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QRD #43 - Guitarist Series Part III
about this issue
Guitarist Interviews with:
Jon DeRosa of Aarktica
Brian McKenzie
Invisible Elephant
Wim Lecluyse of Circle Bros
Nick Reinhart of Tera Melos
Matt Stevens
Dan Cohoon of Moral Crayfish
Clayton James Mick
John Trubee
Agata of Melt-Banana
Bones Denault of Shady Lady
Eric Hausmann
PD Wilder of Hotel Hotel
Ryan Wasterlain
Miguel Baptista Benedict
Jim Dennis of Random FX
Jon Attwood of Yellow6
Travis Kotler of Pineal Ventana
Brian Elyo of mobdividual
Joe Morgan
Bill Horist
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Guitarist Interview with Brian Elyo of mobdividual
August 2010

Name:  Brian Elyo
Bands:  Four-Track Fuckers (dead), Lego Dynasty (dead), mobdividual (current)
Websites: mobdividual.bandcamp.com/releases, Facebook, last.fm/music/mobdividual
Listen to “Alvara Alto”

QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?

Brian – I started on bass, a generic P-Style, then I bought a Hohner acoustic guitar (new).  I bought an electric Ibanez, used... & got rid of it... replaced it recently with a Gretsch re-issue...  I eventually traded the bass for a sweet electric blue guitar & I still have the acoustic, & consider it my main guitar.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?

Brian – Guitar to a stereo delay... L to delay (L-to another delay-Amp - R-Amp) - R to pitch shifter (for some low-end)-Amp-Delay-amp.  I use a lot of delays - one of which has some reverb... sometimes I run clean into my Vox so you can hear a clean guitar signal plus the mountains of delays & reverb.... 

QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects?

Brian – My mind & my hands... but also delays.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Brian – Well, for years it was my Marshall 65R cause it was loud & raw, but now I have a twin Vox & it sounds better & is louder...
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?

Brian – My acoustic.  All my songs, no matter how wacky, start on my acoustic.

QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?

Brian – It would have a built-in dual delay that would be able to feed into itself & have four outs (2-left & 2-right).  It would probably look pretty traditional, like an SG or something like Cobain where I would cut two in half to make one
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?

Brian – Delays & loopers.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Brian – 4, I gave a couple away... so now I just have my acoustic, my Gretsch electric, that blue guitar I traded my bass for, & a pawn shop guitar for noise making... & a Daion bass - I also play drums, so I have a 4-piece Gretsch Catalina.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Brian – Basement in cases.…

QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?

Brian – A recording device.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?

Brian – Feel & range of sound.  I don’t play a “style;” I like to capture sounds, so... I like guitars that can go from metal to twang in a heartbeat.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?

Brian – I’d balk at anything more than $600.

QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?

Brian – Out of the box.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?

Brian – Ad nauseum.…
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Brian – Yes, but trying NOT to much more.…

QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?

Brian – I change my tones & tunings constantly... but I like to lock it in & balance different tones against each other.

QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?

Brian – Some of the old school tape delay pedals would be sweet if I could be able to afford.  I’d like a really, really nice Tele & Princeton amp, classic, vintage P-bass, any high quality vintage tube amp, like a Vox or something; man I’d love an SG like none other & a full Marshall stack, rock that shit!
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?

Brian – My first electric Ibanez had a tuning lock; which was really nice for a beginner, because it went out of tune a lot less.

QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?

Brian – My best was catching a guitar store going out of business.  I picked up like $450 worth of stuff for like $150.  No horror stories, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to spending money on equipment... & a “purist” in that sense... creativity not equipment.…
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?

Brian – Boss, you can’t go wrong.…
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?

Brian – A C chord or an A minor... I have no idea why, it just happens, then I run through some scales & start working o the song I was playing last.…

QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?

Brian – 22.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?

Brian – 30.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?

Brian – The range of expression that an audience can feel also.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?

Brian – No, piano.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?

Brian – Ally - I think I make guitar music, but I’m also disillusioned.…
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?

Brian – Originally... Billy Corgan, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Pink Floyd (Syd in approach & Gilmore in style) & John Fahey; now I would add Omar Rodriguez.

QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?

Brian – Natural, but I don’t nor probably ever will.

QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?

Brian – I haven’t ever doe anything fun (like smashing one).  I cracked the head on my Ibanez while getting emotional while experimenting

QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?

Brian – Smashing Pumpkin songs & scales
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?

Brian – 16-20. 80.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?

Brian – I actually just started to feel the difference & I really like Dunlap 60s, they just feel good, & I drop them less for some reason.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Brian – Heavy... I tune low & I like the thicker sound.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Brian – Not as often as I should.
QRD – How often do you break strings?

Brian – Not as often as my music may express.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?

Brian – Strumming... I do a lot of strum/beat emphasis.…
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?

Brian – All by myself.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Brian – Standard down about 1.25 steps... it seems to be better in tune with my voice/body resonance... but I don’t sing so go figure.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?

Brian – I created my own notation system for myself; but if I have to deal with someone else, I use tab.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?

Brian – John Lennon.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?

Brian – Getting stuck in the same old runs & I probably don’t have the best fret-hand positions.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?

Brian – Piano, drums (mostly to understand rhythms better).
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?

Brian – Classical.  I wish I was classically trained so I could throw it all out the window.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?

Brian – Properly learning some of the songs I’ve set out to.
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?

Brian – I’m not very adept at many tricks, so I usually do those as overdubs, just started getting into finger tapping though.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?

Brian – Capo, then my ebow.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?

Brian – Two - 12 bars blues in the form of black magic women.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?

Brian – How to make up their own chords & the variety of ways they can be used.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?

Brian – Not know how to play!  & get really good at beats & rhythms.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Brian – Meh... I use them once in a while, but....
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Brian – Never.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?

Brian – Usually the ability to understand chords & then the ability to understand “beat” separate from “rhythm.”
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?

Brian – No, absolutely not.

QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?

Brian – Syd Barrett... kind of off-the-wall.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?

Brian – Omar Rodriguez... the creativity that spews out of his fingers is just unmatched... from record to record, consistent & constantly different, not afraid of his “style”’ versus his “sound” versus “the song.”

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Brian – My latest EP, but I haven’t really done a ‘guitar centric’ album... yet.…