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QRD #55 - Guitarist Interview Series VI
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about this issue
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 Mick Barr
June 2012

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.