Sydney’s A.D.K.O.B conjure a provocative sound; one that is uncluttered, meticulously considered and creatively executed. Through what appear to be relatively simple means, the band manage to extract emotion out of every sound they produce, whether its a sampled vocal line or the curl of a guitar motif.
The band just released Helium, their second single for 2017, and it immediately blew us away with its oriental twangs and earworm vocal hooks. We spoke with the man behind ADKOB, Mark Piccles, about how they craft their sound.
We caught up with Mark Piccles, the man behind Sydney act ADKOB, to chat live setups, the importance of reverb and what went into crafting their new single Helium.
Can you run us through what’s on your rig at the moment?
Sure, I used to play an Epiphone Dot but just switched recently to a Fender Tele, and I use a VOX AC15 amp. Pedals I run: a BOSS tuner, MXR compressor, Belcat chorus, Belcat delay, a [Zvex] Lo-fi Junkie and a Biyang Tri-verb. Some very cheapo pedals in there but I like them/I’m a tight ass.
There’s some really interesting stuff going on throughout Helium – heaps of which doesn’t sound like guitar work at all. What gear are we hearing on the track – in particular those oriental twangs?
The oriental twangs are indeed an old Martinez acoustic guitar, a plucked melody that was heavily tracked and effected. There’s some violin-like sounds that are also just high electric guitar parts with heavy modification. Actually the only thing in the song that isn’t ‘acoustically recorded’ is the main keyboard line.
What was the first pedal you bought?
I got a Danelectro Slapback delay pedal. I still have it, but I’ve thrashed it and it no longer works.
What synths/controllers are you currently playing on?
I use a MPX-8 live to trigger samples I have made that we can’t replicate live. Jane plays a Roland RD-50 which is a pretty standard electric piano, with only a handful of sounds. We don’t have backing tracks, synths or laptops. We do it a bit weirdly.
What’s your favourite pedal under 100 bucks and why?
Most of my pedals are under $100! I used to use the Biyang X Compress, a compressor pedal which for $80 sounded so good but the build was a bit weak, so I switched to MXR. Perhaps my fave is the Belcat delay; solid build, sounds great, and I think is only about $70-80.
What do you have on your board at the moment that really shapes your sound?
Definitely the lo-fi junkie pedal. Not a cheap one, but the amount of sounds and ‘moods’ you can dial into it is endless. It’s a pretty dirty sound but I love it.
How do you approach your signal chain/routing?
I do dynamic stuff first, then spatial. As a mixer/sound person I tend to go the other way sometimes, but with my setup I put compressor in first after the tuner, and keep my reverb right at the end. I’m not actually sure what most do? That’s what I do after experimenting a bit.
Is there anything you’re really hanging out to buy at the moment?
The Pigtronix Rototron. Never tried one but heard many example vids, just seems like a nice wide pallet of sounds to play with. And Probably a Neumann U-47, or an AKG C12. It would be handy to have one of the best mics in the world.
As these wont happen anytime soon, I’m likely to buy a 500-series rack and start gathering 500 series units galore very soon.
Do you have any particular ethos when it comes to using guitar pedals?
Hmmm… I guess I think of it the same way I do writing a song, or playing a song on one instrument. Only use what serves the song, never use or do something just because you can. I have one pedal I use in 2 parts of 2 different songs for our whole set, and that’s it. Fine to have a million pedals, as long as they all serve a purpose, even if it is one verse of one tune.
If you had to cull your board down to two pedals, what would they be and why?
Probs gonna need the tuner, and then my Tri-verb. I’m nothing without reverb.
Do you have any guitar heroes or other artist who you feel really nail a sound through their rig?
Neil young, who I believe to this day runs a black Gibson Les Paul copy thing into an old tube amp that sounds almost broken. No pedals (maybe a tuner), amp overdrive, and his type of lead playing and soloing matches this dirty, untouched sound perfectly. A great example of individual expression. Props to The Edge from U2 as well, who is one of the greats at effect pedal utilisation and expression…though I would stop short of calling him a hero.
Check out more of A.D.K.O.B’s tunes on their SoundCloud.