2017 is probably the biggest year for shoegaze since 1996, what with Slowdive, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Ride all putting out their first records in over 20 years. In Australia too, the torch is being held by some excellent bands taking cues from these pioneers of the genre.
Brisbane’s Deafcult have just released Auras, their debut full length record following their 2015 self-titled mini album. An explosive collection of sweeping textures, choral guitars and a overhanging atmosphere of melancholy, it pins down all the traits of a great shoegaze record and wrangles them into a refined pop package.
We spoke to guitarist Stevie Scott about how they balance the band’s four guitars, and what constitutes the perfect shoegaze rig.
Chatting to Brisbane shoegaze 6-piece Deafcult about balancing a four-guitar assault and all the sweeping textures found on their new album Auras.
Can you run us through what’s on your board[s] at the moment?
On my board I have various fuzz pedals, right now an Earthquaker Devices Hoof, Thorpy Fallout Cloud and a Tym Op Amp Big Mudd, they all run through a hall setting on Hall of Fame reverb. For the ambient part of the board I have a EHX Superego, Earthquaker Devices Afterneath and a Matthews Effects Astronomer.
Matt uses a rat and a Synth9, he gets his other effects from a Boss MS3.
Innez uses a Tubescreamer and an Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander. For the more ambient parts she uses a Walrus Audio Descent and an EHX Holy Grail.
Kelly uses an EHX Big Muff, a Small Clone and a Strymon Big Sky.
Al gets his sounds from a Dangerous Man Fuzz and a Boss Sustainer Compressor.
There are just so many great guitar sounds on Auras – everything just weaves so nicely together without competing too much. What are we hearing on Summertime?
Thanks a lot! The key to making it work is the simplicity and honestly accenting what’s already there. We start of with a loud rhythm guitar and listen for all the harmonics and ghost notes in that part and that’s what the other guitars play. It writes itself!
Summertime is actually one of the most straightforward songs on the record. The key to that song is actually the acoustic guitar. It gives a percussive drive and upbeat feel.
What was the first pedal you bought?
The first pedal I ever bought was a Rat Distortion pedal. I used it for about 15 years! I recently stopped using it and started using Muff style pedals for the mid scoop. It just seems to allow more room for everyone else.
What’s your favourite pedal under 100 bucks and why?
Can you even get pedals for less than $100 these days?? Haha my favourite affordable pedal is the Zoom ms70CDR. Especially the Particle Verb setting.
What do you have on your board at the moment that really shapes your sound?
The Earthquaker Devices Afterneath is the pedal that I rely on the most. I use an Alesis Midiverb ii when we record for that melting, bending, blurred sound. The Afterneath is the closest I’ve found to replicating that sound in a portable way for touring.
How do you approach your signal chain/routing?
I stack a lot. So the chain is really important. The Hoof Fuzz has the most volume so I like to cascade the Big Mudd into that for really noisy sections. Same with all the reverbs – the Afterneath is at the end and often I’ll use all of the reverbs with the superego in front to get a synthy pad sound.
Do you switch pedals in and out often?
Hahaha all the time! A shop called Pedal Empire opened up in Brisbane and I’m there every couple of weeks. It’s a problem! My fuzz pedals change all the time and sometimes I add other effects depending on how I’m feeling that week.
Is there anything you’re really hanging out to buy at the moment?
We played with White Walls recently and Dylan was using a Death by Audio Fuzz War. Now I need one! I also borrowed a Hiwatt amp from them that now also seems like a necessity.
I also want to build on my Earthquaker Devices collection.
Who are some of your favourite pedal builders?
I’d have to say Earthquaker Devices. I was a big fan of Jamie Stillman’s music for years and I love that he makes pedals that inform how you want to create music.
Do you have any particular ethos when it comes to using guitar pedals?
It’s good if it’s small and I can have more room for other pedals, and it has to last on the road.
If you had to cull your board down to two pedals, what would they be?
Earthquaker Devices Hoof and the Afterneath.
Do your pedals influence what amp or guitars you use, or vice versa?
Yes definitely, the amp has to be loud and clean. The way we play dictates that I need a Jazzmaster style tremolo arm and all my guitars have a Mastery bridge too. That is super important. It’s a combination of all those things that makes the specific sound.
Do you have any pedal heroes or other artist who you feel really nail a sound through their rig?
Check out Deafcult’s new record Auras on their Bandcamp.