BLUES SARACENO FAQsSeptember 9, 2004 / 160 reads / No comments yet
Interview by www.bluessaraceno.com of http://www.bluessaraceno.com
10 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What have you been up to lately?
basically it gets down to 3 categories.
A. TV/ Film
I've been up to everything from scoring the U.S.A. network " Dead Zone " to creating music for the "Extreme Music" catalogue, which is a company out of the U.K. In essence they are the people that get lot of the placements in a lot of TV stuff (everything from MTV's " Nick and Jessica", "The Newlyweds", to the "Ashley Simpson show," "Queer Eye for the Strait Guy", "Access Hollywood", "Extra", "True Hollywood Story", etc.) The list goes on and on and on...
I do countless sessions including everyone from Melissa Etheridge ("Lucky" on Island Def Jam) to Ziggy Marley (Island Def Jam) I also play on a ton of up and coming projects as well. New artists everywhere from all walks of life.
I have been producing artists, producing and engineering for some stuff, and I also play on their records, for the last couple years now.
The last one we just finished is a band called "Fredalba" which features Eric Balfour, who some of you might recognize as an established young actor with credits that include such shows as "24", "6 feet under", "OC" and now is on the upcoming hit show "Hawaii"
I am also in the process of putting finishing touches on an album featuring artist Lindsay Price, who you will recognize from "Beverly Hills 90210" and also the show "Coupling" and many other shows, movies and commercials.
I also recorded a Los Angeles based singer songwriter "Brad Cohen"
2. How come no more instrumental albums as of lately?
And the answer is...It just comes down to basic economics. I have so much work with all the other stuff going on, that to take time away from that to do an instrumental album of quality really just doesn't make any sense. Also the fact, to keep putting out records for a relatively limited audience vs. really trying to take a stab at the grand market place there is tough. And also from an artistic level, I did 3 of them when I was15 or 16 and I just realistically moved on to new and more exciting challenges for me.
3. Will there be another " Transmission OK " record?
The answer is no. The bottom line is an overwhelming, amazing response from the people that really liked it. The reality is that we took it as far as we could go without a record label support. So it was a great experience where I got to play with some great players and it really allowed me to showcase many other skills as far as being a producer, engineer, writer, singer, singer songwriter. I really enjoyed exploring new sounds as far as keyboards and the production technique but the bottom line is this, it was just another industry story of having great product and the label did not do anything with it. It was very frustrating and it was pretty much a total waste of time.
4. Are you still playing guitar?
The answer is YES, more then ever, just not packaged and released as a solo record. Between the studio,TV.and all the artists that I am producing and working with,I've been putting out more product then ever. It's become more behind the scene vs in front of the camera or magazines shall we say. So the reality is that : Best I can offer for the people visiting my website, is my posting of soundclips
5. Do you work with up and coming artists as well as established acts?
The answer is yes... a lot...
I really like to work with new artists since it keeps me in touch with what is going on.
Lately, I have been playing on a bunch of people's records, and haven't even met them. Now with the new technology and computers the way they are, mostly what happens is that they contact me via the website, and ask me to play on their record. They will send me the files and I end up playing on their record without even talking to them, and that recording system is pretty cool...
It's' working out well, I actually done a bunch of projects that way. In essence, they just give me a description of what they want, I record it in my studio and then I send it back via computer files.
6. What kind of guitar do you play?
Please refer to the equipment page (coming soon) which will include an in depth answer.
At the moment all of my old guitars (Plaid guitars, Yamaha Samick, Ibanez ) are all on the "Hard Rock Cafe" walls somewhere in the world. (I don't even know where). At the moment the only guitars I am actually playing are the "Ernie Ball" guitars.
My main guitar is an Ernie Ball music man gold sparkle "Albert Lee" which was build for me by a gentleman name Dudley Gimble at the Ernie Ball shop. In my opinion the Ernie Ball is the best quality guitar and Bass that are made today for new guitars and that is why I have been playing them. My guitar is an alder body with 1/2 inch maple top. I had them put a maple-top on it for more cut, more punch closer to a Les Paul. I have a maple neck which is very large (I have always had big necks on my guitars) I use 2 Seymour Duncan humbuckers pick ups in it. They change from guitar to guitar, I use everything like if they have tremolo in them, I will use my own model Trembucker in it. But they range from Seth lovers to custom customs.
As far as strings I use Ernie Balls 10's slinkys.I have been friends with Sterling Ball for a long time. I actually met him at a NAMM show about many many years ago.
About 4 or 5 years ago he said just let me make you a guitar, I'll make you the best guitar you've ever had. He made good on his promise and that is the one I play today.
7. What kind of amps do you use?
This is the kind of question I get asked almost as much as the previous one...
As far as the amps are concerned, it's quite simple. As an artist, I'm always searching in trying to find new sounds and do new things in order to keep myself excited and interested in making music. Getting new sounds is what will excite me and inspire me to play. My gear definitely changes a lot but the reality is this. As far as amps what I am using with the exception of my main amp which is my signature, the one that I am most associated is the Dirty Boy amp. An amp that was built by my father, maybe 10 years ago, on the kitchen table of his house, I guess because he was tired of my going out and buying vintage amps and having to get them modified by people who did not necessarily have the best social skills. So he decided to learn how to do it himself, hence ending the reliance on others. With the exception of that one which has an immensely high wattage (120 watts) and has 4 EL 34's, 2 drivers, a mid booster, 2X 5U4's rectifiers, 7 transformers including a Variac, and 6 pre-amp tubes, so that most of the sound actually comes from the power section which has huge filter banks as well as an adjustable feedback loop. It also has an adjustable bias which saves you from paying anyone to bias your tubes.
Once my dad built me my amp, and things went well with it, I pretty much recorded every record with it since I've had it.It's always found its way on there. So what I started getting into lately is very small, low wattage, combo amps for the studio since now I'm doing more studio work then touring. The reason being is when small amps are miked up properly, they can sound HUGE. What I've been doing is finding a bunch of small vintage amps that I really. They are mostly small British amps and I've been having my dad replicate them so they can be totally reliable.
We can also alter them to any application I may need. And that is pretty much what I Have been doing lately.He has built me a bunch of amps lately such as the Vox AC30, some Selmer amps, Supro thunderbolt and others in between. One amp of note is the Gucci amp that is modeled after a 4 input tweed De Luxe with a healthier, punchier, stronger sounding power section that is yet immensely smooth. The reason I like using these amps so much, is that he has actually found a way to give me all the sweetness of old amps ( richness of harmonics as well ) and things like compression that all the old amps have with a healthier, stronger more competitive sound, so it is not DUSTY sounding, which is a problem when you have nothing but just old gear. When you only have old gear, it is nearly impossible to compete with what is going on today. So in essence, I get all the pros that old gear offers with a fresh new sound as well and most importantly, I get reliability not to forget a healthier stronger punchier signal. And it's things like that, that have made my style and sound identifiable.
We use everything from Silvertones to Orange amps to Airlines, you name it and we probably have some kind of version of it. (I just recorded a commercial for some Japanese car company using a Selmer with a blown 6X9 speaker) go figure...
The amplifiers have always been a huge part of my sound. I know the guitars are probably what you associate me with the most, but the reality is that the amplifiers really directly affect my sound.
8. Guitars, vintage or new???
My answer is, the vintage market has been over for a long time. GO FOR NEW.
There is also the occasional vintage dealer that is not too honest, so you better know what you are buying. It is certainly BUYER BEWARE. The prices can be so inflated that most players can't afford them and if you did spend huge bucks on one, you would feel bad playing it knowing you could have bought a house for your family instead.
GET A NEW GUITAR AND GET AN OLD AMP.
I usually pay about $150 for a small amp and they are everywhere if you know where to look and how to look.
9. Where can I buy or get a Dirty Boy amp?
I'm always being asked where you can buy one of my dad's amps. Here is the reality of it. To make them right is an incredibly long and expensive process.
Companies have approached him to license his amp, but it's always the same story, they want to make them cheap and fast and it never ends up sounding right.
He doesn't see the point of of putting out an amp that will end up sounding like one of a thousand amps on the market. Every one knows that none of the new amps have THE DIRTY BOY SOUND so we since I have been using much smaller amps now, we have come up with a solution that definitely brings you into that window sound.To make up for the difference in the power section, I have been using BOOSTER PEDALS. (either distortion, boost , fuzz) He is making me these little pedals that make up for what is lacking in the amps. For more information on these, please look at the pedal section of this website.
Right now he offers 2 models for my hardcore fans but there are a lot more in the making.
10. What pedals are you currently using?
The pedals that I use are the "Germanium Boy " which is in essence a booster that can boost a wide range of sounds. It is not just a treble booster, it can boost the mids as well as the lows. and the reason I have been using the pedals is that those little pawn shop amps that have a signature great Low Fi sound, are not versatile enough and by using the pedals, you can create new sounds that were never meant to be instead of being one trick ponies.
I am also using an "Afro Fuzz " because I did not like the way the old fuzz face could only be used. They were too dark sounding and once activated, you would get a reduction in volume due to the distortion. The Afro Fuzz is a really powerful pedal that boosts the signal into infinite sustain if you set it up right and then you can really start ripping. They are louder, stronger, punchier and still just as smooth.
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