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Pontus H.W. Gunve

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Pontus Gunve from 2018

MSJ:

I know I interviewed you for Poetry of the Air, but I don't think we've interviewed you for Music Street Journal since 2013. Can you give the readers the "highlight reel" of what's been going on in the musical world of Pontus Gunve?

Since I released The Observer I have been busy playing and promoting that album. I also played in a Queen tribute band for roughly two years and released my EP IV in 2016. During all of 2016-2017 I spent writing and recording my next album (yet to be titled) and I am in the process of editing everything, mixing, mastering the album and then launch it - send it out into the world.

MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?

… Tricky one. I usually get varied things said about my music because it doesn’t quite fit one mold (apart from being instrumental), but I think inspirational, beautiful, original.

MSJ: What's ahead for you?

I have plans for a new albums in 2018. Everything has been recorded, and now I am planning on editing everything and getting it as close to done before I bring it to a mix session. The recording process has taken a bit longer than expected, but with a full time job, a four year old and a one year old (and a very understanding wife), it’s been harder to find time. Weekends, late in the evenings, or before everyone gets up are the times when I can squeeze some work in. Drum recording started in March with my friend Tripp Dudley. He is a touring musician, so we didn’t have much time to rehearse, but he was in between tours for a week in March, 2017. So, we went to the studio on a Friday evening and a full Saturday and managed to get nine songs in. The opening and closing track are both over ten minutes (and feature some complex sections), but we managed to get it all done. Most of Friday evening we spent setting up the sound we wanted - and even tracked a few tunes. After that I spent a month selecting all my favorite takes from the drum recording and sent the tracks out to the bass player and started recording guitars in the summer of 2017.

Most tunes have two clean guitar tracks, two heavy guitars, and a lead guitar. On some of them I decided to double the lead as well or play additional melody lines. I used my Fender DeVille and my VOX going into a 1X12 box. I also used some modeling amps for some of the sections. Tripp Dudley came back for tabla and percussion recording in October, and Eric Allen finished his cello parts by the end of October 2017. The bass was recorded by Chris Kelly at his studio, Studio Del Diablo. Finally, the flute was done by my friend Katie Thode in November 2017. We had roughly five to six hours to finish five pieces. All recording was done at my work at Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, where I manage the studios and post production facility. It was a bit hectic because I was engineering and producing at the same time, but am really happy how everything sounds. Before we recorded I made sure that I heard it as close to the finished “demo” as possible.  Obviously there is no comparison between a real instrument and most MIDI / Virtual instruments out there. So after a year of hearing a fake cello or flute it was great to hear it with the real deal….

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

I think that may have been Russian Circles Guidance or Opeth’s Sorceress. I find Russian Circles to be a good inspiration for instrumental listening and also guitar tone. Mike Sullivan has a great balance between clean tones and really dark and dirty distorted tones (which he gets through a 300W Verellen, Meatsmoke). So really heavy and dark at times, but also incredibly beautiful and dynamic.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I have found very little time to do anything, unfortunately, but am hoping to get some free time in the new year and read something inspirational.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

That is probably Russian Circles at Warsaw in Brooklyn. That is a pretty intimate venue, and you’re able to get pretty close to the band. I like the general atmosphere for a show like that. Russian Circles is all instrumental, and they hardly speak, as well. So it’s all about the music, which I love, because it allows you to think about the music and really drift away. It can be a really mesmerizing experience (if the band is right and the sound is there). I think the one before that was Bruce Springsteen at the Barclay Center - so a whole different musical experience.

MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?

Yes - It was AC/DC's Razors Edge World Tour - in 1991 - in Gothenburg, Sweden … First major rock concert, and it blew me away, really. I think King’s X opened for them. I guess everything about that experience made me totally sold on rock 'n' roll. The Marshall walls, just that pure energy of a Gibson SG plugged into a High Gain - 100W Marshall head. The basic chords, punchy riff and the blistering leads - combined with Brian Johnson’s vocal power… I didn’t really pay attention to much of the lyrics at the time, but think that everything around the experience grabbed me.

MSJ:

Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?

There are a few things that really help for my live tone and a few plug-ins that help for my production work. Recently I picked up a Friedman Dirty Shirley pedal. It’s basically a pedal version of the $2,600 High Gain Head (based on a JTM45). So whenever you play a gig with a clean (Fender Deville or Twin) amp you can get that Marshall / High Gain tone with this pedal - much easier for venues with clean amps for back line or if you cannot spend the 2,600 bucks but desire a driven, Marshall tone. I also have a a Lightning Boy Tube Overdrive pedal which is perfect when you want to add some creaminess to your tone. The guitar signal goes through a driven 12AX7 tube first before hitting an OD or distortion pedal - or into a high gain amp. It can sometimes get a bit fuzzy too, depending on the guitar or where it sits in the guitar signal chain.

I recently got the iZotope Neutron 2 plug-in - which really has some amazing features for mixing. I just started adding it to some of my finished guitar parts for my new album and it can add some definition to the signal in the mix. Also, Universal Audio have some really stellar modeling plug-ins - and what I use a lot is the Manley EQ and the Empirical Labs Fatso JR and SR compressors. They are both fantastic in their own way, but they are also big resource hogs on the Universal Audio interface so I cannot put them on every track. What I end up doing is sending bigger sections out through a channel bus and mix drums or guitars as a whole through that.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Find those who share your passion for music and find those who love it as much as you and make the music that you believe in. Try to connect to people. Try to be original, and never go into music to "Make Money"...

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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