Indie rock reviews: Band Gear Box with Zechs Marquise
The members of Zechs Marquise are giving fans an inside look into their instruments, how they record, their live gear set up, some tips and tricks, their music collections and what gear makes their sound unique and much more. Be sure to pick up a copy of their newly released full-length album Getting Paid.
What was your first piece of music gear and how old were you?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: Trumpet at 10. I did play it constantly until I got my first guitar at 11, and was more drawn to it. My guitar was a Yamaha FG-401 acoustic, and I still use it daily.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: When I was 11 my parents bought me an acoustic guitar. After a while I realized I liked the bass a lot more so when I was 13, I was given a replica of Paul McCartney’s Hofner bassthat my brother had given my dad. I thought it looked so cool because the shape was modeled after a violin and Paul had one just like it, except his was a lefty. I played it here and there but it wasn’t until I got my Fender Jazz Bass a year later that I started playing all the time.
Guitarist Marcos Smith: Epiphone classical guitar. When I first got it I played it alllllllllllll the time. I wish I still had that much time to practice.-
What instruments do you own?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: Mostly electric/acoustic guitar, but I still practice and write with my old P Bassthat I used to use in punk rock bands. I also do some work with sequencers, but I am certainly not an expert.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez:
They are all basses: 2001 Fender Precision (U.S.A.), 1973
Rickenbacker 4001, an early 90′s Fender Custom Shop Fretless Precision
(U.S.A.), 2005 Hohner Acoustic, and a 1997 Fender Jazz (Mexico)-
Guitarist Marcos Smith: one fender Stratocaster
What is your favorite instrument, or piece of gear?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: My favorite instrument to play is my acoustic, but my favorite new piece of equipment is my Line 6 m9.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: It would have to be my 2001 Fender P-Bass, I use it ALL the time, I absolutely love the way it sounds. It growls!
Guitarist Marcos Smith: My guitar, because it is the only thing I have.
Do you collect any instruments?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: I never like to get rid of any gear, so inevitably I have a small collection of gear. I have learned my lesson though because that all of the gear that I have let go of in the past, I have missed later. I keep it all now.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: Basses! Different basses from different years, different makes and different models.
Guitarist Marcos Smith: I wish I could afford to.
What pieces of gear make your sound unique?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: I used to think a unique sound was all about getting that perfect amp, tubes, pedal etc. Don’t get me wrong it does help to a certain degree, but really a unique sound comes from the musician. I have seen people use the best equipment and sound poor, while I have also seen many musicians who use whatever junky instrument they could get their hands on to sound incredible. It is really more about being able to utilize the things that you have in order to create your own unique sound. I most frequently use my Boss DD5.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: I’d have to say the Foxx Tone Machine gives my tone a certain bite. That is hands down the best fuzz pedal I have ever used for bass.
Guitarist Marcos Smith: Clavinet, Mellotron, Line 6 m9.
Does your live set up differ from what you record with?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: Always! In the studio you have the luxury of being able to use multiple amplifiers within one song, or switch out multiple vintage pedals that are too old, valuable and sometimes unreliable to tour with. So, many times I will use certain things live that Sound close to the original for that reason.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: Yes, in the studio I like to use all my basses. They each have their own unique tone, sometimes I use one per song or a couple in the same song. My pedal set up changes as well. In the studio we have a large arsenal of pedals to work with, some songs have one or multiple effects, some songs have none. It all depends on what works best. Live, I like to keep it simple: one bass (2001 Fender P-Bass) and lately two pedals (Foxx Tone Machine and Line 6 M9)
Guitarist Marcos Smith: Yes. In the studio Marcel utilizes a clavinet, a melotron, percusion, and all kinds of synthesizers. On stage we have to compromise although with Rico now in the band we now sound a bit more like we do in the studio when we play live.
What do you look for when you are buying an instrument? Does it have to have a sweet paint job?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: Something just draws your interest toward certain things. Sometimes it is only because you know it’s sonic capabilities, and other times you will try something out because of it’s aesthetic quality. I am most concerned with how something sounds though, looks are extremely secondary.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: The sound of course but like anything, the look is also important (shape, color, knob and switch layout, etc.).
Guitarist Marcos Smith: The first thing I notice is the way it looks. I like natural wood finishes and dark colors. The other thing I look for is the way it sounds.
Have you ever broken an instrument, or gotten any gear stolen?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: Luckily, (while knocking on wood) I haven’t had either happen. However, I did come to practice when Zechs was a very new band to find that our former drummer decided to turn my bass guitar into a personal wood work project of his. He had stripped the paint and sanded the whole bass down, and stained it a new color without my knowledge. Needless to say, I was really disappointed. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to realize that disappointment because he later removed the tolex from my vintage 67′ Fender Bandmaster. Still sounds the same though!
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: I’ve never had a piece of gear stolen thank god. Broken? Only slightly, simply from wear and tear. My 2001 Fender P-Bass had to have the pick-ups re-soldered as well as the input changed out and the nut on the J-Bass is broken and has to be replaced.
Guitarist Marcos Smith: No, I have dropped my guitar at two different shows while playing and it doesn’t have to bad of scars on its body.
How often do you practice?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: I personally practice every day as much as I can. It feels good to work hard at something and watch yourself progress. If you are such a badass that you feel no need to practice, you shouldn’t be playing professionally. Practicing is part of the job.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: I try and practice everyday even if its just for 30 minutes, although sometimes I’ll go a few days without practicing.
Guitarist Marcos Smith: I try to play on my own for a couple hours at least 4 times a week. Before a show or tour we rehearse everyday for sometimes up to a month.
Is setting up for shows ever a nightmare?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: Setting up shows is always time consuming. There is a lot more that goes into setting up a show, let alone an entire tour, that the spectator never has the opportunity to appreciate. Now that Zechs Marquise has a booking agent, I don’t have to book as much and I can concentrate more on my job as a musician.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: I’ve got that on lock down! Using only two pedals live helps if any trouble shooting needs to be done.
Guitarist Marcos Smith: Setting up shows is always a nightmare. You have to worry about if the promoter is sketchy, if the venue has a bad rep, getting paid, making sure merch is up to date, whether or not people will show up…. the list goes on forever.
Do you think the best instruments come with a high price tag?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: Certainly not! Although some of the most sought after instruments are pricey, some of my favorite things I own have cost me very little money.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: Not necessarily, you can find a bad ass piece of gear for a low price. Its all about looking in the right places, there are some great deals out there.
Guitarist Marcos Smith: If I could afford all the gear I want I could easily spend 10s of thousands of dollars. A badass piece of gear is worth the high price tag to me. It is always awesome when you find cool gear for cheap though.
Do you have any awesome teachers or stories about learning?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: My first teacher was a guy named Dan Lambert from El Paso, who taught me how to play certain songs that I liked, which I think helped me to develop a better ear. Other than that I pretty much taught myself by using books, videos or just trial and error. The best ideas are made by accident!
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: Nope, not really. I never took any lessons. I’ve learned mostly from books and watching other people play and listening to what they have to say.
Guitarist Marcos Smith: One thing that I will always remember is something that Marcel was told, that he in turn told me. We had been geeking out about music and what it takes to make it and be a professional musician, in a professional band. He said “you gotta do your homework”. What he meant was that you have to practice all the time and try to discover new things in your playing. He also meant that you have to listen to and research everything about music, like what types of gear do you favorite musicians like, or what other dudes played on your favorite albums beside the band leaders. Basically make music your life. Now it is something that I tell to people and fans who tell me that they are in a band. Hope that didn’t sound to cheesy.
Are there any instruments, or gear, that your band mates play that you wish they wouldn’t?
Guitarist Matthew Wilkson: No, I like that all of us play a couple of instruments; some more than others. If there was ever an instrument that one of us didn’t like in a song, we would be honest enough to discuss it’s position in the composition.
Bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: No, everyone has good taste as far as tones and effects but we are definitely on the look out for anything that sounds whack.
Guitarist Marcos Smith: I think we would try to make any instrument sound good no matter what it is. If you run a kazoo through delay, reverb, and fuzz; who knows it might sound amazing.