Monday, December 20, 2010

Kennedy Center Honors

A couple of weeks ago No Doubt performed at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC. We were asked to be part of the musical tribute to Paul McCartney, who was one of the honorees this year. We performed a four-minute medley of Beatles songs: Hello Goodbye, All My Loving, and Penny Lane. This was a career highlight for us in so many ways. All of us in the band grew up loving Paul's music, and to perform these songs for Paul himself was mind-blowing to say the least. Not to mention nerve-wracking! And to add to the epicness of it all, this was in the Kennedy Center Opera House, full of folks like President Obama, loads of Senators and Congresspeople and lobbyists and Merle Haggard and Oprah, etc etc. Also I sat next to Florence Henderson at the State Department dinner. She was awesome.


The whole show including our performance will be shown on television on CBS on December 28, 2010 at 9:00-11:00 p.m., ET/PT

Gear: In the spirit of the memory of George Harrison, I had my trusty Hamer Monaco outfitted with a pair of TV Jones Classic pickups, to capture the vibe of an old Gretsch like George used to play. Below is a picture of the guitar, plus the pedalboard my buddy and long-time tech Donnie wired up just for this show. The pedals are: Eventide Timefactor, Malekko Ekko 616, and Boss Chromatic Tuner. I used the Eventide for delays on the Reggae upbeats on "All My Loving" and the Malekko for a slapback vibe on "Hello Goodbye." And then just straight guitar, no effects used on "Penny Lane."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bridge School/Koa Martin

No Doubt performed at the Bridge School Benefit show last year up in Northern California. Neil Young hosts an eclectic group of artists to raise money for this great charity every year. It was a really important thing for us to be a part of, not to mention a rare and fun all-acoustic set for the band. I kinda dig this live image (below left). I'm playing my new Martin OM-42 KOA.
"Koa" is a tropical hardwood native to Hawaii and prized for it's beauty (duh) and strength. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guitar Wall

Photo via iPhone.
I have a mini guitar wall in my studio. When I was 11 years old my Dad brought me to Guitar Center in Santa Ana, CA and I gazed in wonder at the massive guitar wall. I got lucky with my music space and have a fair amount of vertical wall, so I went for it. 

Top, left to right: 
Green Hamer Standard with "Sea of Cortez" text, from Rock Steady tour. Mieke did the typography art on this one.
"Mexican Sun" Hamer Vector, 1999.
1978 Korina Ibanez Flying V. Word is that Ibanez was sued by Gibson for making this model...
"Arctic White" Special from 2009 tour.

Bottom row, left to right:
Hamer Monaco Elite "TV" finish with TV Jones pickups.
40's Mahogany Martin 0-15, thanks to my cousin Carol for selling this to me.:-)
Hamer Newport with Fat Cat pickups.
Hamer bass, played on Matt Costa/Jack Johnson tour 2005.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This is a short Bio I've been working on. I think this sums it up nicely and without errors such as on wikipedia.

     I was born Jan 11, 1968 in Los Angeles, California and mostly grew up in the city of Irvine, about 40 miles just south of L.A. in Orange County. I remember having an early fondness for music, my first musical memories coming from my Disney 45's and my Dad playing classical and pop standards on the piano at home.
      Around age eight I got my first hi-fi system and quickly became an avid rock aficionado, listening endlessly to my Kiss, Rush, Pink Floyd, UFO, Black Sabbath, and Barry Manilow records. Around age twelve my Dad hooked up some private guitar lessons at the local music store, and I quickly started learning songs of the Beatles, James Taylor and Neil Young on the acoustic guitar. An electric guitar ( a black Les Paul copy) followed as a Christmas gift, and from then on I spent hours locked in my bedroom jamming along to my growing record collection. My older sister Gina was already a skilled rock guitarist, and she taught me scales and chords which helped me advance quickly.
      I started a band called "Northeast" in 7th grade (age 13 I think) with a couple of friends and we ambitiously covered songs by Rush, Judas Priest, and Scorpions. After that around age 15 I joined my older sister's original Heavy Metal band "Rising", forming a rather unique brother and sister dual lead guitar team.
     I was a distracted student in High School- preferring music, fiction, boogie-boarding and D&D over my homework. After High School I studied music theory and composition at Orange Coast College and at Cal State University Fullerton for 4+ years.
      During my college years my musical tastes began to broaden to new wave and reggae music, and in 1988 I answered a flyer to play guitar for local OC band called "No Doubt". I helped to add a rock edge to No Doubt's ska sound, and after a number of excellent years playing club shows all around California, the band signed with Interscope Records in 1991. We released our "self-titled" debut CD in 1992, and toured clubs in the United States in vans that summer. After which founding member and primary songwriter Eric Stefani began the process of splitting from the band. This left more of the songwriting efforts to myself, bassist Tony Kanal and singer Gwen Stefani, and in the following years we all co-wrote, recorded and finally released our 1995 commercial breakthrough album entitled "Tragic Kingdom". The album gave birth to a number of international hit singles and went on to sell over 15 million copies worldwide. We toured the North America, Europe and Asia repeatedly for a whirlwind two years before taking a break in late 1997 to write and record the follow up. "Return of Saturn" was released in 2000 followed by more world touring. The next album was "Rock Steady", released in 2001, and produced more hit songs, two Grammy awards and more world touring. In 2003 we performed alongside Sting at the 2003 Superbowl halftime show and released a greatest hits CD entitled "The Singles Collection". About that time we began a well deserved multi-year break from No Doubt's primary activities of recording and touring.
      During the break, I produced two albums by singer-songwriter Matt Costa and also toured the United States in 2005 as his bass player, enjoying the opening slot on Jack Johnson's sold-out summer amphitheater tour. I also worked with Ted Matson to score a feature documentary film; "The Providence Effect" released in 2009 . When not doing music I also spent my free time traveling and surfing, hanging in Australia, Indonesia, Mexico and New England with my girlfriend Mieke. We were married in 2004 and started a family right away becoming parents to two incredible boys; Ace born in 2006 and Rio born in 2008.
      In 2009 No Doubt returned from hiatus for our biggest concert tour ever in the United States. Presently in 2010, Tony, Gwen, Adrian and I are working together to write and record songs for a forthcoming No Doubt album.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Studio Geekery part 1

Today I have some studio gear for you to look at. With the arrival of computer-based music recording and production, the old rack mount outboard audio gear has become somewhat of a luxury now. You can effect your audio in a thousand ways with software plug-ins. Software sounds good and gives you the potential to make great sounding recordings at a tiny fraction of the cost of a real studio. However real hardware audio still sounds better than software to me, you are adding gain and distortion and overtones that make everything sound punchy just like back in the golden days of real recording studios.

You are looking at four items in the photo:
The two silver ones with black knobs are Pultec equalizers. This is a pair of mono units and I use them to pass my stereo mixes through. The design is from the 1950's and they are pretty simple to use. Select a frequency, and then boost or cut it. If you are not an audio person, it's kind of like a fancy set of Bass/Treble controls. These Pultec's use tubes, audio people love the sound of tubes, but it's beyond me to describe how they work. They do get hot and if something goes wrong in the unit, you can usually just replace a tube and you're all fixed up.

Next is the Manley Variable-MU in black with the two big white meters. This is a stereo compressor, and I put my mixes through this in-line behind the Pultec's. A compressor's role it hard to describe, but it basically smooths out the rough audio edges. Proper use of compression can make amateur recordings sound much more professional.

The last unit on the right is the Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. This is actually a guitar effect I covered in my last post. This unit has a tube and makes echo effects using a tape loop. The basic design is based on the old Echo-plex units, and this one is improved in many ways, while still giving that sound that we grew up hearing on countless records.

Okay that's it for today, take care until next time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

new post

Finally I'm back! It's been well over six months since I've posted here, not a very good frequency rate for a blogger.
Well in any case, last years No Doubt tour is just a memory now, an excellent one for sure. Back at home, the band is writing new songs for what should become a new No Doubt album. There is no release date yet, we're just not close enough to make any sort of predictions yet. It's going well and we're having fun together though. During the days that Gwen, Tony, Adrian and I are
not writing, I spend many an afternoon in my own little studio in Los Angeles crafting odd and interesting soundscapes for my own enjoyment. I'm a bit of a "gear head", and I propose to use this blog show off some of my studio toys beyond guitars. This week I did an Echo shootout. I love delays and echo effects, and I had fun with these pedals pictured below. They all do something different, and I won't pick a favorite other than to say that the Fulltone is clearly the unique one in the bunch.

Pictured below left to right (via iphone cam):

Fulltone Tube-tape echo
| Moogerfooger Analog Delay | EH Memory Man | Malekko ekko 616 | MXR Carbon Copy

Whats missing? Well in this post you can see that I used different stuff on tour, such as the Eventide Timefactor pedal, which is digital and mucho better for instant access to dozens of effects on the fly. Okay, so thats it for now, next time I'll explain some more of the stuff in that photo, and more.
Thanks for checking it out.