Sunday, 19 June 2016

“Pedal tone sculpting is a lifelong nightmare…” Amped & Doomed with Doug Sherman (Gozu)

By: Aaron Pickford & Doug Sherman

Undoubtedly one of the best bands on the scene today, Gozu have been at the forefront of the stoner scene since their inception in 2009, achieving deserved critical acclaim for arguably one of the best releases during Small Stones Recordings 20 year existence. That record was “Locust Season”.

3 years later would mark the release “The Fury A Patient Man”, and whilst it retained the core sound of the band, the outright heaviness and crush of “Locust Season” was a little more reigned in. For me, Gozu are like a little nugget of gold, yet to fully realise their potential, however this month that changed with the release of their third full length. Indeed as the name suggests, a “Revival” is at hand and Gozu released a watershed record in their career that will hopefully propel them into the big leagues.

Armed with their most solid line-up, the eight tracks that make up Gozu’s new studio album “Revival”, sees them return to their heavier sound, matched with the bands best performance to date and today we unleash the fury of a patient man, as we talk with lead guitarist and co founder of the band.  So let’s get Amped & Doomed with Doug Sherman, as we talk personal heroes, his love of jazz, the formation of Gozu and influential UK band Talk Talk. 

Sludgelord) Can you give us a brief history of your playing career?

Doug) I come from a musical family. My uncle was a jazz sax player in Boston and my dad played guitar.  I started taking piano and violin lessons at a young age then moved on to guitar after seeing  a video of Alvin Lee and Ten Years after playing “Going Home” from Woodstock. I ended up at Berklee and gigged my way through college; graduated and ended up playing in a hip hop/funk band called Pimp Carriage then joined a soul band called Superhoney. I have lots of passion for soul/disco/funk/groove.  I then ended up playing with Gaff in a down tempo acid jazzy kind of project for years. Upright bass, turntables, soundscapes. Portishead meets Jeff Buckley kind of shit. Then we formed Gozu with the idea of bringing these influences to a heavier medium as such. 

Sludgelord) Can you remember who or what inspired you to pick up the guitar? Are there any bands, guitarists, bassists currently on the scene that continue to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Doug) Starting out I was obsessed with Alvin Lee, BB King, Buddy Guy, Son House and Angus Young, later on I was way into songwriters- Kate Bush-Bowie-Sandy Denny-John Renborn-Soul masters James Brown-Gil Scott Heron-Bobby Byrd- Outside players and singers: Michael Hedges, Sonny Sharrock, John Zorn, Diamanda Galas, Mike Patton, Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Pat Metheny.

For contemporary guitarists I really love Ben Sharp aka Cloudkicker, Tosin Abasi, Mick Barr…these guys are superior players pushing the limits of guitar playing.  Truly inspiring.

Sludgelord) Whilst we’re on the subject of inspiration or heroes for example, do you have 5 records that stand out as favourites and what influence did they have upon you and what is it about those record that particularly resonate amongst others? 

Doug) Tough one:

1)       Michael Hedges -“Aerial Boundaries” FUCKING GAME CHANGER- This man changed the way acoustic guitar was looked at and played. Percussive, loud, classical counter parts, thinking outside the box with incredible tone and perfect time. Truly spectacular.

2)       Miles Davis – “Kind of blue” To me this was the first Miles album I was introduced to and it made sense. It’s a very tangible album for anyone looking to dive into jazz. 

3)       Faith No More – “Angel Dust” Coming off the popularity of “The Real thing”…My personal hero Mike Patton pushed FNM into a new stratosphere dropping one of the most influential metal albums of the 90s.

4)       John Zorn – “Naked City” This was a genre bending album with Eye Yamatsuke on Vox that pretty much influenced lots of grindcore bands and musicians in the 90s.

5)       Talk Talk – “Laughing Stock” This was also a game changer album and so ahead of its time, and without it there would be no Radiohead or Portishead.  Coming off a 80s pop hit, Talk Talk went back in the studio and dropped this beautiful, ethereal album with organic instruments.  To this day I listen once a week.  I would go on record saying one of the best albums ever made.

Sludgelord) Can remember your first electric guitar, bass?  

Doug) I had a Zebra Stripped Grand Prix. It rules.

Sludgelord) What guitars are you using today and how did you gravitate towards the guitar you currently use? 

Doug) Neil Boshart signature BC Rich Mockingbird fucking go to guitar. 1984 Peavey Mantis which I use in the “Nature Boy” video.  Bareknuckle Painkiller pick ups, its still taking me time to feel out how it sits on my body (I play high on my chest) but I love this guitar.  Aria Pro 2 1975 Lawsuit Gibsons.  Both play better than any high end Les Paul and both cost 300 bucks each.  Gibson pickups and new tuners.  They Rip. Reverend Sensei - Love this guitar and an independently owned company.  Fender Strat 1995 American.  My prize possession: 1956 Les Paul Jr. My dads…it’s awesome and a 75 Hagstrom Swede
Sludgelord) What do you like about the guitars you currently use and has there been any specific modifications to it? 

Doug) I’m  going through a growth spurt of buying guitars, amps and pedals….I have some high end guitars and I love cheap knock offs love love love and its like the  land of misfits toys and I want to play them all.

We are working with Zombie Dust Pickups from England right now so I’m custom ordering some high output pickups for my Aria.  I look forward to putting them in.   Some guitarist like low output pickups on the bridge for a warmer tone …. I like mine at 16k for this music and plus my solos jump out a bit more.

Because I buy cheaper guitars I change the hardware and the pickups. The Peavey Mantis was a bitch because it was never played and needed to be updated to 2016. 

I would never buy a guitar because of its name…if I like the look and the neck is fast. I’m gunning for it.  Buying a guitar strictly on a name basis is not where I’m at.  I love funky looking guitars…I love the look of Eastwood guitars a lot.  I’ll be getting my hands on one of them soon.

Sludgelord) What amps and pedals do you currently use?  Do you use a combination of amps, or a full half stack? Talk us through your set up both in the studio and in the live environment? 

Doug) For Heads:

I use a vintage Peavey VTM 120 and Vintage Peavey Butcher that was modded out by Brad over at Nerd knuckle Effects. I run it all through an Orange 4x12 and 2x12 along with a Sunn Beta lead 2x12

Pedals- Boss Tuner-Boss Hm-2-Fulltone OCD-Russian Big Muff-Trinity distortion-Black Tone Arts Quantum Mystic-Fulltone Carbon Copy-Nerd Knuckle Benefuzz-Dunlop Wah-Radial big shot a/b-Voodoo power brick, Mooer flange

Those tiny Mooer and Trinity pedals rule and save space on your board.

I use a Holeyboard from Chemistry Design Werks

We are also endorsed by Toaster Cables in Sweden…They rule!! 

Sludgelord) What one pedal could not live without and why? 

Doug) I would need 2.  My OCD and Wah.

Sludgelord) What are your amp/ pedal settings?

Doug) I usually have the pre on 12:00 so it’s not fully distorted and so my pedals can drive the head.

Pedal tone sculpting is a lifelong nightmare. It’s endless and I change my settings weekly.  The only one I won’t change is the Boss HM2: Level 12:00 Color Mix: pinned, pined, 1:00….if you like the new Nails album…that’s pretty much the tone.

Sludgelord) What tunings do you use and why, and as a result is there a specific brand / gauge of string you prefer ? 

Doug) Gozu – Drop C- I use a hybrid set now 9s on the bottom 10s on the top.

Sludgelord) Do you have any advice for up and coming guitars players, bands?

Doug) Practice with a metronome.  Write songs.  Have fun.
Sludgelord) Do feel there are deeply help misconceptions about being in a band? 
Doug) Naw they’re actually all true…lol. 

Sludgelord) Moving on a little then,  what can you tell us about any of your current projects, tours, cds, etc you’re currently promoting, completed and anything else band related we should know about?

Doug) We are very excited for the new Gozu Album “Revival” which is out now on Ripple.  It’s without a doubt our heaviest, focused and catchiest album. We play Psycho Las Vegas in August, go to Europe end of Sept. …and have a bunch of US runs here and there.  We are working with Aaron Gray from Grayskull Booking who’s been a huge help in taking us up a notch.

Sludgelord) What springs to mind when you think about the completion of your new/current record and how is the mood in the camp at present?

Doug) It’s been a year since we recorded it with Dean Baltulonis (Primitive Weapons, Sick of it all) and went through label transition.  So we are dying for everyone to hear it and enjoy it as much as we do.

Sludgelord) What are your favourite songs to play live and is there anything from your catalogue that you wouldn’t play and why? 

Doug) I like playing all of them to be quite honest. Well we have a 20min song on Fury… we would never play. Lol

Sludgelord) Who are some your favourite bands you have toured with and what has been your proudest moment and/or performance of your playing career?

Doug) Proudest moment is playing Roadburn and Desertfest 2 years ago.  We are very close to Lo Pan so playing and touring with those dudes has been a blast.

Sludgelord) What can fans look forward to from Gozu over the next 12 months? How is your schedule shaping up?

Doug) Busy and hopefully more busy.  Vegas in August, Europe in fall, US touring, writing a new album and we just signed with European touring company Heavy Psych Sounds and  would love to sign to a US touring company to complete the circle.

Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?

Doug) “If life gives you potatoes… Make latkes!”

End of Transmission

Band info: Bandcamp || Facebook

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