Hey Shredder

7 questions for guitarists

RL Heyer

The True Spokes, Cracker Factory, RL Heyer Trio

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RL Heyer with The True Spokes

RL Heyer with The True Spokes

The True Spokes embark on their Fall 2012 Tour tomorrow, Tuesday, September 11, in Applegate, Oregon, with stops in San Francisco (9/13), Chico (9/15), Sacramento (9/18) and more along October dates in Washington and Idaho. For full itinerary pop over here.

RL Heyer plays with visible purpose and naked pleasure. The True Spokes guitarist-singer-songwriter draws from that deep well in men where the will to build big things or screw with virtuosic abandon lives, where there is need as much as want in the doing of things born from this place. Heyer throws his whole body into his playing, sweating and working notes from his muscles, his face a tableau of emotions, though most often you’ll find him smiling. Without question, the man enjoys what he does, a creature born to wield this particular instrument and delightful to watch fulfill his basic nature.

One picks up on the same intuitive calligraphy in RL found in greats like Marc Ford (The Black Crowes) and Rory Gallagher, where there’s no question of their skill but it’s the emotional thrust of what they do that lingers. While the blues surely flutter in his style, there are also the sharp instincts of Journey’s Neal Schon where compact solos frequently outweigh flights of fancy. It’s a hell of a pairing with his fellow Spokes guitarist-singer-songwriter Josh Clauson, whose innate bounce and improvisational zest brings a jazzy, clean zest to their guitar conversations, which are offered up in their most refined form yet on the band’s self-titled 2012 studio debut, itself a signpost of how Heyer and his cohorts continue to carve their own gorgeous slice of populist rock, a readily enjoyable serving of Every Person tales with a good beat you can dance to.

Here’s what Heyer had to say in DI’s ongoing guitar inquiry.

Favorite effects pedal? Why?
Home Brew Electronics – Power Screamer. Three different distortion circuits, including a fuzz. I absolutely LOVE the way it drives the tubes!
Tastiest guitarist — i.e. not just soloing but also overall playing — currently working six-strings?
Well, if this is indeed a “currently” category then I might have to say Eric Clapton OR John Scofield – two of the tastiest guitarists alive. If deceased ones could be included, Freddy King and Jimi Hendrix would rise to the top.
A guitar solo I never get tired of listening to is…
Not to sound cliché here, but [Van Halen’s] ERUPTION! I mean, COME ON! So amazing, tasty, full of RAD tone. The way his phaser pinches those notes. I just listened to it today! Although “Something” [The Beatles] is another I could listen to every day.
Preferred brand of axe? Why?
I love my Ibanez AS-80! I’ve had one for 11 years now and just got another one of the same year, in mint condition. It may be inexpensive, but they do not skimp on the tone and playability! Still have the stock pickups in them and they’re fantastic. And now that I had a Bigsby installed, it could be the best guitar known to man!
AC/DC, The Beatles, Radiohead or The Byrds – which one gives you the biggest guitar boner? What makes them SO sweet?
A few years ago, I would have said The Beatles without hesitation. George’s solos are some of the most beautiful pieces of art this world has seen. Their (his and John’s) tone is always crazy good, and great riffs all the time. Paul’s playing never gets old, either – bass or guitar.
Angus Young is a BADASS!
One lesser known guitarist folks should check out is…
Andy Coe, and it’s not just because he’s a good friend of mine. I really just enjoy listening to him play any kind of music! Whether it’s McTuff, In Lake`ch, or a Pink Floyd Tribute, it’s gonna blow your mind!
What aspect of being a guitarist always makes you happy?
The way an acoustic guitar and a voice are the perfect balance of volume, or maybe the fact that I can just lose myself and communicate on a different plane, or possibly the half-inch thick calluses on my fingertips.

The True Spokes’ ‘Back Porch’ video from Preston Hall on Vimeo.

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