Cutting their own edge and carving a lane for alternative music, Violent Soho brings their taste of garage alt-rock to the masses, now being labelled as a major live drawcard in Australia. We take a look at frontman and guitarist Luke Boerdam’s setup and run through how the band deliver their heavy riffs and punch-in-the-face brand of rock.
Violent Soho Tele Jr. #2
Matching passions, frontman/guitarist Luke Boerdam and Tym Guitars' long relationship was first working together on Violent Soho’s self-funded EP. Not being picky but instead opting for a wiser choice than their current gear, Tym custom-made Luke and James their first Tym Guitar – Luke’s being the black Tele jr, which soars in all it’s simplicity and rough around the edges appearance. Having a fitted tone switch, which is synonymous with Violent Soho’s garage brand of alt-rock, the guitar is built for touring. Boerdam has two identical copies made for the road and both guitars are fitted with two separate input jacks to minimise faulty gear hold ups. Preaching its superior playability, with rich sustain and tone from the effective string tension on the bridge, Boerdam often conveys his feelings for the guitar that was only made up the street from where he lives.
Being fitted with one Seymour Duncan P-90 pickup on the back bridge and a wraparound bridge custom fit, the light alder body works perfect for Violent Soho’s big blustering sound. It's perfect for guitarist looking for fat, thick tones that don’t overcrowd and flood a band's mix. The VS Tele Jr. has an extra scale length 25.5" neck to clear up the tone, assisting a little more reaction to feedback and intentional noise from Boerdam’s pedals. From its shock-black colour to the dark rosewood fretboard, a noticeable difference from the more trademarked telecaster is the big Tym headstock, which Boerdam being a fan of the CBS style, seemed to push for.
Modded MXR Distortion Plus
Recently, we had the chance to talk to Luke briefly about his music-gear necessities while at the helm of the Waco tour. Boerdam mentioned how Tym Guitars modified some of his pedals that he always needs when on the road, one being the MXR Distortion Plus. Used primarily as a boost throughout his set, the modded MXR D+ pushes riffs like 'Covered in Chrome' and 'Jesus Stole My Girlfriend' to where they’re are needed. Giving an earthy 80s hard-rock tone, the germanium-powered pedal projects warm tubey overdrive sounds and seems a relevant fit for Luke and the band's grunge sound that needs some bite and an impact to shake audiences.
Tym Big Mud Rams Head
In the realm of texture and levelling cities with bottom-end heavy guitar tones, the Big Mud custom pedal from Tym Guitars is another important tool in the shed that Luke uses to deliver his sound but still holds its own without over-powering the rest of the mix. Hand-made and hand-wired in Queensland, the Big Mud acts as a clone for old-school sustain/fuzz pedals made in the mid 70s. You can hear the Big Mud in full force on songs like 'Viceroy' and Hungry Ghosts' thunderous opener 'Here Be Dragons'. The Big Mud presents a full sounding fuzz with a defined mid-scooped mix, which gives a lower output – good for filling the band’s mix and not flattening the guitar’s sound.
EvenTide Space Reverb
As synonymous as big grunge riffs are to Violent Soho’s sound, Waco presented an opening for the band to delve into some interesting jam sections that are lead driven and help convey a richer meaning into some of Luke’s darker themed lyrics. The Eventide Space Reverb is used in such moments to navigate the wave of instruments crashing through. This is evident in songs like 'Evergreen' and the title-track 'Waco'. Throughout touring, the Eventide helps carry that sound, allowing an array of presets and flexibility to fit any part needed from a musician. The Eventide Space Reverb really blossoms on 'Dope Calypso' and adds an eerie vibe 'Like Soda' with clean driven sections through their catalogue.
Marshall JCM 2203 Vintage Series 100W Tube Head
Adding to the wall of sound for both in and out of the studio, Luke opts for the proverbial JCM 2203. Preferred for its natural gain, keeping a lot of the mids, the Marshall Vintage series from the 80s is used for the prominent lead sections throughout their live sets. The JCM is an all-valve amp that is a coherent snowball from Marshall's earlier designs.
Luke comments that he’d been through an array of amps when in the studio and the JCM 2203 is matchless. Preferring the wavering-dark tone and unrelenting EQ that the JCM head brings to the table something refreshing in Violent Soho’s sound. Luke uses the JCM along with the 65’ Fender Twin reverb to boost Violent Soho’s choruses and help maintain the live atmosphere in their studio releases. The vintage amp-head is an industry benchmark, and gives a larger than life sound and signature roar.
1965 Fender Twin Reverb Combo
Used primarily on heavy chorus tones and helping bring to life clean sections throughout their live set, The Fender Twin Reverb can also be heard on Waco and Hungry Ghosts. The amp was used while recording at the shed with friend and producer Bryce Moorehead. The Fender Twin Reverb is an iconic amp that has played a supporting role for many musicians from its inauguration in 1965. The Fender combo is added on top of Boerdam's cabinets, which breaths warm clean tones when heard on 'Blanket', 'Fur Eyes' and the previously mentioned 'Evergreen'. The combination of both amps allows a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario, giving into the pros of both amp designs.