Show & Tell is where we get artists to tell us about a piece of gear that they cherish and use as a part of their live or studio setup. This month we chat to Alex Hermes of progressive metal two-piece, Dirty Wolves.
A humble Aussie guitarist has recently joined the world’s elite EMG California Pickups artist roster, placing him among the ranks of the greats such as Metallica, Mastodon, Killswitch Engage, Velvet Revolver, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Alex Hermes, aka Skuey or Skuewolf (when wearing his wolf mask on stage), is one half of Dirty Wolves, a two-piece outfit who play in polyrhythm and comfortably hit guitar speeds of 20 notes or more per second. Creation & Chaos, the epic concept album written by Dirty Wolves, is already hitting VEVO views by the hundreds of thousands.
What piece of equipment do you have to show us today?
My EMG 81 85 pickups, of course!
How did you come across this particular item?
That’s an easy answer. I am a religious devotee when to comes to EMG – the first time I heard them I was blown away. The first thing I noticed was that tightness when distorted, and I knew I could really get a sharper right hand chop (palm mute) that would clean up my chunk tone instantly. Was it love at first tone? Yes.
What is it that you like about it so much?
I love the contrast of the output from clean to distorted channel. The clean tones I get from my EMG’s are just amazing. However, when I switch channels using my Mesa Rectifier, you really feel that mighty roar. So many mega albums have been created using EMG’s.
Great pickups are where you start on the journey to becoming your own guitarist. It’s our goal to find our own uniqueness in the subtleties. Every guitarist thinks differently, but once we accept our uniqueness and travel that path, we start to find our own way – and that starts with a killer tone to work with.
Another thing I noticed about using EMG’s at live shows is that girls go silly when I play with my EMG’s on stage. I’m not sure whether the EMG’s give me that added live confidence, or those killer tones are releasing endorphins. Maybe if I stopped using EMG’s I could hold down a steady relationship – but I just can’t let them go.
How do you use it and how has it shaped the way you write music?
I guess it starts with control, and the EMG 81 85’s give me just that. I like my sharp stops, and I also love a good fashioned old shred every now and then. These pickups are essential when creating songs that have an element of speed too, when you really need a tight sound with punch. When you’re playing with a full on drummer like Graeme Young, your music will turn to a blur without taking advantage of the subtleties and tightness that my EMG’s offer.
Top five guitarists?
Ok, it’s hard to answer because there is so much talent out there; however, Adam Jones from Tool is an exception to the rule. I’ve always wanted to support Tool, but the truth is that nobody is worthy of sharing the stage with those lads. Brent Hinds from Mastodon is just crazy genius, he freaks me out! We all know why I would choose Jimmy Page – he is the godfather of guitar, ‘The Don’. Dave Leslie from Baby Animals is just outright gifted. Every note he hits is sweet and technically amazing. Randall Waller, who is also an EMG player, is what I call the samurai of guitar. He has a very instinctive approach, plays from the guts, and not only is he technically brilliant, but the guy will make your hair stand up on your neck.
Tell us a little about what you have coming up?
We have quite a few things coming up this year, and a few big tour announcements for early next year. We are releasing our single ‘Joke Was On Me’ shortly, which was written by Dirty Wolves and 3 x Grammy nominee Rick Will (Incubus, Nine Inch Nails, Johnny Cash, Ben Harper). Following that, we’re releasing ‘Bad Bad Man’ produced by Jamie Fonti along with a few more singles spread out over the year.
Dirty Wolves are playing the Holy Land Festival (headlined by Radio Moscow from the USA) at the Gov in Adelaide on Friday June 29, Wreckfest on the 30th in Woolga South Australia, then off to play the Dead of Winter Festival with Radio Moscow, Osaka Punch, Polaris, Ocean Grove and Frenzal Rhomb.