Ludwig 9-piece Power Kit. 6x9, 8x9, 10x9, 12x11, 13x12, 14x13, 16x16 Floor Tom, 22x18 Bass Drum. 9 ply maple construction.
"I find the volume from the kit is incredible, but the sound isn't very clean. It's difficult to tune the kit by the old-fashioned method, and if any of the toms are tuned to a note that's being played by the band you get a lot of resonance. I can get away with tuning them slightly off though."
"I've tried a Simmons Kit and I like the sound, but the feel isn't too pleasing. It's some kind of plastic, and although the kit is touch sensitive you can't play it with the same feeling as you would a conventional kit. It doesn't give any response to the stick, and I like to feel that."
"For live miking we have to use whatever is available. In the studio we use AKG overhead mics on the power-toms, and usually directional mics above and below the snare. At Abbey Road studios we use Neumanns, and sometimes use top and bottom mics on the toms as well. If we were using the whole kit on a song that would mean 14 mics, but we don't set the whole kit up if we're not going to use it all."
"I think the Linndrum is great, it's got an amazing sound but it's very distinctive - you can usually tell when somebody's using a Linndrum nowadays. I don't think it should be used to replace a drummer, because we don't try to imitate sounds using electronics. Even when we use the Mellotron with the Male Voice choir tapes it's not to produce an imitation of a choir but to use the Mellotron's own distinctive sound."
"Although I don't always use the whole drum kit on a song, I always do it in one take, without overdubbing rolls or other parts afterwards. The drum sound tends to be quite different from one song to another, from low down and clean to very raucous, like a cannon going off. We're not recording at the moment, but we're preparing for a tour in April."
"I usually use a Fender Telecaster with a Stratocaster neck. The Tele was mid-70's and the frets had worn down very badly. I couldn't afford to have it re-fretted at the time, and just by chance I came across a '67 Strat neck and put the two together. Since then I've had the job done again professionally. It seems to work well; I go for a good, modern sound which it is quite able to deliver."
"I used to have a Fender Twin Reverb which I put through an old Wem cabinet which produced a very good live sound. After that I moved on to a Fender Bandmaster, not because it was more powerful - in fact it's not a particularly powerful amp - but because it gave the sort of distortion I wanted at just the right levels."
"Technique is just as important as effects, but there are times when you need to introduce a bit of sustain to fill out a song. I've got a pedalboard which is mainly MXR effects. There's a Graphic Equaliser, a Compressor, an Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress flanger, a Selmer Treble and Bass Boost and a Big Muff fuzz. I've found the Big Muff is a bit excessive for the band's sound though, so I'm looking round for another distortion pedal. I may get the Boss DS-1, which gives a good modern sound, but ideally I'd like to be able to just push a single button to get a complete effects sound. Use of the amplifier controls together with the Boost and Compressor give me most of the sounds I need."
"I joined the band 6 months ago. I didn't really see any particular influence, say a Beatles influence, I just took it as a band. On some of the songs I find myself playing the lead parts but also wanting to fill in on the lower registers, and it can be quite effective to play a few notes down there. I've experimented with using an octave divider, but I don't really want to duplicate the bass part, whether it's on synthesiser or bass guitar. I like to fill out the overall sound with some echo, and I've been using the Roland Stage Echo. It has some problems with low output levels using our existing equipment, but it gives a sound that you can't get with digital echoes because they're too clean."
Rickenbacker 360 12-string, ¾ size Rickenbacker 320 solid body. "I've liked the Rickenbacker sound since the 60's, when The Beatles and The Byrds used them, but they were very expensive then and by the time they came down in price they were really a thing of the past. Punk revived the sound and a lot of people started using them again; by that time I'd gone off them, but had to hire one for a couple of weeks and enjoyed using it so much that I bought one."
"I can't bend notes on the 12 string so I need the 320 as well. It gives more of a Strat sound, as you can set the 3 pickups out of phase."
"I tried out a lot of amps to get the sound I wanted, including the Roland Chorus amps. I ended up with a Vox AC30 simply because I needed a valve sound for live work. Other amplifiers sound too clear."
"I use a Roland Chorus to thicken up the sound of the 6-string; once you've got used to using a 12-string guitar you miss that extra thickness in the sound otherwise."
"My brother Steve writes most of the songs. There's a lot of vocal counterpoint as in The Beatles, and harmony of the sort the Everly Brothers used is very important. We're also influenced by Simon and Garfunkel, but without the American flavour. The songs are intended to be harmonious and we don't use a lot of modern sounds. Our first single was really an anti-war anthem, a very serious thing; the songs are intended to make people think. When we're playing live, quite often people won't dance but you can see that they're listening. We like to create the same sort of heaviness that was in the early Pink Floyd."
"We use a lot of tapes on stage with backing effects; the title track off the Scarlet Skies album uses air raid sirens and other sounds, it's a sort of pro-peace song. We also use a lot of smoke, lights and backing films because we like to give the audience something to look at as well as listen to."
Roland SH2 synth, VK-1 organ, Novatron 400SM, Moog Taurus bass pedals. Leslie cabinet for VK1. Mellotron tapes; church organ, mixed strings (cello, viola and violin) mixed choir.
"Since we don't have a live bassist I use the SH2 for bass lines usually. I also use the Taurus with a variable sound and the preset Taurus Sound. I'm still searching for a backline that won't blow! Ideally I'd have liked a Hammond, but the VK-1 sound is so much like it, and you can carry the VK-1 under one arm. In the studio I play a Rickenbacker 4001 stereo bass. It gives a very deep bass sound, a little plucky; I use a plectrum normally because I'm not very taken with the modern slap bass style."
"We use chorus on the live vocals to give a double tracking effect, but in the studio we usually prefer to sing the parts twice to get a more authentic sound. Harmonisers tend to sound a bit like harmonisers - too artificial."
"We're not really influenced by fashion, and we like to think that our music can't easily be compared with anyone else. Although there are some influences from The Beatles or from early Genesis, they aren't always direct. For instance, I didn't know that The Beatles used the Mellotron until we found ourselves using one at EMI's Abbey Road studio. We have a Novatron for stage use - it's exactly the same thing - and use it more in the way that Genesis used to do."
"A lot of the songs are quite epic sounding now. They're aimed more at albums than singles, and so we don't feel confined to just 3 minutes. Rather than being simple love songs they tend to be about more serious subjects, such as anti-war songs."
"I take the lead vocal on some of the songs when we're playing live, and also on the album. Usually though the songs are written with counterpoint harmonies, so that one person takes the lead on the verse and somebody else takes it on the chorus. Also I help out on percussion for the piece that comes after the title track of the album - it's a percussion solo with Sean playing the full kit, and I add the six, eight and ten inch power toms."