Get Yer Pedals Out: Starring Michael Ball (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.
Mittenfields has quickly and stealthily turned into one of my favoritest bands in all of the greater Washington metro, with their triple-pronged guitar assault and their love for (and great mirth in) making some of the loudest music you'll hear this side of the Mississippi. And as it so happens, they'll be playing Fuzzy Logic's Bad Behaviour Bella debut on the 19th of this month, so local folks can experience their core-shaking tunes in the flesh. But first, Michael shows me his pedals.

Fuzzy Logic: Which pedal is your very favorite, and why do you love it so?
Michael Ball: Hard to say if I have a favorite at the moment. My pedalboard is always changing, and has changed quite a bit from what I used with my previous band, Twin Earth. But one pedal that has constantly been on my board for a couple years is the Boss RE-20, which is a digital emulation of the old Roland Space Echo RE-201 tape delay (which I also own, but rarely take out in public). I just really like that tape delay sound, which can get very lo-fi, warbly when necessary. Or crazy when it self-oscillates (think end of Karma Police).

But the recording session at Inner Ear also made me want to make more use of my Skreddy Zero (a hard-to-find but oh so fantastic fuzz based on the Electro Harmonix Big Muff), and a ProCo Rat I had modded by Keeley Electronics. It sounded so nice when playing a Rickenbacker 12-string through a Vox AC30. So who knows, one of those may soon become my new favorite.

FL: What's your favorite chord?
MB: I'm not much of a music theory person, so I tend to stick with simple major and minor chords. That said there was one chord I loved trying in Twin Earth, I believe, was a C/G chord. Just had a nice dark ominous sound to it, especially when played with fuzz. Sadly, the one song we tried to write with that as one of the chords never really came together. Who knows if I'll find a use for it in Mittenfields.

FL: Who's your guitarist icon?
MB: Can't stick with one, but U2's the Edge was really a big reason I got into playing around with effects. (There goes my street cred). He and Peter Buck of REM, were probably the two main influences on my playing style. I'm also a fan of Andy Summers, (The Police), Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) and Roger Miller (Mission of Burma) for how they use the guitar to get unusual tones and textures.

FL: With all the pedals out there, how do you decide which ones you have to have?
MB: I often try to find out what pedals or amps were used in a song I especially like, and then figure out if it's something I want to use. I may chat up friends who also play guitar, and I often browse the guitar effects board at Harmony Central, where a lot of pedal geeks hang out and tell each other it's perfectly normal to spend silly amounts of money on new gear.

FL: What's your dream pedal/pedal you're currently coveting?
MB: There's nothing I feel I need to have right now (famous last words), but there are two or three Lovetone pedals I'd love to try. But that's a bit cost-prohibitive. They went out of business years ago and now the pedals regularly fetch several hundred bucks on eBay. There is a more affordable clone of their Big Cheese fuzz I may try one day.

mp3: Natural Disasters (Mittenfields - more here)


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