Concocting a delicate brew of dreamy, washed-out guitars and deep resonant vocals, Sydney trio EGOISM are a beacon in the rich Australian shoegaze landscape.
We recently caught the band at a show in Sydney and were blown away by their guitar sounds, so we reached out to guitarists Olive and Scout to see what they’re working with.
We recently caught EGOISM at a show in Sydney and were blown away by their dreamy, washed-out guitar sounds, so we reached out to Olive and Scout from the band to suss what they’re working with.
Hey Olive and Scout. How’s it going? Can you run us through what’s on your pedalboards at the moment?
OLIVE: So right now I’ve got a Boss Tuner, Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive, Way Huge Swollen Pickle Fuzz, Zvex Fat Fuzz Factory, Pigtronix Disnortion, Digitech Whammy V, Joyo Tremolo, Strymon El Capistan Tape Delay, and I just put my Caline Snake Bite Reverb back on.
SCOUT: At the moment for guitar I MXR Phase 90, Dr HIVE Overdrive, Hot Cake Overdrive, MXR Super Badass Distortion, a Earthquaker Devices Hoof Reaper and an Eathquaker Devices Disaster Transport. For my bass channel I use a Boss OC3 and a Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff.
How about guitars and amps?
OLIVE: Live I pretty much only ever play my Jazzmaster, in the past I’ve played a Gretsch Corvette. Amp-wise I own a Fender Super 112, which is this great 90s red knob tube amp, but I tend to just play through whatever is available. As long as its bright and has lots of clean headroom then its fine. Recorded we use literally whatever sounds good that we have access to, which includes just DI-ing straight into the computer and using digital effects.
SCOUT: This year I’ve started splitting my guitar signal with the Boss OC3 and playing through a guitar amp and bass amp (or DI-ing the bass sound). I usually play have two different guitars for gigs including my 80s G&L Asat (Telecaster) and until recently my 90s Japanese Jaguar, but I’m changing to my Maton MS500 cause I wanted a heavier humbucker sound.
What are we hearing on Sense – I really love all those sparkly, washed out tones.
OLIVE: For my guitar I just have the harmony octave up setting turned on the Whammy V for like the whole song pretty much. But a big part of that is still just down to a lot of tape delay and stereo reverb.
What was the first pedal you bought?
OLIVE: When I was 15 I saved up some birthday and Christmas money and bought a Mid-fi Electronics Pitch Pirate which was like this crazy vibrato that could shift pitch like two octaves apart and modulate so fast it turned into a ring modulator. Plus you could modulate the wave shape from sine wave to square wave. It was really unique and I loved it, I was obsessed with the most insane pedals back then but I couldn’t afford anything because I had no money whatsoever haha.
SCOUT: When I was in early high school I bought a Livingstone distortion and delay from Aldi. I hadn’t even known what a pedal was before then haha!
What’s your favourite pedal under 100 bucks and why?
OLIVE: I find great used pedals for under $100 all the time, so I would say the Swollen Pickle but that retails for well over. For new I’d say the Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive, its just the perfect light overdrive and its so touch responsive.
SCOUT: Similar to Olive, I buy mainly secondhand too, but I reckon the Livingstone pedals are great for people starting out.
What do you have on your board at the moment that really shapes your sound?
OLIVE: To be honest you could replace my whole board with different but similar pedals and no one would tell the difference. Except for the Fat Fuzz Factory. The sounds I can get out of that thing make it irreplaceable.
SCOUT: Probably my Boss Oc3 cause it let’s us have an imaginary bass player
How do you approach your signal chain/routing?
OLIVE: Pretty standard (drives> modulation> ambience). I like to put my scoopy fuzzes before my mid range distortionsthough so when I stack them I’m boosting mids not taking them away.
SCOUT: Standard too, modulation> drives> delay
Do you switch pedals in and out often?
OLIVE: Not really, when I end up buying a pedal, it’s because I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and someone’s finally selling a cheap one. I’m much more about getting the most out of the different sounds your pedals can create.
SCOUT: I usually only switch around my pedals as my sound/role in the band changes, I mean two and a half years ago I didn’t even have any drive pedals!
Is there anything you’re really hanging out to buy at the moment?
OLIVE: I’m currently on the lookout for a cheap Small Stone phaser. Plus I’m trying to work out a way to get a more ‘metal’ tone.
SCOUT: I wanna develop my bass set-up and tone, I’m think a POG, compressor, and a new pitch modulator, but the OC3 is fine for now.
Who are some of your favourite pedal builders?
OLIVE: Even though I don’t actually have any of their pedals I really like Lastgasp Art Laboratories. Their fuzzes always sound insane.
SCOUT: I always really love Earthquaker devices especially their delay/ambient pedals.
Do you have any particular ethos when it comes to using guitar pedals?
OLIVE: Work with what you’ve got, no piece of gear has ever made any one a better musician or a better songwriter.
SCOUT: Not to be a pedal snob and have some massive pretentious board full of expensive pedals I barely use. I wanna make sure all my pedals are versatile and useful in the sound I’m trying to get.
If you had to cull your board down to two pedals (aside from a tuner), what would they be and why?
OLIVE: Just Fuzz and Delay would be the absolute minimum. But there’d be a couple songs we’d have to change if I didn’t have some kind of pitch shifter. It just wouldn’t really sound like Egoism without those 3.
SCOUT: Probably a Super Badass distortion and my Oc3
Do your pedals influence what amp or guitars you use, or vice versa?
OLIVE: Yes and no. I definitely have preferences and I know what sounds good together but I still see those elements as quite independent of each other. I like amps to be bright, warm and have heaps of clean headroom. I like guitars with single coil pickups and good sustain and smooth thick necks that can handle lots of different tunings. But a clean amp and a clean guitar pretty much always sound the same so the pedals matter the most.
SCOUT: Well I did decide to change to humbucker pickups, but the way I choose my guitar has a lot more to do with how easy it is to play and its initial tone. I try to have pedals that are flexible; can change to work with different amps and guitars.
Do you have any pedal heroes or other artist who you feel really nail a sound through their rig?
OLIVE: Lapse from Sydney are making some amazingly unique guitar sounds I’ve ever heard right now (interview these guys next!). Ringo Deathstarr just nail classic sounds over and over again. And Deafcult and their four guitars are unbelievable live.
SCOUT: I really love the way Nicole from Carb on Carb sets up her guitar through a guitar and bass amp to get that real emo sound. It was pretty influential in my set up now!
Catch more from EGOISM on their Soundcloud.