Interview with Azalia Snail
Bands: Azalia Snail
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.
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.