Grab a hot chocolate by the fire and enjoy this latest issue which includes shop tours with Swart Amps and Rabbit Hole FX, a deep-dive with Fastball guitarist Miles Zuniga, Rock-and-Roll anti-predications for 2018, as well as reviews featuring Hologram Electronics, Mad Professor and more…

Our exclusive shop tour with Swart is… here.
Our exclusive chat with Miles Zuniga of Fastball starts… here.
Our visit with Safia Harrison and Rabbit Hole FX starts here.
Our gear reviews, including a look at the Hologram Infinite Jets, start… here.

Happy reading!

The Gearphoria Crew

Fastball guitarist talks two decades following breakthrough album

“I care so little about gear,” Fastball guitarist/vocalist Miles Zuniga announced in an October 2017 gear interview with Digital Tour Bus. “I could give a fuck. I just want it to turn on and work.” So who better to speak to Gearphoria about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the band’s sophomore and breakthrough album, All The Pain Money Can Buy.

“Gearphoria. Fantastic,” he deadpans. “There’s a scene in Spinal Tap … my favorite part is where they say to the manager, ‘It’s not your job to be as confused as Nigel.’ I live by that. I’m confused. You point me in the right direction and I’ll deliver the goods. My manager said, ‘Interview — 20th anniversary,’ and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ That’s as far as it goes.”

Fastball — Zuniga, vocalist/bassist Tony Scalzo, and drummer Joey Shuffield — was formed in Austin, Texas, in 1995. Three years and two albums later, they were riding the crest of chart and radio success. All The Pain Money Can Buy, the follow-up to their Hollywood Records debut, Make Your Mama Proud [1996], sold over a million copies within six months of its release and resulted in three hit singles: ‘The Way,’ ‘Out Of My Head,’ and ‘Fire Escape.’ The musicians that previously traveled in a van were now touring the world, earning two Grammy nominations and an MTV Music Awards nomination. More recordings followed — 2000’s The Harsh Light of Day, 2004’s Keep Your Wig On, and 2009’s Little White Lies — the first release on their own 33 1/3 label. Through it all, the tour dates never stopped. Last year, Fastball released their long-awaited sixth album, Step Into Light, and immediately returned to the road.

Over the course of two decades, Fastball continued hitting creative home runs, but the music industry kept changing, and so did Miles Zuniga. Music fulfilled him, but the extracurricular trappings of success and adulation didn’t, and so began years of personal and professional soul-searching, which he candidly detailed in a near 90-minute discussion.

GEARPHORIA: I thought we could do a “then and now” — recording then and now, gear then and now. “Then” being All The Pain Money Can Buy and “now” obviously being Step Into Light.

MILES: It’s a perfect kind of analogy, or perfectly fits with the way everybody’s lives have changed, I think. They used to spend more time, and stuff was more expensive and harder to do. It just was, because of technology. To make things sound a certain way you needed a lot of people who were skilled at what they did. Also the standards were different. Everything has changed. Today you literally can make records on your laptop, no problem, and people don’t really care. The sound — it’s hard to quantify. We’re all used to listening to MP3s, which to me sound like shit, but I listen to them too because they’re so convenient. I’m not going to stop listening to music or wait until I get home to listen to music. I love music, so I happily listen to Spotify and all these other things, even though the sound quality isn’t as good as vinyl. But it’s there in your pocket wherever you go. It’s fantastic.

So, in answer to your question, the difference was primarily one of money, and also I guess you’d say importance, or in our minds importance, because back then you had one shot. We had one shot and blew it. Then we had one more shot, and this really was it, and we were lucky to be there. We all knew it was a freak of nature that we got a second shot, because we should have been dropped. But it worked out that the president of the label got fired, so through some strange quirk of fate we dodged a bullet and had one more chance to have a music career…

Read the rest of our interview with Miles Zuniga of Fastball here
Visit the Fastball website here

Low-watt combos continue to be the name of Swart’s game

INSPIRATION CAN come at you from all different angles. For Wilmington, North Carolina’ Michael Swart, chief gear guru at Swart Amps, it can come from something he found in the street, at a thrift shop or in the destruction left by a hurricane. After a storm hit the coastal area a few years back, a storage building next to his house was destroyed. Swart took that adversity and parlayed it into a new-build, two-level shop — the first floor houses his amp/pedal workstations along with a stray scooter or two and a vintage VW bug from collecting days past. The second floor is a testing lounge complete with comfy couches and a tiki bar.

The shop area looks like many garage-converted spaces we’ve seen in the past. There is a STR Tremolo chassis on the workbench for a series of modifications. Next to it is the shop guitar — a 1994 Ibanez Talman TV-750. The space is decorated with bits of eclecticism all around — stickers, old stereos, gig flyers, even the original white board from mid-90s listing orders in from the brands first dealer, Fat Sound Music.

“I put stuff up in the shop just randomly that kind of inspires me,” explains Swart. “I won’t be thinking about it at the time, then I’ll be sitting in my chair and look around, and be like ‘Ah!’. I know it looks like a bunch of junk, but it has its purpose.”

Read the rest of our shop tour with Swart Amps here
Visit the Swart website here

Rabbit Hole FX looks to build on early lessons

AT THE NAMM show last January, Safia Harrison of Rabbit Hole FX had a pedalboard set-up showcasing the brand’s first three pedals as part of the traveling Stompbox Exhibit. Eager to show off the latest Rabbit Hole offerings, she stood front and center, ready to talk gear and walk any interested parties through the functionality of the Chasomic fuzz, Analog Phaser and A ‘Merkin fuzz. Then something she did not expect to happen, happened.

“When we set up in January, people were coming in and shaking hands with all the builders… and I got skipped a couple of times,” she recalls. “I tried not to take it personally because it is different for me (a woman) to be there. I did adjust a little bit. I forced myself to be a little more assertive and let people know that this is my company. It is neat to see how attitudes change once we’re in a conversation about the pedals. It throws some people off. Again, the gear guy’s girlfriend, which in all fairness, is how it started, but that has changed now. It is what it is. I’m fine with it.”

When Harrison attended her first NAMM show, it was with one-time Rabbit Hole partner Adam Cohen. He was a musician in the regional North Carolina metal scene, and a self-professed pedal junkie. The pair attended the 2015 show in Anaheim as retailers, part of Harrison’s MetalString Sound.

Read the rest of our shop tour with Rabbit Hole here
Visit the Rabbit Hole website here

We’ve got one cool issue on tap for you, including shop tours with Mojotone and Germino Amps, a Quick Take with 3 Monkeys’ Greg Howard, a Track-By-Track with Galactic Cowboys guitarist Dane Sonnier, Rock And Roll HOF odds, as well as reviews featuring Strymon, Porter Guitars and more…

Our exclusive shop tour with Mojotone is… here.
Our exclusive Track-By-Track with Galactic Cowboys starts… here.
Our visit with Greg Germino of Germino Amps starts here.
Our gear reviews, including a look at the Strymon Sunset, start… here.

Happy reading!

The Gearphoria Crew

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