Five Questions with Electric Sun’s Vlad Holiday

February 14, 2012

We first met Vlad Holiday when he was the hotshot lead player with Jet Lag Gemini. Now he’s cranking out big anthemic riffs and burning solos with his new band Electric Sun. GP checked in with Holiday upon the release of the band’s debut, The Gilded Cage, a catchy blend of pop-inflected melodies and kick-ass rock guitar.

What were the top five most important pieces of gear you used to make your new record?

My 1987 Gibson Les Paul Custom is definitely my number one brush in the studio and out. I have a few Les Pauls, but this one plays and sounds the best out of any I’ve ever played. It has a Gibson ’57 Classic in the bridge and a Seymour Duncan ’59 in the neck. My next important pieces are Guitar Rig, Guitar Rig, Guitar Rig, and Guitar Rig. I’ve always tried to be forward thinking when it comes to both songwriting and sound writing. I’m a firm believer in fusing technology with music.

How did you get that crazy, choppy tone in “Fuel to the Fire”?

Fuzz, fuzz, and more fuzz. I layered a ton of different amps, cabs, mics, pedals, EQs—all virtually— and panned them all over the place to fill a big amount of space. As I was writing that riff, I literally began to chop the sound waves as an experiment. What happened was essentially a very intense tremolo effect that comes in and out before you know it.

If you had to do a gig with just five pedals, what would they be?

My Korg Pitchblack tuner would be essential. It doesn’t matter how heavenly my tone is if I’m out of tune, and tuning by ear is vastly impractical and unprofessional in a live situation. Next would be a Z.Vex Fuzz Factory. Those things make some elegantly disheveled chaos. I’d also need a normal distortion pedal—cranked for solo boosts—a noise suppressor, and a delay/reverb.

What’s the weirdest thing that happened to you on a gig that you came up with an interesting fix for?

One time at soundcheck, my amp started telling me sports scores. As much as my audience might be interested in the game, I believe there’s a time and place for everything. We ended up using guitar strings and aluminum foil in wizardly ways to try to block out the radio interference from my wireless system.

What do you hear other guitarists do that bugs you?

Although I definitely appreciate some tight, simplistic soloing à la Mike Campbell with Tom Petty, I think people should experiment more with playing away from the drums and getting into your own zone. Guitar playing for me is about finding the right balance of “loose-tie” and “formal.”

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