So You Say | Big Country
What the people say.
Naturally you could do the One Two interviewer's job much better now couldn't you? And here, as they've all been telling you for so long now, is your chance. This time, however, there is that tempting degree of truth attached.
Scrawl down your half-dozen or so questions that you'd most like your fave musician to answer — "Tell me, Clint, just how do you get that fantastic sound?" — send them in to One Two at the address below, and you could see YOUR NAME in print, along with something approximating full and unexpurgated answers to your questions as gleaned from said star-person. You'll also get a £5 record token to toy with too, so write now to:
SO YOU SAY
ONE.. TWO... TESTING, (Contact Details)
Stuart Adamson of Big Country answers questions sent in by One Two reader Peter Bennett from Sheffield.
What guitars do you use?
"I have a Yamaha SG2000 and a Fender Stratocaster, that's all I use. I've used them for years, Yamahas, and I really like them. They seem to sit nice, they're really nicely balanced, and I like the neck as well. I think you can get a big range of sound out of the 2000.
"I use the Strat mainly on the stuff we have a cleaner sound on. The one I've got is really good, actually. It's a new one, but it doesn't sound like any new one I've heard. It's one of the ones that's had tender loving care spent on it. It wasn't new when I got it, I got it for about £125 — I think it was a credit company recall sort of thing."
Your guitar playing seems quite choppy, without much sustain. Is that an intentional thing?
"No wailing guitar solos, no. I think it's a matter of technique — I've never really played like big long bending notes and stuff like that, never been part of my technique. So I think that's why I use the Yamaha 'cos it works so well with what I'm doing.
"I think we're trying to orchestrate the guitar parts together, rather than just play something for the sake of saying look how well I can play. Music should help to illustrate the lyrics in the song, and should be there as a piece of music rather than as a piece of techno-flash."
Do you use a lot of effects to get your guitar to sound the way it does?
"I think the important thing with effects is to use them to illustrate what you're trying to do rather than use them purely as an effect for its own sake. What I use is an MXR Pitch Shifter (Transposer), which has four presets on it — you can get two full octaves. You set each preset to go to whatever you want. I've got one on a slight bit of chorus, one an octave below, one on a fifth, and one an octave above. And you select one — you can only use one at a time. Then I have a Roland Space Echo without chorus, the cheaper model. And I've got a little distortion pedal that I sometimes use when I'm playing the Strat.
"On 'In A Big Country', as an example, there's the Strat for just the straight big sound, but with Space Echo on and a slight amount of chorus. And then for the lead bits I use the distortion pedal. I've got these strict arrangements for the songs really — I don't mean the way the group plays them is strict, but the places I change my effects. Same with Bruce.
"We use E-Bows as well. The worst thing is trying to fit them back in the holster when you're finished. I dropped mine every night of the last tour, every single night. They work from a magnetic field that causes the string to vibrate, gives you sustain. "
Would it be worth getting a guitar synthesiser for live work?
"I don't see the point as yet, there's plenty more I can do with what I've got before I start exploring that. I've had a go at a couple and the ones I've tried haven't been much cop really. A guy at the publishing company was telling me about some guys up at Hull, doing some research at the University, apparently they've got it sussed. I was going to go up there a while ago but I haven't done any more about it.
"If you could use your own guitar with any synthesiser that'd be best. I tried one of the Roland guitar synths out at the local shop, and it was nice for chord work, I really liked some of the big washy organy type sounds, but the lead lines were a bit nondescript, just sounded like a sort of distortion really. I think that with the effects I have just now, I can get just as good a result, but I'm well into using anything that's available. There's too many groups that are one set sound. This is our identifiable sound and we'll stick to this. The thing is you're just limiting yourself. "
Does your approach change from playing live to when you go into the studio?
"No, I just go in there and play and let them sort it out. One of the main reasons we need a producer is I tend to go over the top anyway, sticking loads of guitar parts on, counterpoints, harmonies and melodies. I think it's to make up for what I see as the possibility of a lack of atmosphere on studio stuff, if you don't watch what you're doing. "
What amp do you use?
"I'm still using the same amp I've had since 1976, an H/H US Musician, same one. Great amps."
What guitar players do you like?
"I like Bill Nelson a lot. Nils Lofgren's good. I like Phil Manzanera, he played the greatest guitar solo ever on record, on 'Pyjamarama', but I tend to go for the overall thing. I like Steve Jones, too — there's a guitar player!"
Did you get the guitar tune for 'Fields Of Fire' from 'The Guns Of Navarone'?
"Oh god, the fucking Guns Of Navarone again! Gissa fag Bruce. It's a sticking point — I've never even heard the Guns Of Navarone. How do they sound?"