Rigged: Young And in the Way Guitarist Rick Contes

Growing up and learning about metal, I found a lot of black metal, generally, to be pretty silly. To me, costumes, facepaint, and lyrics about satan were just not scary. Now, music. That could be scary. And when done well, when the music took priority as opposed to an ethos, philosophy, or look, black metal could be frightening. When everything comes together – the visual style of an album, the production choices, and the actual riffs and compositions – black metal rules. Especially Darkthrone.


Now like everyone else, I’m excited that metal once again has a band like Young and in the Way. But although the band has gained notoriety in the last year or so for the intensity and majesty of their intense live show, what excites me about the band is less that they caused a venue to shut down, and more that their actual music is pretty frightening. It’s relentless. It’s gross. It’s got kind of a hardcore punk sneer to it, as if the band is throwing the middle finger at every genre that someone would say they are influenced by. It’s also got some rock and roll swagger, the sort of youthful abandon that reminds me of early Judas Priest or Thin Lizzy records.

I guess the word I want to use is gall. And balls. I think it takes balls to make a record like 2013’s When Life Comes to Death, which is rooted in such classic styles, but has such a bleak, modern punk attitude.

So we checked in with YAITW’s guitarist Rick Contes to learn more about how the band achieves their uncompromising sound. Thanks to Rick and Kara Perry for the photos and notes!

I’ve been playing guitar for about 20 years and have gone through a slew of equipment but it’s only been in the past 5 years that I’ve started to acquire the equipment that I most likely will never part with. For me, guitars need to feel good, amps need to be versatile and pedals are specific.

I have 3 guitars that I play regularly. Whatever I’m playing live is randomly chosen depending on what I’m feeling like.

Hamer Explorer XT Series  –  Awesome explorer style, feels great, one of my best craigslist finds. Picks up at EMG 81/85 set.


Edwards E-FV-85D  –  Edwards is a Japanese company owned by ESP. As far as I know, these guitars aren’t sold in theUnited States. Pick ups Seymour Duncan SH-1N and SH-4.


1978 Greco Les Paul Custom  –  Better than a Gibson for a fraction of the cost. Greco guitars were made in Japan duringthe “lawsuit era” of copy guitars. Pick ups were upgraded to Rio Grande Texas BBQ Humbucker set.




On the left is my Peavey VTM-120 through a Marshall 1960A cabinet.  On the right is my Sovtek MIG100 and Marshall 1960B cabinet. Both of these amps give me tone versatility and plenty of volume with high gain or low gain options. The Peavey VTM-120 has a unique feature called the Response Modifications which are basically additional options for Gain, High, Low and Mids. The Sovtek MIG100 is just an all around excellent amp. Tolex stripped and wood stained by a friend of mine.  I also own a Sunn Coliseum Slave as back up just in case if one of my amplifiers was to not work.


My pedal board is very basic – Distortion, Ernie Ball Volume Pedal, Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail, Chromatic Tuner. That’s it. I’ve got a few distortion pedals to choose from:


DISTORTION (from left to right)

Abominable Electronics Throne Torcher  –  Custom enclosure with YAITW symbol. Excellent HM-2 clone with additional mid knob.

Boss HM-2  –  The original.

Lone Wolf Audio Left Hand Wrath  –  The beast that I can’t get enough of. Amazing HM-2 clone with additional tone options. You can’t fuck with this one.


Occasionally I will use this delay/boost by Abominable Electronics called the Unholy Grail. Amazing analog delay and boost in one click.


Biggest Gear Regret: Selling my red knob Sunn Model T.


Written by

Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.

Latest comments
  • I approve.

  • Perfectly simple setup. Great choice for a Rigged column.

    • One can not simply go wrong with Abominable Electronics or Lone Wolf Fx.

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