Sunday, May 1, 2011

Get Yer Pedals Out #1: Starring Sam Sherwood (Mittenfields)

I couldn't quite tell you why, but for the longest time I've been somewhat moderately obsessed with pedals. Since I'm no guitarist I don't really have a valid reason for this, other than the fact that they both make pretty noises and are rather nice to look at. Much, really, like the folks who use them. I've decided to turn my inexplicable pedal fancy into Fuzzy Logic fodder, and I do hope you'll enjoy my foray into the ins and outs of pedal worship.

First up, one of local DCites Mittenfields' triumvirate of axemen, Sam Sherwood. The (very accurately) self-described sounds of Jesus & Mary Chain/My Bloody Valentine meets Pavement done by Mittenfields will soon be unleashed upon us in EP form, as the band is currently mastering their masterful noise in the studio. Having heard some of this already, friends, I promise you good, good things. If you don't already love Mittenfields, well, you soon will. In the meantime, Sam talks pedals. As you'll see, the band uses, well, a whole lot of them. "Cut To The Chase" offered for your listening pleasure comes from version 1.0 of the band, dears, but you get the general idea of the awesome therein.

Fuzzy Logic: Which pedal is your very favorite, and why do you love it so?
Sam Sherwood: It's nothing fancy but I love my Boss DD-5 Digital Delay with a tap-tempo footswitch (FS-5U i think) attached. Yes, analog sounds great yada yada, but the ability to adjust the speed of the repeats on the fly is really crucial to me, either to get the slapbacks matched up with the tempo of some particular part of a song or to switch over to a really rapid repeat by just fluttering my foot on the tempo switch.

FL: What's your favorite chord?
SS: I'm a sucker for weird maj7 formations. There's a Bb 6/9 at the end of "My Mind is an Avalanche" that I'm also quite fond of.

FL: Who's your guitarist icon?
SS: Tom Verlaine & Richard Lloyd's work on Marquee Moon changed my method of approaching the guitar completely.

FL: With all the pedals out there, how do you decide which ones you have to have?
SS: I'm unwilling to dedicate a lot of mental energy to sorting through the hundreds of cool guitar toys that are out there. The last pedals I picked up were a Boss HM-2 and a Line 6 tap tremolo, which I really just got because someone was looking to get rid of them cheap. The Line 6 isn't a very "good" pedal but it responds in interesting ways to variations in the level of gain in the signal.

FL: What's your dream pedal/pedal you're currently coveting?
SS: I've been eying the Empress Tremolo for a while, and will probably give in to that urge pretty soon. That said, during the EP recording session I got to mess around with a Foxx Tone Machine, which knocked my socks off. It sounds like a typhoon of sledgehammers. I was running this amazing late-60s 335 (not mine) into it and started to feel like I could call forth a black hole with that thing if I could just find the right notes.

mp3: Cut To The Chase (demo) (Mittenfields - more info here)

[photo by Megan Petty]

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