New Projects/New Sounds
Michael Schulz is a good friend, and my rep at Fender. He made the sparkly Mikey Way Signature Bass happen, supported him throughout MCR, and has supported me through my entire solo project. The first guitar he made me was for my birthday, and American Standard Jazzmaster that I ended up calling “Red Meat” for its interesting color I hadn’t seen on a Fender guitar before. He outfitted us with gear for recording, and provided The Hormones with basses, cabinets, heads, and Ian with these awesome custom Jaguars to play live. He is a true patron of the arts. To watch him talk about music is infectious- he loves helping artists create, and he inspires them to do so.
I don’t talk about gear often, and I am not known to endorse things. Over the years I have turned down more free things than I can remember because it just makes me feel weird and attached. There are about 3-4 companies I work with currently that support me making art. I only talk about what I love and use, and ever since I was a kid, and watched Billy Corgan and Kurt Cobain play Fenders I was hooked. This also explains my connection to fuzz pedals, and I have a modest collection of those.
Fender guitars just have a magic to me. At their core they have only what is needed- if you’re looking for bells and whistles you can surely find it on some models they make but there is an inherent minimalist approach to the instrument. This allows you to find your identity- what comes through the guitar is you. It’ll have a little spring, some twang, a brightness- all the things that make a Fender- but you find yourself in these instruments. I love them plain and simple. And I have always been drawn to the way they look, which, when you look at music in a visual way, is part of the picture you create with your sound. Seeing a Fender in person for the first time, it looked like it was ripped from the pages of one of my favorite comics, Love And Rockets.
After playing in Japan recently on The Hesitant Alien Tour, I began to lay the basic parts and ideas for a potential new project. Sometimes these projects start with a sound, sometimes that sound has an instrument or a visual attached to it, and I felt I needed new a guitar. I remembered a guitar in black specifically that I had seen years ago that Fender had produced in limited run. The music I had envisioned for this project was minimal in nature and the instrument I was thinking of encapsulated that.
The guitar was a Fender La Cabronita Boracha . It has a reverse Jazzmaster Ash body, 1 single TV Jones pickup at the bridge. Two knobs, and a maple Telecaster neck. It is pretty simple.
Telecatsers and Jazzmasters are my favorite guitars that Fender makes. Both were played pretty much exclusively by me on Hesitant Alien (Ian played Telecasters, Strats, and various other Fenders). Hesitant Alien was an all-Fender album. I like the way a Telecaster plays, and I like the loudness and feel, look, of a Jazzmaster. This guitar seemed to combine both things. It was perfect for me and perfect for the project.
I asked Michael if it was even possible for them to make one and he checked with the Fender Custom Shop. It turned out that they had one body left in the whole factory- this would be the last Boracha they would make. It was going to take some time to make but I had a lot of touring to do so I wasn’t stressing and I obviously wanted them to get it how they wanted it.
Michael texted me to tell me the guitar had arrived and we had lunch and I picked it up. It was beautiful, and even more simple than I had imagined, which I loved, you could even see the wood grain texture through the paint. I got home, plugged it in, and quickly found it was exactly the sound I was looking for. I had never played on these pickups before and they were perfect, they had an electricity and a bluntness to them. Simple. And it felt amazing- I was right at home with the Telecaster neck, and I loved the feel of that strange reverse Jazz body. I began to lay more foundations of the next thing, strumming and layering only the smallest details.
So, this is me talking about something I love and sharing it with you guys. I’d love to share more in the coming weeks and months, and let you in on my process and how these tools help me to create the things I do. Everything from my art and design process, to making music, to writing comics- I’d like to pull back the veil a little bit on that.
I want to thank Michael Schulz, Fender, and The Fender Custom Shop for their love and support, and for helping us see our vision through.