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QRD #46 - Guitarists Interview Series
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Guitarist Interviews with:
Azalia Snail
Alan Sparhawk
Jesse Grey
Michael Seman
Robert Brown
John Booker
Steven Mitchell
Ian McPhedran
Josef Echter
Jordan Barger
Zachary Corsa
Ed Ricart
Yair Yona
Jeff Schneider
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Guitarist Interview with Azalia Snail
January 2011
photo by Evans Vestal Ward
Name: Azalia Snail
Bands: Azalia Snail
Website: www.azaliasnail.com
Listen to “Ginger Ale”
Listen to “A Heavy Leaf Falls”

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

Azalia – First acoustic was a Harmony; but I so wanted electric so I snuck my bank savings & bought an electric guitar/amp special for $500.  Then my Mom heard my screeching & called my father who had to take the door off the hinges of my bedroom to take it away from me.

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

Azalia – All Boss effects - DD3, Chorus, Heavy Metal to Fender Deluxe Reverb circa 1977-ish.  (Traded a Marshall amp for it in Arizona on tour 1996.)

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

Azalia – All equally vital.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Azalia – Fender Deluxe Reverb; love the purity & the resonance.

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

Azalia – Rickenbacker natural wood; circa 1976; shaped like a bass. Easy to play, nice to hold, signature Rick sound makes it melodic & pure.

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

Azalia – I suppose I’d have to have it custom made to look like a Snail.  That would be too silly, however, & I probably would never play it live.

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

Azalia – I’m so satisfied with the Boss DD-3, so I can’t really improve on that.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Azalia – 2 acoustic; 2 electric.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Azalia – 1 in the bedroom, 1 in the living room, 2 in a back room.

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

Azalia – I love bright colors so you can tell which one belongs to you.  Patterns would be fun as well.  Glow in the dark bits so you can see it on a dark stage or stowed away somewhere.

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

Azalia – I’ve done most of my research from articles & books about my favorite musicians.  & even better, watching them play live to see what they use & how it sounds.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?

Azalia – I’m a vintage girl, so back in the day, I got great deals.  The Rickenbacker was $200 from an ad in a paper.  My old Gibson Melody Maker was $250 from a vintage guitar shop on 23rd St, next to The Chelsea Hotel (it’s still there).  My 12-string Yamaha was a gift from my record label at the time; it had supposedly belonged to Leslie West of Mountain at one time!

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

Azalia – The 12-string was “customized” with red velvet & sequin flowers.

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

Azalia – Gotta play before you pay.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Azalia – No.

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

Azalia – I’ve always wanted a nice little Gretsch, double cutaway.  Someone, please?

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

Azalia – Get one easy to play.  That’s most important when you’re just getting started.

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

Azalia – Boss, sponsor me!

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

Azalia – An old song of mine called “So Much More to Go.”

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

Azalia – 11.

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

Azalia – 29.

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

Azalia – Actually, I’m more into keyboards now.  I’m a unique guitarist, but there are so many superior players!

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

Azalia – No.  I would recommend bongos first.

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

Azalia – Beloved companion.

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

Azalia – Mark Bolan, Lou Reed, Brian May, Mick Ralphs.

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

Azalia – No, but I’ve never done it.

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

Azalia – I wore the hell out of my Fender acoustic until it got nabbed in Chicago. 

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

Azalia – Worshipping the instruments.

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

Azalia – Used to be many; now very few.

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

Azalia – Herco Gold (I even wrote a song called that.  Love them!)

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Azalia – Medium.

QRD – How often do you change strings? 

Azalia – Rarely.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Azalia – Rarely.

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

Azalia – Strumming! 

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

Azalia – Me.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Azalia – Many open tunings.  Much more variables to songwriting.

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

Azalia – Notebooks, college bound.

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

Azalia – Banjo.

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

Azalia – Finger picking.  Wild lead guitar riffs.

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

Azalia – Picking.

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

Azalia – Capo followed by slide.

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

Azalia – Very young; teacher made me play dumb kid songs which really turned me off.

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

Azalia – Open tunings!

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

Azalia – Lots of delay!

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

Azalia – NO!

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

Azalia – Mark Bolan, bar none.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Azalia – “Retribution” off the Hail/Snail album How to Live with a Tiger.  “Fiery Skies” single on Dark Beloved Cloud.

Official Website
Azalia Snail on Silber