New York foursome, Black and Blue lie somewhere at the cross section of indie and alternative rock, but also with splashes of both R&B and funk seasoning thrown in for good measure. With their new latest four-track EP, Object of Desire, slated for release on July 27th (keep an eye on their .com for pre-order info), we wanted to become better acquainted with the group and their sound. In this Geared Up interview we speak with guitarist Liam Murray about some of his key equipment, plus happily get to premiere the new single, “High Friends in Low Places”.
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound? Liam Murray: Saying that one piece of gear single-handedly creates my signature sound would be like saying that one of my appendages defines me as a person. For my guitar tone, at least, my pedalboard is what differentiates it from the millions of other tones out there. Although it’s made up of a bunch of different pedals, the board has become a machine in itself. The multitude of its effects can be wrangled into creating what I think of as my signature sound.
What about it makes it so important to you? Murray: The fact that (probably) no one else has the same combination of pedals on their own slab of wood. My individuality can shine through my speakers! At the risk of sounding like a psychopath, it’s pleasant to have an army of little machines that I know exactly how to manipulate to get what I need from them.
Remember, the Object of Desire EP is due out on July 27th!
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album? Murray: Every guitar track came through that board. There was very little, if at all, meddling with the tones that were produced by my rig.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set? Murray: That might be the easiest thing we do. When we recorded the our EP, we focused on capturing the same energy that makes our live shows special, which meant staying as true as possible to our live tones. There’s nothing to recreate there.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what? Murray: I wish. As a young and practically broke musician, I have one guitar, one amp, and one pedalboard. If any of those are out of commission, then so am I.
Check these two slick pics of some of Liam Murray’s gear!
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it? Murray: Ever since I got my first Big Muff, I’ve had a mild obsession with collecting guitar pedals. The ones I don’t sell become a part of the board. A couple years ago I built the wooden board itself from scratch and started to assemble the ever-changing system of effects that is my rig. I have a few permanent residents: My Caroline Meteore reverb and Mr Black Overdriver, but the pedals around them will change from time to time to suit my needs and taste.
Give us your best "gear goes wrong" story. Murray: I almost never make mistakes, but during one fateful gig I forgot to soundcheck my new and very strange delay pedal (Montreal Assembly Count to Five). During the bridge of a particularly dreamy song, I switched it on and opened a portal to a much more dissonant dimension, from which a plethora of unpleasant sounds originated. Always the professional, I left it on for the rest of the part and acted as if it was all part of my grand plan. I looked over the audience with a cool and confident smirk as they stared back in horror.
Tell us about the “High Friends in Low Places” and how you recorded this particular song? Murray: “High Friends in Low Places” is a pseudo funk song about, well, rampant drug use among our teenage friends. All of the guitar in the song was recorded straight from the amp, with the only effect being a bit of onboard reverb from the deluxe. After the initial recording, we decided to double track the guitar. I ended up playing the part the exact same way and, with some panning, we ended up with a clean chorus sound that we all thought fit the song perfectly.
We know you’ve been waiting for this... here’s the premiere of “High Friends in Low Places”.