effect pedal

just a quick reminder that a black man invented heavy metal

(since it’s the last day of Black History Month and all)

There are those who will tell you that metal was born with Vincebus Eruptum, the 1968 debut album from San Francisco’s Blue Cheer. This is a favorite position of music snobs because the odds that you’ve actually heard Vincebus Eruptum are reasonably low, and thus so is the likelihood that you will challenge them on it.

It’s bullshit. Blue Cheer was nothing more than routine mid/late ‘60’s psychedelic rock, played–badly–at high volume, with as much distortion as was available at the time. One could almost argue that they gave birth to punk rock, if the attitude weren’t completely wrong, but metal, it is not.

Metal was first forged later that year in the form of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” by Jimi Hendrix. All the elements are present. Thunderous riffs, screaming solos, vaguely occult subject matter, driven by an unstoppable Juggernaut of a groove. But the primary reason I give this song the nod is the guitar sound. Razor sharp on the high end, heavy enough to crush bone on the low. Hendrix was not the first to use distortion, but before him, it all sounded thin and frayed, like playing through a ragged-out speaker (in fact, slicing up the speaker cone in the amplifier was how distortion was achieved before the proliferation of effects pedals). Hendrix was the first to make it sound solid, and with this song, he gave us the first instance of a true metal guitar tone. Before him, nobody had any idea you could get that kind of noise out of a guitar.

images: Moebius (top) and Bill Sienkiewicz (bottom)


A Totally New Stutter Effects Pedal for Radiohead Fans

Five years ago, I established The King of Gear to create an encyclopedia of Radiohead’s gear, and to give fans a better understanding of how the band crafted the unique and innovative sounds heard throughout their discography. Since then, I’ve answered hundreds of questions about the band’s gear, ranging from Thom’s vintage guitars to Nigel’s mic'ing techniques, but easily the most asked was “how do I recreate Jonny Greenwood’s random stutter Max/MSP patch with guitar effects pedals?”

For a long time, the answer was always that there were no available pedals which duplicated the effect – particularly its randomness – and the best that one could do would be to use loopers or tremolos. The randomized glitch effect is easy enough to program if you purchased expensive software and learned how to use it, but it subsequently required a computer and audio interface to use. For the average gigging musician without a crew to carry their equipment, this simply wasn’t doable for live performance. I’ve played many gigs where I wished I could use this effect during part of the song, but didn’t have that capacity. The ’Feral Glitch’ was conceptualized to fill this niche. It offers that distinctive random stutter effect which has previously only been feasible via complex computer software. It sounds a bit cheesy, but with this pedal I really built the one that I had dreamed of for years.

Kickstart the Feral Glitch here to receive one of the limited run of 25 pedals, or to check out our new t-shirts!

A portion of my Seattle setup, 2011.  In this photo you can see a Yamaha CS-5, Access Virus TI Polar, Native Instruments Maschine MK1 and some of my old Washburn analog effects pedals.  There is a Kurzweil MIDIBOARD underneath the CS-5 and a Roland Jupiter-6 out of shot.   This setup is what I used for my “Secret Gun” and “Flash of Light” remixes.