Good morning from Canada! We’re in Toronto today. We crossed the boarder late last night in full war paint and the poor confused boarder guard told us we’d have to write down every single piece of gear we were bringing into their country, so that on our way back out, they wouldn’t try to confiscate it. But that list got us thinking about what gear we’d literally invade Canada for to get back (Reverse Canadian Bacon!!!). Without further ado…
Top Ten Pieces Of Gear We Couldn’t Make Rock And Roll Without
I know top ten lists are supposed to be ordered by preference, but there’s almost no way we could rate these because they’re all equally valuable to us. So just check out the gear we couldn’t live without and just… order them yourselves or something.
10. Eventide H3000B Ultra Harmonizer
This is magic in a box. The successor to Eventide’s coveted H910 crown, this machine can jump through hoops you didn’t even know your jam needed to jump through. It also includes the “dual H910” trick that Eventide is famous for but one of our personal favorites is the “Stutter” effect. We first discovered it during the recording of “Due Vendetta” on Act I and we knew we could never make rock and roll without it again.
9. Oberheim OB8
We started realizing a couple of years ago that we had a bit of a problem… We can’t stop buying old synthesizers. This has always been the case, but in wrapping up the Cover Up album and starting down the path to Act III we really hit rock bottom. One of our proverbial scores in this low point of our addiction was the ever-classic OB-8. This thing is a powerhouse of brass, strings, wide pads and tough ass lead sounds… and we probably haven’t discovered half of the shit it’s capable of.
8. Emperor 2×12 Cab
The newest member of the Protomen (Shock Magnum) has brought with him a piece of gear we’ve found to be indispensable… his sexy looking (and super tough sounding) Emperor 2×12. This beauty was previously owned by Duane Dennison of Jesus Lizard and was used on their farewell tour in 2009. One of the last two of these cabs in existence, making it irreplaceable (unless we go take out the other guy…which we will if this cab ever gets destroyed).
7. Roland HS60
This may well be the synth that started the Protomen. Murphy Weller was cruising the local music shop in Nashville, not looking for anything in particular, when he leaned back into what turned out to be an old HS-60. It let loose a sound he’d never heard before. He left the store and tried to shake that sound from his brain, but it haunted him. A week later he walked back into the shop and laid his money down. This synth has been on all but a very small few of the Protomen recordings and has been on the road with us through every single show. Not many pieces of our gear can claim that.
6. Roland VP330
There’s a reason most vocoders you hear on old records sound alike, and it’s because they all used one machine. The VP-330. Roland has put out (and we’ve owned) 2 predecessors to this tough ass machine, each with it’s own quirks, but the original has both of the other incarnations beat by doing one thing and doing it perfectly.
5. Beyerdynamic M88
Back in 1985, Phil Collins played a couple of jams at Wembley Stadium for a little thing called Live Aid. He then packed up his only prized possession, his beloved Beyer M88, and flew across the world with that very mic in his lap to Philadelphia to play a completely coincidental concert happening there called…Live Aid. But in all the commotion following the U.S. concert, the mic disappeared. After a worldwide search lasting almost 18 years the mic was found by a little known guitar player named Heath Who from Murfreesboro TN. The Protomen formed instantaneously… the next day.
4. American Deluxe Stratocaster (Her name is DeLorean)
After years of using a sort of a shitty but well-loved frankenstein Squier Super Sonic, Sir. Robert Bakker finally clunked down some change to get a big boy guitar, and he never had a harder and more sustained boner in his entire life. With the addition of his some killer-sounding Lace pickups, he’s never looked back.
3. Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12
In an attempt to kick his addiction to old synthesizers, Commander went out and bought himself a shiny new one. The Prophet 12. This thing is a monster. There’s nothing it can’t do. In fact, we originally had our Prophet 5 on this list, but DSI’s 12 has really done the unthinkable and beaten out the 5 as our go-to synth for pretty much everything now.
2. Korg DSS-1
We discovered this gem right about the time we were writing Act II. It’s been on literally everything we’ve recorded since. It’s got an unbelievable amount of warmth and spaciousness given that it’s now a pretty ancient digital synth and the dual delays make everything sound incredible. It has a small but fierce following, including one fella who figured out how to upgrade it to, amongst other things, get it off those constantly failing floppy disk drives. Don’t tell anyone about it though, if the price starts going up, Commander might not be able to buy a 6th one for his collection.
1. TEAC Model 5A
One time we found a mixer (literally) in the trash bin. We pulled it out and took it home. We plugged it in and pushed some rock and roll through it. Clearly it was broken… but the sounds that came out of it were so magical that we used it anyway…a lot. If you’ve ever bought a Protomen record and thought your speakers were shot, that’s the TEAC. Unstoppable distortion fury in a box.
Did we mention The Protomen are on tour? And are in Toronto tonight? Check em out at one of the remaining dates:
Apr 20 – Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
Apr 25 – Boston, MA @ Middle East
Apr 26 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
Apr 28- Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
Apr 29 – Indianapolis, IN @ Emerson Theater
Apr 30 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies Live