Anup Sastry Flips the Script: the Guitars Are Programmed but the Drums are Real

I was going to cover this Anup Sastry performance anyway because, as usual from the Skyharbor/Intervals/Jeff Loomis/session/etc drummer, the playing is off-the-charts kickass. Or kick the bass drum head. Whatever he’s kicking, he’s kicking it well. But here’s the thing: I went over to Anup’s Bandcamp page just to link to it and try to figure out which song off his new EP Titan he’s playing (the “about” text in the video makes it sound like a title track but it’s ambiguous), and there, in the liner notes, I found a phrase that set off my gear-dar.

“…all of the guitars are programmed. I’m a drummer, and I can’t actually fluently play guitar. I play and record my own guitar/bass samples using a real guitar/bass, and then I arrange these samples to form riffs.”

Now I should point out that the quoted text above is actually from the notes to his EP from half a year ago, Lion. However there’s a similar disclaimer when you click on his 2013 release, Ghost, and the production on those two albums sounds nigh-identical to Titan (which isn’t actually viewable on Bandcamp yet so I can’t check out the credits to that one). But regardless, I’m rather curious of his technique for programming guitars. They sure as hell don’t sound like midi. So I did a little research and found this thread on got-djent.com.

The info on there, including from people claiming to have spoken to Anup Sastry personally about it, lines up with my guess based on his wording and the sound of the recording: he’s sampling short phrases by recording a direct DI of an actual guitar, editing those phrases into longer riffs, and then sending that assembled performance into an Axe-FX II. This is damn smart, because the editing will be much more seamless if it occurs before the tone processing occurs. Of course, this is all speculation without a direct confirmation from the man himself. I may have to drop him a line about it. (UPDATE: Anup Sastry hit me up to let me know that my assumptions as to his methods were correct).

…Oh yeah, right, the drums. Sorry for turning a drum playthrough post into a rumination on recording guitar and bass tracks.

Anup Sastry’s Titan EP will be available for free on September 2nd.

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.