Pro Audio

Balancing simplicity and excess: pedal talk with Hideous Sun Demon

I saw Hideous Sun Demon live for the first and only time at Bigsound Festival last year for about two songs and they blew my brains out.

When it comes to guitar sounds, they’re the kind of band that create madness and intensity with relatively few elements – fuzz, chorus, delay. But these effects aren’t employed in moderation – they’re juiced for everything they can give. On 2016’s Industry Connections their fuzz pedals are cranked, delays oscillate like crazy and modulation is used in excess.

We reached out to Hideous Sun Demon guitarists and Vin and Lee (and bassist Jake) to see what kind of gear they’re using right now.

hideous sun demon gear interview

Chatting to Perth’s Hideous Sun Demon about guitar pedals, the divide between simplicity and excess, and some intriguing plans to run a guitar into a KORG MS20 analog synth.

Can you run us through what’s on your board at the moment?

Vin: Basically a Way Huge showcase: a Green Rhino OD, Swollen Pickle Fuzz & Aqua Puss Delay + a MXR analogue chorus.

Lee: Its always chopping and changing but at the moment i’m using a Polytune tuner, Way Huge Pork Loin, which has a really cool clean pre amp and soft clip overdrive, a Fulltone OCD overdrive which I have on all the time, a Throbak Fuzz Haze, which is what the old guitarist use to use as well. This Fuzz Haze is really versatile as it has a pre gain switch for shaping fuzz, plus its output is HUGE which is something I love in fuzz pedals. After that I’m using a Boss Super chorus for all the modulation stuff, then finally a TC electronics flashback delay.

I love all those psychotic guitar sounds you guys are pulling on Industry Connections. What are we hearing on Bad Girl?

Vin: A lot of the disjointed sound comes from shifting the root and major 3rd down and up by chromatics. Our old guitarist Andy used one of those Diamond Delay pedals which is where a lot of them drippy wet tones come from. You can hear the MXR Chorus doing them jazzy chords at the end too. A EHX Small Stone phaser is also used at very slow and very fast rates.

Lee: I didn’t record on this song but as far as emulating the guitar sounds there is a lot of wet modulation and delay happening which I use my Boss Chorus and Flashback delay for.

What was the first pedal you bought?

Lee: Pretty sure it was an American Big Muff when I went through the standard ‘wanting to sound like Jack White’ phase.

What’s your favourite pedal under 100 bucks and why?

Lee: Definitely the Boss Super Chorus. I think I got mine for around 70 bucks and the chorus sounds great. It’s also extremely versatile to ensure you’re not drowning the signal in modulation.

What do you have on your board at the moment that really shapes your sound?

Jake: The boys didn’t answer this one ‘cuz they are stooges. My Tech 21 VT bass pedal is the only pedal I use it gets gnarly distortion and strong low mid tones to cut through a mix.

How do you approach your signal chain/routing?

Vin: Pretty standard, gain staging at the front, modulation at the back.

Lee: Overdrive and fuzz at the front with modulation and delay at the back. I’ve experimented with the set up before but I like it this way the most. Super basic but it’s effective. I’m not a huge pedal nerd unfortunately.

Do you switch pedals in and out often?

Lee: Yeah all the time. Its usually a 2 month period of the having the same set up then I’ll swap and change.

Is there anything you’re really hanging out to buy at the moment?

Vin: ORB have really reminded me on how good a wah-wah pedal can sound if its used well. I remember our bassist Jake used to have the Dimebag Darrel one which was pretty versatile. I’m also gonna eventually get a line-switcher so I can run my guitar through my pedal/amp chain as well as into my Korg MS20. They have an input feature which converts the frequency coming from the guitar into CV, so you essentially play the synth via the guitar. That doubled with my amp sound would probably be pretty wild.

Who are some of your favourite pedal builders?

Lee: Way Huge and Death by Audio. I used a Fuzz War for ages. It’s one of those pedals I’ll never get rid of.

Do you have any particular ethos when it comes to using guitar pedals?

Vin: Hideous is a pretty excessive band sometimes, and a lot of my pedal knowledge has evolved from playing in that band. Even still, most of the time I do like to keep things as simple as possible. There’s a lot of great artists who use a shit tonne of pedals to get their tone, but a lot of my influences tended to keep things pretty honest.

Guitarists like Mikey Young, Tom Verlaine and Andrew Savage prove what you can do with a pretty dry signal. From my understanding, even My Bloody Valentine’s HUGE guitar tone was mainly done through just a fuzz and whammy bar, with very little in the way of modulation. Pedals bring a lot of diversity but so can playing style.

If you had to cull your board down to two pedals, what would they be and why?

Vin: First would be either a boost or an overdrive, second would be the delay.

Lee: Tuner and fuzz. Everyone needs a tuner right? Plus you can usually dial in an overdrive on what ever amp you’re using so that covers the overdrive pedal.

Do your pedals influence what amp or guitars you use, or vice versa?

Vin: Both my guitar and gain staging pedals are used because they allow for a bright but full tone. I like Fender Amps because they break up real nice and have a lot of headroom. I used to play Vox’s but found they compressed the tone too much for what we do.

Do you have any pedal heroes or other artist who you feel really nail a sound through their rig?

Vin: I’m probably not the best person to ask. But the tone Adrian Belew gets in that solo on The Great Curve off Talking Heads’ Remain in Light is still one of the best things I’ve ever heard.

Lee: John Dwyer from Thee Oh Sees somehow manages to make his guitar scream. Definitely one of the best live sounding guitarist I’ve ever seen.

Check out Hideous Sum Demon’s tunes on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.