The Carnival Of Madness is coming
“There’s been talk of bringing Carnival Of Madness over to the UK for a while, but it’s just never come to fruition for whatever reason,” says Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers, in the week building up to the touring festival’s first run across UK shores. Along with headliners Black Stone Cherry, Halestorm and Highly Suspect, they’ll be breathing rock’n’roll fire into the biggest arenas nationwide.
“Now we’re finally doing it, we’re so excited,” he continues. “It’s gonna be a big family tour where everyone gets along and knows each other’s music. I don’t see many festival tours like the ones we have in the States going over to the UK, like Uproar or Warped Tour.
"That’ll be fun to see and the Black Stone guys all have hearts of gold, they are the best people you could ever meet. We haven’t played with Highly Suspect yet, but we’ve played a million with Black Stone and Halestorm!”
And which of the dates is he most excited about… is there one city that holds a special magic for the Shinedown axeman?
“I love London for the class of the city, and especially for the shopping. I love The Beatles, so I can’t wait to see Liverpool – I can’t believe we’ve toured the UK so many times and I’ve never been there! I’m a huge Oasis fan so Manchester is a cool place too! It’s all rock’n’roll man, just a whole lotta fun. You guys are way better drinkers than us, you always know how to party…”
Here the guitarist talks us through 12 pieces of gear he couldn’t live without…
1. PRS Custom 22 One-off
“This an amazing PRS piece that Paul Reed Smith and Ben [Fowler, Artist Relations Director] had made for me when I got married... It was a beautiful wedding gift and an amazing guitar which has never left the house! My wife plays it as well, so that one’s kinda stayed at home.
"What’s cool about it is that I had no idea they were doing that. They came to the wedding and said they had brought a gift. And I was like, ‘Thanks, you can leave it over there,’ and they told me that they really wanted to see me open this one. I was blown away by it.
“I don’t think the pictures can ever do it justice, the flame on it is amazing. The whole guitar is natural and the Aztec inlay is really cool. They put the wedding ring on the headstock, it was just such a cool surprise. I don’t think they do that much except for, like, Santana! That’s pretty good company to be in… It was the last thing I expected as a wedding gift.”
2. 1968 Gibson ES-335
“This is a 1968 Gibson ES-335 which was used on about 75% of Threat To Survival. I bought at the legendary Gruhn Guitars in Nashville.
"We were rehearsing nearby in 2012 and they had a sticker on it for $3500 and I offered $3250. So they were looking for the case for about 45 minutes, I really like the original cases because I’m a bit of a collector. I like all the original parts. So I offered $2850 without the case, and the guy was like, ‘Alright!’
“Then as soon as I was walking out the day, they said they’d found the case ha ha! So I got the guitar for about $600 less than I should have. When I’m home, it’ll be one of the three guitars I grab first out of my guitar room. I tend to grab it whenever I’m relearning songs to prepare for a tour, it’s just the one I go for!”
3. Fender Custom Shop 1954 Strat
“Here’s a Custom Shop masterbuilt Strat made by my friend at Fender, John Cruz. It’s a 1954 Relic. I got when I was 15 and I had a lot of people I got to play with when I was younger sign it ... B.B. King, Slash, Buddy Guy and a lot of others.
"I have an inner conflict with it because there’ve been times I wished I never got everyone to sign it. I’m glad I got to play with BB King and Buddy Guy when I was younger, but it’s almost like I wish I got everyone to sign a different guitar. Because this one plays great.
“I have an original ‘54 Strat as well and this plays so similar to the original. I still play it, I just won’t use it live because of sweating. Such is life… I definitely don’t want B.B. King’s signature to come off, that’s kinda like the main one! That goes for any of those Fender Custom Shop masterbuilts… they’re all amazing.”
4. Fender Jim Root Signature Telecaster and Jazzmaster
“These are two of my favourites... My friend Jim Root from Slipknot sent me these. He’s one of the nicest people on earth and also knows more about gear than anyone.
"I was a tech for a long time, I know a lot about gear. But that guy can spout off neck radiuses, action levels, knows everything about every part of his guitars. It’s really cool to listen to him talk about gear and he’d been talking about this guitars for so long, I said we should do a signature model swap! I think he only got one of mine in the end, so I still owe him one.
“But I remember when they arrived, I played them for a week straight. They have a compound radius, basically the strings just lay on the neck and don’t buzz. It plays so fast, the feel of a Tele or Jazzmaster but plays like an Ibanez. It’s so smooth and flat, just a super-cool guitar. That’s a guitar I’d recommend any kid to go check out!”
5. PRS SCJ One-off
“My grandmother meant more to me than anyone on earth, she taught me so many amazing things. She sadly passed in 2012 and without knowledge to me, PRS made this amazing SCJ that had my grandmother’s necklace and initials on the fretboard, in the color of her birthstone.
"This definitely stays in the guitar room. It’s barely been played, I don’t even think I’ve plugged it in. That’s another thing about me, when I buy guitars I don’t plug them in. At most, I’ve owned 231 guitars and I never plugged a single one in before buying it! To me, it’s just a pickup, I can just switch it out.
“But losing my grandmother was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through by a long shot and we were on tour when it happened. I wrote this poem about losing her and when they sent the guitar, they put a picture of me and my grandmother in the guitar with the words I’d written. So when I opened it, of course I started crying like a little girl!”
6. 1938 Gibson Acoustic
“This is a rare find! It’s a 1938 Gibson acoustic and the craziest thing is that it only had one owner before me. This kid’s grandfather owned it and the kid put it up for sale. And you know, I’m so sentimental about my guitars, if he ever wanted it back, I would probably sell it to him.
"I’d hope someone would do that for me. I have a buddy at Guitar Center that will give me a backdoor call before he puts anything on the floor. So he called me up saying he thought he had a ‘40 or ‘39 Gibson acoustic. The back was cracked, it wasn’t totally split apart but it easily could have been if you played it long enough. There were no strap locks, there was a rusty nail.
“I asked what he wanted for it, which was like $450! I played it for years the way it was, with a strip of tape on the back holding it together. I totally pawned shopped it! I knew if I drilled through for a strap lock, it would have split. It has that really old smell that I just love about acoustic guitars.”
7. 1972 Fender Thinline Telecaster
“This is 1972 Black Thinline Tele which I’ve used this one live a lot. Brent bought it for me back in 2009 from a guy that deals crazy rare guitars and exotic cars like Lamborghinis! He knew I loved hollowbody thinline Telecasters.
"I already had one reissue that I loved and I wanted a black version to have as its twin. So Brent bought it for me and I fell in love with it straightaway. I used it on our song ‘45 and I used it constantly for about three years. I think Aaron Lewis from Staind wanted to buy this one too!
“You know, when my friends need gear, I’m always happy for people to swing by and grab a ‘78 Les Paul to use for a session, I really don’t care and trust my friends. But that’s the one everybody knows they are not getting!
"What’s crazy about Telecasters is it doesn’t matter where they are made. I have ‘72 Tele, a ‘61 Tele and used to have ‘51 Esquire Tele… but my roadworn Mexican 2010 which cost $400 is my favourite of them all. And everyone in the band agrees, for some reason it is just the best playing guitar!”
8. Taylor 914CE Acoustic
“This is my main Taylor, and has been my main one for about 10 years since I joined them.
"It’s a 900 series, 914CE or something like that. That Rupert Neve-designed expression system in those guitars sounds amazing. Listen, I have an impressive array of Martins and Gibsons, but there’s something about the sounds Taylor guitars get at live shows that is consistently amazing. I haven’t been able to get rid of them! Also, their founder Robert Taylor is a really good friend of mine.
“The reason why I play PRS and Taylor is they are still companies that have one guy’s passion for guitars, as far as the big ones go. You couldn’t tell me who the CEO of Fender is, it’s probably some dude in a suit that’s never played guitar in his life with no real emotional connection to it.
"These guys care. Even if they make 500 guitars in one day, but if one’s bad… it really hurts them because it’s their name. I’ve tried to play my old Martins live, with all sorts of different pickups, so fortunately I’m stuck with them forever. They have a sound I can’t afford to lose, really.”
9. 1972 Gibson Dove Acoustic
“In 2009 my favorite acoustic guitar I owned at the time, a 1969 Gibson Dove, was stolen. This is a guitar I bought a week later a 1972 Gibson Dove, which has tons of character.
"I left the guitar in the trunk of my wife’s car because I had food in my hands, it was raining and I thought it would be okay for four hours. So later I came down to get the guitar and the whole car was gone. It was my favourite acoustic ever made, with a shaped, sunburst top.
“It had so much wear on it, especially from pick scratches, with a brass bridge that rang like a bell. It sounded like an old Martin and even five years later, I still look for that guitar online every couple of weeks!
"It’s truly the one that got away, which hurts to think about it. So I found the ‘72 Dove which has just enough wear and tear to remind me of the other one but I don’t think it can ever replace it.”
10. Diezel Herbert
“For almost a decade this has been my main head with Shinedown and the first Diezel I ever owned. It’s by far one of the most versatile and tonally perfect amps I've ever head… I think Peter and everyone at Diezel are truly amazing at building amps.
"I don’t think they’re as well known as they should be because they’re kinda impossible to find, maybe 10 stores in America sell them? And they’re definitely not cheap, by any stretch.
“I love the VH4 and used one on Sound Of Madness, but I never go past the second channel on a Herbert so a VH4 would have two channels that I don’t really need. They’re just brilliant, well-made amps that I can trust in.”
11. Fuchs Clean Machine
‘The Fuchs Clean Machine is a mind-blowing amp with one of the best and most pristine clean tones I've ever heard. This has been ridden hard on tour and in the studio. It’s made by a company based in New Jersey.
"I have this and their Mantis head – which I actually use in my European tour rig. The Clean Machine is such an amazing piece of equipment, especially for someone that always wanted Dumbles and unique amps like that.
“This has that Stevie Ray Vaughan playing Little Wing type of tone, you know what I mean? Just crystal clear and at 150 watts it could blow your head off. Everyone loves the Roland JC-120s, which I agree are great for that spanky sound, but they miss a lot of the low end.”
12. Boss DC-2 Dimension C
“These pedals were very looked over when they came out. As you can see, this one looks like a shark chewed on it! But it's one of the best choruses ever made and what I love most about them is they are crazy rare! But if you can find one, they’re not that expensive.
"I have two original Klon Centaur pedals; if something happens to them, I’ve got to spend two grand to replace each one. While the Dimension C is harder to find but when you do, they’re like $200 so not expensive at all. They were made in Japan and have buttons instead of knobs, so you have four or five presets in there.
“There was a guitar player called Hal McCormack who was in Survivor for a bit, and before that he was in a Memphis band called Homemade Flavour. He was one of my favourite guitar players to watch a kid, and he used this chorus to get one of the best sound I’ve ever heard. So now I’ve got three of 'em!”