An Obsession With Fuzz, Reverb and Japanese Guitars: Gear Talk With HYLA

By September 15, 2017Guitar, Interviews, Pedals

Perth shoegaze/dream pop band HYLA are fresh from releasing their brand new record, Osaka. Written and recorded in Japan by chief songwriter Alex Hayes, the LP’s ten tracks pull together streams of textural guitars and emotive atmospheres.

We caught up with Hayes to see what kind of gear we was using on the record, some of the makers he’s been vibing on and a love for fuzz, reverb and Japanese guitars.


Fresh from releasing their brand new LP, Osaka, we caught up with chief songwriter from Perth shoegaze bands HYLA to chat subtle textures and caverns of reverb.

Hey Alex. Can you run us through what’s on your board at the moment?

I always try to have a mix of few reverbs, delays and fuzz pedals. Just to keep options open and blend a few different sounds depending on the song. Im using a Neunaber Seraphim shimmer reverb, an old boss RV-3 and a Digitech RV-7, which has a reverse reverb function that I use a lot, I’m also using a TC flashback delay that has some warm sounding analog delays on there. Fuzz-wise, I use an old MJM Foxey Fuzz, a Baa Bzz (Roland Bee Baa clone) and my favourite, the Repeater fuzz (clone of the old Vox repeater) by a Danish company called Reuss, they’ve been making some pretty awesome pedals, like a custom Warren Ellis fuzz, recently.

How about guitars and amps?

I have an MIJ Jaguar and CIJ Mustang that I picked up secondhand in Tokyo. I’ve put some Antiquity Seymour Duncan pickups on them and mastery bridges. Amp-wise I love a good JC-120 but have never actually owned one. For the live shows I normally use a Fender Twin or Deluxe, occasionally an Ac30.

What are we hearing on Swam Out – all those washy textures are fantastic?

Thanks. It’s a real blend of few rhythm guitar tracks with multiple reverbs on them, some subtle reverse guitar in there and an Analogman chorus pedal. We also had my friend come in and play a cello from the 1700s so it all blends warmly and works together I think.

What was the first pedal you bought?

A Boss DD-3… saved up for it. I think mostly as I was recording at home with an old 8-track that had built in distortion but no delay effects and I was trying to make looping tripped out sounds.

What’s your favourite pedal under 100 bucks and why?

If you can get an old cheap one, I’d have to say a (ProCo) Rat. They are just brutal sounding and the sound of a lot of my fav records.

What do you have on your board at the moment that really shapes your sound?

I’d have to say the Repeater fuzz. It has a lot of dynamics and can cut through a song. I also haven’t seen it around much or heard it on many modern records so I love having it in our music to make peoples ears prick up.

How do you approach your signal chain/routing?

I was always told fuzz and distortion first, but I’ve seen it done so many different ways, including by our other guitarist, and worked really well. I’d be interested to mix up the chain soon and see the result.

Do you switch pedals in and out often?

Probably more than I should. If I see something I like it has to get on there, so something inevitably gets demoted. I’ve had a lot of combos over the years but think I’m finally getting the right mix.

Is there anything you’re really hanging out to buy at the moment?

More so guitars over pedals, I’d love a Univox Hi-Flyer from Japan or something of that ilk. It would be great to have a vintage Japanese guitar as an option to offset the Fenders.

Who are some of your favourite pedal builders?

I’d love to get some Death By Audio pedals, and really like what Reuss Effects do, and bigger companies like Strymon make some really classy sounding pedals also.

Do you have any particular ethos when it comes to using guitar pedals?

I guess it would be to serve the song. It’s a slippery slope with effects and I guess excitement can detour from the collective sound. So I’d say, try everything, but keep it subtle and classy.

If you had to cull your board down to two pedals, what would they be and why?

The Seraphim verb and the Repeater fuzz, because I could still get through a set! The others add a lot of texture and some icing but those two are the foundation of the sound.

Do you have any pedal heroes or other artist who you feel really nail a sound through their rig?

The nerd in me would say the Kevin Shields, Billy Corgans and Trent Reznors of the world – those guys who can make big soundscapes. But I’ve been really enjoying modern bands like the Raveonettes and DIIV where you know who it is immediately based on unique guitar tones.

Check out HYLA’s new record, Osaka here – out now via LXVI Records.

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