with Mick Barr
Name: Mick Barr
Bands: Orthrelm, Krallice, Ocrilim, I Don’t Hear Nothin But the Blues, MNDLSBLSTNG, Barr/Shea/Dahl, Mossenek, Oldest
Websites: ocrilim.blogspot.com, ocrilim.bandcamp.com, mickbarr.info
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Mick – My first guitar was a no-name black electric guitar that my parents bought off a kid in the neighborhood. I don’t remember what exactly happened to it, but I’m pretty sure I destroyed it in some way.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Mick – For Orthrelm, improv, & solo shows my Gibson SG into a Metalzone pedal into whatever amp or PA system happens to be around. For Kallice my Gibson SG into a Peavey 5150.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Mick – Guitar. Sound will always be secondary.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Mick – The only amp I own is the Peavey 5150, which I use exclusively for Krallice. Reason being it sounds decent while playing chords with distortion.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Mick – Gibson SG Standard, probably from 1993. Nothing special feature wise, just the guitar I’ve played the most & feel the most comfortable with. The frets are nice & worn down, the action is nice & high. I’ve spent more time with it than anything else in the world.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Mick – I’ve always wanted a one-string guitar with a whammy bar. Like a vietnamese dan bau.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Mick – 2 of the same guitar. Gibson SG standard, one from 1993, one from 2008. The 2008 one hasn’t yet earned my respect, & is just a backup for travel & for different tunings.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Mick – At home. Both are in use regularly.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Mick – I wish hardcases had straps for carrying.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Mick – Ability to reach the higher frets with ease. & how loud it is when unamplified.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Mick – Just stuck with what I got from the beginning. Once you get used to the limitations of an instrument, it can help guide you.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Mick – I don’t usually buy things.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Mick – Almost never.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Mick – I don’t understand how to make a good tone. I prefer to let my bandmate & expert producer Colin Marston find the suitable tone for me.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Mick – I would love to own a persian tar.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Mick – Working tuning pegs.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Mick – My second Gibson SG in 2008. I’m still getting used to it, but I kind of wish I got something else.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Mick – The G string.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Mick – 13 years.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Mick – Still working on it.…
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Mick – It’s the instrument I learned how to write music on. I also appreciate its portability, versatility, & range.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Mick – Are we talking western culture? Music inclination should remain natural. So if getting a guitar first is the natural process, then by all means. I’m glad I didn’t start out playing clarinet. Though I would think that most people’s first instrument is a drum of some sort. Or just banging on the table.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Mick – Ally.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Mick – Mike from 1.6 band, Tony Joy from Universal Order of Armageddon, Piggy from Voivod, the Hoffman brothers from Deicide, Terrance Hobbs from Suffocation.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?
Mick – Totally acceptable form of behavior. I don’t have a name for my guitar, but Colin calls it “Old Yellar”.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Mick – I threw it on a half-pipe skate ramp & slid it up over the coping & right over the edge. It caught a nice bit of air. The knobs got pushed in. It never worked again.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Mick – Stretches & playing.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Mick – Jim Dunlop .88 guage grey. The right amount of flexibility. & I need that grip it has. Most picks are smooth & slip after 10 minutes of straight tremolo picking.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Mick – 12-52. Because they don’t break as much as 11-50.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Mick – Only when I break a string will I change it. Or sometimes before a recording.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Mick – Once every few months.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Mick – I try to never set it up. I don’t like changing anything on my guitar. Besides, being properly intonated is for the weak.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Mick – Standard mostly. Just started working with CGDAEE & digging it.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Mick – Tablature & recordings.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Mick – Maybe about a foot from my chin... not completely sure. High-ish, but not ridiculous.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Mick – Flamenco.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Mick – Playing for 24 hours straight. Or playing guitar underwater.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Mick – I had lessons when I was 13-14. I learned how to play a lot of Danzig songs. & how to do pick squeals.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
Mick – I would teach them to avoid learning music theory.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Mick – One should never try to emulate another’s style.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Mick – Whammy bars are fun as hell. But I’m glad I don’t have to deal with those systems. Seem like a pain.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Mick – Enough to not want to have it removed.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Mick – Lead guitarists have more of an ego.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Mick – Sure, might not be my favorite band. But if the guitar player has an original style, I’m usually intrigued. But that goes for original musicians on any instrument.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Mick – One of Cliff Burton’s Rickenbachers. Because I need a bass & Cliff is the reason I started playing music.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Mick – Diego Araujo from Infested Blood, Horror Illogium from Portal, Hasjarl from Deathspell Omega, Vindsval from Blut Aus Nord, & Remish. RIP Steeve Hurdle, one of the best ever!
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Mick – In their own imagination.
QRD – Anything else?
Mick – Guitar culture generally disgusts me. Avoid learning too much. In the words of my friend Brian Degraw, play guitar like you are banging two rocks together.