Saturday, April 18, 2020

AXEMEN GUITAR INTERVIEW : Niko Valdez and I’m the guitars and vocals of POWERHOUSE

1.Tell us your name and the band you play for

My name is Niko Valdez and I’m the guitars and vocals of POWERHOUSE.

2.Who made you want to pick up the guitar

Definitely Kirk Hammett, at the age of 8. I remember watching a YouTube video as a kid, of a Metallica’s performance in Moscow, Russia from 1991. Specifically watching Fade To Black live. The crowd, the interaction, the energy and seeing Kirk rip that end solo changed my life. From that moment forward, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

3.Are you self taught or did you take lessons?

Completely self taught. Never liked being told what to play, or how to play it haha.

4. Can you read music, Can you read tab?

I know tab, but I’m still really rough on traditional sheet music. I learned listening to my favorite songs, watching their live shows, and reading tab!


5.Do you feel like you have your own sound / tone ?

I feel like I do. I’m a huge tone freak and I love the tone I have, and the tone I’m pursuing. I don’t really hear my taste in tone out there in today’s metal. With the 3 different releases we have, they all have a different tone but recorded through the same rig. The tone I have as of now, is the tone we’re going with for our first full-length album. If you’ve heard our latest single “The Patriot”, it’s similar to that. A little more refined, with a little more punch.

6.Tell us about your guitar ( brand ,model . year , color )

I mainly use 2 Jackson Rhoads. My 2012 black Jackson JS32 “Skully” guitar, which has some simple modifications. Skull tone/volume knobs and a active pickup conversion. The black-chrome EMG “Hetset” James Hetfield signature pickups, which give my leads so much more punch, with a super chunky bottom end. Surprisingly, they’re the best actives for a clean tone I’ve personally ever heard, super dreamy. Now, my white RRX24 is neck through with a Floyd Rose and passive Seymour Duncan’s. It’s a really new guitar to me, but I’m really loving it for rhythms.

7.What about pickups? Passive or active ? Tell us about them

 Since I have both, I can be picky about when to use them. I really love actives for the focus and clarity it gives me for leads, but the passives are my go to for rhythm tone for now. The wideness, warmth, crunch and thickness has me going back.

8.Lets get into amplification, Same drill brand , model , speakers etc

I run a Mesa Boogie JP2C (Mark IIC+) re-issue into a 4x12 Marshall 1960A cabinet. The most monstrous tone, I’ve ever had. That Mark IIC+, is absolute pinnacle of my tone.

9.Do you have a pedal board? Tell us about that badboy

I have a pretty basic board consisting of a Boss CE-2W Chorus, Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, JP2C foot-switch, Dunlop KH-95 Wah and a Shure GLXD16 wireless transmitter.

10..Now tell us your Dream Rig in detail…..

Honestly, I pretty much have my dream rig with just a few exceptions. Im in love with the Mark IIC+ and have been for years, but if you’re lucky enough to find an original one to buy, it won’t be for anything under $4,500. I wanted that tone so badly I dropped out of school, to work full-time in construction and spent my entire life savings on the JP2C at 18 years old and it’s been my greatest investment.

One day, I hope to have an original 1984 Mesa Boogie Mark IIC+, with two mid-80’s Mesa Boogie 4x12 cabs.

11.What guitarist can you not stand?

There isn’t one in particular, but I can’t stand the type of guitar player that turns everything into a tech-fest. You know, the kind of players that shit on everything that isn’t on their level of “technicality”. My school of thought is just because something isn’t expert level doesn’t make it bad, and just because something is technically superior just for the sake of being technical, doesn’t make it good.

I12. Is tone more important or is technique?

Tone is by far more important. Why? Because, you can have all the technique in the world and be the worlds fastest, most complicated player but if your tone is garbage or it’s the same overly done high gain Peavy (Just an example), crystal clear sizzle-sizzle tone as the last person, most people will just pass you right by and treat you like the rest. Where as, maybe your playing isn’t the greatest and you can’t hit 300bpm with 4 time signature changes but your riffs are solid, cut hard and your tone stands out among the masses, people will stop and give you a longer chance than the others.

13. Name your top 5 guitarist

 (In no order)
James Hetfield

Kirk Hammett

Randy Rhoads

Angus Young

George Lynch

14.Who is the most overrated guitarist


You know, I’ve got to say.. Kerry King of Slayer, even though I respect what he’s done for Thrash.

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

James Hetfield.

Yeah I know, he’s not a lead player. I wouldn’t sit down with him just to get a technical lesson. In my opinion, he’s one of the greatest songwriters in heavy metal history. So if I ever got the chance for an hour, I’d love to riff and talk about how to REALLY dig deep into yourself to write the best possible songs I can, from the master himself.

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