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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 Travis Kotler of Pineal Ventana 
August 2010

Name: Travis Kotler
Bands: The Banned, The Lab Puppies, JF Kennedy’s Brain, Graveshift, The Stumblers, Pineal Ventana, & something with Brian, Nicole, & Patrick that I can’t remember. A few tracks on Tenth to the Moon’s debut. Played bass with the Mudclowns once or twice.
Websites: Facebook

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

Travis – Japanese Strat copy. Dark blue. I don’t remember.

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

Travis – Just an acoustic Guild jumbo & a sitar I brought back from India. All other musical instruments have been donated to the divorce industry of Watauga County, North Carolina.

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

Travis – Guitar.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Travis – Early 80s Peavey Deuces & Maces. Very cheap, very durable, very loud. Big sound.

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

Travis – Guild JF-30. Easier to get around when living out of a car.

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

Travis – Part Rickenbacker 330, part Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun.

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

Travis – Compressor/Limiter/Sampler. Honesty, logic, & the sound of about fifty metal chairs gently knocking on the concrete in front of the rooms on the hill on a sunny day.

QRD – How many guitars do you own? 

Travis – One.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars? 

Travis – Cases at the foot of the bed.

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

Travis – Sane women.

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

Travis – If anyone in the store would notice if I stole it.

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

Travis – See above.

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

Travis – Not really. Put a Bigsby on a Gibson 135 once.

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

Travis – Not at all. Instant attraction is everything.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often? 

Travis – Yes. It is necessary to help prevent infection or hepatitis.

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

Travis – When I lived in cities I needed to create space with a guitar. I have a lot of space, now, so acoustic is best.

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

Travis – None.

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

Travis – Sodium Pentathol.

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

Travis – No regrets. I have loved them all.

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

Travis – All sorts. Variety.

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

Travis – Beer pong.

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

Travis – 13.

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

Travis – Today.

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

Travis – I don’t.

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

Travis – No.

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

Travis – Both.

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

Travis – Johnny Smith, Ida Presti, Steve Stevens, Keith Levene, Pepe Romero, John McGeoch, Jimmy Page, Vilayat Khan, William Reid, & this guy:

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

Travis – I don’t care.

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

Travis – Rockfight. Pine Canyon Campsite #2. February, 2009. Gianninni acoustic (RIP).

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

Travis – Scales, note reading, moderate drinking.

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

Travis – Not enough. More.

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

Travis – All sorts. Variety.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why? 

Travis – Heavy. Better for alternate tunings.

QRD – How often do you change strings? 

Travis – Not often.

QRD – How often do you break strings? 

Travis – Lots.

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

Travis – That is very, very personal!

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

Travis – Myself. The nearest guitar tech is about 100 miles north.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why? 

Travis – DADGAD - when I’m feeling pretty. CGDGCD - when I’m feeling shy. DADGBE - when I’m feeling NASTY. BEADF#B - when I want to cry.

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

Travis – I keep everything in my head, then forget all of it.

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

Travis – Again, very personal.

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

Travis – Vomiting.

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

Travis – Flute.

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

Travis – The kind that makes me some money.

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

Travis – See above. Also, world peace.

QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned? 

Travis – Selling it for more than I paid for it.

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

Travis – Wire coat hanger.

QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t? 

Travis – Plate tectonics.

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

Travis – Charles Williams taught me how to move my fingers & figure out how to play what I heard on record or tape. David Case taught me classical.

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

Travis – How to make your fingers bleed.

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

Travis – Buy the first round.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems? 

Travis – Bigsby. Lots of sounds on the other side of the bridge.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob? 

Travis – That’s what she said.

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

Travis – Hopefully I don’t.

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

Travis – I would ignore the rest of the band anyway.

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

Travis – This one: http://most-expensive.net/guitar-in-world

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

Travis – Me. Because I’ve got so much love to give.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Travis – Probably Paint Gap Hills # 4, sometime in September.

QRD – Anything else?

Travis – April 25th is Parental Alienation Awareness Day. Please take good care of my sons.

Other QRD interviews with Travis Kotler:
Pineal Ventana interview (october 1995)