Persephone's Bees

“I don’t know how our new record will be received now, but I’m confident it will still sound fresh in ten years,” claims Persephone’s Bees guitarist Tom Ayres about his band’s second effort, Notes from the Underworld [Columbia]. “The reason for this confidence is that we tracked with all-analog equipment, and every note I played is a nod to my classic rock heroes such as the Kinks, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. There’s a timelessness to that era we wanted to capture, because when you try to be too hip by only using state-of-the-art technology to play trendy music, you may sound good now, but you’ll probably be totally dated in a decade.”

Although Ayres is a self-confessed anachronism, he says while he was tracking the day-glow-hued dance-rock on Notes from the Underworld he learned you don’t necessarily need a top-dollar vintage rig to cop cool sounds.

“My new gear philosophy is ‘the crappier, the better,’” he explains. “Some of my hippest tones were made with lo-fi toys. For starters, that gargantuan-sounding heavy guitar between the verses of ‘Way to Your Heart’ and the end of ‘City of Love’ is a ’58 Sears Silvertone Jupiter through a Vox AC30. The fuzzed-out crunch on ‘Walk to the Moon’ is an old Vox guitar with the built-in distortion switch engaged. I also got some crazy overdriven tones from a ’90s Crate G-15 practice amp recorded direct. It’s crazy how often small amps can translate into big sounds in the recording studio.”

Before joining Persephone’s Bees, Ayres spent years as a guitar instructor in Los Angeles, but he says working with the group’s singer/songwriter/keyboardist Angelina Moysov taught him a valuable lesson.

“I’ve found that when you’re playing behind a talented lead singer, you get the hell out of the way when they’re singing, and make your musical statements when they’re not singing,” he says. “It’s easy for guitarists to get caught up in their own noodling and forget that their number one role—especially in a rock band—is to help the song reach the listener.”