How and when was your interest in music sparked?
I would always ask to have my parents turn on the radio when we would get in the car. Usually it was tuned to a local Top 40 station or WLS Chicago. I gravitated towards the hard rock end of the spectrum or more guitar-oriented pop songs. From there it was trips to Target to buy cassettes. Van Halen’s “1984” and Night Ranger’s “Midnight Madness” were the first releases I ever bought. My mother slyly picked up Christopher Cross’ self-titled and put that in the rotation, so I definitely have an appreciation for that record as well. From there, it was on to traditional heavy metal and the typical progression to Metallica and the thrash of the day and then into death/black metal/grind/crust.
Was playing guitar always your first and only choice or did it start with something else?
I started with alto/tenor saxophone for fitfth grade band and pursued that on through high school. After begging shamelessly for months I got a guitar/gig bag/amp for $125 for Christmas my seventh grade year. That was it for me; guitar-obsessed from then on.
Except for Travis (vocals), you’re the longest running member of the band. After almost two decades in Cattle Decapitation, there must be tons of great memories? If you had to single out a few that you think stand out, what would they be?
Aside from certain stand-out shows, I’d say ridiculous situations we find ourselves in while touring are amusing, yet unfortunate events that would happen to various band members; most of them being non-repeatable. The tons of time you have on the road when you are not playing usually births some serious absurdity.
Out of everything that comes with being in a band – writing, recording, jamming, touring, traveling (the list goes on)…what is your favorite part?
I think it’s a tie between seeing songs come together during the writing process and playing live. Both have their satisfying elements and serve to “fill the void” so-to-speak.
What does your personal writing spot or home studio look like in terms of gear?
It is a shared desktop Mac with me standing in front of a desk into my interface and DAW. That’s only when I send riffs to the guys though, otherwise it’s me on my couch into a practice amp!
On that note, what’s your process like when composing for an upcoming record? Do you set aside dedicated “on the job” time to write or does it happen when it happens?
It usually happens at the most inopportune times; when I’m busy and away from my guitar. I’ll have to try to hum the riff/part into my phone or repeat it over and over until I get home. Actually a ton of ideas come while I am walking the dog for some reason.
Being in a technically demanding band like Cattle Decapitation, what’s your parties routine like? Do you still practice your instrument on a regular basis?
Always, but not like those fellows who spend eight hours a day running scales or exercises. I’m always working on keeping fresh on our current set or trying to translate song ideas into a coherent and palpable material to present to the guys.
Other than good old practice, what’s your tips to aspiring guitarists out there?< br/>
Practice a ton but don’t let competition with the next guy drive your inspiration. If you’re competing with someone else you are focusing on mimicking them and not creating your own sound.
You are an avid Superior Drummer 3 user. How do you use the program in your work and how does it help your creative process?
Having sick drum tones and beats readily available make it super easy to be inspired when melding my riff ideas with an amazing amount of rhythmic possibilities. It definitely helps to have the percussion accompaniment to help me fully develop ideas to present.
What other Toontrack products do you use?
I’m currently hung up on Superior Drummer 3, but can see a world of possibilities with all the products!
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d do for a career?
I would be most likely teaching Anthropology at a university somewhere.
Best studio or stage moment ever?
Hearing the audience in Mexico City sing the songs back to us so loudly you could hear it well over the music.
The ONE time I didn’t loop my cable through the strap and I stepped on it and pulled it out during the most intense part of a solo in front of a lot of people.
If you could only keep/play one guitar moving forward…which one in your collection would you pick and why?
It’d have to be my Cardinal Instruments Copper-Top East. I’ve been playing it live pretty much exclusively for the past six years. It’s a phenomenal handmade instrument and it just feels and sounds right to me every night.
You could only bring one record to listen to during a massively long tour, which one would it be and why?
Oof. This one is so hard. Being a master of indecisiveness, could I just list a few albums I’ve been jamming lately?
- House of Harm “Isolator/Demos”
- Moon Seven Times “s/t”
- Blut Aus Nord “Hallucinogen”
- Mr. Mister “Welcome to the Real World”
- Andavald “Undir Skyggmdarhaldi”
Big festival or club show?
Club show by far. Being in that tight, sweaty environment with that insulated and punishing sound is the best!
Name one piece of gear you can’t live without in your studio (and it can’t be the guitar or the computer!).