Saturday, May 28, 2011

Get Yer Pedals Out #5: Starring Ted Joyner (Generationals)

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.

As I already mentioned, friendly friends, I was so enthralled by the Generationals set up here at Iota that I was compelled to drive all the way down to my former homeland Richmond to see them do it all again the very next night. After another triumphantly delirious, poptastical set, guitarist and vocalist Ted Joyner and I decamped to the band's wheels for a chat, in which it is discovered that Ted is a pedal minimalist, and that we have the same phone, and that teachers sometimes have good taste in music. But that's another story. Read further for Ted's thoughts on the pedal, and make sure to go see Generationals whenever humanly possible.

Fuzzy Logic: Which pedal is your very favorite and why?
Ted Joyner: Um, the tuning pedal because it keeps me in tune and without it I would sound like total shit. I’m not really good at pedals. Grant usually teaches me about what pedals are cool, and then I’m like “ok I’ll just get that.” And he always has a few more pedals than I do, because he’s always searching out a new sound or something, but I try to keep it pretty simple.

FL: Favorite chord?
TJ: My favorite chord…lately I like F. I think I’ve been starting with F sometimes, F major, when I’ve been messing around with stuff. I like playing minor chords but I don’t like writing anything in a minor key. I haven’t written anything good in a minor key I don’t think, I kinda stick to major. But yeah. I don’t fuck around with that minor shit. Strictly major.

FL: Who’s your guitarist icon?
TJ: Lately, I dunno…I think if I had one, I’d have a clearer idea of what I’m trying to do guitar-wise. It’s weird, at some point I was having to do a lot of keyboard stuff with this band, cuz we didn’t fill out, right now we have a guy who’s strictly keyboard all the time, a guy who’s strictly bass, so Grant and I get to stay on guitar, but before I was having to do a lot of keyboard duty, and I remember doing it and like not feeling comfortable, it never felt like my primary thing, so I never felt totally comfortable back there. Plus I couldn’t dance as much while I’m playing keyboard, you know what I mean? So I felt like oh well, guitar’s my thing, I’m only gonna be comfortable when I’m on guitar. But now that I’m on guitar all the time, I feel like I don’t know if guitar’s my thing. Sometimes I wonder what I’m most comfortable on. But yeah. I don’t know that I have a guitar icon. Definitely when I was younger I looked up to Jimi Hendrix, and like, Guitar Hero type people. Of course, I don’t aspire to play like him at all, at least not anymore. I guess now I just try to keep it kinda minimal, I don’t do any ripping solos or anything. I remember when I was like, 20, it was Albert Hammond Jr. from The Strokes, definitely, cuz he always seems so minimalist and tight…yeah, I kinda liked his vibe when I was much younger. I still do. I still like The Strokes.

FL: With all the pedals out there, how do you decide which ones to procure?
TJ: I think I like to keep it pretty mainstream. Like I said, I really don’t seek out pedals. Grant will be fooling around with something, and he’ll fool around with it for a while, and if it seems like a kinda standard issue, kinda like the kind of pedal someone would use…a lot of mine are Boss, I don’t even know what I have right now…I have one that’s like an overdrive kinda thing, that just pushes it and makes it a little bit dirtier, I have a signal boost pedal, which is ok. I mean, really right now I wouldn’t even say I’m like altogether really thrilled about my set of pedals. I probably need to get an equalizer, Grant’s been messing around with one of those for a while, that kinda helps. I’d say if a pedal is very time-honored, very this is the standard one, if you want this sound you should get one of these. I definitely don’t have a pedal setup to where like one pedal is for one specific song or one specific sound, I mean it’s kinda a general broad shaping of the sound, cuz all of mine are pretty standard, like I said. That’s so boring.


FL: What’s your dream pedal?
TJ: My dream pedal would be…one pedal that I could step on, and I wouldn’t need any others, that would just kinda feel out what I’m trying to do and do that for me. A pedal that would know me and know what I’m going for. A Boss intuition. But a lot of times, I know what I want it to feel like, but in the moment it doesn’t really do that. A pedal that just sorta knew where I was going with things and just did it already, preemptively. Some sort of artificial intelligence companion pedal. Like, you play with it for like a year, and it just learns you, what you like. That’s actually a good idea. Like if I wanna rip a solo, it can tell that’s what I’m gonna do, that’s what I’m wanting, and it’ll just do that. Which is I guess a long way of saying I just don’t like pedals, I wish I just didn’t have to deal with them, and I wish I just had one that did everything for me. Maybe that’s lazy? I think at some point I guess I started seeing pedals as some hobbyist thing that they could always sell you on the idea of another pedal that would do more, and at some point I was like no, you actually just need very few, and you’re shaping things more broadly. I bought into that definitely when I was younger, cuz you’re in Guitar Center and you play through it and it does like weird, crazy sounds…well, pedals are cool.


mp3: Ten-Twenty-Ten (Generationals from Actor-Caster)

[photo by Ted Joyner]

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