The Pedals And Effects 5, builders series, concludes this run with the guys from WMD - William Mathewson and Alex Anderson. We were hoping to get Denver's other builders, Luis and C-Freddy from Mantic Conceptual to close out this segment too but they always forget to email their questions back to us!
I have known WMD's big cheese, William Mathewson, for years. He was one of the first interviews I ever did for Pedals And Effects. He came to 5 Starr Sound Labs when I only had half of my gear in there and three lights and he was the only employee at WMD. I have hung out with William several times in his home town of Denver either when I was there with the Mars Volta or Deltron 3030. Always a fun hang!
WMD is known to make the gnarly stuff for us sound freaks. He was the first ones to really come out with a perfected bit crusher, the WMD Geiger Counter. William sent me one and I would use it when I wanted to get a distortion that frightened everyone. I then realized the Geiger Counter sounded even better on drum machines and synthesizers which made sense why he has been spending a lot of time on building synthesizer modules for euroracks. His mind works well in all things in sound creating!
Alex Anderson works with William at WMD and knows the ins and outs of all things WMD. He has been on Pedals And Effects before with William too. Alex plays in a synth-pop groovy band called Rose Quartz and has a penchant for singing through guitar pedals. William's been a bit preoccupied lately as he recently messaged me saying "... well I found my Big Muff the other day..." they felt it was better to have Alex do The Pedals And Effects 5 and so here it is!
1. What is your number one/go-to pedal on your pedalboard and why?
Some might cringe when I say this. Akai Headrush - I love long, clear delays for repeating the mess I make with other pedals and/or whatever instrument I'm using. It's nice that I can loop, tap tempo, and create huge swells all with one pedal and different styles of playing.
2. What is your favorite combination of pedals? It can be a combination of 2 pedals or multiple pedals!
Vocals/organ/Synth>EQD Organizer> WMD Protostar with a BOSS DD-3 in the FX loop > Headrush. Looking to get some Old Blood Noise pieces in there asap as I'm stoked on the pitch and mod options they've been doing. Cant get enough delays into reverbs into more delays hahaha.
3. When did you realize a pedal(s) could evolve your playing/sound and what pedal(s) was it?
Around 2009-2010 I started playing with a feedback looper after being introduced to Holy Fuck and A Place to Bury Strangers. I got a TBD from Devi Ever and my life/playing style was changed forever. I'd been playing guitar for probably 10 years and already had a slew of pedals but when I started using feedback, I started touching the guitar less and the pedals more. Pedals are my style now. So much so, that I put them on a table and started playing synths and singing through them instead of guitar all together. I find a lot of pedals sound the best as their knobs are turned so I make that as easy as possible now. Also, Roland TR-707 through the fuzz section of the TBD opened huge sonic and mental doors for me. And the Whammy in a feedback loop with some gain? Damn. Game over.
4. In the future, what would you like to see pedal builders create (from scratch) or modify on an existing standard?
More pedals with CV options so they can interact with Eurorack modular synths and other pedals. We're doing it at WMD but I'd love to see more companies get on board so you can affect controls of one pedal with another... I mean, think of the possibilities... and all the cables. Less MIDI, more CV.
5. What advice can you give to musicians who are trying to expand their musical horizons with pedals and effects?
Firstly, don't try and sound like some one else because you aren't. Secondly, forget everything you've learned to be or have been told is "right" when it comes to the order of pedals in a chain. When you're starting out, use one pedal at a time and get a grasp for what it is doing to your sound. Then when setting up a chain of pedals, think about what will happen when you have multiple pedals in the chain on. Sometimes it sounds rad to distort before modulation, others its nice after. What is the 2nd pedal in the chain going to do to the first and vice versa. There is no right, just preference. Try shit out and if you hate it, think about why and fix it.
Oh yeah, don't forget to have a good time.