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Working at CME, you get to experience the purists looking for the very transparent overdrives and true to "vintage" tone, and while that's admirable, it's not me. Not even a little bit.
So, by the direction of friends, coworkers, and artists I love, I found Death By Audio. I started with the Fuzz War and fell in love. I began moving through their arsenal of oddities, checking the Echo Dream 2 (which if you haven't - you totally should) and the Reverberation Machine.
I noticed the way I approached their pedals and dialing in tones is incredibly different. Each pedal starts at a very useable level - at where most pedals are dimmed, I found always more on tap - it was incredible. I wasn't stacking as many pedals as before, trying to get the effect I was looking for.
Then, fate brought me a Death By Audio Apocalypse - a single pedal that gallops across sonic territory, takes no prisoners, storms the gates, etc etc. Long story short, this is all distortion and distortions and fuzz in the best way.
I had to speak to the party responsible. Below is my conversation with Oliver Ackermann of Death By Audio:
Silas: When looking at the pedal market, I notice that your approach isn't exactly "reactive". You blaze your own trails as far as effects go. What helps you decide your next effects box?
Oliver: Well, first and foremost we have to create something we honestly think is great. It has to work really well and be something unique in the world of effects. I am the first person to tell people to use another effect pedal other than ours if someone else is making something more appropriate for them. So, we design things which fit a whole different artistic aesthetic than anyone else. It ends up being kind of easy in some ways because a lot of people don't like music which is as intense as we like, but to introduce some of these effects into their music here and there can be perfect sometimes. But, before all of that, we are always hanging out, brainstorming, building, and experimenting with as many new technologies as we can get our hands on. And then when something pops out as being truly useful and unique then Waveformer Destroyer.
Silas: What is the most "misunderstood" effect you build? Follow up question - what's your favorite track on P!NK's album M!ssundaztood?
Oliver: I think the Ghost Delay. I think not everyone knows just how unique and useful that pedal is. It is so warm and wild sounding. It can do some normal delay sounds but also can do a lot of sounds I haven't heard anywhere before like transform the guitar into a xylophone or sitar or do complex patterns that push and pull around with a different rhythm as they go. But, honestly I am glad it isn't any more popular because it is such an intense pedal to build that the fewer we can sell of the pedal the better. It takes like 12 hours to build each one and then another 1 to tune and set up. As for P!NK's record its hard to say as to which one is my favorite. It's one of those records where each track grows with you and can be the perfect conversation for different times and situations in life.
Silas: What is your favorite vintage effect and why? Would you clone it? And, what would you call it?
Oliver: Oh geeze, there are a lot. I guess I would have to say the Maestro Brassmaster. There are a lot of cool octave pedals out there but this gets some really nasty and also cool and chime sounds which I just always love the complexity of. Wicked for feedback and a full wall of fuzz. I have cloned it before for fun and checked out what makes it tick but would never make it or anything similar in our line because I don't really see the point. There are other people who are doing this and have done this quite well. If I had to rename it I would probably go with something like the Final Destroyer.
Silas: You have made effects for some of my favorite artists (The Flaming Lips, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees). Who was the best/most fun to work with? Any stories?
Oliver: They were all a complete honor to work with. I think the amount of damage and crud on John Dwyer's pedals when he would send them back to tweak where there would be a nail sticking out of the pedal to turn the knob and bits of t-shirt holding the battery in was always a pleasure.
Silas: I have one final question. If Marc Bolan and David Bowie got in a fist fight in 1974, who wins and what is the finishing move?
Oliver: Marc Bolan for sure. He's just a lot more actually demented. Bowie's probably more flexible, but Marc would not hesitate to scratch his eyes out.
There you have it. The Man, the Legend, Oliver Ackermann. Please check out and follow everything they do - please call me and buy all the pedals.
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