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Sunday, September 15, 2019

THE AXEMEN SERIS : Nolan Barth and Nick Dowling of Illusions Of Grandeur

1.Tell us your name and the band you play for
Nolan Barth, lead guitar for Illusions of Grandeur
Nick Dowling, rhythm guitar for Illusions of Grandeur


2.Who made you want to pick up the guitar
Nolan: Originally? Maybe Tony Iommi or Eric Clapton, but when I got serious about it in high school I was all about Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, and Marty Friedman.

Nick: If my mom is to be believed, Ricky Ricardo from I Love Lucy (I don't even remember watching it as a kid) but my mom is the reason I even tried guitar in the first place.
  
3.Are you self taught or did you take lessons?
Nolan: like 80% self taught? I took 2 years of lessons from ages 7-9, then quit till I was 14 and self taught from there.
     


Nick: I had lessons as a kid for awhile but the music shop I used to go to turned into a bank, so from 13ish onward I would look up tabs to songs I liked at the time (lots of Green Day and Three Days Grace)  and learned by trying to emulate.

4. Can you read music, Can you read tab?
Nolan: yes and yes
Nick: Not anymore. Tabs sure, but sheet music left my brain a long time ago.

5.Do you feel like you have your own sound / tone ?
Nolan: Sorta? I mean we're all standing on the shoulders of tonal giants like Hendrix, EVH, Townshend, etc. Like technically yes, but it's like the difference between discovering a new effect vs. just having a tasty blend

Nick: What Nol-Man said. As far as my small circle of guitarist friends, I tend to dial my tone a lot differently. I’m all about those mid tones, because that’s what really brings out the color and that ‘umph’ for me. I come from the school of thought that less is more, as in the less between my hands and the sound the audience hears the better. I typically run a clean and distorted channel and not much outside of that. Effects have their place, don't get me wrong, but I've seen some of my friends get bogged down in tone chasing and trying to dial in the exact perfect settings to get the exact sound they want but the reality is, a normal audience isn't going to be able to tell. I take that time and funnel it into trying to be a better overall player and performer.


6.Tell us about your guitar ( brand ,model . year , color )
Nolan: 2010 Carvin DC127, red-black burst satin finish, stainless steel super jumbo frets, and a SuperVee Bladerunner tremolo

Nick: I have 2 Schecter diamond series omens, one 6 and one 7 string. I got the 6 string second hand because it was such a bargain I couldn't say no, and I actually didn't play it that much until I joined IOG. The 7 string I got and put new pickups into it and had a kill switch installed.

7.What about pickups? Passive or active ? Tell us about them
Nolan: Passive, Carvin S22 neck pickup and a Railhammer Anvil in the bridge. Both wired with coil tap switches

Nick: Nothing compares to Seymour Duncan Blackouts. They have such a great, rich tone that complements my playing style perfectly. I tried the EMG 81/85 set for awhile and they just couldn't deliver that same sound the blackouts do.

8.Lets get into amplification, Same drill brand , model , speakers etc
Nolan: I'm all digital all the time, so I usually run direct into our X32 and from there straight into the venue's PA

Nick: I ran with a Boss Katana 100 for awhile because my last band did a lot of bar gigs and it was perfect, I recorded the whole first album using my Katana. For touring with IOG, I stepped up to a digital rig so there's no need to bother with micing up an amp

9.Do you have a pedal board? Tell us about that badboy
Nolan: Line 6 Helix Lt, I run a digital bi-amping setup with an emulated Peavey 5150 for the highs and an emulated Mesa Triple Rectifier for the lows

Nick: I use a Line 6 Pod500X HD.


10..Now tell us your Dream Rig in detail…..
Nolan: Pretty much what I've got currently, just with more processing power and full control over the PA speakers so I know exactly what sound I'm getting.

Nick: Eventually I'll end up moving to whatever the next top end Helix ends up being but for right now I'm pretty happy.

11.What guitarist can you not stand?
Nolan: Myself, mostly. I have to spend a minimum of 4 hours to write and record a solo I actually like to listen to even 5 seconds after the fact. Probably a lot of musicians relate to that.

Nick: Nolan

12. Is tone more important or is technique?
Nolan: Depends on the goal of the music. Usually both are very important, and a lot of the time one informs the other, like how clean or acoustic players rarely use tapping or even legato because they have less sustain or people with heavy distortion only use Jazz chords in prog since they become a garbled mess. It's all about using the right tools for the job, both techniques and tones. I guess technique is a little more important since great players usually sound great no matter what they're playing through.

Nick: Overall I think technique holds more weight than tone, because while having a kick ass tone can mask some mistakes or shortcomings with technique, I think it's better if those shortcomings aren't there to begin with. A great guitarist can sound great while being tone agnostic, however like Nolan said the tone in question will inform the type of technique that the player will use.


13. Name your top 5 guitarist

Nolan: Marty Friedman, Buckethead, Shawn Lane, Robert Fripp, Greg Howe. I like players who blend genres and bring inventive ideas and styles to their playing.

Nick: Prince, Matt Heafy, Oli Herbert, Jim Root, and Billie Joe Armstrong. Being able to play really well on its own just isn't enough, gotta have that stage energy to put on a good performance for the audience.

14.Who is the most overrated guitarist
Nick: Spicy question. I think in general, older classic rock guitarists are put on way too high of a pedestal and it doesn't give newer guitarists the room to really come into the spotlight because everyone will compare you to Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Jimmy Page, or anyone else that was in a rock band during the 80s. They're amazing guitarists for sure, but I think in the context of music back then and music now, there's a lot more crazy good guitarists now that just go under the radar.

Nolan: I second Nick on this one. Older players tend to be overrated because of their sheer number of fans. If I had to pick one, I'd say Keith Richards. Don't get me wrong, he's a legendary performer, no doubt, but as a guitarist? Definitely overrated.

15.Who would you like a one hour private sit down lessons with anyone dead or alive?

Nick: Prince

Nolan: Joe Satriani


 

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