Music News

The Riot Act's Christian Clarke: Guitar Heroes of South Florida

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Tell me the story about your Fender Bassman.

I bought a '61 Bassman in college for $500 and let my brother borrow it when he moved to LA, and it got stolen. So, cut 2 years later, he replaced it for me -- finally bought me one -- it's a '62, and I can't remember what shop he bought it from, but he bought it for my birthday and since then, it's like the magical sound. That and just about any guitar -- turn it up and go!

Then I found the Tremolux and other shit, and Billy Gibbons just justified my belief in the blonde and oxblood amp combination because he was saying that that's like his favorite amp, too. I guess he's got a bunch of those oxblood Tremoluxes!

Can you explain the magic of vintage equipment to people that might think a guitar is just a guitar and an amp is just an amp?

Well, a couple of things: From an economic standpoint, they will never lose value. They will never ever be worth less than what you paid for it. Ebay is not necessarily the best indicator of what the value is for something because some rich slob could just want that amp or guitar right now and pay whatever, and people see that some guy paid $10,000 for something and think that whatever they have in their closet is worth ten grand, and it's not.

Really, not so much amps. The guitars... It's just the feel and the sound. People think that it's old wood or it's the old pickups. I don't know if it's a combination of both -- but, you just can't replicate that old sound, especially from those old P-90s -- modern ones just do not sound like that. Despite what all the boutique pickup dudes saying that they have found a way to replicate that sound; they haven't! I don't know if it's because the pickup, or the wood, or the thin layer of nitro on there...

...It's just a magical thing.

It is! But, for me, because I'm running my shit through the same setup on the floor, it's more about the feel of it. You just can't replicate that feel: The feel of the neck, the strumming wear on the pickgaurds or on the body itself, it's all that shit!

Who would you cite as your top influences as a guitarist?

Oh man... That's hard! It changes. Right now, Josh Homme is my man! He's got that like Jimmy Vaughan way of exaggerated finger release and I think that plays into it.

Nick Curran was someone that was real special. He took a lot of that blues flavor and mixed it with some Angus Young and punk shit, and he just came away with the jump blues style that was just so electric, it was like he was coming out of his shoes.

People that create energy are really attractive to me. I think that's what I loved about Stevie Ray Vaughan so much as a kid. Even though I haven't listened to any of his shit in a really really long time in-depth, that was what really attracted me: His energy playing. It was just like it was coming through him and he couldn't help it... He just could not fucking help it.

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David Von Bader