Gearheads--this one's for you. With a dizzying array of computer programs, rack effects units, and digital effects boxes and modules that can approximate every sound and amp tone you can imagine, there have always been a group--a sect, if you will--who firmly held to their beliefs in the inimitable quality of analog equipment. For fans, the first synth gurgles recorded by folks like electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott and later popularized by Walter/Wendy Carlos' Switched-on Bach Moog recordings were a thrill they would never forget. Through DEVO and up through bands like Jellyfish and Stereolab (plus countless other artists and bands), the analog synth has remained a highly sought after piece of gear.
Similarly, to all and sundry who've started their musical careers stumbling through a version of "Greensleeves" on a cheap acoustic guitar with nylon strings, the visceral reaction when you first get to hold an electric, plug it in and crank up the volume is right up their with their first big "O." But wait; there's more. After trying all the settings on your amp and finding just how pleasant an overdriven, starting-to-break-up, speaker-shredding sound can be, you plug into your first stomp box. Whether it's a vintage effects pedal, an Electro-Harmonix hippy dippy special, an "Electric Mistress" or "Bad Stone," perhaps, an MXR distortion pedal or Mu-Tron phase shifter, there is almost nothing to compare to the feeling of unbridled sonic power that courses from your body through the guitar, the effects unit and finally, out of your amp. Instant Hendrix--just add wah-wah pedal.
In this issue of Volume, we meet Glenn Wyllie, a Chatham County effects-pedal maker; Steve Carr of Carr Amplifiers, a local, nationally recognized company that makes tube amps targeted toward the serious guitar player; and visit keyboard synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog himself. We caught up with Moog the day before his updated Voyager synth, a "Moog on steroids," went into production. In addition, Indy critic K8 Erwin lays some hip-hop cuts on an avowed punk and a classic rocker in our "Music Makeover," and in "Reading the Jukebox," John Valentine talks about the summer's spate of celebrity rock bios. Enjoy.