Chris (Hey Colossus – guitar)
SPB: You’ve dubbed your backline “The Pirate Ship.” Care to tell us why? (And how you put it together?)
Chris: The simple answer is: "Have you seen it?".
When we played Glastonbury we had to set all our gear up behind the stage on ramps so the crew could put it all in place for us in the changeover. I caught the crew taking photos of the amps and laughing. It looked like someone had emptied out a skip.
We're all into gear and love guitars, effects and amps but when you've got 3 guitars and a bass in a band then any notion of “tone” goes out of the window really and it becomes more about being able to hear yourself and finding gear that is affordable and largely idiot-proof. I'd love to use a vintage Laney Klipp in Colossus, or take my Echoplex to gigs, but they're going to break and they're going to be a pain in the arse. Plus, there's a lot of gear fetishism in the circles the group moves in, so it's nice to steer clear of that too.
At the moment I *think* this is what we're using but we haven't been in the same room for nearly a year thanks to COVID so apologies for any errors...
Will plays a 1990s Japanese Fender Mustang that he's upgraded with Creamery P90 pickups so it's super loud. That goes to an MXR micro-amp and a Boss DD3 Delay. His amp is one of the modern solid state Orange CR120 heads into a grey no-name 4x12 cab. Those Orange heads are magic -- really loud, sound great and weigh nothing and we carry one as a spare as well. The cab seems to have belonged to every band in (my hometown of) Nottingham at some stage, I'm pretty sure it was Fudge Tunnel's for a bit and I got it for free from garage rock legends The X Rays. It works better for Will's sound though (loud, thumpy with loads of definition) so he's got it for now. I think it's a Carlsbro. Will used a Les Paul for some of the album as well, through some crazy heavy metal VHT amp head borrowed from Ben Turner who recorded it.
Bob uses whatever amp he has that works at any given time. He always used a Carlsbro Lead 2x12 before 2018 when it met its demise at the band's 15th anniversary gig in London. You can find footage online. Valiant attempts to repair it are still apparently ongoing. In the meantime, Bob has used an ‘80s Carlsbro 100w head he got for £27 off Ebay, a Laney Linebacker head and the band's spare Orange CR120, through a flat-fronted 80s Peavey 4x12 that sounds great. He's just got a replacement Carlsbro Lead though, so there'll be some multiple-amp rig being schemed up no doubt. He has two reissue Mexican Fender Telecaster Deluxes that go through a Morley Power Wah, a reissue silver Big Muff and an Artec Resovibe Tremolo. I'm regularly amazed that Bob sounds like Bob no matter what he plays through though.
Rhys doesn't even own a drumkit. When he did own one it was left in a rehearsal room (due to living in a flat in London) and used by every single band that ran through the studio. It was in pieces after a couple of years. The kit he now uses is Roo from Henry Blacker's spare set. He does own cymbals and a snare though. He doesn't turn the snare on. Every gig we've played over the last ten years has seen the soundperson ask, "Is that what you want the snare to sound like?". The answer is always "Yes". It always sounds better than any other band's snare.
Joe has a modern Gibson Krist Novoselic RD Bass he bought off the guy from Electric Wizard to replace his old aluminium-necked Kramer as the Gibson is a bit fatter sounding. That goes straight into a modern Orange head (OB1-500 I believe) that has the built-in dual-amp thing so you can distort one amp and keep the other one bass-y and it sounds great. That goes to a homemade cab that I think has 4 10" speakers in it. He did have a Boss Bass Overdrive pedal but the Orange has put it into retirement as it does everything in the box. He sometimes has an extra 15-inch cab too and that set-up sounds unbelievable.
I have 2 tunings so I have a ‘70s Univox Hi Flier for one tuning and a '91 Squier Telecaster (fitted with an old Fender humbucker) for the other. Pedals are a booster that's always on (and my friend Joey Chickenskin built for me) that just makes my “clean” sound a bit more chimey. Then there's a Fulltone Fulldrive distortion pedal (fuck Fulltone though), then an old ‘80s delay pedal that's been modded to have a “hold” switch to make it self-oscillate and then a reverb pedal on the end. That goes into 2 amp: a ‘70s HH IC100 combo and an ‘80s Fender Dual Showman through a Marshall 2x12 from the band's amp pile. All stacked up, wobbling like crazy and giving me the fear on a bouncy stage. The Fender is the only valve amp in the band and it blew up on the first gig of the last tour which delighted everyone as we then had to lug it around Europe for a fortnight. I used a Mosrite, a 70s Tele Deluxe, a Strat and a pedal steel guitar on the album as well, through an Echoplex into either an HH or a Fender Twin.
Crucially, we all have tuning pedals. All 4 stringed instruments are tuned differently. It's a nightmare when I forget a song as I can't just look at where someone else's fingers are and wing it. Keeps it lively I guess.
I've attached some photos from the last couple of years.