Spotlight: Jake Vossler

I have discovered a disproportionate number of modern guitarists through their association with trumpet players. Maybe it is the direct inspiration of Miles Davis, with his relentless search for the new, but Arve Henriksen, Jon Hassell, Nils Petter Molvær, Cuong Vu, Steve Bernstein, Christian Scott, Michael White, Paolo Fresu, Paolo Raineri are just a small percentage of the trumpeters who have been involved in experimental music in the last few decades. Often working with forward thinking guitarists like Eivind Aarset, Stian Westerhus, as well as “Davids” Tronzo, Kollar, and Torn, these artists have made some of the most interesting, truly modern jazz around.

Now add to that list Los Angelino Daniel Rosenboom. His releases, Burning Ghosts and Book of Storms on his lable Orenda Records both feature avant/noise/death metal guitarist Jacob Vossler. Rosenboom has also released Vossler’s duo record with drummer Aaron MacLendon, Versus. Vossler gets so many great sounds and textures out of his instrument that it was a revelation to find out that he largely eschews effects and uses an amp that has inspired many an argument in the gearhead world.

What kind of music were you playing when you first became proficient on the instrument?

My first band was a death metal band called Wither. I was in that from ages 15-18. We sounded like early Carcass and Grave stuff. Then we retooled, had lineup changes, and started to sound kinda like Immortal’s Battles in the North album. I have always had a death metal band happening in some form ever since. Thornlord was my next band from 2000-2006. Now, it’s a band called Whale. I got into all types of metal as a kid and it stuck.

What led you to create more experimental (non-mainstream) music?

All of the bands I was into as a teenager were non-mainstream so that’s what I grew up admiring. I’ve always liked the stuff that’s subversive, wild, and hard for most people to handle. I love to listen to and play music with gigantic strange sounds. I love lots of mainstream music also, but my tastes allow me to go way heavy or way light—whatever I’m in the mood for.

Whose music inspires you? Past and Present.

John Coltrane, Morbid Angel, Junior Kimbrough, Napalm Death, Ivo Papasov, Miroslav Tadic, etc. I pull from everywhere. I get inspired by the musicians I play with in my Balkan music based band PLOTZ. I like Cuban, African, Indian—variety is the key.

How did you get better at your current style?

Live shows really propel a musician forward. Practice is of course essential but there is an energy to live performing that hones the player. Regardless of the style of music.

What are you trying convey with your music?

I’m just trying to be in the zone and connect with the other musicians. Trying to make magic is the goal. Things don’t always feel magical but that’s what all of us are after. You have a great gig and then you just want all of them to feel that great or better. In the music I play with lyrics, I try to paint a picture in the listener’s head and get a subtle sensation or vibe across.

Which guitars, amps, effects, plug-ins and software do you use to create your music, and why?

I play through a Fender “The Twin” amp with the red knobs. I’ve had it since I was 15. It was made in 1990 or so. It is awkward and heavy but it rules. For really loud stuff, I hook it up to a 4 x 12 speaker cabinet for a total of six 12″ speakers. Usually, I play a 1983 Fender Stratocaster that I’ve had since I was 12. I don’t normally use any effects or pedals. For drive, it’s just the distortion channel on the Twin. I have it on that channel all the time and use the guitar volume knob to get cleaner sounds. On a few records, I’ve used wah-wah, tremolo, or delay. I mostly just plug straight into the amp. I like to use slides with my right hand and I have scrap metal I like to fuck around with but no effects. On the Burning Ghosts album I just used my Strat and a guitar I assembled from random Jackson parts.

Which do you enjoy more: recording or playing live and why?

I’ve dug recording since I got my first four-track recorder. Layering tracks is really rewarding and allows me to compose for bands or just trip on the process. It can be entertaining to spend your evening recording ideas or creating a spontaneous sound collage. Seeing an album come to fruition is cool. But lately I really enjoy playing live the most. It’s that energy that keeps me coming back to it. I love to rehearse too. That’s how I interface with people. Almost all of my interaction with people is music related. I get the most excited when I’m on stage. You may not mean to get into it and then it happens again. I’m up there with my friends and it’s a hang.

How have you built up an audience for your music?

By playing live a ton. We find like minded individuals and bands that pair well and book shows. When you find a decent venue you keep booking it at regular intervals.

With whom would you like to collaborate and why?

I would love to collaborate with Hands On’semble. They are a world percussion trio who are my friends and colleagues. Something about playing over a base of pure textures and rhythm without pitch seems inviting.

What is your latest project? When will it be available and where can people in different parts of the world get it?

My latest project is Burning Ghosts. The line up is Dan Rosenboom trumpet, Aaron MacLendon drums, Richard Giddens upright bass, and me on electric guitars. Dan got us together to record the album last spring and we released it in May of this year. Its very fucked up music—I love it. You can get it from get it from Dan’s label Orenda records, or iTunes.

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3 thoughts on “Spotlight: Jake Vossler

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