The Evolution of the Scrungch Tim Mahoney of 311
I know. It sounds like a really good reason to take a bath. But before you go crying to your mother, screaming that you feel unclean, just realilize that it's only the way 311's Tim Mahoney describes the heavenly harmonics of those sometimes not so incidental notes.
Tim is one of those "under the radar" guitar players. You don't get a feel for how talented of a player he is until you see him live. He easily switches between reggae influenced chord patterns to riff ready rock, and then melodically improvises solos over 311's sharp left turn musical mood changes.
Guitar.com catches up with Tim a couple days after 311's show at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom. Tim talks about bridging the generation gap, his musical beginnings and influences, his gear, the recording of 311's new album Evolver and answers the question, "What the hell is 'scrungch'?"
Tim Mahoney: Hey Jason, it's Tim from 311.
Guitar.com: What's going on?
Mahoney: Nothing much. Did you make it down to the show?
Guitar.com: Yeah, the crowd was crazy.
Mahoney: Yeah man. So much fun to play in New York City. We always really enjoy that.
Guitar.com: A lot of young kids too.
Mahoney: I've noticed. I'm 33 and it seems like we're kind of getting to a point where we're bridging a generation gap and starting to reach a couple of younger kids that are starting to get into real music. That's pretty cool, ya know.
Guitar.com: I was watching them and they knew the words to your older songs. They were singing them.
Mahoney: It's pretty weird. I'm pretty amazed because we've been playing these songs forever. Maybe I could do it with a Teleprompter but I couldn't sing along. It's a lot of words (laughs). It always impresses me.
Guitar.com: Definitely a lot of fun. You guys play for almost two hours. You really don't see that anymore.
Mahoney: We don't want to play too long. I've been to shows too, sometimes it will be some of my favorite bands, and it will be a little too long. At the same time we really enjoy playing a long set. Like in New York, I guess you run into a certain time and you have to stop because the unions and the curfews are so strict. We have our moments. I want to say last 311 (March 11) day we played like a 4 hour set.
Mahoney: Yeah, that's a little over the top but it's fun to do stuff like that every now and then too.
Guitar.com: S.A. (Vocals) keeps on moving the whole time. I don't know how he does that.
Mahoney: We just try to pace everything so it's not just so much too hard and too fast. So, it mellows out with some reggae or something. 'Cause, we have to do that too, ya know. We're all in our 30s as well (laughs).'
Guitar.com: I really had a good time. Thanks again.
Mahoney: Yeah man, I'm glad you made it out. I'm glad you made the trip over there. It was a great room. That place (Hammerstein Ballroom).
Mahoney: I liked it. Cool room.
Guitar.com: Who are your major influences?
Mahoney: When I very first started playing guitar, I switched from trombone. That's when I first started playing music in band and learned about music. When I switched to guitar, I was into bands like Van Halen, back in the day, and punk rock music like, Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Black Flag. All this kind of hard rock stuff. I was like man, that's what I love. I can't do it on my trombone right now.
That was early on in junior high and then and I get to high school, and that's when I first started listening to things like English Beat and Smiths... Bob Marley. You know, like more reggae. Stuff beside hard rock and punk rock. When I was in high school, senior year, I had friends that listened to the Grateful Dead and I really didn't know the music that well. Maybe '88-'89, between Chicago and Milwaukee there is a venue called Alpine Valley. That's were I saw them play for the first time. I was just blown away. I had some kind of sorta spiritual experience at that concert. I was like "Man, where has that guitar player been? Jerry Garcia? I've heard his name before." I saw him play live, I was like, "Man, that is really cool." After that point I really started getting into the Grateful Dead and more specifically, Jerry Garcia.
I've always been a classic rock fan. I love Led Zeppelin. I love Jimmy Page. I like Pink Floyd. Jimi Hendrix I loved. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Mahavishnu Orchestra...
Guitar.com: Only in name.
Mahoney: That's John McLaughlin, I wish I knew specific dates when they were playing. It was like the '70s, I'm pretty sure. John McLaughlin is one of my favorite guitar players. They have a violin player, drummer, bass player. Everyone is in the top echelon of players on the planet. They're playing rock-jazz. It's really interesting. Really cool stuff. Mahavishnu Orchestra, Birds of Fire, is one of their records. Anything by Mahavishnu Orchestra if you get the chance check it out.
Guitar.com: I'll check it out.
Mahoney: It wasn't really until high school that I really started to get into jazz guitar players. One of my major influences as far as an amazing musician is John Scofield. Chad (311 drummer Chad Sexton) turned me onto him, maybe in high school, with his Loud Jazz record. Ever since, we've been listening to him. I buy every record he puts out. They're all good. Especially then (in the '80s). It's really interesting, Chad and I were talking about this the other day. To follow someone like him in his career and how he grows as an artist. The stuff he is putting out today is so awesome and right up my alley. It's very modern in the sense like, there are drum and bass beats with his jazz guitar and all this experimental and cool use of effects, but then he's this amazing guitarist. I don't even want to call him a guitarist because he is channeling somewhere. He's in that realm. John Scolfied, Jerry Garcia, John McLaughlin... But, there really are so many. It wasn't really until after high school I started getting into those guys.
One of my favorite guitarists is Willie Nelson. As far as a soloist and a guitar player, he's like the coolest. I think he's great. Even someone like Bob Marley, who if I had to choose one biggest inspiration, it might be Bob Marley. Because, everything he's written I've liked. I've never heard a Bob Marley song I don't like. And he has so many of them. His guitar player is pretty damn cool too. It's kind of a long answer to this (laughs).There's so much good stuff out there. You'd never call Willie Nelson underrated as a guitar player. 'Cause sometimes, to me, he's just one of the best soloists. He's just so smooth and cool.
Guitar.com: Do you think you're going to end up like him, using that same guitar all the time? Getting a big hole in it?
Mahoney: Yeah! (laughs) Just the fact that he's got the Nylon strings. Just the experience or life knowledge that he's got that comes out when he performs. I've sat there and cried a number of times listening to Willie, or seeing him play. This is the greatest thing ever. Cool person. It's just neat that you can go out and see someone of that stature play. I'm sorry for being so long-winded there (laughs).
Guitar.com: That's OK. It's a lot of good information. When you started playing guitar did you take lessons or did you teach yourself?
Mahoney: I took two lessons; most everything else, I just learned. When I first started I had a couple of friends that were playing guitar together, learning things together, and showing each other things. We were coming from the same background. I think he was a trumpet player and I played trombone. So we knew all about music theory and about music in general. Enough to be able to start on the guitar and have a good enough starting point. It takes time, I guess. I took lessons with this guy, I forgot how I met him but, he was more about learning how to sight-read music. I was too young and it just wasn't what I was into at the time. It didn't work out.
I was fortunate. I had a friend. He was a couple years older and was actually a really great guitar player. Even back in the day he was a great guitar player when he was pretty young. He showed me a lot of things, a lot of chord structures and some scales. Things like scales, I knew a lot about from playing the trombone. I was already familiar with major and minor and things like that. It's such a different instrument, the guitar. My friend Chris Albright helped me. He taught me the most. Actually, he was my friend but, more like a guitar teacher. I still am everyday trying to learn more and more. I guess over time you just start to see results (laughs). I don't know. It would be funny to go back and see some of the first bands I've been in.
Guitar.com: That's always funny!
Mahoney: I don't know what was going on.
Guitar.com: Do you learn on your own. Do you study music theory?
Mahoney: Not so much study. It's something I'm really interested in. I wish I had more time and actually could be more dedicated to studying but, for me, a lot of the stuff I've learned has been from spending time playing guitar. Learning the notes on all of the guitar. But something like that wouldn't have worked for me 10 years ago. Especially when I first started playing. When I was in Junior High we would learn like a Kiss Song or a Motley Crue song or something like that. Then just play it. That's a good thing to do. Find a song that's not too difficult but that you like so you have fun playing it. Your fingers start to get the feel of the guitar. You start to get an understanding of the instrument, kind of how it feels or what not and, then just kind of go from there. One thing I really do like about the Grateful Dead is that I just play along. It's fun like that. Or a band like Phish. I'm a Phish fan too and I think that Trey Anastasio is one of the greatest players out there right now. I really think he's awesome.
Guitar.com: He's very talented.
Mahoney: What a great, cool guitar player.
Guitar.com: He did that Oysterhead thing recently, did you hear any of that?
Mahoney: Yeah! And I'm a big Les Claypool and Stewart Copeland fan. It's so funny 'cause it sounds like those three guys playing music.
Guitar.com: They're all whacked out of their minds.
Mahoney: It all works. They're all unique in their own way, especially having Les Claypool up in there. He's so bad ass too. Stewart Copeland, he's f--kin' great too.
Guitar.com: Yeah, he's part of my favorite band, the Police.
Mahoney: Yeah. I listened to the Police in high school. I'm waiting for them to do a reunion. I'm really surprised that they haven't.
Guitar.com: They did that one thing on VH1 recently. Did you see that?
Guitar.com: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Mahoney: No I didn't. How did they play?
Guitar.com: They sounded awesome!
Mahoney: Oh, you see! They need to take it on the road.
Guitar.com: That's not going to happen. Sting is coming out with a new album.
Mahoney: God damn. I like Sting OK too but I'd much rather see the Police than Sting. I see that Andy Summers, I don't know if he lives out in LA or not but, he plays out there like at Jazz clubs.
Guitar.com: Yeah. He plays at a lot of different places. He supports his own recordings that he has been doing for years now.
Mahoney: Cool. I got to go try and check him out because he's a cool guitar player.
Guitar.com: You've mentioned before that you are a big Jerry Garcia fan. Do you use some of the effects that he used?
Mahoney: The one thing that I totally learned from Jerry Garcia is the Neutron 3 envelope filter and that is straight up the best sounding envelope filter that exists. A company is making a reissue of it now. The ones I have I think they're from the mid '70s or something. It is just the creamy-ist envelope filter. Strangely enough I have envelope filters that I'm using from when I was younger that I got by chance from a pawn shop. I always liked that even before I started listening to Garcia and stuff. The Garcia envelope tone is the most expressive, creamy-ist, it's just the best. I was like, "What is that thing?" Then I found out it was Neutron and I just really had to get one. But it is really the best. I love that thing (laughs)!
Guitar.com: I noticed when you play live you sometimes use the sound of a steel drum.
Mahoney: Yeah that's a setting on that thing.
Mahoney: Yeah. There's a song that we have called "Give Me A Call." It's a reggae song off the new record. In the bridge - we played it that night when you were there - we have an electronic loop that goes right there in the bridge that has the steel drum part from the record. Then I play along in unison to that riff and then I use the envelope filter. So that's that Neutron right there. It gives it almost a steel drum effect 'cause it's touch sensitive. Like on that song, I'll pluck it really hard. So it opens and shuts really quick so it's kind of like a steel drum hit in that sense. It's like whamp, whamp, whamp. I love it. But then on a song on the new record like "Beyond the Grey Sky," I'll use it. You can be real subtle with it and you can get to go wha, wha, wha. Not open too much and be pretty expressive with it.
Guitar.com: That was a pretty kick ass solo on that song.
Mahoney: Oh, right on. Thanks. You know, that one, a friend of ours' who passed away last year was the inspiration for that song. So, it's kind of like a tribute to him. That one comes from the heart. It's fun to play.
Guitar.com: Did you extend that song at the end, live?
Mahoney: No. It's the same arrangement that's on the record.
Guitar.com: I saw some different amps on stage. What kind of amps are you currently using?
Mahoney: The small combo up there is a 1x12 combo. It's called a Hot Cat 30 Watt. That's what I use for clean. On the floor, the two 4x12 cabinets down there, the Bogner 4x12 and that's powered a Bogner Ubershall. That's a strictly dirty head. When I switch to distortion, it's that cab. And the other cab is that Hot Cat 100 Watt. So it's a 100 Watt head version of that combo. It's called a Hot Cat 100 Watt. It's by Bad Cat. That is dialed in for dirty as well. When I'm playing clean it's all that 1x12 combo. On "Beyond the Grey Sky" for instance, when there's the clean part and then I kick it over to distortion it goes to the two dirty heads, the Bogner and the Bad Cat, the two 4x12s. It's a blend of those two sounds for distortion.
Guitar.com: What are you using on the floor? What pedals live?
Mahoney: Well, I have, again, in front of me it's just a volume pedal, a wah wah pedal. The wah pedal I have up there now is a BudWah. I have a Boomerang phrase sampler.
Guitar.com: I never tried that out. How is that?
Mahoney: Man, I love that. I don't use it that much live.
Guitar.com: I saw when you did use that. You were playing one part and the previous one was still playing.
Mahoney: What I mostly use it for is I'll just get some abstract sounds going in between songs. I use it mostly as a looper. It doesn't really play that big a part now live. For just something that is a phrase sampler it is awesome. I'll spend a couple hours a day at home with that thing. You can play into it. Like, play a chord progression into it and it loops it and then I'll stack on top of it and build and create these soundscapes. It sounds ridiculous but I set there and play with that thing for hours. (laughs) It's really fun! But live, it's not really something I use that much. But it's out there.
Then I have a Boss GigaDelay (DD-20) out there. That's this new one this year that has an LED read out so you can dial in the exact milliseconds. I use that on a lot of songs. Then my MIDI controller is out there which, really, is just an instant access to eight loops in my effects rack. That's out there. That just controls the eight loops. And then those eight loops I have in the effects rack. On a drawer there's a Boss octave pedal. The Neutron envelope filter is up there and all the stuff that would just get trashed if it were on the ground. This guy, my friend Dave, built this effects rack for me. It's wired all nice. He did a great job on it. It's got a PCM42 by Lexicon, a really nice digital delay. I like it in there. I don't know, should I tell you what's in there? There's a lot of stuff in there (laughs).
Guitar.com: If you want to. Go ahead. That's fine.
Mahoney: It's nothing big. Just like a phaser pedal and this and that. It's eight effects in there and then it's four outs to go into four different amp heads.
Mahoney: It's nice. I can choose any number of four amplifiers and eight effects in any combination.
Guitar.com: With one switch right?
Mahoney: With one switch, yeah. We have a lot of songs where, over time especially, there's more and more where it will go clean with the envelope filter to distortion with an octave. You can do it on a pedal board. It's a tap dance. It's not as quick. My friend Dave at Rack Systems, It's the name of his company out in Los Angeles, they built that effects rack and did a great job.
Guitar.com: Tell me about "scrungch"?
Mahoney: Oh the scrungch. How do we spell it?
Guitar.com: I kind of spelled like "grunge" with an "s c".
Mahoney: Yeap. But it's got like "scrung - cha". Like a "c h" at the end.
Guitar.com: I'll have to make a note of that.
Mahoney: Scrunch. You could put a "g c h" at the end. "scrunchK".The "scrungch", that's the word that Ron Saint Germaine (311 producer) gave it. I'm trying to think as an example. Right before the outro, that kind of hard section of "Down" (from 311, aka "The Blue Album," 1995) there's a part that goes da-da-da-da, ch-ch-ch-ch, da-da-da-da, ch-ch-ch-ch. It's almost like the harmonic overtones of the distortion...
Guitar.com: Is just from doing a string rake? Kind of muting the string?
Mahoney: Yeah, kind of. There's some riffs where like that "scrungch" comes out. Sometimes it will come out accidentally and then someone will hear it and they'll be like "yeeeaah" and will take that and reinforce it. One really good example is on the new record, "Same Mistake Twice," the verse section were Nick (Vocals, Guitar) is singing we're both playing guitar and there are these hits and they go bum-bum chicka-chicka, bum-bum, chicka-chicka. And in between, Nick wrote this part, in between the dun-dun we-he was throwing in this harmonic on the 3rd fret. So it would be like, dun-dun, do-do-do, dun-dun, do-do-do. So we're playing that one day and we're rehearsing it. He went and played one half-step up, the second time on the 4th fret, and it was just just like this other level of "scrungch." It was like, 'Oh my God!' Now if you listen to the record it goes dun-dun do-do-do, dun-dun (half-step up) do-do-do. There's like two different tones of "scrungch" in there. It probably makes no sense. If we were sitting there together I could point it out.
Guitar.com: No, I understand what you're saying. I play, I know what you're talking about.
Mahoney: There's that. The song "Down." There's a lot of "scrungch" on there. Mostly for us, the "scrungch" is that dirt, like that special sauce. You can tell that someone is just sitting there playing the guitar. It's just part of the physical-ness of the movement of the hands on the guitar. Just over time we've fallen in love with the "scrungch" and try to bring it out. Not to be too distracting or anything.
Guitar.com: I think of it like, when a vocalist breathes. It's the breath.
Mahoney: Yeah. It's natural. I guess it's what that riff is.
Guitar.com: It gives life to the music because when it's too clean-cut it sounds artificial.
Mahoney: Yeah. There is a lot of energy in the "scrungch." It's good s--t though! (laughs)
Guitar.com: You guys are always positive. I don't think I've heard one negative theme in your music or picked up on it. Is that something you guys always strive for? Always being positive?
Mahoney: Ultimately we've come to realize that over time, that when there's a bad situation that needs to be dealt with, if you're dwelling on the negative it isn't going to get the problem solved and it's not usually until you move your thoughts over a positive mind frame that the good things and change start to happen. That's just things we've learned from personal experience. We're all big Bad Brains fans. Bad Brains taught us a long time ago, it got the idea into our heads of this positive mental attitude. The PMA as we refer to it.
That kind of enlightened us early on to kind of be like, "Well no kiddin'.' I think when we are writing lyrics and stuff, all of us generally feel we want to affect people in a positive way with music, with sound waves. The sound waves are a form of energy. You can be affected in a positive way or a negative way with music. I'm a big Slipknot fan. People at first think "Oh, they're so negative." I don't know that much of the lyrics but to me that affects me in a positive way, even though that might be saying some s--t that people might think is negative. To me it affects me in a positive way.
Guitar.com: It's not all about the lyrics.
Mahoney: Yeah. (laughs). I should probably listen to lyrics a little more.
Guitar.com: I listen to everything else before I listen to the lyrics. I don't know why. It's just the way it happens for me.
Mahoney: That's how it happens for me too. You're saying you're a guitar player. Maybe that's just how we are because we're prejudiced towards the guitar or the music or whatever. We really want people to come out to the show and have it be like a celebration or have them relax and not think about anything that shuts them out for 90 minutes. A little escape, to have a positive experience, ya know. I think also the guys, Nick and S.A., when they're writing they're looking at lyrics in a positive way and in the best possible light to try and help. to try and enlighten or whatever. We just really - and it might sound corny - come from a good place in our hearts. When we play music, we see it as energy so we treat it as energy as far as wanting it to be positive and make people happy or help or heal or whatever music is here to do for us all. That's what I get out of music too, ya know? So hopefully we could just be part of the good stream of energy. (laughs)
Guitar.com: I think you get that even if the music sounds aggressive. For a lot of people it's a healing type of thing.
Mahoney: It is for me definitely. And playing music, for me, is definitely healing as well, as meditation and prayer or whatever. It heals me (laughs).
Guitar.com: How are you guys getting that opening tone for "Creatures?"
Mahoney: What is on the record is from a pre-production. Nick, when he wrote it, was an acoustic guitar through a distortion box or something. So when we heard that on pre-production I mean... I love that riff so much. That's just like a hook. It's so fun to play and it's heavy. It's a hook. It's a guitar riff, ya know. The first time I heard that I was like, "Wow that's cool".
Guitar.com: It's just fun playing it?
Mahoney: Yeah. It is. It had this really unique guitar tone to it. There's no way to really duplicate that. An acoustic guitar through a distortion pedal, then the electronic stuff. Then when everyone kicks in it's the full band all the way back down all to analog. It's a really unique sound, an acoustic guitar distorted like that. Why f--k with it, if it's good, ya know. Use that. It already exists and it's got the vibe.
Guitar.com: It sounds huge on the record.
Mahoney: Yeah, That was really cool. When I play it live I just back down the volume pedal. It will suffice. That's one thing about listening to records that's so great. You can get into detail.
Guitar.com: It's a different art form.
Mahoney: Yeah. It is.
Guitar.com: What's going on with the instrumentation on "Sometimes Jacks Rule the Realm?"
Mahoney: The first half is acoustic guitars and then the second half we switch over to electric. We had such an awesome selection of acoustic guitars for this record to choose from. For the most part there are three guitars and all three of them are on "Jacks." Nick plays one of his 1960s Martin acoustics and then I track one track. He's got a second Martin that's from '69. It's amazing. I think I used that on one side and then on the other I used Ron Saint Germaine's '68 or '69 Guild acoustic which has this amazing sound too. That one's pretty cool 'cause we got three vintage killer old guitars on that. Then there's a break down bridge where Nick's got the Mandolin going and it's some sort of flat delay on there with these weird arpeggios. We haven't got to that song live.
Guitar.com: When do you think you're going to work that song into the set?
Mahoney: We've rehearsed it and it's something we can play live and it sounds really good live... That one and "Seems Uncertain" are the only two (off Evolver) we have not been playing on tour. "Seems Uncertain" is the one that is fully acoustic. That's the first time we've ever had a fully acoustic song on a record. That was great too. Usually when we get the strumming out for an acoustic guitar we'll double track it and on that one it's a couple different of those acoustics. Once again, it's like painting. A cool painting. Getting what little detail you can get in there. P-Nut plays upright bass but he's still getting his learn-on with the bow. So, we had this guy come in and play upright bass with a bow and soloed a part for "Seems Uncertain." There's a solo there. Nick knows specifically some of the different keyboards that are used on there. Some nice keyboard sounds in there. This is "Seems Uncertain."
I forgot you were asking me about "Jacks." (laughs) But, back to "Jacks," the mandolin, it's just a simple slap and then he's moving an arpeggio around one note through there. It's pretty trippy when you listen through that on the headphones. I'll try to figure out that one to play live for tomorrow. I got home and I was really listening to it and I was like, 'Wait a minute here! (laughs). What's going on?' It's just kind of fun. That's one of my favorite songs that Nick's written just for the fact that it's kind of a little journey. It starts and there's no real, necessarily, repeats of the chorus or anything like that. It kind of comes back to the idea a little bit. It's just a little journey. The fact that it starts out acoustic and then builds to electric, clean electric to overdriven electric at the end. I just think it's really nice. It's one of my favorite songs that Nick's written. Sounds nice there at the end. A nice way to take you on out at the end of the record.
Guitar.com: I was about to say that. Definitely a good way to end the record.
Mahoney: I thought so too. It seemed like eveyone felt that way; that one was supposed to be the last song.
Guitar.com: You guys did something that came out of left field during your live show. It was some kind of percussion thing in the middle of one of the songs.
Mahoney: Yeah. We have a song called "Applied Science" that's off of our second record, Grassroots. It was a drum solo. So when we play it live we get out of the way and let Chad take a drum solo. The past couple of years we've been talking and I think we've been doing it since a couple years ago. It's kind of changed form in the arrangement and what not. Chad grew up playing in drum corps. He got us all turned on to drum corps. We just wanted to take it up a notch and bring out some toms. It's kind of fun to do. I've gone out with Chad three different times this summer to check out the drum corps tour. It's really cool. I don't know if you've ever seen it before. It's pretty impressive, especially the drum lines. That's been my inspiration now for staying on track with those drums. It's pretty fun.
Guitar.com: It looks like it.
Mahoney: You get the cymbals out there. You get the little flash going. It is fun. It is fun.
Guitar.com: The crowd loved it.
Mahoney: Yeah. It's kind of like a drum circle meets a drum corps. There's some structure going on there.
Guitar.com: I saw the staggered cymbal hits.
Mahoney: Yeah. That's Chad. If we had better chops, I'm sure it would be more impressive. Each tour we try to work on it a little bit more. (laughs) It's fun. Plus it gives us a break each night to take a breath.
Guitar.com: What did you do to get those really thick guitar sounds on Evolver?
Mahoney: "Still Dreaming" is one where we used it. Rather than tuning the guitars down where they're so low, on this one particular song it would have been really low, Saint had the idea, 'Hey, lets just speed the tape up and try it this way.' I was like, 'Sure man, let's see what happens.' It ended up working really well. What we did was we speed the tape up 'cause we are recording everything on to analog tape. What is does when you play along to it, everything's faster. Then I go and figure out what key it's been sped up to. I figure out the riff right there, then move down as low as we could. We figure out what key it is and then play a lower chord in that key. If you're looking for a "C" you play the low down octave on the guitar. Then we would record along with it. It's kind of funny because you're in a different key and you're playing faster.
Guitar.com: Chipmunk recording?
Mahoney: Yeah. When you speed up and then record along with it at that speed, then when you put it back into normal speed it's all the way lower (uses low voice), the pitch. It stretches out and becomes way lower. The attack on the strings and the overall vibrations of the strings themselves when it's slowed down because the music is at normal speed now and sounds normal except for what we just recorded. It's in tune and sounds normal but it's all an octave lower. They're subtle things. The attack on the strings is slower and the actual resonation of the strings maybe. You can just tell it's slower, a little bit thicker. It's also allowing us to play chords and do some things. "Still Dreaming" is the example on that. If you want to check it out. I wish Saint was here to explain it more technically. I hope I'm explaining that right (laughs).
Guitar.com: I get the concept.
Mahoney: It was cool because it's a totally organic way to do it. It's not like putting it through a processor to knock it down. Not that tuning the guitar is totally organic way of doing it as well.
Guitar.com: You wouldn't get the same tone though.
Mahoney: It's not quite the same. If you take any recording and you slow it down. It makes gra-joff (imiates slowing of tape). It just fattens it out. It's really unique like that. That was on "Still Dreaming." We used it on another song, maybe "Other Side of Things."
Guitar.com: I'll look for it the next time I listen to it.
Mahoney: Yeah, it's interesting. It's like a tuned down guitar but it almost gets this, not a cello, but like a....
Guitar.com: A fretless instrument?
Guitar.com: Are you trying to replicate that live in anyway?
Mahoney: No. That's the thing. I can't do it live. I have a seven string. I use it on one song called "Mind Spin." It's on the Sound System record. I love how tuned down guitars sound. To me, Adam the guitar player in Tool, his guitar tone is the most "Mega." That's just huge. When he gets tuned down low it just gets so tough and cool. He's got a six string tuned down. When I play my seven string, I just don't enjoy it. Ya know, the neck is too wide. I just don't enjoy playing a seven string. I kind of gave up on that and then the only other option is to tune the guitars down. But I really like just playing one guitar for the whole show, keeping it standard. Unfortunately that's something we can't do. Ya know, I love my octave pedal. A lot of times when were playing a single note riff I'll throw the octave pedal on just to fatten it up and throw some beef in it. It doesn't work on chords. Unfortunately it doesn't track. That's what P-Nut's for God dammit! (laughs)
Guitar.com: How long have you been playing that PRS?
Mahoney: When we first signed with Capricorn, we're now on Volcano but way back in the day when we signed our first record deal, I used some of the record budget to get a new guitar and that's when I got my first PRS. That was probably '92. I have a number of different models. My favorite, the one that I play, the one I used the other night, the light blue one, it's called a Standard. It's all Mahogany, an all mahogany body; all mahogany neck. The fretboard is not mahogany, it's not an ebony fretboard but the other one they use.
Guitar.com: Dark wood? Almost black?
Mahoney: No it's just a really heavy rosewood. Other than that everything else is mahogany on that thing. I've had that blue one for a couple of years and it's my main axe. It's got 24 frets. I'm addicted to 24 frets.
Guitar.com: Is that a bolt-on? Or is it a neck thru?
Mahoney: No, It's a glued in neck. All the ones I have are glued-ins now. I lost two in a fire we had a long time ago. One of them, the bolt-on, was a really cool one. I have some that have maple tops on them. I have an archtop of theirs and I have a Santana model. The Santana model is the most beautiful, bad-ass guitar. The fretboard and the neck scale are different, where it's a little more squashed. Not as much room for the fingers in the frets. I play the s--t out of it at my house. Really for that record I use that light blue guitar that I used in New York. That did everything except for maybe one or two overdubs. If I did use another one it was a Standard just with my cherry finish on it.
Guitar.com: It sounds great.
Mahoney: Ya know, I love it. I just love the mahogany. It sounds good. At this point it's just what's comfortable and what's not. So I've been happy with that.
Guitar.com: I Have a Hollowbody II. Did you ever try one of those out?
Mahoney: Nice. It's not as deep as an archtop right?
Guitar.com: I think they came out with this after. It's thinner and completely hollow inside.
Guitar.com: Yeah. It's a beautiful guitar.
Mahoney: Trey from Phish has got something like that. I know that Paul Langadocker (spelling?), the sound guy, made that guitar. Custom built it for him.
Guitar.com: Are you endorsed by PRS?
Mahoney: Well, they're really generous and always hook me up with a good deal. Everything they do is custom built and I know they look after it and stuff. They take care of me. Really, that's all I play is PRS. Ya know, I have a Stratocaster at home that I love and I have an SG that's 1971 that P-Nut gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago. It's awesome. Oh God, I love that thing. I have a Dimebag Darrell from Pantera. I have one of his guitars.
Guitar.com: Is it a Dean?
Mahoney: Washburn makes it. It's exactly like the old Deans.
Guitar.com: We have Dean on our site right now. Each month we have a manufacturer answer questions from Guitar.com users in their own designated message board.
Mahoney: Nice! It looks exactly like those old cool ass Deans. I know it's a Washburn because I got it directly from them. It is a beautiful guitar. Just the craftsmanship is amazing. I think they have two levels. This is one that Dimebag himself plays. Then I think they have more of a beginner, inexpensive model. This one came from a Custom Shop. Man, it is beautiful. It's so funny, it sounds great with distortion and dirty but it sounds great clean. Dimebag would probably be bummed to hear me say this but it does reggae so good.
Mahoney: Yeah! (Laughs)
Guitar.com: Are you going to break that out live?
Mahoney: Yes, I have it with me right now and it's tuned downed to low B. So if we want to do the one song I mentioned that I did on my seven-string. I'll play it on the Dimebag. But, we haven't been playing it so, I was talking to my guitar tech, Ref, and I had him put it back into standard tuning so I can use it for "Who's Got the Herb." We have this reggae song that we play...
Guitar.com: Yeah, I remember that song.
Mahoney: That one, it's fun to bust it out for that song.
Guitar.com: That's cool. That's definitely a wacky guitar.
Mahoney: It is. It's huge from that one to tip to the edge, it's like 6 feet or something. The headstock, if I could spread my hand as big as I can, that's the size of the headstock. It's f--kin' Great (laughs)!
Guitar.com: You better not turn too quickly on stage you might hurt somebody.
Mahoney: Exactly, and it's super pointy. That's the other thing. It's Hilarious.
Guitar.com: I'll check one of those things out one these days.
Mahoney: It's a good ride.
Guitar.com: Since we're talking about guitars, what was your first guitar?
Mahoney: First, well I had an acoustic. Something out of like a Sears catalog. Then my first one was like a Harmony that was out of a J.C. Penny or Sears catalog. I wish I still had that thing. Maybe not that guitar, that guitar fell apart. After that, anything I ever got, if I wanted a new guitar, I'd have to trade that and pay a little bit extra money to get my next guitar. I wish I could go back in time and see all the guitars I used to own 'cause I had some cool ones. I mean nothing too crazy but I had this one, it was called a Vel Paul Deluxe. It was just super basic. Kind of like an all mahogany Gibson Les Paul but it was... God. Funny guitars over time.
Guitar.com: Are you the kind of person that after you sold them, a few years later you think, 'I shouldn't have sold that guitar?'
Mahoney: No because, anything I would get, I would like better. Ever since our first record I haven't sold any guitars that I bought. I'm not a guitar collector like that. Every guitar I've ever bought I really do love. Even though I have a couple of Paul Reed Smiths I don't play that often I still love them and they're beautiful.
(the phone dies, then Mahoney calls back:)
Mahoney: I'm sorry about that. I'm in the back of the bus. I'm getting service and in the middle there's no service. I have to go to our driver's front seat to get service. It's so strange in how the span of forty feet it can be so different.
Guitar.com: I think you need to mount a seat on the roof of the bus and just climb out there.
Mahoney: Sometimes, it's always funny too, I don't know what the name of this place is but, it might be the Verizon Center, and I have a Sprint account. We run into that if you're on Sprint. Your phone doesn't work around here.
Guitar.com: Yeah, they send out a signal that kills your Sprint phone.
Mahoney: (Laughs) Cool man. I should look and check out Guitar.com. Thanks again for your time. Sorry about the phone stuff. Thanks for taking the time to come out to the show too. That's cool.
Guitar.com: Thanks. I had a good time I brought one of my friends. He really liked it.
Mahoney: Right on. Take it easy man.