In part one of our series profiling South Florida's most inspiring unsung champions of guitar, we spoke with Orbweaver's Randy Piro about his gear, influences, and what sets him apart as a player. Here, we speak with Orbweaver's other intrepid shredders, guitarist Sally Gates and bassist Jason Ledgard, both of whom happen to be athletic, creative players that are integral to Orbweaver's off-kilter conjurings and belligerent pummeling.
New Times: How did you get your start playing guitar?
Sally Gates: I went through a bunch of instruments before I got around to guitar. When I was five, I played piano for like six years or so, then I went through like violin, saxophone, recorder -- all that shit, as you do. At some point, when I was 14 -- I have no fucking idea why -- but I just decided I wanted to play guitar. So, I picked it up, and I think I went to my guitar teacher and I had a few CDs, and it was like, Cradle of Filth, Emperor, etc, and he was just like, "Yeah, let's start with this" and it was like, "Enter Sandman" and it sort of got me into the same area.
How did you get into such extreme metal at 14?
I don't entirely remember. I mean, my sister had some CDs, shit like Godsmack and System of a Down, and I sort of listened to that for a minute and was like, "eh, this is cool." And then I went to the record store and by pure chance picked up Emperor's Anthems, and I thought it was awesome, and I got a few compilation albums and just picked the bands I liked off of them.
Whom would you consider your top influences as a guitarist?
Les Claypool. Apparently all of my riffs sound like Primus. I have to go with the classics, like Gilmour and Brian May. Um, Stanley Kubrick. His soundtracks, stuff like in Natural Born Killers, sort of like visual and musical influences tie in for me. To some extent, stuff like Today is the Day and Mike Patton.
What would you say is the most inspiring piece of equipment in your rig?
That's a tough question. Like, this is my new toy (points at Orange OR100). I think just for purely for jamming, I think the delay pedal is probably the most inspiring piece if you will. It just makes everything sound awesome!
What's the secret weapon in your rig?
I think for me, it's vibrato. We have one riff where all the reviews we've had have been, "Oh, this theremin part" and it's actually my vibrato pedal.
Tell me about your new Paul Reed Smith guitar
That one, I was actually looking for that probably about... Two or three years it took me to find the right guitar at the right price. That one is a late '87/early '88 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24, so it's one of the first off the production line. The serial number is under four thousand, and they're up to -- God knows -- like one hundred thousand or whatever. They first came out in '85 was the first year they produced them commercially.
Why is this one so special to you?
This one is very close to the year that I was born, so it's awesome having a guitar that is of a similar age. I really believe in that company -- I love their guitars -- so, it's kind of awesome to have one that's like one of the first off the line. It still has the original sort of out-of-phase sounds, too. There's one setting in there, I think it's the like the two outside coils out-of-phase, but it sounds like there's kind of a built-in envelope filter, and that's kind of an awesome thing to have.
Honestly, they have the highest quality control I've seen out of a major manufacturer. Also, just reading about the history of them, Paul Smith himself is actually a very innovative risk-taker. All of the stuff he's done is very cool. Back in the day, the way he would get his guitars into the hands of major artists was he would just show up at major concerts with two guitars in his hand and pretend to be a roadie and just be like "Where's the stage?" and just show Santana or someone his stuff!
New Times: How did you start playing?
It took me a really long time. Really, my friends had started playing guitar, and I wanted to play bass for years and years and years, and then I finally started. My parents are not musicians in any way whatsoever, they're music fans in a very light sense, you know? But, at the same time, nobody was a musician. So, I was literally like, "Mom, if I get really good grades this semester, will you buy me a bass and an amp?" She was like, "Fine." And then I worked my fucking ass off and got straight As and then my parents were like, "Alright! Way to go," and they got me the bass and amp.
It took me a long time to get into it and then finally, once I was in college, I was like, "Man, I really want to play bass in a band." And I didn't have the means to do so. So, I saved up my money for a good year and a half and I bought the Ampeg stack and then that was when it was like, this is going to happen. This is what I'm doing. This is a lifestyle choice. I've made this lifestyle choice because I just spent a butt load of money on this thing, we're going to do it. And that was that.
Who are your top influences as a player?
Oh God, so many. The thing about me is I'm inspired every day by people. I'll go into every show that we play and I'll watch some band I've never seen and be like, "Man, that guy is fucking awesome!" and I'll have to go play. If I have to give you a top three, I think it would probably be John Paul Jones, Geezer Butler, Geddy Lee. Those guys are just phenoms on their instruments in terms of everything. Tone, playing. All of it. Chris Squire from Yes, because he's a fucking badass and a super awesome player, and he's been doing it forever. And then Brian Cook from Russian Circles. Awesome band, and then just an awesome player in terms of how he approaches the instrument, I've always loved that band and I love what he does.
You use a lot of effects for a bass player. Do you have an approach to how you incorporate them into your sound?
Yes and no. As a bass player, generally I think of a part simply as: How do I combine these two awesome guitar players and this awesome drummer? And a lot of that is just like, straight riffs. A lot of the effects kind of build on themselves, where they pop out. It adds a lot, but there are some times when the effect makes the part. There are times when the part is the effect and not much else is going on.
The Whammy pedal has become a really cool effect for me. Not a lot of people use it as a bass player, and it does a lot of stuff, but you can do all this cool stuff in terms of frequency changing. You may be playing something simple, but the Whammy adds a wash of coolness.
What would you say is an indispensable piece of your rig?
Either my Sovtek muff or the Whammy. I'm going to go with the Sovtek over the Whammy because it is a tone that is indispensable part of my sound, as much as the Whammy has become almost my signature thing in this band, at the same time, that Big Muff -- I've had like, five of them on my boards -- but they've always been there. It becomes this thickening, awesome distorted tone that you just can't match, you know what I mean? It's just fucking killer. It's something that a lot of people do, but if it wasn't for that, I don't think there is a lot of stuff on my board that would work the way that it does.
Do you have any grievances about the lack of selection when it comes to basses for left-handed players?
You know, yes and no. I feel like if I was a righty, I probably would have a lot more basses, but I'd probably also have a lot of basses that I didn't use. It took me so long to find basses that they became pieces of equipment that I just love so much. It took me literally six months to get my bass. Sometimes, I almost feel like I love my instrument because of how long it took me to get and how kind of special and weird it is.
What makes it weird?
It's nothing special on paper, just a lefty American Standard Jazz Bass. But, I ordered it directly from Fender, it took a really long time to get. And when I got it, I was like, "What the fuck is this thing?!" I was pissed! Its neck is just ridiculous, it's not in anyway a Jazz Bass neck, and then I started playing it and I was like, "Holy fuck, this thing is amazing!" It's way fatter than a Jazz Bass neck. It's a P-Bass neck!
I don't know what happened, it's just one of those happy mistakes. Whoever was on the line that day was probably just like "Fuck it, he's a lefty" and threw it on. And from then on, I've loved it so much. I'll never get rid of this bass. It's just too weird and special to go anywhere. I'm bonded to it. That's the one.
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