If the ground were to one day crack open, and the sounds of Tartarus began to seep out of the earth, I’d like to imagine the hellish cacophony would sound a bit like King Woman. The San Francisco-based four-piece crafts the sort of doom metal that seems to herald the bridging of our dimension and the underworld. Kristina Esfandiari’s vocals envelop the band’s tracks with the precision of a hushed, siren song, while the band–composed of Colin Gallagher on guitar, Peter Arensdorf on bass and Joey Raygoza on drums–punctuate her ethereal singing with fuzzy, dark soundscapes and angular riffs. On the heels of their soon-to-be-released album, Created in the Image of Suffering, Collin and Peter were kind enough to share their current pedal set ups, and the techniques they used to get the visceral sounds heard on the album.
My board is pretty straight forward: I have the classic chromatic tuner, and that runs into an Earthquaker Devices Arrow clean boost. I use that for a cleaner distortion/overdrive effect. I usually keep it dimmed, but will dial it back a bit during certain live shows. I’ve been using this pedal for some new material we’ve been working on. That leads us into a Fuzzrocious Demon King. This is my main dirt pedal. It has a gate button and a feedback button. This pedal rules! It’s got a lot of range and you can manipulate the feedback. You can hear the feedback button in the intro to “Utopia” (streaming below).
That leads us into a Univox Superfuzz clone that Peter (our bass player) built. This thing is a ripper! I use it when I need more hi-end distortion. I use it during the second half of “Hem.” That leads us into a Boss TR2 Tremolo that’s been modded (by JHS) with a volume knob. This is one of my favorite guitar effects and it’s nice to be able to adjust the volume when I want it to break up a little more. I use it during the intro to “Manna.”
I have the knob dialed so it breaks up really nicely.
It can even work as a clean boost when you dial back the depth. I run that into a Boss DD2 delay. I don’t need too much in the way of delay but this thing is perfect. I run that into a (EHX) Holy Grail reverb since most of the amps I use don’t have built in ‘verb. I pretty much leave it on “spring” but when we play tracks like ‘Candescent Soul’ live, I’ll flip it over to ‘hall’ and really saturate it. At the very end I have a (Radial) Bigshot ABY. I generally run to amps and this thing is killer because it’s 100% passive and you have a polarity switch to bring down any buzz or hum that might happen. It’s super helpful on tour when you never know what the power situation is gonna be like on stage.
So at the moment I play out of an old Acoustic (control) 370 amp into an 8×10 fridge. It’s an impossibly loud head and therefore, I love it dearly. From there we go into the Korg pitch black tuner which is great. Easy to read through the stage fog (which there is often a lot of). Next is the MXR bass D.I.+. I think that a long time ago I was looking for a (Tech21) SansAmp but ended up with this because it was super cheap and–godamnit– I loved it. I use it on parts where I want more drive but don’t feel like fuzz is quite the right feel for things. It’s basically been a part of my bass board since day one–I don’t see it leaving any time soon. After that is the Dwarfcraft Eau Claire Thunder which handles fuzz duty and does so extremely well. I use this one a lot live for the “get heavy” parts and feedback (it’s got a feedback pedal like Colin’s demon king). I actually used a Black Arts Toneworks Pharaoh for fuzz on the album though (“Utopia” for example). From there it’s into a Brass Master clone that I built (used at the end of “Manna”). Basically an octave fuzz (Black Cat makes a great version of this pedal, so I’m told). The decay on it is really crackly and weird, I love it. Then, into a Dwarfcraft Minivan Echo. Excellent analog delay and the cool thing about it is that you can get some really long, warped sounding delay echoes out of it. Off to the side is Digitech JamMan solo with a little up/down foot-switch that I built . It houses all the loops/samples that we play in between songs for live shows. The switch is so that I don’t have to bend down every time to scroll to the next loop/sample.