QRD - Current Issue   About QRD   QRD Archives
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
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
QRD - Advertise
Silber Records
Silber Button Factory
Cerebus TV
Silber Kickstarter
Guitarist Interview with Brian McKenzie of Electric Bird Noise & SAVAS 
August 2010

Name: Brian Lea McKenzie
Bands: Electric Bird Noise, Something About Vampires & Sluts, Planet Cock, Catpuncher & the Mayor… every other band in my hometown.
Websites: myspace.com/electricbirdnoise, myspace.com/brianmckenziesmusicfactory, myspace.com/savas, silbermedia.com/ebn (to purchase)

Listen to “proti village meteora odeon of herodes atticus”

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

Brian – A $200 Yamaha acoustic… still have it.

QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?

Brian – It varies from project to project… could be simply a guitar into amplifier (no effects) or a 100 pedal effects into amplifier… or guitar into computer… depends.

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

Brian – Me.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Brian – Live a Mesa Boogie Mark 4… with 3 separate channels it makes it a pretty versatile amplifier…. or a Jazz Chorus 120 cause I can’t get that particular sound out of the Mesa... a Peavey Classic Chorus 130 with Electric Bird Noise.   

QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?

Brian – With Electric Bird Noise & SAVAS I use a couple Paul Reed Smith EG Series guitars. These guitars are really good at going between single coil & humbucker pick up selections… a Gibson Les Paul & a Gretsch Super Axe get used quite a lot as well. 

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

Brian – I’m so A.D.D. when it comes to equipment… don’t think there’s one guitar I could be married to for too long. Any six string on a plank of wood with some magnets (or not) will work just fine.

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

Brian – One feature only… remove all snare drums from the building! Snare rattle drives me crazy when I’m doing my solo ambient sets.  

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Brian – 7 electrics… 2 acoustic… 1 bass guitar.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Brian – In cases in my studio.

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

Brian – Lift.

QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?

Brian – Versatility. Playability.

QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?

Brian – $5 & up.

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

Brian – Stick with what I get.

QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?

Brian – I’m very thorough before I pull the trigger.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Brian – I do.

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

Brian – I lock into one tone remembering it then moving on to another.

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

Brian – Any that inspirers creativity.

QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?

Brian – A tuner. 

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

Brian – Been happy with every purchase thus far... for me all gear has some usefulness.

QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?

Brian – I’m a fan of old Boss pedals particularly the ones made in Japan… Mesa Boogie… Paul Reed Smith… Z Vex… Amplitube…. Why? Versatility. 

QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?

Brian – Depends on my mood.

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

Brian – 15.

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

Brian – 189.

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

Brian – It doesn’t … I’m pretty tall & lanky, so bass is probably a better fit.  You should see me behind a mandolin.

QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?

Brian – Sure.

QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?

Brian – Ally!

QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?

Brian – My pedals, guitar, amp, & mood have more of an influential pull than any outside source.  Not until after I dial up a sound I’m content with will I go, “Hey, this sound reminds me of that guy that plays in….” 

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

Brian – Doesn’t bother me.

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

Brian – Broke the headstock off a Gibson 335s (a 335 solid body) while rocking out!

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

Brian – Golf. 

QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?

Brian – Around 10 hours… around 10 hours.

QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?

Brian – A D’Adarrio green pick because they’re heavy, but not overly heavy. 

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Brian – 10s… because they’re not too heavy & not too light.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Brian – About once every other month.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Brian – Rarely.

QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?

Brian – I feel pretty confident in both… but there’s a speed threshold for me so I tend to write slow to medium tempo tunes.  

QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?

Brian – Sometimes I’ll tinker around with intonation & small issues, but there an art to set up a guitar to it’s full potential… so I do send my guitars off to the pros from time to time.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Brian – Standard 95% of the time…cause I’m lazy.

QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?

Brian – Recording a rough draft… or remembering it most of the time works for me.

QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?

Brian – Pretty low.

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

Brian – Bad habits lead to mistakes, which leads to inspiring new ideas.

QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?

Brian – Tennis racket.

QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?

Brian – Anything super fast & articulate.

QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?

Brian – See above comment

QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?

Brian – I like the ebow, capo, & slide… what’s a string cutter?

QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?

Brian – I did…. I did.

QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?

Brian – No matter how wrong it sounds keep playing it over & over again & again …then it becomes the right way.

QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?

Brian – Breathe.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Brian – Love ‘em!

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Brian – 20% of the time.

QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?

Brian – Whoever is louder is the lead.

QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?

Brian – I can.

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

Brian – Any one of those famous 60 hero guitars will do.  Why?  So I can ebay it.  

QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?

Brian – Brian John Mitchell… because he loves you.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Brian – Silbermedia.com, myspace.com/electricbirdnoise, myspace.com/brianmckenziesmusicfactory, myspace.com/savas

QRD – Anything else?

Brian – Naw.

Other QRD interviews with Brian Lea McKenzie:
Electric Bird Noise Interview (October 2007)