How much of your playing on Sistrionix was shaped and dictated by Deap Vally being a two-piece band?
“Working in the confines of a two-piece definitely affects my choices on guitar. I like that, it’s a nice challenge and it pushes me. Most of our songs aren’t chord based per se; they work around a mixture of chords and riffs or just riffs peppered with powerchords. It’s not your standard chord-based guitar rock.”
Have those confines improved you as a guitar player?
“It’s definitely made me much better. I can’t rely on a bass player so a lot of the time with the parts I write, I know guitar is going to be the only melodic instrument. Like when I solo I can’t rely on a rhythm guitar player so I have to keep that in mind to make sure I keep it very rhythmic.
"I have to make sure I mix chords with notes. But then Julie is a very dynamic drummer. She is very intuitive and creative and that helps. Her parts add so much. Being in a two-piece has definitely made me a more creative guitar player.”
Do you have to be mindful about filling the space left by not having a bassist?
“The empty space means that what you don’t put in there is as important as what you do put in. We’re very conscious of what we leave out of our music. Me having two amps [a Fender Bassman 1965 reissue and a Fender Deluxe] helps fill out the frequency range, so does me fuzzing out the guitar and using the distorted bass tones.
"Using two amps on stage instead of one makes a world of difference – I’m able to crank bass and guitar frequencies at the same time... and expedite my hearing loss. Julie’s drumming is very dynamic as well, which is really effective. The way I sing is big and boisterous, which definitely helps fill it out.”
You mentioned how playing guitar in a duo has made you more creative, but it also sounds like you’re not afraid to make simple parts count on Sistrionix...
“My style is very intuitive. I play by ear. I try not to be neurotic about my writing, I try to just let it flow. I had a few guitar lessons in my life but for the most part I am self-taught, so I just figured out how to do a lot of things by myself.
"When you figure out how to do vibrato or bend on your own it is in your own style a little bit. I’m not hung up on being technically correct. That doesn’t concern me. I like to just be as adventurous as possible. [With] some of my parts, I’m not afraid to play really simplistic riffs if they sound great – that doesn’t bother me.
“There was a time in my life when I was younger that I felt a lot of pressure when I was writing parts to make s**t sound really inventive and obscure. But I think I really got a breakthrough when I got to the point, musically, that I wasn’t afraid to play some real simple, catchy parts.”