How long have you been a musician? How did you get into it in the first place?
I always enjoyed making skits and songs on cassette recorders since I was five. Recording and editing is still my very favorite thing to do, and it always feels like a privilege. Besides Marty McFly and Van Halen references that heavily sold the ‘coolness’ of guitar in the 80’s, I always just loved guitar. There was a day when I was 11 or 12, that my brother’s friend brought over a red electric guitar and an amp to our house. My brother and I shared a room, and so I got to see how it worked, and they knew I wanted to play it. For some reason they had to leave, and they gave me permission to play it by myself for a short while. I was in heaven. A few years later, I had to prove to my parents that I was serious about guitar by learning to play on an old beat up acoustic guitar for a while. Then I finally got my first Fender Strat for Christmas 1991! Currently, I’m a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and have been using loop machines for about 25 years.
Who have been some of your major musical influences, past or present?
The ‘home entertainment’ decades of the 80’s and 90’s are undeniably influential. I’m guessing my generation is the first to have a flood of video game music composers and movie score composers regularly playing in their homes growing up. Soundtracks to game series like Castlevania and Mega Man were always so good! I remember trying to learn the end credits music for Castlevania II on a keyboard, by ear. I believe it’s a generational perk that we got to have popular and obscure films play regularly at home. Even major films like Rocky, Back to the Future, & Star Wars that are still marketed like crazy today – the scores of these films are just as prevalent.
One thing that was drastically different for me since the age of three – I’d been sitting in audiences watching my father sing and lead shows on large festival stages with great bands. That is a real spectacle for a kid to see his dad on stage, making so many people energized and happy! Later, buying and investigating music actually took over my life, and it hasn’t stopped. The lead guitarists are the musicians I’ve paid most attention to, because I find that strings allow for amazing subtleties to communicate with. It’s the closest thing to the emotion of the human voice, to me. I made a list of my favorite “articulators on strings”: Edward Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Trey Anastasio, Eric Johnson, Steve Rothery, Steve Howe, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Adrian Legg, Jerry Garcia, Andy Latimer, Alex Lifeson, Mark Sandman and Chris Squire.
What drew you to using pedals initially? Have you been using them throughout your playing career? How have pedals helped to shape your sound, or influence the style that you’ve created?
In the 90’s, before I knew of any loop pedals, there were delay pedals that acted a lot like loop pedals. My very first pedal was an Ibanez digital delay, and I used to especially respond to how it would act for the last 20 minutes of a very low battery! It would stretch the delay’s settings, but it would still operate the same, so it was like this sacred window where you could fit more of a phrase in for repeats. This was certainly the beginning of my love for looping. From there I went right to the multi-effects pedals – starting with a Digitech RP5. I remember focusing on the octave pedal that gave that lower fifth along with your note. After that, I have depended on my Digitech GNX-1, since 2000, and used its customizable effects for 95% of all the guitar and keyboard effects on my newest album, “The Line (2015)“. One of the effects I was determined to try and recreate on the GNX-1 (for the album) was this warbly/pitch bendy sound that Robert Plant’s guitarist was using in 2005. It immediately grabbed my attention, and sounded like someone putting their finger on a vinyl record while it’s spinning and playing on a turntable…slightly. So the sound is there, and suddenly a dip in pitch, and then back again. After feeling proud that I made the perfect setting to match it, now I’m hearing that similar sound on so many records… it’s not so unique anymore, but I still enjoy it. Lastly, I used a Boomerang loop pedal for about 10 years, and after it overheated during a 100 degree Summerfest gig, it was time for a change.
What’s your current setup look like? Take us through your pedal rig (feel free to include amps and instruments as well if you’d like):
Currently, I use a wider body Ovation 6778 LX Standard Series acoustic guitar, that I bought new in 2004, plugged into the ‘Cadillac of Loop Pedals”, the Boss RC-300. I’m still unearthing some of its many features. I just started looping vocals with it last summer, after having it for four years, so now it’s more than looping guitars. It also has effects and an expression pedal… someday I’ll master this thing.
Favorite type of pedal (drive, delay, fuzz, etc. – more than one answer is always acceptable!):
My favorite pedals are loop pedals, because they offer endless and spontaneous fun. There is an intense precision (and an order to) making the first few foundational loops, especially in a live situation, which then gives way to completely freeing improvisation.
Delay pedals are the perfect pedal to get a new guitar player. It forces you to learn rhythm guitar, by reacting to the sound coming back to you. All the kids that I knew from high school were only interested in distortion pedals. I’m so glad I bought what I tried out and liked for that first pedal.
You’re stranded on a desert island – which three (3) of the following do you want to have?
Instrument – my 1986 Fender Squier Strat (Japan issue)
Amp –I’ve owned three my whole life, and besides the miracle of making things louder, they’ve all been wonky in some way. Still searching!
Pedals – The Boss RC-300 is an essential pedal for my show, and it can be really fun, but it’s not very user-friendly. I’ve had many more years of live shows and recording sessions with the Digitech GNX-1, and it’s absolutely been my best pedal.
What’s up next for you/your band(s)?
If you’re a musician of any kind, and you walk into music stores your whole life… record stores, guitar shops, music book stores, etc. – the reason for going into those stores, or buying anything musical, was for that “someday” feeling, which I think almost every musician has. “Someday I’ll learn to play this, or someday, I’ll record something that I’m 100% excited about…” So while going in the shops is fun, and listening to music is fun, as I got older and put in the time learning about recording gear, I got unintentionally so much more serious about it. I’d been having fun all this time… but then I became a full blown student seeking the next lesson. I’m not talking about a student who is pressured to get a grade, but a student born from following their interests. So after collecting so much music, in the chaotic messiness and noise of life, I was always asking myself– what recordings could I contribute to the thousands of albums sitting on my shelf, or any record store shelf, for that matter? What record of mine would I be proud to drag off the shelf and play when I’m eighty? What would be a musician’s most fulfilling ‘someday’ recording project?
With some carefully chosen songs ready to go, and some instruments set up and ready to record, after seven trying years, I finally released a double ‘concept’ album, called “The Line” in 2015. This was my ‘someday’ project. Please go find it and stream it! It is very different than my ‘loop show’ that I do live. It is a full studio production, and I’m very proud of it. I’m a huge fan of elaborate studio production, and I feel that is what a studio is for. I played all parts on it – drums, bass, keyboards, guitars, cello, flutes, vocals, etc. The songs started with a skeleton of acoustic guitar and vocal melody, and then they were decorated and embellished. My goal was to challenge myself on the acoustic guitar and include some new guitar technique on each song. I’m so grateful I got to make my latest album in this lifetime, and after it took seven years, I’m back to the drawing board to see what’s next.
Unfortunately, funding campaigns were not common enough (in 2013) for me to feel brave enough to ever start one, so I did spend a lot to mix it, finish the artwork, and manufacture the CDs. I mentioned streaming the album before (under Peter D’Amore – The Line), but I really love the artwork in the double CD package we did as well, and I was very involved in that visual aspect. If you’re a collector, there is a beautiful limited pressing of the CD package available, and to my ears it sounds the best.
The Klon hype: Love it or Hate it?
The Klon pedal… it’s become a pedal collector’s holy grail. I confess I had no idea what this was, and I had to look it up online. I get the collector thing, but I don’t get that the pedal doesn’t do more than a unique type of overdrive, which doesn’t fascinate me as much as other effects.
Any last comments, promos or anything you’d like to talk about?
Lastly, I’d like to say thanks to Pedal of the Day, and thanks to anyone who read this. Please continue to support this great site and never stop digging for great music.
Thanks so much to our old friend Peter for taking the time to answer some questions! Make sure to go check out www.peterdamore.com, and check his tour page for upcoming dates near you! Cheers!