PHOTO & VIDEO: Todd Haug performs live with Powermad. Chicago, July 8, 2017. I asked him how he sees through his hair while soloing: "I play with my eyes closed." Decided to deliver Ghost Viking Relic Alien 8-string guitar in person. Booked a non-stop from EWR to ORD. Just in time for two evenings of rehearsals prior to the July 8th gig.
Powermad surrounded me at the table. Drums & bass to the left, guitar in front, vocals to the right. Mixed drinks, wine, beer, and ramen. Downtown Chicago.
Joel DuBay, Linda Haug and I were having a side conversation. "How long were you signed?" I asked, "Did you quit the label?"
"One day I turned on the radio and suddenly there was grunge: Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam. I remember thinking 'Oh, shit.'" Joel said. "We got a call from our label."
Early 1990s. Label support for an entire genre of music essentially vanished. Speed and thrash metal replaced by day jobs, wives/families, and early albums that are now collector's items. Fortunately their friendships (and the band) remain, solid as ever.
The night I first met Todd, at DFW airport, I was really struck by his playing. You would expect the intense metal, but his touch on the instrument is very light, bluesy, and his background is jazz. Joel, with his falsetto shriek/death growl, secretly plays funk bass and loves Earth, Wind & Fire.
Don't ever pre-judge metalheads.
Todd ain't afraid of no ghost. (Don Barnes)
That looks insane!!!! (Javier Reyes)
What a beast of a guitar...! I desperately wanted to hear him talk about it. (Gethyn Edwards)
Superb playing from Todd. He really knows his way around an eight string. That is the most insane finish I've seen! Really complements the un-anodized neck. I love when you take classic builds and evolve them. The T2 is a great example. This makes me want a Flying V! Unprecedented! (Gabe Lopez)
Fuck. That thing is devastating. What a great trip! (Chris Buono)
PHOTO: Linda & Todd Haug extended wonderful hospitality. Thank you both! True friends.
PHOTO: Sweetwater guitar techs check out Spearfish™ 6-string guitar. James Brown (Dysperium), second from left. I really love his music...atmospheric, real, evocative.
I've long been a Sweetwater customer. They do everything perfectly from a customer service perspective. Truly world class, like Taylor Guitars. It is so inspiring to see thriving businesses here in the US.
Ed Needler and Jay Piccirillo kindly invested their full attention in me for more than an hour, as we discussed future possibilities for working together. There are very few retailers I would consider teaming with on production guitars, and Sweetwater heads that list.
Tim Schroeder (Shroeder Amplification) also connected — introduced via Killick — we enjoyed several hours exploring his amplifier designs...and Jimi Hendrix's actual Uni-Vibe pedal used on the Band of Gypsys sessions. Listening to those electronics through Tim's ears caused me to realize how much circuitry contributes to electric guitar tone. I look forward to collaborating with Tim on upcoming projects.
I guess I can't help but observe that the Univibe was a terrible piece of gear, as were most of the pedals and guitars that Jimi had to deal with throughout his career. More than most of his contemporaries who had a more straightforward sound, Jimi had to constantly overcome the deficiencies imposed by the primitive and badly-made circuitry of the effects of the time. I've come, over time, to realize that the sounds he achieved were almost totally the products of his imagination, and most of his equipment was frequently of questionable assistance. I saw him perform several times, and strongly believe at this point that what he achieved was largely accomplished in spite of his gear. Just something to chew on, going forward. (Steve Blucher)
PHOTO: 3Floyds Brewing. Todd's second home, and an outlet for his beer passion. Mark Biederstadt set me up with some brews, including delicious Gumballhead. Another excellent American business.