Stereomud - Living in Stereo

Though first-timers on the Jagermeister Tour, Stereomud are veterans of the nu-metal scene. The band includes former members of Life of Agony, Pro-Pain, The Crumbsuckers, and Stuck Mojo.

Stereomud has previously toured with Jagermeister mates Saliva and Systematic and also headlined the Pain and Suffering Tour. The band's debut album Perfect Self, released in 2001 on Loud Records, sold more than 145,000 copies and earned Stereomud monikers such as nu-metal mavens. Since the release of Perfect Self, Stereomud switched labels, casting its lot with Columbia Records. This past week, the band released its second album, Every Given Moment. Guitarists Joey Z. and John Fattoruso chatted with on the eve of the Jagermeister Tours first show, covering a wide range of topics, including Metallica, Winger, PR hype, and, oh yeah, Every Given Moment. Do you remember your first guitar?

Joey Z: A Fender Performer [laughs]I had it until a dog was attacking my dog in Brooklyn- it was eating my dog, so I hit the dog with my guitar and broke it. So then I had to get a new guitar. I got a Gibson SG. That's when I knew I was on the right track. At least I had the Gibson in my hand after that. How many guitars do you have nowadays?

Joey Z: Holy shit. Probably around 27. What types?

Joey Z: Mostly Gibson Les Pauls. I'm a Les Paul guy. I love playing Les Pauls Which Les Pauls are your favorites?

Joey Z: I love Les Paul Customs. I think the only way to go is the Les Paul Custom it's the right sound, the right thickness for me- it has a great neck on it, it's a great guitar. I got a nice silver-burst one that I'm playing right now, it's pretty fucking cool looking. I had it painted over.It was a Black Beauty[the painter] did a silver-burst paint job, and it looks awesome. How many customs do you own?

Joey Z: Well, I used to be with Jackson- I guess I can't even say I used to be with them because they continue on supporting me, but right now I'm choosing to play Gibsons again. Jackson was making me my own Les Pauls, my signature model. It's in their archives- it never got released in stores. They built me my own custom guitar for a bunch of years when I was with Life of Agony. They're fucking cool guitars, but I was never comfortable they never felt like my Les Pauls. They're very rare, though you never see a Jackson Les Paul anywhere, but I've got four of thema transparent red, a transparent purple that is a fucking gorgeous guitar with a plain top on it; a silver, and a black one they're all Jackson Les Pauls. Do you take those guitars in the studio and on the road with you?

Joey Z: Definitely. I'm very comfortable with my silver-burst, and I have a tobacco sun-burst that I really love too- those are the guitars that shine through in the studio because you're so comfortable playing them. Naturally, it's gonna sound great. At the same time, I can't say that I didn't play fifteen other guitars on this record (laughs).

[ed note. At this point, Joey Z. calls out to fellow guitarist John Fattoruso, with whom will chat shortly] John, what was that other guitar from the studio? GMP, I think it was called. A bad-ass, sick, custom guitar that was made for our producer John Travis. It was sparkle blue, and it just sounded like a fucking monster, dude. I swear to God, you plugged into any amp, and it just fucking growled. The guitar was bad-ass. Whoever works with John Travis is lucky because he's a guitar player and because you get to play that guitar. It is fucking bad-ass. [ed. note. Calls out to Fattoruso again] GMP, I'm positive of it. It's like that Les Paul one you got, but it's really big and fat- it would look retarded if you played it live. It would be so fucking silly to play that thing live, but in the studio it [growls]. It just yells at you. What does your effects rig look like?

Joey Z: I gotta give it up to DigiTech. I'm using their 2112 piece, and all of my sounds and effects that I did in the studio like some of the vintage effects with pedals and stuff. I'm able to create with my Digitech 2112. It's discontinued now, they don't make em anymore. It was a great piece. I have one, and it works really well. You're able to mimic anything you do in the studio, no matter what you use. Everything in the world is in that fucking 2112. It's very versatile. So that's what I'm using effects-wise.

I use two dual rectifiers- two Mesa Boogie dual rectifiers, one per cabinet. I got a great Behringer noise gate on there, like a noise compressor. It's a great piece, the Behringer, along with those dual racks. The shit sounds great. I've got a rack-mounted Crybaby Wah, which is great, you can use up to four foot controllers. It's a good setup. It works for me. What effects do you find yourself using most often on the 2112?

Joey Z: It's almost a head-to-head match between a phaser, I use a lot of phaser in my stuff, and delay cause I love delay and the way it sounds live .. Dan [Richardson, Stereomud's drummer] plays to a click on stage. He's really good with a click, so you can dial in those delays, and your delays are right there, man, right there with the beat. So delays and phasers, I use those a lot. Have you added any cool toys to your setup lately?


Joey Z: I'll be honest with you, my rig has stayed the same for going on seven years now. Anyone that sees it or hears it is like, "Wow, dude, that sounds fucking awesome." And all my friends that know me and anyone that's been around me and shit, they're all like, "Joe, you should never change." I always try to put new things in my rig. Like the Zoom 9150 [Signal Processor]. That was the weakest link in my rack. Anything I tried to add to my rack, everyone just told me, "Joey, just leave it the way it was." They're like, "Don't touch your shit." If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Joey Z: Exactly. Anything I try to add, no matter how cool it looked or whatever it was supposed to do, it was just bad. It would just take away [from the overall sound]. But, as far as toys go, I would like to get my hands on the new Line 6 Vetta. So when you were first learning to play guitar, did you take lessons or were you self-taught?

Joey Z: I was self-taught, to be honest with you. The best lessons for me always were when I would just throw on one of my favorite records and sit there, rack my brain, and try to figure out how to play all that shit I was hearing. Those were the best lessons, because I loved being there at the moment, loved what I was working on. So that can only produce great results, if you go about things that way. When I would go to lessons, I would be learning things that other people were into. I'd find myself saying, I'm not really into what this guy is playing. I'm more into Kirk Hammett fucking shredding on "Kill Em All". Listen to that and try to play those fucking guys shit. That's the kind of education I had. Metallica education. [laughs] So Metallica was your biggest musical influence?

Joey Z: Definitely, man. I give Kirk all the respect in the world. He's inspired me as a musician since day one when I heard "Kill Em All". I had all these older friendsI was the young guy, and I fucking liked that band right away. And Kirk is such a cool dude. He's a great friend of mine now. I was going to ask if you'd gotten a chance to meet him.

Joey Z: At this point, we're really great friends. A couple of nights ago, we missed each other a few times, calling each other back and forth. He was so psyched about Rob Trujillo joining the band [on bass]. He was like," Joe, can you believe what this is going to sound like?" I'm like, "Dude, Rob is gonna fucking tear it up." It's going to be so heavy when they do Master of Puppets with Rob playing the walking thing. It's going to be amazing. It's fucking unbelievable. What did you think about Jason Newsted's recent rant against his former bandmates?

Joey Z: It's weird. Jason was always a good friend to me, too. I was always hanging around that band, and they were good to me. He just sent a message through a friend to say hello: Tell Joey I said, What's up and all that shit. It's really nice because he knew our friend was going to be coming to one of our shows. That's the way I know Jason. They must have had their reasons as individuals and Jason his own, there must have been some reasons that Jason needed to go down a different road. That's his choice- At the same time, it didn't make me happy, being a big Metallica fan. Damn, that sucks. But now I'm very happy because Rob is fucking awesome. Rob is amazing, and he is going to fucking tear it up. I'm fucking more psyched about Metallica than I ever was. What Metallica songs did you first learn to play?

Joey Z: "Seek and Destroy". I played that at my high school Battle of the Bands with my cousin. The Misfits' "Devil Whorehouse," that was the other song we played. This was my band when I was growing up [laughs]. Everybody else was playing fucking Winger- not even Winger, man, I was younger than that- they were playing fucking L.A. Guns, and we're going up there playing Metallica and The Misfits. So did you win?

Joey Z: Huh? The Battle of the Bands?

Joey Z: No fucking way! [laughs] They didn't get what you were trying to do?

Joey Z: There was this kid playing Jimi Hendrix. He won. It was all good. I guess you can have the last laugh now

Joey Z: Nah. For me, it was a show; it wasn't Battle of the Bands. I couldn't give a fuck about that trophy. We just wanted to play in front of people and start a pit, really. [laughs] Do you practice a lot nowadays or do you try to give yourself a breather from playing sometimes?

Joey Z: Oh yeah, definitely. There's only one way to keep the engine rolling, and that's to keep playing. When I go home, I write, and I write, and I write. I write riffs all the fucking time. I get up in the middle of the night- it's four in the morning, and I'm like, "Fuck, I have to get up and record it." That's how I get all my riffs. I'm playing all the time. I've got a nice home studio. I have a three-bedroom apartment, I don't have a house. One room is just dedicated to my home studio. I do a lot of playing at home, and, when I get on the road, I bring my new Pandora's Box, I used to bring all my recording shit in a road case. Now I got the Pandora Box, Korg PS-4 or something. Did any of those of late-night riffs end up on your new album Every Given Moment?

Joey Z: One of them, for sure. The thing is that we write together as a band. We bring our ideas into the room A lot of the late-night riffs that popped into my head made it onto the record, but the thing is we go through everyone's ideas. If one guy comes in with an idea, we work on it for a while, check it out, if it's working, great; if not, move onto the next guy's idea. That happens every day. It's always a great jam. You always keep it positive and fun. We try to do that. How did you come up with the album title?

Joey Z: It was Any Given Moment at first. Someone suggested that, and it sounded negative, like something could happen at any given moment. Someone then said Every Given Moment- it might have been me-it worked. Stereomud: Every Given Moment, it's like a statement "Engulf Yourself With Stereomud Every Given Moment"! [laughs] How did you approach recording the guitars on this album?

Joey Z: We did something completely different [this time]. I gotta give a lot of credit to John [Travis]. He worked with the band very well and brought a lot of ideas to the table, arrangements and stuff. He even hummed some cool parts to us and we were like, "Yeah that rocks. Let's use that." We worked with John really well. Track-wise, we'd do numerous tracks out of numerous amps and make a blend. So we used about nine tracks at once. We had a Rivera going great head, fucking awesome for guitar tracks all of these amps were running through different cabs in the room, and we were going two or three mics per cabinet. Then, we'd have like twelve tracks on the board blending into one track .So, it would sound really big and fat. We'd have me right and John left, or vice-versa. Whatever it called for, for that song. Sometimes we'd double-take, but sometimes that would be too much. So we would strip it down and have John on one speaker and me on another speaker, and do a cross blend, with a little of me on his end and a little of him on my end. How does the division of labor work with guitar parts between you and John Fattoruso?

Joey Z: I think we're crossover guitar players. One guy doesn't outshine the other, and we don't treat each other that way. It's like a joint effort. If John has an idea, then he can take it and rip it up. We encourage each other. If John comes in and says, "Joe, I've got this part, I'll lead over it. It'll rock." A lot of times , the wah leads you're hearing like on "Breathing", that's my lead. And on "Show  Me", all those big middle leads, I'm doing a lot of that stuff. I don't call myself the lead guitarist and him the rhythm guitarist. It's not like that. Did it take a while to get used to playing with another guitarist?

Joey Z: It blended really well especially because I didn't play with another guitarist in my old band Life of Agony. It was just me, so basically, when this band started and we got John in, it wasn't uncomfortable at all. I thought, "This sounds fuller, this sounds cooler." It worked because it filled out our sound. John was the last piece of the puzzle that we needed for this band. Fuck getting a mixer, we just got another guitar player. Do any guitar parts on Every Given Moment stand out in particular for you?

Joey Z: "Control Freak" was really great. Not that it stands above the rest, but to me its a song that makes a statement. That experience was great. "Coming Home" was [also] a really good experience. It's hard to pick one over the other because it was a fun record to make. John Travis gave us support to play as hard and as live as we wanted to. It just fucking worked. After the success of Perfect Self and all the hype surrounding the band, did you guys feel a lot of pressure to deliver a big follow-up?

Joey Z: There was a bit [of pressure] because our label Loud Records folded, and we went over to Columbia. We wanted to make a strong impression on Columbia. Writing a great record quickly was key to getting them on our side. With their support, we were able to get off the road, straight into the studio, and totally write for four months straight, then we went to record in L.A.We wrote about 30 songs [for Every Given Moment], but the thing is some songs drop off along the way, and so we put 11 on the record. We had some crunch time, but we were able to knock out a lot of shit. Back to the hype for a second. While I was scouring the web for all things Stereomud, I came across a press release on Sony Music's site. It read: Stereomud is fresh and organic, moving heavy music forward like a wheel in which you either keep up with the revolution or fall off and eat shit. Kinda cracked me up. How do you guys feel when a publicist hypes you up like that?

Joey Z: I think Loud Records did that.It's from our last album.. It's on Sony's site.

Joey Z: Yeah, maybe they should take that off. [laughs] Sounds kinda cheesy to me, but maybe some people are going, "Yeah dude!" Rock journalists around the world are high-fiving each other in their offices. Check this one out, too: [Stereomud's] commercially-viable rock tunesblend together like a beer and Vicodin high.

Joey Z: Yeah, it's like, "C'mon get real." Its' cheesy. I don't wanna slag any labels- I'm not like that- but some people think they have a hold on things, and they just have no clue. It's like, if you have a clue, you won't fucking present your band in a fucking cheesy way. People want realism, and I'm as real as I can be. I am me all the time. On stage, off stage, I do get a little more aggressive on stage , but, you know, I don't put on a mask- no one in the band, for that matter' goes out there with a mask on. We don't need statements like that.

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