Franks Marino talks about his gear and cutting heads with Ted Nugent
Interview : Frank Marino
Tony: First off we would like to thank you for taking time to talk to us and give you a big welcome, you have many fans lurking around these parts.
Frank: Well, thank YOU for wanting to talk to me.
Tony: First off, what have you been up to lately? Can you get us all up to speed? This is your chance to plug what you want. Plug away!
Frank: I've been awaiting the release of my next album, a double CD which is Live. It's called RealLive. It was recorded in Montreal, quite awhile ago, but I spent the better part of the last year or more editing and mixing it. It's coming out this August or September, on a label called Just In Time, although the label copy might say Just A Minute Records. There's a "trailer" for it on my Website's front-page (www.mahoganyrush.com) , in a Jukebox streaming-audio thing. After that release, I hope to get out on the road and do some gigs. I like touring more than recording, mainly because I like the traveling, and especially the soundchecks. We record everything multi-track, whenever we play, so soundchecks are like recording sessions.
Tony: Are there any players out there today that you are into?
Frank: Well, not really any new guys. Not that I'm NOT into anybody... it's more that I don't even know who is out there anyway. I never listen to records, really, unless they're from "my past", you know... like late-sixties or early-seventies stuff. I hear alot about this new guy or that new guy, but I confess I don't often ever really go and check it out, although sometimes I have done so. Once in awhile I will hear something because of someone else showing it to me, and I think that all the players I hear are obviously very accomplished. But I'm just not that into guitar-based music, unless it's from Hendrix, Quicksilver, or some jazz players (Larry Carlton, Kenny Burrel, George Benson, etc.).
Tony: Can you give us a pedalboard rundown of what you used back in the day? Now remember we are all gear-tech heads here, use as much space as you need! Guys will eat it up.
Frank: Oh, that pedal board was huge! 6 Feet long, 3 feet deep, and two tiers high at one end. I had over 22 pedals on it. And those were the days of solid analogue stuff... no digital there. That's how I learned electronics... screwing around with that board. You have to understand that, in those days, having the pedals that I had was considered a "bad thing" by almost everybody around me in the business. They used to say, "Oh, he can't play without his pedals", and snicker and stuff like that. But I was pretty insistent that, one day, alot of guitarists would begin to use them. Now, they do... and now I use far less, if any at all (although they're on the board, I don't always turn them on). Isn't that ironic? Anyway, I had a Vox wah wah, a Cry Baby wah wah, two or three different fuzz boxes (Electro Harmonix, Fuzz Face, etc., but all modified... nothing stock). I had Octave Dividers (2), Volume Pedals (2), Echo Plexes (2), Eventide Flangers and Eventide Phasers, Reverb units (even a spring!)... it just kept changing and getting bigger and bigger.
Tony: What effects are you using or really like now?
Frank: Now, it's getting smaller and smaller... I might use a fuzz for one tune or two (my main distortion is from my pre-amps, which I build), maybe an octave once in awhile, but always reverb. Delay? One or two tunes. I still use the volume pedal alot because I've perfected a "backwards guitar" technique that sounds astonishingly realistic (you'll hear alot of it on Eye OIf The Storm, and on the new RealLive). I also have a technique where I use my tremolo bar to imitate slide guitar, and it also sounds quite real. That, too, can be heard (on those records) whenever you hear me playing what you think is slide... it's not. I have a rack with a Lexicon reverb, but I only use it for the reverb. My delays are digital now, and I don't like that, but I use them so little that it's just not worth it to take out the Echo Plexes and deal with the tape hassles and the hum and stuff.
Tony : What effects have you seen around that have you gassing ?
Frank : Nothing, really. I just build what I want now. Every effect is really just an offshoot of something else. The best Flanger out there comes from Dave Fox at Foxrox electronics. It's called a TZF Flanger (Through Zero Flanger), and it's analog sound and real "through-zero" effect really sounds like the tape machine flanging of old. I haven't used it on a gig yet, but I hope to soon. Dave is making me a special rack mounted stereo one, and I await it as I speak.
Tony : Do you still have that fire to play live? I only ask because i had it and seems to come and go for me. The market around here anyway has really seemed to dry up.
Frank: Oh, like I said, I LOVE it! But not just because it's a gig, or playing in front of people. I just like to get together with the guys, always in a different place, and jam. I LOVE to jam with the band. That's why I love soundchecks so much. And I love traveling.
Tony: If you were on a deserted island and had your choice of one guitar one amp 5 pedals and one woman......what are your choices......
Frank: Well... the guitar? My trusty old 1961-1/2 Les Paul SG. I still use it (I have two) and I always will. It's been my main guitar since I was 15. A second choice would be my custom made SG, built by my friend Jim Glynn. It's been specifically modelled to feel like my main SG, but with some enhancements.
The amp? My own pre-amp (4 channel distortion) with any power-amp (I use Crown), and definitely reverb... I will not play without reverb... ever. I don't care what it is, even a spring, but I've got to have it. I hate dry guitar sounds.
5 pedals? Wah, fuzz-tone, chorus, delay, and volume. I know, I know... what brand, right? No brand... they all sound bad to me until I get a soldering iron and some parts. Then, I can make any one of them sound just as good as any other... so take your pick.
The woman? Why, naturally my wife Denyse! (and, of course, my three daughters - Angela (10), Nadia (8), and iliana (5)... can't go to a deserted island without them, they all come everywhere with me and always have.
Tony : Do you get Christmas cards from Ted Nugent or did he crawl away like a little girly man and never challenge you again? Sorry youll have to forgive my sense of humor, you dont have to answer.
Frank: Ted's OK, I know alot of people think he's a bit overbearing, and actually he can be. He just used to do all this "at-war" stuff professionally. We had the same manager for seven years, and he hardly ever spoke to me, even though we gigged together an awful lot, but when he did he usually had a measure of respect (even after the famous Detroit challenge, which was incredibly bizzare to me). Ted is... well... Ted!
Tony: Any advice for any of us low level gunslingers?
Frank: Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but I really don't think anyone is low-level (although I know you're joking). The only thing I try to tell everybody who plays, not just guitarists, is to actually LISTEN. Listening is the single most-important thing a musician (or an actor) can do. Don't just "play". Listen to the guys... listen to the band... fit in where you should. Everything I've ever been able to do is because I listened... alot. I can't read music, I can't read Tab... I don't believe in either of them as a method. I think they will ruin a musician, because then he will rely on his eyes rather than his ears. And music is for the ears, so it must be "tasted" with the ears. Imagine if a chef, cooking a gourmet meal, relied solely on what was written, and never tasted it? It would probably taste like crap! Or if an artist painted blind? Or if a public speaker gave a speech "in his head"? Well, music is for the ears, and the ears are for hearing... so listen, always. The rest will come from that alone.
Tony: If you could do a package tour around the US who would you enjoy doing it with? I know Trower has been looking. You have alot of fans that would love to see it.
Frank: I would prefer to tour alone, because I do three to four hour shows, but if I do go out on a package, I would prefer that the other band not be guitar oriented. What happens when that happens is that it gets to be like some kind of "competition", not just among some audience members but backstage... And I love music so much that I hate it when I see the "competitive" thing... you know, "who was the best?", "who was the loudest?", "who wowed the crowd?". That's all so silly and childish. There are a few guitarists who would not do that, I'm sure, like Eric Clapton or Uli Roth or the like. And for those types of shows I have no problem with it. But alot of the "slingers" usually have some kind of chip on their shoulder, and I'm just not into that stuff, or the "star" thing. I just want to be a normal guy doing his gig and having fun with it... nothing special about it.
Tony: I would like to thank you for being so generous with your time. We cant tell you how much we appreciate it. Thank you sir.
Frank:Well, as I said at the beginning, thank YOU.