Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - 30
What guitars and amps did you use?
My dad's '72 Gibson ES-355 is on a lot of the
album. Also, my Rickenbacker 12, my white
GVCG strat, and my '57 Les Paul Junior. The
blackface Princeton Reverb, for sure, and a '63
Vox AC30. I also used a new Hi-Tone amp and a
hand-wired Fender tweed Deluxe. Sometimes,
the Princeton and the Hi-Tone together for a
sweet stereo spread.
You're a known pedalhead. Did you use
anything new on the album?
There are lots of Jext Telez pedals on here
- a Dizzy Tone and Uni-drive, especially. The
fuzz on "Trafalgar Square" is an old Mosrite
Fuzzrite and the '57 Les Paul Junior with the
Tone all the way down. The song "Rare Birds"
is interesting in that we kept my garage-band
solo, improvised first take in Joshua Tree, then
dropped that into the new full-band recording
and re-amped the gnarly fuzz that started as my
GVCG Tele into a Shin-Ei Companion Fuzz. I
also collect Tone Benders, and there are quite
a few of those on it, quite a bit of Catalinbread
Ecorec, and my Mu-tron.
You have a Jext Telez signature Canyon
Climber Fuzz. How did that come about?
iven his busy career as a player and indemand producer, it's not surprising that
singer/songwriter Jonathan Wilson needed
more than three years to complete his new
album, Rare Birds. When you're in the studio
with the likes of Father John Misty and Roger
Waters, well, your own stuff is bound to take
a backseat. For Wilson, it was all good.
The album feels like a new chapter.
There's a noticeable shift from the sound
of your first two.
I agree. It's a collection of songs, sound, and
lyrics that I 100-percent like. There's literally
not one moment I do not know intimately or
that's devoid of purpose. Every note is there
for a reason. I've never been this informed
about an album I've made.
There's less folk influence, more keyboards. How'd that happen?
A lot of songs started from piano. I got an
old Steinway grand where I sat writing and
recording demos. But every song came natu-
You worked with Roger Waters on his
new album and now you're in his touring
band. How did you two connect?
rally. We started with 22 or 23 and finished
almost all of them. There were many musical
ideas to try. I meditated on the results to find
the album in that music.
How did producing other artists while
working on Rare Birds affect the process?
First, I wasn't ready to start recording until
I had the songs I wanted. And then Roger
coming into my life was something that, while
unexpected, was an amazing process. Same
with (Father John Misty's) Pure Comedy.
Everything happened for a reason, and both
influenced Rare Birds for the better.
Where was your head during the creative
The album was so fun to make - very different from things I've done in the past. Every
night was a party, lots of people coming in and
out of the studio, hanging out, dancing in the
control room, field testing whether the tunes
stand the test of objective humans coming in
and listening. How could I make it fresh, fun,
free, and me? It took a while but I got there.
My friend Nigel (Godrich, producer of Waters' recent Is This the Life We Really Wanted?)
called because they needed a guitar player. It
was great fun, and I love the record. We began
recording in a large studio but eventually took
the project to my home studio, where the vibes
were more creative. I think Roger liked that
setting. He's absolutely amazing to work with
in that capacity, and as our friendship grew
and working relationship broadened, I began
to see what a genius he was onstage every
night. He lives in that live interpretation of
the music, the spectacle, the theater. He truly
pioneered the large-scale live rock-and-roll
show. It's a pleasure to play and sing beside
him every show.
How long will you be on his tour?
We'll be touring all of 2018, with my own
tours in-between. We'll do Australia, New
Zealand, and Europe for both my tours and
his, then South America later in the year. I'm
booked until late December. It's a lot to bite
off, but now's the time. - Kathleen Johnson
Jonathan Wilson: Kate Izor.
That developed from a lot of dialogue with
Bob Ebeling at Jext Telez, searching for the
perfect fuzz to represent the solos I've recorded
for albums. I often plug a fuzz directly into
a Neve or Telefunken mic preamp, then blow
it up and EQ it further. With the Canyon
Climber, that's exactly what we've created.