10 questions for Midas Fall’s Rowan Burn: “My heavily modded Fender Jaguar is called Sigourney”

We love post-rock here at MR, but with the delay pedal-toting guitar-band floodgates fit to burst, whenever a group pipes up with a new twist on the well-worn genre, we take note - and Midas Fall had us scribbling extensively.

On fourth album Evaporate, the Scottish duo - which comprises vocalist Elizabeth Heaton and offset-toting guitarist Rowan Burn - deploy an orchestra of synths, strings and crystalline guitar arpeggios to disarming effect.

Yet any sense of overt sentimentality is offset by a Reznor-esque industrial edge courtesy of a battalion of drum machines, wisely putting distance between them and the rest of the instrumental-rock pack.

Ahead of the album’s release and accompanying tour, we caught up with reverb-keen six-stringer Burn to hear about her gear loves, onstage nightmares and of course, her cherished Jaguar, Sigourney…

1. What was your first guitar and when did you get it?

“It was a Cherry Red Epiphone SG; I got it when I was 13 - in hindsight totally the wrong guitar to have bought, but I loved it at the time.”

2. The building’s burning down - what one guitar do you save?

“My Fender Jaguar, Sigourney. It's the only guitar I play and record with - hopelessly monogamous! I spent years adjusting it to be as close to (my idea of) perfection as possible: Mastery bridge, locking tuners, pot upgrades, fret dresses, custom nut, Seymour Duncan pickups (Quarter Pounder and Hot Rail), full rewire, shielding - everything has been changed/upgraded except the body and neck! I have others, but they're really only backups.”

3. What's the one effects pedal you couldn't do without, and why?

“The Eventide Space, which I only bought last year, but had wanted for the longest time. It was a really important tool in creating the Evaporate album. I've used a lot of different reverb pedals, but nothing comes close to this.”

4. Is there a guitar, or piece of gear, that you regret letting go?

“I had an Orange RV50 head and matching 2x12 cab, which I traded for an old Silverface Fender Twin. It was a moment of madness: the Twin just couldn't create the sounds I wanted, so I got rid of it after about a month and got an Orange RV50 combo, though I still prefer the head and cab setup.”

5. And what's the next piece of gear you’d like to acquire?

“I'm actually really happy with my setup at the moment, but I've recently been considering a sustainer pickup, though I'm hesitant to give up the neck SD Quarter Pounder.”

6. What’s your favourite chord, and why?

“Hmm. Sure I should probably say some fruity jazz chord here, but in all honesty, a big, mournful D minor is my favourite. Stalking Moon, the closing track from our first album, is more or less D minor the whole way through and I always love playing it.”

7. What’s the greatest guitar tone you’ve ever heard?

“This is a tough one to answer because I don't think there really can be a greatest tone: how great the tone is comes down to how well-placed it is in context with other instruments. I've been listening to a lot of Emma Ruth Rundle recently; the guitar sounds on her albums are all absolutely stunning.”

8. If you could have a guitar lesson from one guitarist, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

“Probably [former Silverchair frontman] Daniel Johns; as a guitarist I think he's massively underrated. He uses a lot of interesting tunings, which is something I'd like to explore more myself.”

9. What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you onstage?

“Years ago, when we first started the band, we had a show in Bristol and it was awful. We were all so hideously drunk we could barely pull ourselves onstage.

“Partway through the set, I fell into the drum kit, messed up my guitar, hurt my arm and staggered around for far too long trying to compose myself and then I couldn't find my Ebow... The whole thing was a disaster. We no longer drink more than a couple before getting on stage!”

10. What advice would you give your younger self about playing the guitar?

“Don't waste time learning how to tap and stay away from flange pedals. Instead, get a good reverb and focus on melodies.”

Evaporate is out on 27 April via Monotreme Records. Midas Fall tour the UK in May:

04/05 Evil Eye, Liverpool
05/05 Cavern, Exeter
06/05 The Vault, Leicester
08/05 The Star Inn, Guildford
09/05 Aatma, Manchester
10/05 Bannermans, Edinburgh
11/05 13th Note, Glasgow

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.