Russian Circles

August 8, 2006

Without a posturing frontman to help draw attention to their phantasmagoric soundscapes, Sullivan and cohorts judiciously employ changes in texture and dynamics to generate interest. “We’re constantly exploring different dynamic levels and we’ve learned where, when, and how long to stay in a certain musical place,” he explains. “You can’t be too stagnant or repetitive but you also can’t give too much away at once. Running the gamut of what you can do during the first five minutes of a show leaves you nowhere to go, and is a surefire way to bore an audience.”

Sullivan relies heavily on effects to color the band’s sound, but cautions that having a lot of paints on your palette doesn’t automatically make you a Rembrandt. “It took some experimenting to develop my signal chain (a Gibson Les Paul Classic Double Cutaway into an Akai Headrush; an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb, Deluxe Memory Man, and POG; a Boss DD-2 Digital Delay and TR-2 Tremolo; and a Fulltone Full-Drive 2—all run through a re-issue Sunn Model T). I was constantly searching out information online, exchanging pedals with friends, and spending hours just playing with different effects, learning to incorporate their individual characteristics into my sound. For example, the TR-2 actually cuts the volume slightly when it’s engaged, but I’ve come to appreciate that and use it to my advantage. When I step on it, I know I’m changing both sound and dynamics.”

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