Interview with Invisible Elephant
Name: Invisible Elephant
Bands: Invisible Elephant
Websites: invisible-elephant.bandcamp.com, myspace.com/invisibleelephant1, http://sonicreverie.bigcartel.com/product/invisible-elephant-the-lights-go-out
Listen to “Time”
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Invisible Elephant – An ancient Korean Zenta that looked like a Strat someone had beaten & burned & dragged out of the back of a car. I didn’t have an amp so I used to just play it unplugged. I had it for a few years & lent it to a friend. Never saw it again.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Invisible Elephant – Lead > EHX Big Muff > Boss DD20 > Amp
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Invisible Elephant – Effects. I’ve played with the worst guitars & the worst amps ever made, but still managed to make everything sound okay. I’ve never been able to do that with bad effects. The music I make also means that effects are important & I don’t just run guitars through them. The keyboards, drums, vocals all sometimes use effects of some sort.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Invisible Elephant – Fender Deluxe 112. I only use the clean channel which stays clean even if you’ve taken the volume up to the level of a plane taking off.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Invisible Elephant – Fender Jazzmaster American Vintage. The tremolo, the tone, the weight, the look. All of it.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Invisible Elephant – Probably some sort of mutant Jazzmaster/Jaguar hybrid. Vintage Jazzmaster single coil pickups, floating tremolo, & size. Jaguar controls/switches.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Invisible Elephant – Looping with EHX Cathedral reverb options.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Invisible Elephant – Four. Two electric, two acoustic with different tunings.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Invisible Elephant – On stands, in cases, under beds.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Invisible Elephant – A drinks compartment.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Invisible Elephant – Just the right sound & the right feel when you play it. It’s hard to tell until you’ve picked it up to play & you can see if it “clicks” with you on not.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Invisible Elephant – I’ve bought great guitars for less than $100 & spent a lot on crappy ones.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Invisible Elephant – Yes, I put stickers on them. I consider that both upgrading & customization.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Invisible Elephant – I’ll read up on a few reviews & have a listen
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Invisible Elephant – Hardly ever. I mainly do recording anyway so I have a million options to make different sounds there.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Invisible Elephant – It all depends on the song. It tends to change from song to song.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Invisible Elephant – I’d like an EHX Cathedral & a nice 12 string acoustic.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Invisible Elephant – Strings are always useful. Besides that; nothing in particular. My first guitar was terrible, but after a few years when I’d got a good one I couldn’t believe how easy it was to play. Sometimes it’s a good thing to make things challenging at the start.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Invisible Elephant – Best: Fender amp.
Have never even thought of changing it.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Invisible Elephant – I used to play Gibsons. I’ve had Les Pauls & an SG in the past; but for some reason, whether it’s just bad luck or not I don’t know, they’ve always been temperamental. I now like Fender guitars & Elecro Harmonix effects.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Invisible Elephant – Just make something up off the top of my head.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Invisible Elephant – 15.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Invisible Elephant – Probably about 19/20. At least in terms of technique. I used to play in a band at that time & we rehearsed a lot. I haven’t been playing as often the last couple of years but I’m better at getting the sounds I want now. Just not as good at playing anything.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Invisible Elephant – It’s so versatile. You can pick a sweet melody or pretty much assault someone with some evil feedback or a riff. I still like other instruments, but guitars feature on most of the songs.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Invisible Elephant – I don’t think it matters that much what the instrument is. Once you can play one kind it helps when you pick up others.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Invisible Elephant – Ally. One good thing about being solo is that you’re not “the guitarist.” If a guitar’s not working on a song you don’t have to try & force it in. You can play something else instead.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Invisible Elephant – John Squire (Stone
Roses). I bought a book of the tab for the Second Coming album & learned
to play the guitar with that.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?
Invisible Elephant – Not something I’d do.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Invisible Elephant – On stage, drunk, dropped it. More damage to ego than the guitar.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Invisible Elephant – I don’t play a lot anyway. I tend to just picture in my head what my fingers will do & then pick up the guitar when I need it.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Invisible Elephant – Usually maybe less than 1. Maybe 5 to 10 if I’m recording something.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Invisible Elephant – None with an acoustic. With an electric; medium. It’s not too flexible.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Invisible Elephant – Flat 12s. They go better with the Jazzmaster & I don’t really solo or bend much.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Invisible Elephant – Rarely.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Invisible Elephant – Rarely.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Invisible Elephant – Fretting. I tend the pick around chords.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Invisible Elephant – It sounded awful when it arrived so it had to go to a tech for a set-up which was well worth it.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Invisible Elephant – Usually standard but I sometimes drop to a D & I have a second acoustic tuned to open C. Just to get a different tone & playing around with the tunings always seems to create a song.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Invisible Elephant – I just scribble very hard to decipher notes in a book like “play melody, do a big swooshy sound, make loud noise.”
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Invisible Elephant – Quite low. Holding it right under your chin is not a good look. Saying that, if you go Hooky-low it’s like de-evolution in action & you’ll probably get a hunchback. Also not a good look.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Invisible Elephant – Losing concentration. Hogging the swings while other people are waiting for a go.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Invisible Elephant – Playing a keyboard helped a lot with chord structuring. Drumming helps you appreciate how hard it is for those drummer-types to play along with your arrhythmic noise. Getting a stylophone has helped me realize my dream of being like Rolf Harris, which has nothing to do with guitar playing but is cool.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing do you wish you could do that you can’t?
Invisible Elephant – Wish I was better at fingerpicking.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Invisible Elephant – Playing the guitar effectively under water.
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Invisible Elephant – I tried to pull one out of a hat, but I ended up just getting rabbits & an extremely long multi-coloured handkerchief instead. I’m not good at tricks.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Invisible Elephant – A slide. Not for nice bluesy slide guitar, but for using as a tool to make high-pitched screeching sounds.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Invisible Elephant – Never took any.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
Invisible Elephant – I have no idea. Just to play your own way & make whatever sounds you feel are good.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Invisible Elephant – I doubt anyone would want to bother. I may let them borrow my DMs if they asked nicely & promised to wear clean socks.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Invisible Elephant – Like ‘em.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Invisible Elephant – Not very.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Invisible Elephant – It’s harder to find a good inventive rhythm player & they’re under appreciated.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Invisible Elephant – Very rarely.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Invisible Elephant – I’d have no preference for a famous person’s guitar over a non-famous person’s one if it was one I wanted. Unless it had belonged to the legendary Kriss Akabusi, but I don’t even know if he plays the guitar.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Invisible Elephant – Nels Cline. Always inventive & original. On his own & with a number of different bands.
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Invisible Elephant – Either in my bedroom or the kitchen.
QRD – Anything else?
Invisible Elephant – Not that I can think