Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - 91

Which amps do we hear on the album?

I used the Marshall Astoria I've been touring with. I usually had three amps running
at the same time and they each possess their
own tonal character, but I used a Vox AC30
a lot, and whatever Marshall was around - at
Blackbird Studio there was an assortment
of early-'70s models, so I put one in and ran
it through a 4x12 Marshall cab. And then
there's a boutique amp from a company out
of the east side of Detroit, called Bletchley.
It was really interesting. Bletchley amps are
similar to Marshalls, but they've got their
own thing. I used that on the album, as well.
And it's actually my current touring rig here
and the Astoria and the Bletchley.
Any other amps make it on a song or
two?

Yeah, there was a tweed Fender we used
on one. I can't name the song yet, but if it's
pretty easy to tell if you listen for it - we didn't
blend any other amps with it.
Did you use any pedals?

There's an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail
reverb I use sometimes. It's really good, real
simple. And there's a Jext Face by Jext Telez,
which is a really fuzzy, crackly kind of distortion pedal I used to get a unique tone for
an outro solo. Other than that, there really
weren't many.
What's the story with your two '61 Les
Pauls?

I was given both by Andrew Yonke, the
CEO of Chicago Music Exchange. The first
time we played in Chicago, we were hanging
out there and I spotted a guitar in a framed
display behind glass. I was like, "What is that?"
and he goes, "It's a '61 Les Paul." He took it
out and handed it to me. It was one of those
magical moments where I started playing
things I didn't know I was capable of playing
because it was brilliant guitar. I think he was
impressed, and he asked if I would take it for
a while on tour. So, yeah, I did, and eventually
it was just, "That's your guitar now." It was
amazing; he later gave me another.
My first real electric guitar was an SG
Classic with P-90s, and I used it a lot, so I'm
familiar with the body shape, the neck, and
the way the whole thing feels and plays.

he youngest member of GVF,
Sam Kizska taught himself to
play not only bass, but being a
fidgety workaholic led to picking up guitar, steel, keyboards,
drums, mandolin, Hammond organ,
harmonica, ukulele, saxophone, autoharp, and whatever else was called
upon in making the music.

Jake Kiszka on the '59 Martin D-28 at Blackbird Studios.

Sam started by learning licks created by
the legendary James Jamerson at Motown,
and he's equally influenced by familiar
names like Bruce, Jones, and Entwistle.
His tastes are broad; his favorite composer
is J.S. Bach, who he credits as, "an amazing
bass player with melodies second to none."
Belying his place in the birth order, he's
also the most erudite of the bunch.

range of music that we're interested in, but
haven't even touched on yet in terms of creating songs. But I think we achieved another
few dimensions on this album.

Fans are clamoring for the new album;
what can they expect to hear?

It's a really old, beat up, metallic-red
Fernandes Precision copy. It's actually quite
nice to play and has a unique sound. It's
Japanese, so the pickups are quite a bit hotter.

Well, at one point we were in a cabin at the
top of a mountain in Tennessee. We wrote
a few of the songs there, just us four, and
had all the equipment set up in the living
room with a fireplace, doing demos. So,
we indulged in a couple of tunes that are
a little folkie and a bit more mellow. We
experimented with rougher-edged rock and
roll, and also tried a few ballad-y songs. We
captured some great stuff, and wrote some
pretty good songs.
I think there's a like-mindedness and
maturity you can definitely hear between
where we started and what we have now.
Is there an appreciation for the John
Denvers and Joni Mitchells of the world?

Absolutely, that stuff has a very special
place in all of our hearts. People might think
we sit on a bus listening to Black Sabbath
and the Stones, but that couldn't be more
wrong. A lot of the time, we're listening to
old country like Ray Price. We're listening
to Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, John Denver,
or folkier stuff like Joni Mitchell, Jackson
Browne... things like that. There's a wide
September 2018

91

VINTAGE GUITAR

Was bass your first instrument?

It was, yeah. My dad tried dabbling on
bass for a bit, but couldn't quite get it. But,
he kept it around in the basement. One day
I found it, and that was that.
What is it?

What sort of shape is the neck?

More Jazz Bass. It was interesting, because
after I played that for a long time, I got a Jazz
Bass and I played it for years. Then I got a
Seafoam Green Precision, and I couldn't
play it... Well, I actually did play it for a
whole tour, but it wasn't comfortable. It
wasn't what I wanted. I sometimes reach my
thumb around to fret a note on the E string,
and I wasn't able to do that very easily with
the Precision neck, so I took the neck from
my made-in-Mexico Jazz and put it on the
Precision, which is what I use now. It's my
main instrument.
Did you use mostly that one on the
new album?

Probably half of the album is that bass. But
a good amount was done on a '65 Precision
I used with the Tone control cranked up. It's
very, very smooth, and sits exactly where you
want to hear a bass in a mix. It's fantastic.
On at least one song - maybe a few - there's
a '72 Tele bass, with the one huge humbucker.


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