MASTODON’s BILL KELLIHER Talks Growing Up In A House Where Distortion Was Banned

Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher, like many other metal artists before and after him, has crafted a sound largely around distorted guitar. So it’s pretty crazy to hear that Kelliher’s dad was a hi-fi guy and didn’t really care for distorted sounds.


In an interview with Guitar World, Kelliher explains that he got around the household ban thanks to some ingenuity with an old Sony receiver and an MXR EQ. Frankly, it sounds like Kelliher was two steps away from a ’90s Norwegian black metal setup, but hey – whatever works.

“I was like, ‘Dad, I need distortion,'” Kelliher recalled. “And my dad being in the hi-fi business told me, ‘Well, Billy, us in the hi-fi business are trying to rid the world of distortion. We want a crisp, clear sound coming out of our speakers and our hi-fi gear. He didn’t believe in distortion. I had to figure out how to get distortion. I had an old Sony receiver that was from the late ’70s, I had two Advent speakers, a turntable, I had this little MXR EQ…

“I figured out how to plug my guitar into the EQ, into my tape deck, hold down the Record and Play button – so it was in Record mode, so it would pass the signal, but there wasn’t even a tape in there – press the Pause button and run signal through that. I got this crazy distorted sound that wasn’t unlike Greg Ginn of Black Flag, and that was my dude that I was looking up to at the time. I don’t know how I figured out these things but when you’re a kid and you want something, and you have ambition to get it, you make it happen.”

No comments

leave a comment