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QRD #55 - Guitarist Interview Series VI
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Guitarist Interviews with:
Mason Jones
Chris Wade
Corbie Hill
Davy Curci
Matt Northrup
Xavier Dubois
Tony Sagger
Rich Bennett
Jonas Munk
Matthew Eyles
Francesco “fuzz” Brasini
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Jacques LaMore
Curran Faris
Sean Fewell
Ryan Scally
Shawn Steven
Sophia Johnson
Mick Barr
Joshua Heinrich
Jim Walker
Jacob Peck
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Guitarist Interview with Matthew Eyles
June 2012

Name: Matthew Eyles
Bands: Dutch Order
Website: www.dutchorder.co.uk

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

Matthew – My first guitar was a Fender Strat, the very basic, beginner’s electric guitar from Costco. It’s kinda funny as my parents thought I would quit it & get bored & frustrated with learning guitar. Instead it grew on me. For now it resides in my parents attic after a botched paint job from a cousin. He managed to take it apart but not piece it together.

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

Matthew – My typical set up is: Guitar: BC Rich Platinum Bich - Amp/effects: Line 6 Spider II 210

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

Matthew – My most important part of the rig would have to be the guitar. It is what I focus on when I play. It is THE instrument. They’re all important, but I concentrate a lot on what I’m playing to ensure it sounds perfect, that little nuances feed through. The amp & effects just help push those feelings & sounds along.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Matthew – My main amplifier is the Line 6 Spider II. Hell, it’s my only amplifier, but for me, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. It’s a bit battered & old but it works & using it always gives me a simple satisfaction. Despite its age, people seem quite unaware of The Line 6 Spiders & are always impressed by the fact it lights up. For me it’s just practical - multiple tones & effects & it’s loud. I can play my Stones on there, my Queen, my Extreme, my Slipknot, my KoRn, etc. For Dutch Order, we started out as an indie band & the fact I use only one tone that can sound as aggressive as punk to as eerie & as sharp as a banshee shriek, for me that is why I love the amp & the equipment I use. I’m not a strong believer in that songs need to be drowned by effects. I grew up listening to Queen & for me Brian May sounds like Brian May because the tone rarely changed, his guitar had a signature sound. You could not repeat it! That kind of stuck with me. Also every kid at school was bragging about Marshall stacks, etc. & as I loved Slipknot at the time I looked into their choice. Their choice was the Line 6 & the fact it had multiple effects meant it saved me having to buy umpteen accessories to play. I had an amp with those sounds locked away. It’s a damn music box.

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

Matthew – My main guitar is just a cheap Platinum BC Rich Bich. It was on sale & I wanted a nice around guitar. What sold it to me was a review in Total Guitar that said it basically did that. You can be a mean SOB on it & you could play blues & it’ll sound like blues. I have a lot of musical tastes to cater for so after purchasing this & hearing how well it adapted with the Line 6, I was happy. The guitar is strong & has some nice meaty humbuckers on it, it’s simple but it works. I love that guitar. For me the amp is the “colour” of the sound, the guitar is so damn adaptable I would have to say its the ‘canvas’ that allows me to paint my music on.

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

Matthew – If I had a signature guitar, it wouldn’t be a signature guitar. It’s cool & if I got to a stage where BC Rich were to approach me & say, “We want to make you a signature guitar,” I think my answer would be, “I play your BC Rich Bich. Go figure.” I remember in school, when I first played I was intimidated by all those who would geek over their guitars, would part with tons of money for parts & butcher their guitars till they were happy with it. I remember thinking, “You parted with, let’s say, £200-£500 for a guitar you should be happy with. Yet, if X states ‘You need Y because it’s the best for Z’, you purchase that & damage a perfectly good guitar on an opinion or a sales pitch.” I always found it was easier to change a setting & you can always get something close if not exact to a sound anyway. So what if it doesn’t hold a note for as long as another or this or that, why would you take something & rather than test it, butcher it? Jimi Hendricks did it. He turned a right-handed guitar into a lefty & that created a sound that suited him. It required little butchery, but he didn’t change much, bar the hand that played it. I guess I’m a skeptic; but again, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. My signature guitar would be the one I bought, because even though it’s a cheap version, it’s good enough to gather a following of people at gigs. You can have an amazing guitar, but if you’re a crap guitar player, having the best wood, the best pick-ups, will not cover your ass. Any guitar can show emotion; it’s not about the price tag or what you put into it. It’s what you get out of it.

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

Matthew – If I had a signature pedal I would probably mount it & never use it.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Matthew – Electric: 2 - Fender Strat (not in use) & the BC Rich Platinum Bich.
Acoustic: 2 Standard cheap acoustic from where I fail to remember & a Washburn Electro Acoustic.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Matthew – My Washburn lives with me at my flat where I can practice & come up with ideas for the band or other little ditties. My BC Rich lives under my brother’s bed at the moment, as my flat cannot accommodate it. My first acoustic is still living with the bands Singer, Kesby, although I think he gave up on that pursuit. My Fender is in bits in a bag in the attic.

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

Matthew – I think my answer to this question would be to ask if you had ever seen Desperado? I think I would like all three guitar cases used there.

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

Matthew – I think the biggest feature for me is versatility. Would it allow me to play jazz one minute then metal the next? That’s about it really. I don’t care about Floyd Rose Trems because they annoyed the balls off of me! Whammy bars are cool, but not essential for me. I’m not going to dive bomb any time soon. For me everything is back to basics. The Kinks, Beatles, etc. it was all simple music. I still kind of live & breathe that dusty era to the point we sound fresh nowadays. There’s a big focus on using effects & I’m not at all phased by it. I’d rather find my own sounds through basic means.

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

Matthew – For me a good guitar can cost as little as £200 if not slightly under that. I started with a Fender Strat & that’s the top end of the basics, but I know people who have bought Encore instruments that have been decent enough. Price isn’t everything; it’s what you want & what you get from the guitar. That feeling is priceless. Blur bassist Alex James bought his first bass dirt cheap, but it worked for him.

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

Matthew – I stick with what I get. If you want the most expensive things then buy an expensive guitar, but it really makes no difference that I can tell from having played with bands live.

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

Matthew – I used to do it a lot although I’m happy with what I have so I don’t bother researching for anything else. I do like reading reviews, in magazines & online. It gives you an idea of what to expect, but most importantly it’s best to play the instrument first. Get a feel for it & know it is what you want. If there’s anything you dislike about it or it doesn’t fill that gap, then leave it.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Matthew – Nope. Sound guys love us because our rig is simple. We can set up in about 15-20 minutes. That’s the beauty of using one tone. One tone that is versatile!

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

Matthew – One tone! I lock on one tone, which is rare nowadays. I always felt that guitarists have this need to not show what they can do but what their equipment can do. For me this is just theatrical bull. Music is all about emotion & getting a mood or feeling across. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata uses one piano & builds & falls to achieve a piece that everyone knows. You don’t need an orchestra unless it really calls for it.

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

Matthew – At the moment I’d like the latest Spider Amp as they are now in their 4th series, but old Spidey II needs to die off first & he won’t without a fight! Other than that I keep thinking of purchasing an iRig so I can record through my iPad. I love using GarageBand to get ideas down.

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

Matthew – The basics are what’s important. I would say, it’s like a Swiss Army knife. You get your first which may just be a bare blade. You think, “Wow, cool!” You play with it, carving bits of wood or names into trees then you discover you need a saw to help cut through branches, so you upgrade it to one with a few more tools. I see it like that. Start with the basics. Once you realise you’re limitations, then start adding the accessories.

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

Matthew – My worst was a second hand Ibanez, which I haven’t labeled as owning because I bought it. It was pretty awesome, but the Floyd Rose would just bug me to the point I gave up using it altogether. My best would be the BC Rich Bich. I still have the receipt of it in its case. It’s 6 years old & I still love it!

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

Matthew – I only have a preference to Line 6 amps for their versatility & durability & guitar wise, I wouldn’t say a brand sticks out; again it’s more of what I can do with the guitar. My least favourite amp brand though is Marshall. Probably a controversial move as EVERYONE loves Marshall because THEY ARE THE BEST AMP IN THE WORLD, but for me a good amp is one that can play loud & allow you to play what you want with ease. I’m not parting with £500 for an amp that does nothing for my sound, but sit there all clean & I have to speak another £500 on effects to get a full arrangement of sounds I need. That’s why Line 6 are fine by me, they kill two birds & kill the middleman.

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

Matthew – Mainly the blues scale. I don’t know why, but I love that scale. Sometimes though you just have to thrash out.

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

Matthew – I know I was young, just started high school so maybe about 14/15.

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

Matthew – By the end of high school I think, I was self-schooled in guitar, I couldn’t afford a tutor & books were cheaper. I started with chords & then bought some tab books. Nirvana was the first easy step, but I was happy once I could play “Duality” by Slipknot & “Bark At The Moon” by Ozzy.

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

Matthew – I enjoy playing other instruments, but for me guitar is almost universal. I would say second to the piano. On the piano you can play almost any song & get everyone singing & the guitar is like the second to that. If you take an acoustic to a beach with friends & strum a few chords you could be have them all singing. I remember once I just sat on a sofa at an ex’s house & just finger picked some chords & she told me how relaxing hearing it was. It’s a mood enhancer. You can calm someone, you can make someone reminisce, or feel anger & pain. It just penetrates you.

QRD – Do you think guitar should be peoples first instrument as often as it is?

Matthew – My first instrument was recorder in lower school which I gave up because we would repeat the same simple songs as no one would practice & I would get bored. I remember telling my sister off once because she learnt the simple stuff & out of boredom I figured out by ear how to play the Blackadder theme. I would say any instrument is enough. I enjoyed hearing flutes & clarinets at school. Everyone in my high school was more absorbed by the orchestra’s drummer as he could pull off more complex rhythms than any of the other sections. Guitar is not the beginning nor end of music. There is always an instrument for you.

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

Matthew – I see it as both. My guitar is my ally when writing songs, he will find me a catchy riff & he will tell me where to go from there. He is my adversary when I try & repeat it live. I literally beat the poor bastard about at times through a mix of euphoria & stress at a little mistake that no one heard but me. It’s a love/hate relationship but I enjoy it.

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

Matthew – I grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Queen, & Extreme. The latter two I believe had more of an effect on me. Brian May’s seeping emotion & layered guitar are mesmerising. Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt is a close hero for being a complete ass & reminding me that there is always someone better. Sound wise I would say KoRn influenced me a lot. They were my teenage craze band, a lot of what I play now I can hear through them. Weird bends, octave chords, etc. I would also have to regard Interpol as well, as a band they taught to me how music can just be pure emotion.

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

Matthew – As long as you appreciate it, I don’t care what you do as long as it’s what you think is right for what you want out of your guitar.

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

Matthew – I’m not one to trash a perfectly good guitar. I love it too much.

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

Matthew – Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero taught me how to use my pinky when playing & it is a good exercise. I would say play any song on hard/expert & you will notice the difference.

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

Matthew – In my band we jam for about 2 hours a week on Sundays. Between that I play when the mood strikes me & I can play for a few minutes to a few hours. Depends of there are any chores that need doing, etc.

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

Matthew – I use a big, thick pick. It’s probably a bass plectrum. I like having that control over the sound & again is probably a subconscious influence from Brian May using a coin. He stated something that I feel when playing, where, flimsy thin picks to me just seem to have no control & they seem soft & rattle & just feel uncomfortable. For me having that control & knowing that every pick is down to me, the fact that it is solid so I can adjust a rise & fall by how hard or how soft I pick it; there is nothing like it. It’s just having that control!

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Matthew – I use standard gauge D’Addrio strings. They’ve always lasted a good while & I just love their sound. Everything just sounds so bright!

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Matthew – I’m lazy & also short on cash, so I try to change them regularly but it’s always once they start losing the ability to stay in tune after a song & look very rusty. I don’t put that much care into my guitars, but they last. I guess I see my guitar as a reflection of myself & my upbringing of being able to take a beating.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Matthew – Not very often. About once or twice they’ve broke from over use, other than that I’ve managed to get them sorted in time.

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

Matthew – I would have to admit it’s hard to choose. My strumming hand I adore for its control. I can build & diminish sounds & whack out some nice rhythm patterns, meanwhile my fretting hand is having to cope with (at times) trying to hold a chord & build another layer over it. One of our songs, “Fool the Fool”, surprised our producer who listened to my recording & was puzzled how he had two guitars on one track, it was just through using octaves & open notes together that it sounds like that, but those are the sounds I like & want. It just makes the song feel fuller despite the handicap of a lack of another guitarist. I feel both my hands work together. I couldn’t choose one over another.

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

Matthew – I always set myself up. I can get very OCD about people touching my guitar & amp. I just know how it runs & no disrespect to the sound guys & girls (most are just as OCD about their microphones & equipment), but I think it’s just a “thing” I have. It’s nothing personal, but it’s territorial. You end up caring about an instrument; it almost feels like jealousy when you see it being cradled by someone other than yourself.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Matthew – Standard tuning although I like to go Drop D every now & again & hope to experiment with Drop D turnings in our songs at a later date.

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

Matthew – I learned from tab, as it was just easier to see for me. That & chord sheets. Funnily enough none of Dutch Order’s songs are written out in tab form. They’re stored in my mind. The only paper in our jam sessions are lyrics.

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

Matthew – It’s quite high. Again a control thing. My guitar hangs I front of my navel; it’s not Beatles high, but high enough so that my hand & arms are comfortable.

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

Matthew – Swearing. You’ll see me utter an expletive on stage when I make a mistake.  I’m hoping to conquer this by not making a mistake. It may take some time...

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

Matthew – Bass helps. The fret board is longer so it helps you stretch & it’s simpler if it’s a 4 string. It helps work out some catchy riffs. The best instrument to learn basic guitar though is a Classical Guitar. Thick necks & nylon strings. It is a pain, but it really does help you shape those chords & become a better guitarist.

QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you cant?

Matthew – Classical. All those weird chords & complex pieces. Would love to be able to just play it.

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

Matthew – To be tutored in guitar. Could never afford it.

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

Matthew – How bending or pulling the fretboard can create a slight whammy bar effect. It looks kinda cool in an odd destructive way too!

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

Matthew – Capo. I love using it to help me find new areas on the guitar to play. We use it in one of our songs so far with Dutch Order.

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

Matthew – Tapping. I have it figured, but not as well as I’d like. Only just to prat about with, I don’t think I would have a use for it in our music.

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

Matthew – Not from a professional, but from a mate. It was more about simple things, understanding tab & playing simple riffs.

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

Matthew – To not be afraid to experiment. To understand that if you find a limitation, to try & exploit it.

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

Matthew – Keep it simple stupid. My guitar & amp are cheap but versatile. Put the practice in & don’t be afraid to do something others may not like. Some of Dutch Order’s songs I don’t like. Each band member likes & dislikes songs. There will always be someone who likes something you may not. If you helped create it & it felt right at the time, the music is right, it may not be to your taste but in the same way it is still a part written by you & created by you & is a part of you. Live with it.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Matthew – I would only use them for fun. But I hate how they mess with turnings & the Floyd Rose mechanism, although a God Send is an arse too!

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Matthew – Pretty much never.

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

Matthew – I would say that the rhythm guitarist is a glorified bassist (this is coming from a rhythm guitarist by the way), a lead guitarist is dead without one though. One thing we noticed in practice, the reason I keep solos to a minimum, is the fact that once a powerful, wall crunching rhythm has stopped playing & a solo starts, the music just dies. It may be a grand solo, but the music then misses that powerhouse behind it. The lead is only as good as the rhythm guitarist backing them up.

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

Matthew – No. I’ve heard bands with great drummers, great bassists, great vocalists & the rest just not being up to scratch. It sticks out like a sore thumb & it is a shame because you come away disliking the band because you only have one positive thing to say, “The X was good, but the rest of them were awful!” A band isn’t just about guitar, we were fortunate enough to get on & when people spoke to us they stated how we, “WE ALL PLAYED TOGETHER.” A BAND is a GROUP of PEOPLE. There is no “I” in “team” & none in “band”.

QRD – What famous musicians guitar would you like to own & why?

Matthew – Nuno Bettencourt’s N7. He is just amazing & I would worship that guitar! I would make an altar for it & everything!

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

Matthew – In terms of, who influenced me most lately, it would be Daniel Kessler & Paul Banks from Interpol. Their weird rhythms & weaving guitar harmonies are magical & surreal. I don’t really listen to the radio much because there is not much to listen to. I would say the best guitar work comes from the 70s, such as Queen.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Matthew – There are snippets on our website: www.dutchorder.co.uk Or you can search for us on YouTube - Just type in Dutch Order & we have a good few gig videos set up there.

QRD – Anything else?

Matthew – I would like to take the time to say thank you to those who are supporting Dutch Order & have made it what it is, not forgetting those who play alongside me on stage, Kesby, Terry, & Steve. Love you guys! & much love to the fans! Also thanks to my family for their support through personal trials & their support with the band & care & for purchasing my first instruments. Also much love to my partner Aneta, for her work with the band & for taking the time out of her life to support my & the other guys dreams.