Skunk Anansie's Ace iPhone guitar app

As part of our in-depth chat about his new gear and playing approach on Skunk Anansie's comeback album, Wonderlustre, Ace has also been talking iPhone apps with us. He's very keen on their possibilities for players - namely his signature IK Multimedia Groovemaker Rock Ace application that allows guitarists the chance to make their own songs out of his samples, and then jam over them if they wish.

You can read more about Ace's work on the new Skunk Anansie album in issue 334 of Guitarist magazine - out on September 29 - but as an exclusive online Guitarist Extra feature here's our chat about his iPhone guitar app…

"The idea of this app is a sample bank and people can make songs from the samples and jam along," explains Ace. "I've done one called Rock Ace for them - loads of riffs, solos and drum beats for you to make up your own songs with. You can change the speed and it's a lot of fun. All the riffs and solos I've played are all original. I actually played them all live and we took the live takes and cut them into looping bars."

How did you end up working with IK?

"I've been working with them for years - I used to write patches for [guitar amp and effects modelling software] AmpliTube and did a bit on their StealthPedal. When they got Groovemaker together they asked if I wanted to do a signature edition with them."

Did you try guitar techniques you don't usually use in the band when you recorded for the app?

"I did some tapping in there - I was trying to cover a whole load of styles. There's some fast stuff, wah and feedback going on in there. It was a lot of fun because I was sat in my studio doing it."

Were you worried about giving away any of your riffs that you might want to use again later?

"Not really to be honest - I made it before we released [2009 Skunk Anansie collection of hits and new material] Smashes and Trashes so all the writing for the new songs on that had been done. I had all these bits and pieces left over but a lot of it was off the cuff by me.

"The engineer I was working with did the bass and the drums and we would say, ok this one is in A and I'd then write and play ten riffs or so for it. I had loads of pedals in front of me and was making things up on the spot - if it was good we'd keep it. The I'd reel off ten solos. We actually recorded about 250 pieces in a day and a half of solid playing."

So this could be a really good practice tool for guitar players to jam with after arranging the loops?

"Definitely - I've heard one of the guys from the Dave Matthews band uses it for jamming and practising and I've even heard of a film scorer who uses it for composing. People from all over the place are buying it too. They're selling as many in America as they are in Europe - there's a few going in Japan too now. It's now released on iPad too, so I'm interested to see what happens there.

"It was a great thing for me to do - it's almost like the feeling of having another record out. You have to give away all your riffs but I can always write more of those. There are some great ones on there though I have to say! People could definitely write new songs out of what's there."

To find out more about the app and other editions in the series visit the IK Groovemaker website.

To read more from Ace - see the indepth Making Tracks gear feature on Skunk Anansie's comeback album, Wonderlustre, in the issue 334 of Guitarist - out September 29.

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.