I recently had the opportunity to speak with drummer John Tacon of the New Jersey-based alternative band Brick + Mortar about the one favorite piece of gear in his arsenal. The duo has been carving out a niche and making a name for themselves through lots of hard work and touring, including having shared the stage with bands the likes of Anthony Green and making a statement at last year's Lollapalooza. Here is what Tacon had to say.
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound? Tacon: The Roland SPD-SX.
What about it makes it important to you? Tacon: It is essentially the third member of Brick + Mortar. It allows me to control the flow of the song and gives me countless options while performing and recording.
What are the major pros and cons? Tacon: The only con with this sampler is that you're not able to load samples using a USB stick or jump drive. But that's it. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. It comes with software that allows you to simply place the .wav where you want it, there's an on board EQ, and there's a feature to where you can trim the start time of a .wav right down to its origin, paving the way for perfect loops and one hits. The on board effects are pretty impressive, the unit has a click that can be routed to just the drummer or whoever else wants to hear it, the preamps inside the unit itself really accentuate the audio output, I mean, I can go on and on about how versatile this thing is.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, and would you ever change it? Tacon: I've been using Roland samplers for about 5 years now, but I first used the Roland SPD-S, but found that it had some limitations. So I have been using the SPD-SX for about 3 years. I use it when we are programming beats and melodies when recording, and it's a mainstay in my live setup. Essentially what we do is take everything that we do live out of the session, then break the song down into its parts (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, etc). I then assign those parts to pads that go in the order the song goes. I don't play to a click live, because the parts are already in time.
Any final thoughts on the gear? Tacon: I wouldn't be where I am now without it. It's helped me grow as a player and as a musician.