Interview with Michael Shiny of Shiny Around The Edges
Bands: Shiny Around the Edges
Listen to “Robinwood Must Burn”
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Michael – Peavey T-30... traded it in for a Fender bass... I think... it’s been a while.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Michael – Guitar... cord... amp...period.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Michael – Amp. It is a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 1x12 that has a Weber Blue Dog speaker, re-soldered connections, & replacement capacitors. It is tuned hot which helps the dynamic between my guitar & amp perform like a theremin on command. Unfortunately, I burn out a bunch of tubes this way.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Michael – See above. Plus, the tone of the Hot Rod Deluxe with the Blue Dog is unbeatable. I also use a late 70s (?) Fender 2x15 cabinet.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Michael – Stock Mexican Fender Telecaster. It is comparatively inexpensive & if I lose it, break it, etc. it can easily be replaced. Tone-wise, the thickness can’t be beat.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Michael – I am currently working on deconstructing my ‘81 Fender Musicmaster, beveling the back a bit, switching the pick-up to a P-90, using a Strat neck, & eliminating the remaining gloss finish with a sander so the tone can breath.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Michael – Funny, I’ve actually have been talking to a friend of mine, Ethan Hahn, about this subject. He designs pedals for people via his company, ProTone Pedals, & does an amazing job. I’m looking to develop something that would have one button & be the ambient audio equivalent of fractal geometry, picking up the last phrase & running with it. But... I don’t use pedals & we are usually at a house party in Denton when we get on to this topic, so we are consistently at a vague impasse.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Michael – Six-ish.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Michael – In our rehearsal space in our house.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Michael – A very dry Martini & a generous amount of Russian beluga caviar.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Michael – Is it durable? Comparative weight. Tonality.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Michael – The amount one can make working for a few months part-time after school in 11th grade.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Michael – My Tele is stock. The Musicmaster is a work in progress.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Michael – I can tell in five minutes if a guitar is going to work for me.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Michael – No.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Michael – One particular guitar tone.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Michael – Well... I wouldn’t exactly say “lust,” but I really like the guitar Ronnie uses in Neon Indian. I have never seen anything like it. It is basically a flat screen monitor in the guitar that displays trippy graphics during their sets. It is a perfect match to Ronnie’s formidable playing talent & the aesthetics of the band. It wouldn’t work for me, but I am glad that it exists without a doubt!
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Michael – A piece of paper that says, “Find a friend & start a band immediately.”
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Michael – My Hot Rod Deluxe amp was the
best; don’t really have a “worst.”
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Michael – Gibson Les Pauls are just way too heavy.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Michael – A “D” chord.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Michael – 16.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Michael – Maybe last year? Many of those shows were righteous. Eh... I’m still learning.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Michael – Piano is really hard & trumpet is almost impossible.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Michael – Guitar is a great way to jump into the making of music.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Michael – The guitar is an extension of myself in the process.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Michael – Greg Ginn, Lou Reed, Bill Carter (Screaming Blue Messiahs), Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon, Norman Westberg (SWANS), Leo Kottke, Arto Lindsay (DNA), too many to list.…
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?
Michael – I’ve never thought about it.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Michael – Various nicks, scratches, cuts, bloodstains, etc... playing shows.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Michael – At Shiny rehearsals, we enjoy having cocktails, talking endless about how badass we are & occasionally spilling out onto the lawn, throwing things, etc.… We find this adequately prepares us for our shows.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Michael – I’ve never kept track of this.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Michael – Medium orange ones. Thin ones fall apart & thick ones break strings or pop out of my hand. Orange because that’s what McBrides in Denton has a huge back stock of at the moment.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Michael – Medium. Light do not produce the required sound & heavy rip up my hands.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Michael – Every few weeks.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Michael – Not often as we tune fairly low. However, when the seasons change in Texas, I’ll break a bunch.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Michael – I am good with my hands.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Michael – Guitar tech. If a guitar is not set-up, you are inviting a mess of mathematics that will kill your playing ability.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Michael – Half-step down standard with a drop D. It brings the rock in sufficient doses.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Michael – I make notes in tabs because I am not formally trained.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Michael – It is relaxed as far as it will go. I’m 6’4” & have long arms.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Michael – Doing shots that audience members buy us during our sets.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Michael – Piano.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Michael – I enjoy Adrian Belew’s work with King Crimson, but could never control pedals like that.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Michael – Greg Ginn recently sat in with Shiny Around the Edges, so I’m good.
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Michael – Correctly using a digital guitar tuner was an uphill battle.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Michael – Don’t have one.
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?
Michael – At Built to Spill shows, I’ve seen Doug Martsch tune his guitar while soloing. I am in awe of that.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Michael – My sister taught me how to play some folk songs from the 60s. How to play & write a song.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
Michael – When you are supporting a band on tour, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD... make sure the members in your band know EXACTLY which brand of beer was on your rider.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Michael – Play like you may not have the chance to play a show again.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Michael – Always out of tune.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Michael – I set it, then don’t touch it.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Michael – Lead players are good at leveraging their brand across multiple revenue streams.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Michael – No.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Michael – Eric Clapton’s so I could sell it & make a bunch of cash.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Michael – Our bassist Kerm. Half the time I don’t know what he is doing, but it sounds like the apocalypse.
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Michael – Our latest album, Denton’s Dreaming captures it pretty well.
QRD – Anything else?
Michael – Buy a guitar, find a friend,
start a band. Everything will work out just fine.
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