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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 Xavier Dubois
June 2012
xavier dubois
Name: Xavier Dubois
Bands: Ultraphallus, Y.E.R.M.O., solo, duo with writer/performer Vincent Tholomé.
Websites: www.ultraphallus.comproyectoyermo.blogspot.comsoundcloud.com/xavier-dubois

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

Xavier – An Epiphone Explorer; like James Hetfield. After a couple of days I returned it to the shop, as I was afraid it would be a bit too much metal. Then I took a bad Les Paul copy.

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

Xavier – Well, you already wrote it: guitar, a few pedals, an amp. It changes with every band/project. I just always keep my volume pedal, my Zvex Fuzz Factory & My Holy Grail close to me. When I play with the guitar on my knee like a tabletop guitar I really like my EBS Compressor. Very important, too: some non-musical objects like nails, some hex keys, a thin rope, a candlestick, etc.

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

Xavier – The guitar. But when it comes to doing noisier stuff, the objects I plug between strings are really important. Each one has its own sound particularities.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Xavier – A Laney 50w tubes head & one or two Marshall cabs. Why? I don’t know. I just found it years ago second hand & thought it would be a good amp. It is!

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

Xavier – Ultraphallus & Yermo: Gibson SG. Solo: Gibson SG & Larrivée acoustic. Love both of them!

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Xavier – Not that much. The SG, a Gibson Corvus too. The Larrivée. A Strat copy made in the 80s by Ibanez. An african guitar made with a gasoline can.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Xavier – Do you want my Visa Card secret code, too?

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

Xavier – The price isn’t always a good sign. It depends totally on what you want to do! My Larrivée was a serious purchase, but at the same time I really enjoy to play on my cheap Ibanez Stratocaster copy & this last one was 150 dollars on ebay.

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

Xavier – I have absolutely no interest in customized guitars.

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

Xavier – As long as it’s necessary! I drove hundreds of kilometers to find some good acoustic guitars to test before getting the Larrivée.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Xavier – No!

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

Xavier – Both! Really.

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

Xavier – The electric Martin EM-18. But “lust” is a bit exaggerated. I really don’t pay that much attention to gear or old guitars & stuff.

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

Xavier – I always enjoyed the ones I bought.

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

Xavier – I’m a bit sick of the looping process. Everyone is doing the same thing: adding layers on layers. At the beginning it felt like something that opened tons of new possibilities, but I finally have that impression that loop pedals limit players. It’s pretty obvious in drone-based music. It has become such a lazy way to create something.… But it’s just my opinion. I also dislike most effects like phaser, flanger.... My favorite pedal “effect” is the volume pedal.

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

Xavier – Usually a D chord. Don’t know why!

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

Xavier – 14 years old.

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

Xavier – Those last years as I started to play in very different context/bands. Since I’ve been giving solo shows I improved a lot of things, too. Acoustic playing helps a lot to improve yourself, too.

QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?

Xavier – No. That would be silly! Any instrument is good.

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

Xavier – It’s a TOOL. To achieve something.

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

Xavier – So many...! Marc Ribot, Keith Rowe, Jack Rose, Billy Gibbons, Michael Chapman, Fred Frith, Creston Spiers....

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

Xavier – It’s just their choice. There’s no natural attitude in it.

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

Xavier – Using metal & steel objects made a lot of scratches. But it’s not the big deal!

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

Xavier – A lot of stretching.

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

Xavier – I would say around 10. I’d like to do that twice a week. But the quality of practicing has nothing to do with “how many hours.”  I think.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Xavier – Pretty light: 10/46 on electric - 12/53 on acoustic. I’d prefer to use a bigger gauge, but I can’t as I really need suppleness, thanks to the shit tendonitis.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Xavier – It depends of how many shows I have in a row! I’d say two times per month.

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

Xavier – As I use a lot of repetitive patterns & melodies & have been working mostly on chicken-picking/hybrid technique these last few years, I would say my strumming/picking right hand.

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

Xavier – Stringed-instrument maker, especially for the acoustic.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Xavier – Standard, drop-D, open C & open G. I like both of them & each one helps me to discover new things. It also prevents me from getting bored & keeps the playing exciting.

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

Xavier – When it comes to write my ideas I use a small notebook. Not very standard!

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

Xavier – Well, like normal people: that means I don’t have it at my knee level like punk bands but neither right below my mouth like nerdy poppy players. When I play solo I always sit.

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

Xavier – Oh! There are so many! Too many to mention it.

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

Xavier – I really think that any other instruments can teach you something whatever you play.

QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?

Xavier – I’m happy with what I do. If I want to play some new stuff I’ll work on it until I can use it in my own music.

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

Xavier – Playing sweeping shit like Steve Vai. But I was 17!

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

Xavier – I try to avoid tricks like pestilence. Really. Leave tricks for the circus!

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

Xavier – Every object I use, mainly between strings.

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

Xavier – That “notes are only 5 % of the job”(Marc Ribot). He said that in his documentary The Lost String.

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

Xavier – NO!!!! People who do that are DUMB! I NEVER listen to something just for the guitar.

QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?

Xavier – Nothing comes to my mind.

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

Xavier – Derek Bailey, even if he’s dead. That won’t change.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Xavier – On my next solo record, I guess! I’ll record it this summer in July. Can’t wait.

QRD – Anything else?

Xavier – Isn’t it enough?