Apr 18, 2018

Named after the area in Toronto where they grew up, The Beaches are just about ready to explode. Their debut album “Late Show” is a rippin’ collection with sensible, catchy melodies and a ’60s stoner voice that’s almost in Grace Slick territory. In 2016, the band’s lead guitarist Kylie Miller told us in detail about her pedals. We caught up again to see what had changed after the recording of the group’s debut album. – (Kris Gies)

Tell us about your first time with… a guitar pedal. How old were you and what did you stomp on?

The first time I remember plugging into a guitar pedal was when I was 11 years old at Long and McQuade in Toronto. I had just worked as an extra on the Disney Channel movie Camp Rock 2 and was looking to buy my first real electric guitar with my earnings. I had my heart set on a pink paisley Telecaster, which I plugged into a Fender Twin Reverb Amp. I instantly fell in love, despite the guitar feeling like it nearly weighed more than I did (I ended up not buying it thank god). My guitar teacher at the time (and tour manager currently) hooked up a distortion pedal and BOOM my mind was blown.

The sound of the Beaches is very guitar driven, do you get your signature distortion from the amp or pedals? 

I’d say a bit of both. We recorded Late Show at Giant in Toronto (which is Jimmy Shaw from Metric’s studio) and we were so lucky to have a ton of his rad gear at our disposal. Amp wise, we used a ‘68 Vox ac30 and a ’55 Fender Tweed Tremolux with vintage overdrive pedals to achieve that classic 70’s rock sound. We didn’t want to overcomplicate the sound of the record by getting overly fancy with pedals. It was important for us to sound human, and to not hide behind effects.

Was there a specific pedal (or two) that kind of changed your life?

Yes. For me it was definitely the Bit Commander by Earthquaker Devices. It’s this amazing Octave Fuzz pedal that can make your guitar sound like a monster (in the best way).

Did you learn any important lessons about tone during the recording of “Late Show”? 

Definitely. Jimmy is an actual wizard when it comes to getting the best tones. What I learned from him is to have patience when finding tones, and to understand that every part on every song is going to be different each time. Sometimes it takes one second to find the right sound, and sometimes it takes multiple tries. It’s important to play around with the pedals, amps, and guitars and to experiment a little during the recording process – for a guitar player it’s one of the best parts after all!

Did you come out of the experience with some new gear to use for the live shows?

Yes and no. Before playing songs off Late Show, I was actually using a lot more pedals and effects while performing (for example wacky delay, space reverb, sub-octave fuzz etc.). The guitar tones on Late Show are more stripped back and retro. In a way, I simplified my sound, and rely more heavily on my amp than my pedals now. I still use my wacky sounds when soloing and jamming on stage though.

Does gear have the power to inspire you? If so, what piece of gear inspired you while creating The Beaches’ debut album?

I’d say so. For me the coolest part of the experience was getting to play Jimmy’s ’55 Les Paul Junior every day. I joked when recording the album that after it was finished I’d buy it from him. That has yet to happen but that dream is still very real.

What (else) do you have on your pedalboard right now and how do you use it? 

This is my board! I use a BOSS ES-8 Switcher, which has made my life so much easier, especially being on the road and playing shows every night. It’s nice to use something that is dependable. My go-to pedals are the Arbiter Fuzz Face [clone] and the vintage modded Big Muff.

Other pedals on the board:

TC Electronic Flashback X4 delay
Subdecay Spring Theory reverb

Tell us the story behind your electric guitar (or your favorite one, if you have more than one).

My favorite guitar I own is my “Jazzbastard” made by Rock N Roll Relics. When I was 16 I skipped school with my best friend / band mate Le and bought it at a store called Capsule. I used to only play Telecasters so this guitar was perfect for me since it essentially is a Tele with a Jazz Master body. It’s also this amazing gnarly yellowish green sunburst color called “Tobacco Burst” with lots of the paint chipping off. It’s incredibly light and easy to play, which is key to any good guitar in my opinion. I adore it.

What other like-minded local acts do you have “tone envy” for?

St. Vincent, Courtney Barnett and Angel Olson. They are killing the tone game.