By Greg Prato
It’s becoming almost a rite of passage with up and coming metal acts – aim for the big breakout with an unlikely metallic reworking of an ‘80s pop classic. The latest on the list is the New Jersey-based Sekond Skyn, who have covered Men at Work’s “Down Under” on their debut full length, ‘Addicted to Chaos.’ Their guitarists, Eddie Heedles and Mark Monjoy, recently chewed the fat with Guitarsite. Read on!
How and when did you start playing guitar?
Eddie: I got my first guitar when I was 5 but I didn’t really get into it and play every day for hours until I was 12.
Mark: I use to strum on my grandmother’s acoustic when I was a kid of about 6 or 7 years old. Later on, around 15, I wanted to play the drums but my parents weren’t going for it. They were like, “We will get you a guitar.” Thats when I really started learning the basics on guitar. I would learn Metallica, Megadeth, and Ozzy songs, as well as Led Zeppelin. Took a long time and many nights in my room and basement training my ears and fingers. Which was the key for me in learning guitar.
Who were your early influences ?
Eddie: Growing up I was really into Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, Dimebag, Jerry Cantrell, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Steve Vai…I can keep going on but long lists are boring. I was and still am all about rock and metal.
Mark: Randy Rhoads, Dave Mustaine, James Hetfield, Toni Iommi, Kirk Hammet, Zakk Wylde, Dimebag Darrel, Joe Satriani, Jerry Cantrell, Jimmy Page and many more.
Some information about ‘Addicted to Chaos’?
Eddie: The new cd sounds great and I’m proud of it. I think everyone involved with working on it did a great job. I don’t have a favorite song on the album, but “The Pit” is my favorite to play live right now. That could change as the tour goes so we’ll see. I don’t really listen to our records much after we record them. You hear the songs so many times in pre-production, the studio, mixing, and play them so many times live – when I throw in a cd, listening to myself is the last thing I think about. I’d rather be inspired by someone else’s playing. I can be a bad influence on myself.
Mark: We were just writing a lot of material as always and decided to put together a full length album that would get us some recognition. We wanted this album to stand out more than the other previous albums. Needed to have the complete package to shop out. We wanted a good quality recording that we were proud of and put forth a lot of work and money to accomplish an album that we could sit back and listen too and say yeah that sounds kick ass! I would have to say that I have a few favorites on this album. I’m a big fan of “The Pit” for its balls out heaviness and power. It’s a great song and a lot of fun to play. A couple of others would have to be “The Balance,” for its cool feel and mood, and “Space Between Us,” which is mellow but jumps into a slammin’ chorus with some great riffs in it. “Land Down Under” is a great song to remake as well. A lot people recognize that one and it’s fun to play. Besides that I pretty much like all our songs. But you are going to have your favorites.
Please describe your guitar set-up.
Eddie: I play Les Pauls mainly, but I also use a Gibson Explorer and a Carvin SC-90. I have Seymour Duncan pickups in them and they’re all strung up with DR Strings. As far as amps go, I use a Marshall TSL 100 and Carvin Legacy. I love Morley wahs and volume pedals, MXR, and Boss stompboxes. I’m a gear-head and I’m always looking to try out some new toys to see what kind of crazy or annoying sounds I can get out of them.
Mark: I have 4 electric guitars that I have set up to use on our tunes. My main guitar and favorite to play is my Sunburst Les Paul Studio Lite which I used to record 90% of my tracks on this album. I also have a Black Les Paul Studio, A Blue Jackson Soloist (USA Model) and a Blue Dean. We play in 2 different tunings depending on what songs we are jammin at the time. Our standard tuning is dropped one and a half steps down on Low E sting to C# and the rest of the strings are tuned down a half step from standard tuning. This gives us a chunky thick sound.
The other tuning we use is dropped down to B on the low E string and I believe one and a half steps down on the other strings. Basically taking our first tuning of C# and dropping it down evenly another whole step down. Really cool feel in this tuning. I use Seymour Duncan pick ups in my Guitars and DR Strings. As far as effects, I use a Morley George Lynch switchless Wah Pedal and A Vox Wah Pedal. I use a Boss Digital Delay Pedal and a Korg Switchable Octave and Harmonizer Pedal. I am currently using a FUCHS Triple Drive Amplifier Head which I like a lot. The head kicks ass! I will be using (TDS) FUCHS Head with this upcoming Tour we are doing this September and October with Cycle Of Pain and Living Colour.
Do you follow a practice routine?
Eddie: I don’t really practice, but I’m constantly jamming, coming up with riffs and recording. Usually if I have some ideas, I’ll record them and piece them together and see where it goes. There’s no formula, it’s all about playing what you like and hopefully other people are into what you do as well. If not, at least your creating music and having fun with it. You do it because you love it. If I was doing it for the money I would’ve hocked all my shit years ago.
Mark: As far as a band we do. If we’re not in the studio or playing gigs, we still get together religiously 3 nights a week and rehearse our tunes and write new material. This keeps me as a guitarist in check and up on my game. I generally play every day. If I’m not doing a show or rehearsing with Sekond Skyn, I sit at home and play acoustic on my couch at home. I come up with a lot of song ideas on that couch and it keeps my fingers nice and strong because of the thicker strings that I use on my Acoustic. So the only real practice routine I have is to play EVERYDAY! It is always a good idea to pick up your guitar and practice. This will only make you a better player.
What do you think of modern day rock guitar compared to the 60’s to 80’s era, and who are some of your favorite guitarists?
Eddie: It’s hard to tell these days what’s up with a lot of music. Dudes used to have to go in the studio, roll the tape and play the song over and over again until it was right. Now with ProTools and all the editing shit in studios, who knows what was really captured live and what was doctored up with computer shit. I like to think people are out there jamming and playing the to be the best they can, but what the fuck do I know? It’s great that there’s guitar solos in songs again on the radio though. That was dying out for a while, but it seems to be alive and well again.
Mark: I actually think there is a lot of things that get repeated as far as styles go. Everything seems to come back around. A lot of players of today aren’t really doing anything that new, their just doing it different or arranging things differently to make them different. There is a lot of great players out there today. One of my favorites for a long time has been Dave Mustaine. He just kicks ass on guitar. I’ve been a long time fan of Zakk Wylde as well. I must include the all mighty Dimebag Darrel (R.I.P.). Oh yeah, you can’t forget Buckethead. That dude jams.
What advice would you give to other guitarists (to both newcomer and already established players) that you have learned thus far?
Eddie: Learn from whoever you can and play to a click to get your timing down. Record to a click and listen back. If something’s off, it’s you, not the click. Do it until it’s right cuz the click track doesn’t lie to you. Start off slow, speed comes with time. HORNS UP!!!
Mark: Get yourself some good sounding gear and keep up on your chops when you can. For new players, I think it is very important to train your ear and recognize notes and tones. A great way of doing this is to sit down and listen to 1 of your favorite bands and try to learn the riffs by ear without the help of tablature or sheet music. This is a good method for training your ear, which you need to have to be a good player. Another good idea for new players and established ones as well is to play to a click to practice timing and strumming patterns. For established players you should always record your riffs or ideas whenever you can because you don’t always remember what you might of played the day before. It’s great when you can go back to a recording and be like, “Oh yeah, that’s how I was doing that.”
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