Mike Baggetta joins a rarified cohort of guitarists—Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Eivind Aarset, and David Torn—where serious technical ability meets a mastery of sonics. His band mssv with bassist Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, The Stooges) and drummer Stephen Hodges (Mavis Staples, Tom Waits, David Lynch) has a new album out, so it seemed a good time to catch up. We talk about the difference between the first studio record, Wall of Flowers, and this one, and go deep into Baggetta’s bag of sonic tricks (check out the photos of his pedal setup).
I first interviewed Knox in 2014. He is a session guitarist who worked with the Psychedelic Furs, R.E.M, and others.. He toured with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Cyndi Lauper, and toured and recorded with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. In 2012, Knox moved from New York City to Berlin, where he plays and teaches. We talk about the move, his evolution from rock guitarist to a roots-meets-iPad artist and his new project with Eric Mingus, Bursting Blue Bone Bark. We also discuss the brilliance of Chris Whitley, his unlikely dragooning into becoming a cellist, and more. Check out the performance videos either before or after watching the interview.
I discovered Benn Jordan’s YouTube channel, Benn and Gear through the usual side panel recommendations on the platform. I quickly realized that he is one of the most interesting musicians around. A guitarist who plays upside down and makes extensive use of the Roland VG-99, he is into boxing and MMA, has toured for years as The Flashbulb, combining metal and jazz guitar stylings, electronics, and beats, done extensive music for advertising and museum installations, and has a wicked sense of humor.
Benn Jordan doesn’t actually tell you everything you need to know about MIDI guitar, though he gives you a fair introduction. But he pulls no punches in his review of the Boss SY-1000. His dismay at the presets is more understandable when, later in the review, you get to hear his own presets, which, unlike he Boss ones, sound more like something you might have heard in the last 20 years, and harness the emotive potential of synthesis in a way that the Boss presets fail to do.
One upside of sheltering in place is that it has given me time to get back to playing guitar through my Laptop/iPad rig. I posted some video snippets on Facebook, which prompted some questions about my setup. You can read about some of my earlier experiences here. But the time seems ripe to reveal the results of some improvements in both my technique and the technology.