Holly Hunt's Gavin Perry: Guitar Heroes of South Florida
I think a lot of that success has to do with the fact that, while Holly Hunt is technically a doom-metal band, the sound certainly doesn't follow a specific path within the genre, in the same way that a lot of bands from Miami don't quite fit into a genre box, but maybe more because you came back to music with that different perspective.
I think I came back with just a sort of an unbridled desire to do it. So by hook or crook, I was going to, and none of this shit really mattered. There's definitely band influences and there are reasons why I want to sound this way or play this kind of thing and there's a dialogue or language that's maybe created? But I'm also not beholden to that thing.
Genres, to me, and any sort of categorizations and classifications seem lazy. Who cares? We played with Jacuzzi Boys, and we were the only heavy band there, and it was one of the better shows we played, not just for our playing, but for the atmosphere of the night! None of those people knew what was coming, and yet, instead of running out and screaming, "Oh, this sucks! Put the Jacuzzi Boys on," they stayed and watched it all and were blown away, and it was as eye-opening for me as it was probably for them.
So, in that sense, why pigeonhole yourself? Why narrow yourself down and keep yourself confined to somebody else's construct? If you're earnest about what it is that you do, that goes a long way with me.
Let's discuss the gear. You are without doubt the most passionate person I know when it comes to the tools you utilize to make music.
Compulsive, impulsive... I have a problem! (laughs)
I don't think I've ever seen you play a show with your gear configured the same way twice, your pedalboards seem to morph into new forms constantly, you build your own speaker cabinets...
I mean, I'm trying to settle down a little bit. Maybe not settle, but I'm looking for a little more consistency. But, there's so much nice stuff out there, why not check it out?
How did you get into rolling your own cabs?
I priced out Emperor and Emperor was too expensive, but I really like the look of their cabs. I priced out some other cab companies as well and I started to look into the design elements and sort of the build qualities and thought, "I have the skills and the tools to do this, I could actually make this for significantly cheaper, and to my specs." No waiting on anybody finding a slot for me or charging me $1,200 for a loaded cab, I have ultimate control over it, so I could model a cab and build a cab however it is I needed it to be built.
You build so that it doesn't break, you build so that it can withstand a category five hurricane and keep going. Ideally it's as light as it possibly can be and it sounds as good as it can. I definitely listen and take notes and try to adopt things, but I think with all of the gear that I have, there's always been a sound that I'm looking for.
I think in terms of the amp heads that I have now, I've come close enough to finding it that I can be much more specific about what I would add in or what I would take out. Pedals, not quite there. I really am a big fan of Electrical Guitar Company guitars; I can't see myself playing a wooden-necked guitar right now, though that might change. But the EGCs are just a different animal, so I've sort of settled on a certain scale length, six stringed, aluminum necked and aluminum body guitar.
How do you route all of these amp and cabs and pedalboards?
It's a split-head setup: I'm running a vintage 200 watt Hiwatt for the bass side. It's a little bit more spongey, it's a little bit deeper sounding, and I pitch the EQ down into the lower frequencies, and that runs two Traynor 2x15 cabs. Then I have a 100 watt Hiwatt that runs the two 4x12 cabs that pushes the more midrange/treble side, and in order to sort of split the tone and build variance in the sound is to run two different pedalboards.
So I basically have a side for the treble/high mids side, which has more modulation pedals on it, and a lower, sort of bass-angled board that's a little more straight and a little less effected to give it more bottom end.
You're always experimenting with your pedals. Would you say that the experimentation helps inform the writing at all?
For sure. I think what ends up happening is I find myself trying a new pedal out and inevitably a song gets written or a riff gets written. And then it's written with that pedal in mind or with that pedal in the signal chain, and then I change the chain up and go back to playing for a set and have to retrace what I did and sort of model that song to the pedal or something so I don't have to worry about fifteen different chains or pedal lineups.
I've done some tracks where I think they sounded better with the pedals set up a certain way, but because I'm playing them in the live setting, they have to maybe suffer a little bit so they can sit with the set list.
What is it about the EGC guitars that have made them such an integral part of your sound?
Specific to the scale length, it's for tuning ease, really. I tune super low, like, B standard dropped down to drop A. And in terms of tuning it, it holds tune a lot better with that longer scale. The metal neck allows you to use as thick a string gauge as you choose to use; you can go up to using bass strings if you want without worrying about the neck warping or whatever. Obviously the bridge and the nut has to be adjusted and there are some limitations there, but, by and large, you can use whatever you want to use.