Call them progressive rock, experimental metal, post-metal, it doesn't really matter. What does matter; however, is that regardless of how one classifies the Keyport, NJ-based quintet, Seth Rheam (drums), Matt Lupo (guitar, vox), Greg Kuter (guitar, vox), Chris Alfano (bass, vox), and Ray Suhy (guitar) all came together to form some killer music, as perfectly evidenced by their October 29, 2013 10-song release, Redaction Artifacts. The album is a stunning display of both musicianship and songwriting, and fortunately for us, so as to better appreciate the album, Matt Lupo spent some time talking about some of his gear key.
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound? Lupo: Loop-Master Single Loop/Channel Switcher.
What about it makes it so important to you? Lupo: There is nothing glorious about this pedal. It doesn't turn your guitar into a choir of clouds or add 17 octaves. But it is possibly the most crucial pedal on my board. I use a 2 channel amp (Mesa F-100), but I really like to have a 3rd sound for medium overdrive. This pedal allows me to switch from distortion to overdrive in 1 stomp, instead of 2. Sounds simple but it really saves me a lot of tap-dancing on stage, which is great because I a) hate having to think about switching things and b) have almost fallen over several times while trying to change multiple pedals at once.
This Loop-Master does 2 things at once: changes channels on the amp (I had the F-100 modded to accept a 1/4" jack food switching from channel 1 to channel 2) and engages (or disengages, depending on how you set it) a loop. In that loop I keep my overdrive pedal. So I am both turning off my distortion channel and turning on my overdrive pedal with the one stomp. It's especially important when going from an overdriven part to a full on distortion part. It's about keeping the momentum and the build up going with no interruption.
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album? Lupo: It wasn't! In the studio I try to keep my signal path simple, and you can just switch channels by hand in between takes. What this pedal does is allow me to execute those changes live.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set? Lupo: We really try to stay faithful to the recording with our tones. That said, if something comes along that we like, we'll use it in the studio, even if we don't own it or can't use it live. For example, there was an old EHX analog delay (Deluxe Memory Man maybe?) that Acadia studios owned, and it just sounded better than my Boss DD-20 (which is really pretty great and versatile itself). It's a huge pedal, requires its own power supply, and I don't even own one, so it won't be incorporated into our live set anytime soon. But it's the type of thing that you just gotta use in the studio because it sounds so good.
What are the major pros and cons? Lupo: I can't think of any drawbacks to the Loop-Master. Would be great if it had 2 loops, as I've always toyed with the idea of adding a fuzz pedal to my rig. I imagine they would build one if I asked.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what? Lupo: I recently bought a second unit (different LED color so I can tell the difference quickly) in case it breaks.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it? Lupo: I think it's been 3 years now. I would only change it if I changed to a 3 channel amp.
Give us your best "gear goes wrong" story. Lupo: Guitar fire! During the last minute of a set I broke a string. I just pulled the string away to leave me room so I could improvise a part that worked on the other strings. Somehow that hanging string landed right in an open power strip on the stage and I saw this bright red streak just zap up to my headstock.
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear? Lupo: Loop-Master also has some great customer service and a ton of useful products like this one. Pedals like these don't get much attention, but they really make a difference. Convenience is key so that you can focus less on tap-dancing and more on enjoying playing your own music to a crowd of receptive listeners.