with Xavier Dubois
Name: Xavier Dubois
Bands: Ultraphallus, Y.E.R.M.O., solo, duo with writer/performer Vincent Tholomé.
Websites: www.ultraphallus.com, proyectoyermo.blogspot.com, soundcloud.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?