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QRD #61 - Guitarist Interview Series Part VIII
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about this issue
Guitarist Interviews:
Alan Bishop
Grégory Duby
Nathan Joyner
Nick Jonah Davies
Claudia Gregory
Matthew Filler
Julien Ottavi
Chris Brokaw
Andrea Vascellari
Jeff Barsky
Chas McKeown
Jean D.L.
Adam Cooper
Chris Summerlin
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Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Nathan Joyner
Guitarist Interview with Nathan Joyner of Some Girls
April 2013
Nathan Joyner
Name: Nathan Joyner
Bands: All Leather, Secret Fun Club, Some Girls, Hot Nerds
Websites: Hotnerdsmusic.com

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

Nathan – My first guitar was an Epiphone bass.  I didn’t want to play bass anymore, so I sold it for a Yamaha guitar.

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

Nathan – It varies from band to band depending on the sound I’m going for.  My last band I used a 70s Ampeg SVT into a Hughes & Kettner 2x15 & an Ampeg 8x10 with a slew of pedals.  Mostly Line 6 modelers.  If you double up on them you get a not so typical sound that people familiarize that pedal with.  Now I use a Hiwatt Hi-Gain 100 into a Marshall JCM 900 cabinet with a slew of doubled up pedals.  Sometimes just straight into the amplifier.

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

Nathan – The whole enchilada.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Nathan – Hiwatt, because it’s the only one I own.

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

Nathan – A 76 Les Paul Custom 2nd.  The features that make it such are that it’s the only one I own.

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

Nathan – It would look like a Les Paul, but with no tone or volume knobs & only one humbucker in the bridge position.

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

Nathan – I suppose it would be a synth pedal & a pitch shifting pedal with a touch of ring modulation.  Then I wouldn’t have to buy separate ones or carry a pedal board.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Nathan – One.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Nathan – I store it in the case on its side next to my side of the bed.

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

Nathan – Affordability.

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

Nathan – That it plays well & easy.  How heavy it is.  I once heard a guy say, “As long as it has a BITCHIN’ headstock,” so now when I look at them I laugh at the headstock.  I don’t shop for guitars that much since I can’t really afford the ones that I like or want.

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

Nathan – Depends on the guitar & the sentiment attached to it.  I can’t look at a guitar & put a $ figure on it.

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

Nathan – Customize it.

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

Nathan – I research pedals thoroughly.  I watch YouTube videos, which is usually some wanker setting it up in the most typical fashion.  So, if the most typical sound you can get out of it sounds cool then I’ll take it.  I don’t ever play them before buying them.  Otherwise I’ll get bored with it in the store & then I’ll just say forget it.  As for amps & guitars, I know what I like & want, so I’ll buy something that sounds shitty & take it to Top Gear here in San Diego & they will make it sound like I want it to sound.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Nathan – I usually change it with the band I’m doing at the time.  It keeps me learning & not getting stale in my sound.

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

Nathan – Yeah, I’m after a tone that doesn’t sound like a guitar.

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

Nathan – Travis Bean, Pigtronix, Moog, JCM 800s, JMPs, Hiwatts, I usually want everything but that’s extremely overboard.  I have a pretty extreme personality though.

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

Nathan – There should be a little man or woman that pops out & says, “Remember that riff when you’re older.  It will most likely sound better than the wanking around you’re going to be doing later on in life.”

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

Nathan – Worst: BC Rich.
Best: Everything after that.

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

Nathan – I like most any effect as long as there are two of each thing.  I like the way old things sound, so I tend to lean towards older amps & cabinets.   They just sound better... to me.

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

Nathan – “Shave & a Haircut.”

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

Nathan – 18ish.

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

Nathan – 24ish.

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

Nathan – I don’t know.  I guess it’s the one I’ve stuck with for the longest.

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

Nathan – No, I think people should learn to play the drums, kazoo, trumpet, saxophone, keyboard, piano, accordion, anything else before they pickup a guitar.  I really hate the way a “guitar” sounds.  So many people pick it up & make it sound like a “guitar”.

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

Nathan – It’s usually on the same page as I am.  It usually knows what I’m going for & doesn’t fight back too much. Yeah, we are good buddies.

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

Nathan – Sal Gallegos & John Rieder.

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

Nathan – Not at all, it draws a connection to it.  Everyone should have a relationship with their instrument.  A give & take.  Name that thing!  Then it’s not a thing anymore.  I named mine “Ol’ Dirty” like Ol’ Dirty Bastard because one of the silver tuning pegs broke off & I only had a gold tuning peg to replace it with, so now it has a gold tooth like Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

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

Nathan – I threw my Les Paul out of a back door one time.  It landed in some landscaped rocks & the neck broke. So I took it to Top Gear & they epoxied the neck & made it playable again.  It actually stays in tune much better than it used to & it stayed in tune pretty well before that.  Now it hardly ever falls out of tune, even slightly.

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

Nathan – I listen.

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

Nathan – Not enough. I would like to practice 168 hours a week.

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

Nathan – I was using a quarter for a while.  It gave the guitar this mechanical sound.  Now I just use a regular ol’ nylon .88 pick.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Nathan – 11-52.  I like the way they sound & the girth of the string itself.  If they are too small, I feel like I’m playing a toy. 

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Nathan – The last band I was in I hardly ever changed my strings.  I liked the way they sounded when they were dead.  It was a very dub sound & I found it helped with the tracking of my pedals.  Now I change them after a hand full of shows.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Nathan – I used to break them a lot when I was using a quarter as a pick.  Now I don’t break them very often.

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

Nathan – I tend to play percussively using both hands together at the same time.  If I had to play favorites, I’d say I’m not proficient with either hand.

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

Nathan – I send it to one-eyed Dan at Top Gear in San Diego.  He does the best work on my stuff.  He’s funny because he is so intense, but it’s hard to not stare at the miner’s cap he wears.  It has a light on top of it & his right eye doesn’t work all that well, at least that’s what we think.  He built me a bass VI one time.  It took him several years even though he told me it would only take him less than a year.  It was modeled after a Fender Telecaster with lipstick pickups.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Nathan – Drop D.  That’s just how I learned.  I’ve been looking for an alternate tuning for some time now, but haven’t found one that I am happy with yet.

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

Nathan – Right now I can only read tablature, but my girlfriend sometimes teaches me to read sheet music.  I would love to learn to read sheet music really well. 

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

Nathan – Navel area.

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

Nathan – I tend to play the same ol’ chords or notes that I like, then I realize I’m doing that & I re-work what I’m going to play into something I wouldn’t normally play.  I wish I just started off trying new techniques & ideas instead of going through the routine of, “you always go to that note or chord right away.”

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

Nathan – The drums.  I never really fully understood the way a guitar worked with other instruments until I fooled around with a drum set in the studio when I was younger.  Then I understood that what I was hearing in my head was the combination of the two together.  I think if a guitar player can play the drums, learning just the basics, then they’ll have a grasp on the whole spectrum of what a guitar can accomplish.  I play very percussively though, so that’s just my distorted view on that.

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

Nathan – I wish I could play like Sonny Sharrock or Grant Green.  Jazzy but still demented & not falling into just one type of genre.  I would love to incorporate elements of jazz into my technique or play like the guitarists in the Funk Brothers.

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

Nathan – I still haven’t learned those jazz techniques.

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

Nathan – How to make the strings wobble wobble like techno songs.

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

Nathan – A slide.  Sometimes I wish my fingers were made out of metal or glass, but just my elbow & leg are made of metal now.

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

Nathan – Jazz techniques.

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

Nathan – As a birthday present I got signed up for lessons from this guy.  He told me I could bring him any songs I wanted to learn & he would teach me.  So I brought him “Glass Museum” by Tortoise.  He told me I didn’t want to learn that shit & taught me AC/DC songs.  So, I learned how to play some AC/DC for one lesson, then never went back.

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

Nathan – You don’t need to learn to play the blues to shred.  You don’t need to practice scales to shred.  Just learn what you like.  If you want to play the blues & scales, then learn them & play them.  Most guitar teachers tell you that you HAVE to learn that stuff. I’d say just feel the music in the moment.

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

Nathan – Buy a guitar, some pedals, & be a little mentally unstable. 

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Nathan – They are great, when people don’t make them sound like a tremolo system.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Nathan – NEVER!  I wish I could remove them without leaving big holes in my guitar.

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

Nathan – One guitar is wanking off & the other guitar is bored.  I hate when people say LEAD guitarist.  Lead the way to the toilet so I can vomit.

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

Nathan – No, I usually listen to the drummers in bands.  Very seldom do I pay any attention to the guitar playing.  Most of the bands that I like, the drummers are really good & the guitar playing is unique. I might say, “That guy or gal is a great guitar player, but man does their band blow.”  I like bands that sound like a whole machine, not just some self-indulgent showcase of one instrument.

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

Nathan – Keith Richards.  I’d like to throw it off a rooftop & give it back to him.

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

Nathan – Bobby Bray, I don’t fully understand his approach to the instrument & the sounds he gets out of it are not typical guitar sounds.  His newer band called INNERDS is my favorite San Diego band.  It’s a two piece, a drummer (Brandon Relf) & Bobby playing guitar.  Every time I see it live, they blow my mind & make me want to go home & make my instrument sound like a caterpillar banging a hippo.  I love what he does with sound vibrations using a guitar.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Nathan – I don’t believe I’ve created it yet, but you can check out All Leather, Secret Fun Club, The BBC sessions of Some Girls.  I’ve played guitar on those things.

QRD – Anything else?

Nathan – Look both ways before crossing the street.