All That Divides
Black Peaks are fast becoming a staple of the UK rock music scene. Combining crushingly heavy guitars and pristine clean picking with harsh vocals and soaring melodies, a rhythm section that does everything from chaotic commotion to calming cadences, all within a progressive framework, Black Peaks have managed to create some incredibly moving music. A young band only two albums into their career, the potential is ridiculously high for this four-piece and they cater for a vast audience of music lovers with their ability to jump from pit-inducing heavy sections to gorgeous, haunting refrains.
With the release of their second album ‘All That Divides’ they improved upon the work of their first album indelibly, retaining the progressive elements of the first album, whilst honing and improving upon the both the heavy and the melodic sides of the band. With ‘All That Divides’ now a year old, they’re embarking upon a headline UK and European tour, which just goes to show how popular the boys from Brighton are becoming. We spoke to the band ahead of their tour to get the low-down on their live setup.
Hey Joe, thanks so much taking the time out to answer these questions, how are you doing today?
Joe – All good here thanks, just taking some time to enjoy the summer and starting to get stuck into some writing
The All That Divides 2019 tour starts in October, how much are you looking forward to the run of shows and what goes into the preparation of a tour cycle?
Joe – We’re really looking forward to the tour! It’s been a pretty different summer to what we had planned out which has been tricky in some regards, but it has allowed us to really focus on creating a special show for the tour in October. We always want to make sure that when we go out and play that we always give people a reason to come back and see us again. The live show is where it’s at and we’re super excited to bring this tour to everyone.
First some questions for Joe! What was your first guitar?
Joe – My first guitar was an old Epiphone acoustic that I jammed on for about a year before my parents brought me a Fender Strat when I was 15. There’s only so many Black Sabbath riffs you can try and get away with on an acoustic guitar. Once I plugged in the Strat that was it though… I was totally hooked on working out whatever I needed to do to make sure I could play every day.
Black Peaks’ sound straddles the divide of heavy and light astonishingly well, what were your main amplifiers for recording?
Joe – For recording we used a ton of different amps so it’s tricky to pin down everything, but I think mainly we settled on a Diezel VH4 and Orange Thunderverb 50 for the heavy sounds and then a Marshall JMP for cleans.
What guitars did you use when recording the album and do you use the same guitars for live playing?
Joe – I mainly used my Fender FSR Tele Deluxe loaded with a Shawbucker in the neck and a Bare Knuckle War Pig in the bridge. There is something harmonically about the War Pig in this Tele that I really love. I’ve never been after a traditional metal sound with my playing but this pick-up combination in the Tele is unreal. Really nice bass/mid response and lush slightly broken cleans when you roll the volume off slightly. It’s taken me a few years of trying out a ton of different guitars and pickups, but I feel really settled in what I’m playing at the moment.
In the break on the track ‘The Midnight Sun’ there are some lush delays going on there, what were you using to create that effect?
Joe – I’m pretty sure we used a Strymon Timeline into a few different amps.
Your guitar tone encompasses everything from crushingly heavy to delicate shimmer, which pedals do you use to recreate your sound for the live show?
Joe – Mostly BOSS gear actually. I run a BOSS ES-8 to control everything and then a JB-2 Angry Driver runs all the time for heavy sounds. I have the drive basically off on it, but it helps tighten everything up. Then I’m running this great Fender fuzz pedal called The Pelt for most of the lead stuff. Absolutely love that pedal! I use a BOSS RV-6 for reverb then a Strymon Mobius for any modulation bits.
Some questions for Dave, last time I saw you guys I noticed you using a few different bass guitars including the legendary P-Bass, what’s the bass guitar with the hole in the headstock?
Dave – I do indeed use a Precision Bass as my primary bass, a Fender American Performer Precision (in Penny Finish) – I tend to use this for the majority of the set. It has P/J pickups which is a combination that seems to fit really well with the BP sound. The Bass with the hole in the neck is a Fender Jaguar with an Electrical Guitar Company Aluminium Neck – you can see some more photos and details on my Instagram!
Do you use much FX-wise or do you prefer to keep it simple?
Dave – I am a bit of an effects nerd and tend to experiment a lot with sounds in the studio with lots of interesting old fuzzes and delays/modulation. That said, I tend to be quite practical with effects in the live scenario, and it’s important not to mess with the low-end fundamental of the bass guitar. My live rig revolves around a custom drive pedal and a Boss MS-3 which approximates a lot of studio trickery out of delays, tremolos and whammy-style pitch drops etc.
With only one lead guitar in the band you have a lot of space in the low end to fill (which you do very well) what sort of backline do you run to contribute to the overall sound of the band?
Dave – My main bass tone is nearly always overdriven to some extent, with some thick, heavy drives/fuzzes in places. The right distortions on bass can add a lot of upper harmonic content which thickens things up a lot. I also run a Fender Supersonic Combo which is a killer dirty amp and is fed by an octave up pedal. That gets kicked in selectively for extra fatness!
And lastly for Liam, you use British Drum Co shells, a company based not far from our own offices. How did that come about?
Liam – The artist representative Mel Stewart got in touch in 2017 around the time we were finishing up writing for ‘All That Divides’ He expressed his excitement for myself as a player and our music which was the instant grabbing point for me to be interested in the brand. We then started chatting more personally about what I would need etc moving forward and they just seemed like the right move for me as a player, so he organised a drum kit for me to record with and that was that, I was sold! Primarily being one of the only heavy players on the roster it’s a pleasure to be a part of a company with so much ambition for the future.
Are you still using Zildjian Cymbals?
Liam – Absolutely! I have been playing Zildjian professionally for 5 years now and am totally in love with the sound I get from these cymbals. I’m ever-changing my main crashes but recently have been very impressed with the K Sweet Crashes. Perfect sonic adaptability.
Black Peaks have a pretty heavy drum sound, was it a conscious decision not to use a double pedal like so many others who err on the heavier side of music?
Liam – It has been on my mind to learn how to incorporate double pedal into my playing more recently, as I feel it would be something to use in the future. But yes, it has been a conscious decision to not use a double pedal as I felt our music has not needed it yet.
That’s it for now! Thanks for much for taking the time out to answer these questions – just one more before you go – have you guys ever been into a Dawsons Music store before? And if not fancy popping in to see us next time you’re local?
Joe – I don’t think we have no… Next time we’re in the area we’ll pop in for sure!
Across the Great Divide
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Matt is a multi-instrumentalist, music geek and current Content Creator at Dawsons Music. He composes, records and produces out of his home studio in Manchester as well as playing in two bands, China Moon and Sawbones.