Nick Talbot is the brains behind Gravenhurst, one of our favourite bands. He also once sent us a signed copy of Slowdive’s ‘Just For A Day’. Clearly, he’s one of the good guys. Here he chooses his favourite pedal for us…
Somewhat typically he eschews an off-the-shelf pedal for that thing above, the Gravenhurst Patented Subaquatron:
“I have been using the Subaquatron live and on record for around 12 years. Until now its deliberately anonymous exterior has ensured its occult sonic properties remain a trade secret, and here for the first time I shall reveal its inner workings.
“It’s actually a cheap Aria analog delay; but Aria daftly didn’t market it as an analog delay, they just called it a ‘Delay’. And even more daftly, the factory settings prevented it from overloading – and any pedal geek knows that one of the central attractions of an analog delay is that its ‘bucket brigade’ technology allows it to feedback on itself endlessly, creating untameable walls of noise that continually increase in volume.
“Aria didn’t seem to realise why we like analog delays. So I took it apart and fucked about with the pots. I increased the length of the delays, and by doing this the quality of the delayed signal gets even murkier, as the bucket brigade technology can’t faithfully replicate the original signal properly – which is good. I also twisted the ‘feedback’ pot around so it can go into self-oscillating overload; most analog delays are set up to do this anyway, and its a total mystery why Aria didn’t do this; it certainly would have lost them a lot of sales. Nobody would buy an analog delay that doesn’t feedback. (And here lies another mystery – I know I didn’t buy it, but I honestly can’t remember how I ended up with it. I think it found me.)
“As it stands, the design and components aren’t anywhere near as good as, say, the Ibanez AD9 Analog Delay which I also have (on long term-loan from my best mate, who found it in Cash Converters for 20 quid back in 1998! Ah, the joys of an ignorant pawnbroker!), and so it can’t capture long delays as well as that beauty can, but because of this it makes it perfect for creating a ‘murky fog’ around the guitar sound. I always have it on, set at a short ‘slapback’ setting, so the delay is almost inaudible, but it creates an ambient space around the guitar sound, and you suddenly notice it when it’s gone. And at the end of the set, when we do ‘Black Holes In The Sand’, naturally I turn everything up to 11 and make screaming fields of sonic love, battling it out against the AD9. (Two analog delays in series creating multi-tap delays = sonic mystery cult, central to the Gravenhurst sound.)
“The Subaquatron is really a cheap plasticky bit of kit that has been hamfistedly modified, and it strengthened my belief that every bit of equipment or instrument can be used for something, no matter how cheap or shitty it is it belongs somewhere. Shit… I’m giving all my secrets away…”
Gravenhurst’s new album ‘The Ghost In Daylight’ is out now. Do yourself a favour and buy it. If you’re in London, he plays at Cecil Sharp House tonight (September 26). He has also contributed a cover of Neil Halstead’s ‘Paint A Face’ for our tribute 7″ – you can grab one of those here, but be quick, they’re going fast…