possible. Dave and I always go on stage and try to give everything we have to give, and those guys do the same thing, the difference is that there’s five of them, and when you have five guys giving their all to their instrument, and giving it as tight as those guys do, it’s pretty fucking spectacular. There’s some sort of release that goes on when they play, they physically let go and give their entire body to perform that song and that set, and that’s what we have in common with them.

Photo by Joao Machado via Fluffer Pit Parties

With you guys only being a two piece, there is a lot of pressure on you as a guitarist – what do you look for when selecting your amps, and what do you take into consideration?
When we first started playing together we had drums, one guitar and one amp and double microphones, very minimalistic, but that’s sort of all you really need. The White Stripes proved that you can be very minimal but still write great songs and put on a great show, and become one of the biggest bands i the world in their time, and that’s how we started. As I mentioned earlier though with us changing up our sound and what we do, we decided that instead of embracing that minimalism, we wanted to sound bigger than we really were capable of sounding. First, we added a second amp, and then a bass amp. After that, a third amp. What you start doing is creating this Frankenstein monster of amplifiers, and the idea is that each one is creating a different sound that on it’s own, necessarily isn’t anything special, but as a whole becomes something really big, really massive. Another thing we take into consideration is if the amps can actually survive to be an tour with us, as we treat our gear pretty rough. We’ve been using Orange cabs for quite some time now and they sure can take a beating.

In a few hours, you’re about to play one of the Fluffer Pit Parties, as show that’s set up completely different than a normal gig, with the stage and band in the middle of the room and the crowd 360, how is your approach to that?
99,99999% of the shows we play this year, we’ll be facing the crowd, so the fact that we have to re-think the way we set up, and the way we perform means that it wont be a typical show. There will be people here who’ve never seen us before and might not ever get the chance to do so ever again, so we’ll be trying to bring our ‘normal’ and proper Japandroids experience, then there’s people who might see us every time we’re in town, so we also want to give them a different experience than what they’ve seen from us in the past. We’re gonna set the amps up on the floor and have the stage pretty clear, which is very untypical for us as it’s normally pretty tight and we’re a bit boxed in, so I guess there will be a lot more room for me to spin around and play. Just given the set up and the fact that we’ve never actually played this way, I cant say how it’s going to go. I think it will very much be one of those ‘in the moment’ situations where you just get up there and get on with it and see where the vibe takes you and lay the land as you go along.

 


 

Photo by Gobinder Jhitta

It’s a pretty neat bus you’ve got here, which I’m guessing will be your home for the next couple of weeks. I know you’re 15 shows into quite an intense tour, how’s the last couple of weeks been?
Yeah they’ve been good! A lot of sold out shows and the crowd’s been pretty crazy. We’ve also got quite a busy summer ahead, we’re playing Glastonbury which will be interesting – it’s quite a different crow. We’re also playing a few festivals in Germany and Romania, and I reckon we’ll be busy all the way up until December.

Whoa, that’s pretty busy. Are your days hectic when touring or do you get time to sit back and relax a bit as well?
When we’re on a tour like this one on a bus, it’s pretty relaxing. We roll in, and I get to sleep until 11 if I want to. When you’ve been touring for as long as I have, you end up having friends in lots of different cities, so before and after soundcheck I do get quite a lot of time to hang out and catch up with them. Flying tours on the other hand, is less relxing. You’ll end up having to get up at 4 in the morning after 3 hours of sleep to rush off to the airport, fly to where you need to be, hopefully have a nap, then play the gig and do it all over again – or change it up a bit and sit in a van for 16 hours, hah. There’s a lot of just sitting down in moving vehicles or planes…

What’s your history and experience with Orange Amps?
Before joining Napalm Death as a live guitarist, I used to be in a band called Corrupt Moral Altar, and I was actually endorsed by Orange Amps. I had a PPC412 and a Thunderverb 200 and I just really liked the tone and that big fat sound, especially that raw kind of tone you get from the speaker cabinets. I very much look at the tone when buying an amp, which is why I’ve ended up with and love Orange.

Were you a big Napalm fan growing up? And what other kind of music were you into?
I was definitely a big Napalm fan, and it’s kinda surreal to be in the band now. I also used to be in Venomous Concept with Shane and Danny from Napalm, which was pretty surreal as well. As far as music goes, I was into a lot of punk bands like the Exploited and Discharge as well, anything that was noisy really. Iggy and the Stooges, proto-punk and all that kind of stuff, and then after that it just got heavier and more and more extreme. I also listen to other stuff, one of my favourite bands is My Bloody Valentine, I like Lush, and a lot of shoe gaze with delays and stuff like that. Coming off stage with Napalm I’m not exactly gonna go and blast the same kind of music when I need to wind down.

Hey man, who are you and what’s your deal?
My name’s Chris Pritchard, and I play guitar in Blood Youth. I actually wasn’t allowed music or music lessons when I was a kid because I’ve got ADHD, so when I wanted to get into music, my teachers at primary school and stuff wouldn’t let me, I had to kind of make my own way about that. I had a guitar at home, which was really bad, so when I started showing interest in that I eventually got a cheap guitar for Christmas, a Squier. I started playing that, but then swapped over to drums, which I played for about ten years. I actually studied that in UNI, and that’s what I wanted to be, a drummer. Eventually I decided I have to much energy for the drums, to sit there and be kept away, so I fell back into playing guitar. I’ve always loved that, and I think that’s my main thing.

That’s so odd though about your teachers, because surely you’d expect them to be excited for you to have this creative output?
It was probably the fact that they worried I’d use it to distract the other students, they just weren’t having any of it, so I would love for them to see what I’m doing today!

What kind of music sparked your interest and got you into playing?
I wasn’t really allowed to listen to the music I wanted to listen to – I wasn’t allowed Kerrang Magazine because they’d might have Slipknot in them, I wasn’t allowed anything with swear words or parental advisory on them. My mum would always listen through a record before I could have it, and I was so intrigued by Slipknot, KoRn, System of a Down, and all those early era Kerrang bands, and I’d end up paying my older sister to go into town to buy me Slipknot records and sneak them in without my mum knowing. My mum would always find them though, and hide them so I couldn’t get them. So, obviously having had all this kept away from me for all these years, my interest just grew stronger and stronger, so when I was actually allowed it was like this massive explosion where everything just hit me all at once. There was no smooth transition into anything like checking out one or two songs, it was full on binge listening and being blown away, and that was it, I’ve never looked back.

Well, I guess you must be preeeeeetty stoked about being endorsed by the same amp company as KoRn and Slipknot then?
Oh definitely, and Mastodon as well, I love them. I’ve been watching so many rig rundowns, and I especially love the Orange ones. Before I had the endorsement with Orange and I’d end up using rented backlines, every time it was Orange they’d always sound so, so clear, and would compliment distortion and this heavy tone so well, and I knew I wanted it straight away. I’m looking to get another Orange amp as well, but at the moment I’ve got two Orange PPC412 cabinets, and they sound sick – they are by far the heaviest things I’ve ever lifted though, totally worth it though. Plus they look killer! I want stacks of them, that’s the dream.