Interview with Eric Quach
Name: Eric Quach
Bands: thisquietarmy, Destroyalldreamers, etc. + Mains de Givre, Parallel Lines, Ghidrah
Websites: www.thisquietarmy.com - www.destroyalldreamers.com
Listen to "Melted Lead on Ashen Fields"
Listen to "The Hierarchy of Angels"
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Eric – One of those cheap Yamaha guitars that comes packaged with the little Peavey amp. It had this cheap sounding, dirty buzzing through multiple delays & cheap distortions. It was actually used for many early Destroyalldreamers shows & on some tracks off our first album “A Coeur Léger Sommeil Sanglant.” I loaned it to a girl a couple of years ago, & I don’t think I’ll ever get it back… oh well.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Eric – Current practice but typical enough
ever-changing, ever-evolving set-up:
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Eric – Effects. Am I the only one saying this here?
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Eric – Traynor Bass Mate, it’s a 15” tube combo from the 70s, it looks & sounds great, perfect apartment & gig size.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Eric – Japanese Fender Jaguar Special HH (2002), it’s a darker red than the classic Fender candy apple red, matching headstock, Dragster humbucking pickups, fixed ajusto-matic bridge, chrome knobs. It’s sexy & it feels powerful. I like my other guitars as well, but for different & more delicate applications.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Eric – Might be like the same one I have, but with a Jaguar tremolo bar & maybe some kind of sustaining system… also with integrated Facebook & Twitter apps so I can update while I play gigs.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Eric – I actually like to play with all the parameters of all my pedals separately. Kevin Micka of Animal Hospital re-wired all of his pedals into this one big custom metal box with flip buttons & switches, just like a control board & only he knows what he’s doing. That would be a great signature pedal, if my pedalboard was fixed enough.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Eric – Yamaha acoustic guitar, Godin LG, Epiphone Dot, Fender Jaguar Special HH… & the one I’ll never see again.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Eric – On a guitar stand at home, or in their case.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Eric – A GPS to track it when you’re flying overseas or when it gets stolen.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Eric – Comfort, playability, & good looks.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Eric – When you think you’re getting a great deal… well, that much.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Eric – Stick with it.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Eric – Thoroughly enough on the internet, message boards, reviews, clips, second opinions. I mostly buy used & discontinued stuff that I can’t really try.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Eric – Yes, for various projects, but mostly because it’s essential to experiment & to find new different sounds, as my tracks are mostly based around specific sounds creating specific moods.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Eric – I change it around a lot.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Eric – Fender Jazzmaster, Fender Bass VI, Fender Jaguar Baritone, Ampeg & Sunn amps, all those new EHX pedals that keep coming out, some boutique pedals – but not really. I like to think I’m set for a while (as an attempt not to spend money)… I’d like to get a Fender Jazz bass though, & maybe another analog synth.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Eric – Good tone, good built.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Eric – Best: Line6 DL-4 delay/looper, DOD DFX94 delay, Digitech PDS20/20 multi-play & PDS8000 delay. Worst: My first distortion Boss Power Driver, that cheap tone sucking black Russian Big Muff & the Digitech PDS3000 reverb.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Eric – I like the discontinued Boss pedals, but I hate everything new they put out. I like old & new Digitech delays & looping devices. Most new EHX stuff have very interesting features that might be worth exploring. I like Fender guitars, Traynor, Ampeg, & Sunn amps… or any old tube amps. I used to have a Roland JC-120, it was great for a while, but then I sold it because I got sick of it. Never been a fan of Fender amps either.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Eric – Open chord, maybe an E or Am if I’m in standard.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Eric – 22.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Eric – 99.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Eric – Something about strumming to make strings & waves vibrate rather than pounding rhythmically, pressing keys or blowing into something just seems right & feels better.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Eric – It’s a good instrument that you can learn on your own & not get too bored or frustrated with, I think.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Eric – Both, constantly.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Eric – Neil Halstead of Slowdive, Scott Cortez of lovesliescrushing, those guitar players in Mogwai &/or Godspeed.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly?
Eric – Silly.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Eric – Dropped it by accident. Scratches & dings.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Eric – I run an infinite loop through my pedals, & then I play with my pedals instead.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Eric – Sometimes I don’t play for weeks. Whenever I feel like it.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Eric – Jim Dunlop .88mm or 1.00mm. It works.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Eric – D’Addario 11-49.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Eric – When I feel like my playing & my sound is shit, & then I realize they don’t feel nor sound as good as they used to.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Eric – Not often. Except when we played that song “The Sky Was Glorious For a Moment” (by Destroyalldreamers) --- they’d break one out of two, & would involve bleeding fingers.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Eric – Strumming. It affects my style in the sense that I play slow anyway which is fine because I like to sustain notes & chords through my pedals.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Eric – Guitar tech, because I don’t really know much about setting up or if I’m doing it right.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Eric – Standard & Open C or some derivative of it… Not sure. Starts with CGC anyway.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Eric – I don’t write my ideas down, I record them. Then I re-listen & if I can’t play them again, I give up & dub the recording as an improv. If I can play them, I practice until I remember it enough so that I won’t forget for a while, until it’s been too long & I have to figure it out again.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Eric – Low-Average. It should probably be higher because it’s bad for my posture & I have no more money to go to the chiropractor.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Eric – When trying to be creative going back to playing the same kind of riffs, sounds, structures, & time signatures – not being able to break a certain pattern.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Eric – Drums. Rhythm helps a lot. Playing in a band is a great way to improve.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing do you wish you could do that you can’t?
Eric – I don’t know. Shredding? Finger-picking. Or anything slightly complicated.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Eric – Play two guitars at the same time? No, wait… I sort of do already.
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Eric – Trick people into believing that I actually know how to play guitar.
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?
Eric – Play someone else’s song.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Eric – Ebow!
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Eric – Nope.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
Eric – I’ve never had a guitar teacher, how should I know? I could teach about effect pedals.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Eric – Something in the lines of playing loads of drone-y textures through a first looping device feeding into other parallel looping devices, & then finding the intrinsic melodies throughout that thick, noisy wall of sounds.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Eric – Kevin Shields loves it. ‘Nuff said. I haven’t spent enough time with one actually.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Eric – Always maxed.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Eric – One has long black curly hair & a funny top hat, the other usually just looks plain regular because I can’t remember what he looks like.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Eric – No. However, you could just get rid of the rest of the band & play solo.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Eric – Don’t care enough about other people’s guitars, really.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Eric – That guy over there!
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Eric – Each album is always an exploration in sounds, themes, textures & feelings. So it’s pretty subjective. But this is an interview & if it’s not going to be used to promote any new releases, it’d be a shame. So, get the latest thisquietarmy album! It’s called Aftermath.
QRD – Anything else?
Eric – Yes, but… 58 questions is long enough!