KRUGER – Double Trouble with Jak & Margo
Sveitsiske KRUGER er en metalhybrid som ble dannet i 2001. De slapp sitt fjerde album i februar i år via Listeable Records. I den forbindelse ble det til at vi dro inn begge gitaristene i bandet i vår gitaristserie. Her er Double Trouble med Jak og Margo i Kruger i deres bidrag til The G-String Series.
When did you start playing the guitar? In what age and which band was actually the one that made you wanting to grab a guitar and start playing?
Jak – I was a teenager; I think it was back in '96 or '97. I think Nirvana was the band that made me want to play the guitar. I had heard that Nirvana was really easy to play, and I loved the song "Pennyroyal Tea" (the acoustic version on the MTV Unplugged). I took my uncle's guitar and tried to play it and since I couldn't figure out the chords, not knowing any, I started to think that there was maybe something more to it… I tried writing a song using a single string instead: this came out much easier.
Margo – I started to play the guitar around 15-16. My musical taste was quiet electric; it went from ska, punk-rock to the hairy hard rock of the time (in the 80's) passing through some new wave. Groups as different like AC/DC, police, Fishbone or Mano Negra made me wanting to play guitar, to be on stage, to kick ass!
What actually makes a guitarist unique? Feeling or technique? Many people for example cannot stand Satriani…who is absolutely a master when it comes to technique!
Jak – Let's make a "Swiss" answer to this one. At least to a certain extent, anyone can work on the technique so I'd say that feeling is more important. On the other hand, comes a time when technique is pushed to the utmost (pick someone like Vai or Satriani for instance) and then it's difficult to say that feeling and technique don't merge… I rely more on feeling than technique, because I'm too lazy to learn tricks. I like it straightforward. I remember a quote of Cobain saying he'd never play like Segovia, and that Segovia would never play like him neither. I like the spirit.
Margo – I'm not a big fan of technique (I'm not one at all). I'm certainly a lot impressed by the hours of work and the demonstrations bit quiet quick it bores me. Punk had the merit to show that you could o on stage without knowing how to play (and without really having a talent…) but putting your guts on the table. For me the most important is that the guy who is playing should give the impression that he's totally into what he's doing. The ones that impress me the most are those who make two or three chords on an acoustic guitar put on it some lyrics and succeed in giving you the shivers.
What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?
Jak – Oh yeah! It was a folk guitar that belonged to my uncle. He got it when he was a teenager. He broke his leg and had to stay in bed for many weeks; my grandparents bought it to him. He gave it to me when I wanted to start playing. It had a nice sunburst, but for some reason I painted it with bright colours and covered it with stickers… Now it sounds like crap. Whenever I have time, I try to get it fixed. I feel so sorry for ruining it!
Margo – A Pevey in wood colour that my parents bought me second-hand, it was very heavy and at that time I did not have any idea of its value! I should have kept it!
Do you think that the guitarist is making the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?
Jak – It's definitely the guitarist. Having a huge amp when you don't know how to play isn't very helpful, but it's always fun.
Margo – Never mind the equipment. A good guitarist will always be able to do marvels with almost anything. But then it all depends in which style you evolve. The equipment will never make the illusion but it should be adapted to the kind of sound you are searching for, the effect you want to create.
What kind of equipment do you use? Guitars…pick ups…amps…? Do you use different equipment in the studio and different while playing live? If yes then what is the reason?
Jak – Until it got damaged in rehearsal room flooding incident, I used a Gibson Firebird Studio. I also use SG's and an Epiphone Dot Studio (because it's very light, and yet the archtop makes it sound really dirty, especially when it's tuned down to F# F# B E G# C#). I put a DiMarzio AirZone in the bridge position. As for the SG, I put DiMarzio ToneZone in the bridge position. I also have an Ibanez RG7 with DiMarzio ToneZone 7, bridge.
When it comes to amps, I like vintage stuff in the studio. I used a '75 Marshall JMP Super Lead 100 with a '74 Orange PPC 412 (I don't even know if they were called like this back in the days) to record my other band's album [Le Baron Vampire's Baruch] – they both got ruined in the flooding incident. For the last Kruger album, we used a '73 Marshall head on a Rivera cab. In my opinion, vintage amps sound heavier on record than modern amps. On stage, I stick to my Mesa Dual Rectifier. I find it more reliable than a vintage amp, and I don't like surprises in terms of sound when playing live. My Rectifier tends to burn fuses quite often though, so I'm always carrying a bunch of them with me. It's proved very useful.
Margo – I had a lot of different kind of equipment and I made a mistake that a lot of rookies do: A lot of complicated stuff for in the end not a terrific result.
Today (and since the beginning of Kruger), I play with one amplifier Mesa Boogie Rectifier, A Box Rivera and Gibson guitars. (SG or more recently Explorer). I kept the original mikes on the Explorer and I customized the SG with Seymour Duncan that has a very loud outgoing volume. I have also a Whawha effect, a line6 delay and an old thing that keeps my sound from running in all directions.
For the studio until Redemption…I used that configuration. For the album "For death…. We took the time to try several things. We wanted a very vintage sound, large and warm. So the choice went to an old marshal amp of 1972 that has an incredible sound, the box Rivera, the SG Firebrand and the Explorer.
Construct the guitar of your dreams…brand, pick ups, strings..everything!
Jak – Hmm… A few years ago I would have dreamt of what I called the "Deadly Viper" (after Tarantino's Kill Bill): an ESP Viper (two of them, 6 and 7 strings), matte black with a glossy black pirate flag, with Seymour Duncan Invader pick ups. Now I would prefer a Gibson Firebird V, vintage sunburst, with regulat size humbuckers in the bridge position. I've always been a fan of d'Addario strings, but now I've found something that suits me better: Kerly Sinister Strings 7, .11 – .56. I discard the .11 since it's designed to be used on 7 strings. These strings stay clear longer than others and they don't rust.
Margo – I already have them! More seriously, I would rather find and old vintage pearl that has a history, the same goes for the amp.
Now form the band of your dreams…with you participating of course…Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?
Jak – I'd probably pick the same bandmates! Or build a Swiss supergroup with everybody in Kruger and Le Baron Vampire, plus Maik Gudehus (of Nostromo) as a third drummer and Chris Spencer of Unsane. A small metal orchestra, nice!
Margo – Honestly I never thought of such a thing!! I think that I would simply need people with whom I would feel at ease, that we would have something to say to one another, that we would understand one another, that we would speak for those to say "the same language".
On a musical level the importance is that all would have the same feeling that something would happen when playing together.
Seriously Kruger is a bit of hat kind of band, in any case I have a lot of pleasure playing with them and also meeting them outside of the group, they have became friends and it's just so amazing how fun it's to tour with them.
Are you participating in the composing of your bands material or you're just a performer? How important is it for an artist to be able to express himself? I mean, if for example you were in a band only for performing someone else's musical themes…would you handle it not participating…not being able to express yourself?
Jak – I like to get as involved as I can. I try to come up with definite song ideas, even demos when I have time to record some, and we start working from there. For me, the main problem about playing someone else's songs is that I don't have enough technique to do so. I try to do it whenever I can because I learn a lot from this. Basically, when I joined Kruger in 2005, the first month has been all about me learning their songs. I made huge progresses.
Margo – When composing with Kruger it happens in a collective and spontaneous way. Someone brings an idea and if the others like it we play it and we check what to throw away. After that each one brings a part for the construction of the song on the level of arrangements and structure. I think it's in those two places that I bring the most. I brought rather few songs, some riffs and a lot of melodic lines and arrangements.
Of course in my part of the work I let a part of me express itself but it's rather unconscious and it happens more on the levels of emotions. The importance is that I'm playing with people that I like and of course that I enjoy the songs.
Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?
Jak – Sure, happens all the time! For Death, Glory and the End of the World took awfully long to write, almost two years, of which 15 month were spent on writing material. We don't work 24/7 though, as we all have jobs. We're very careful when it comes to writing material, and we spent hours on details. When we're stuck, we let time do the trick. We let the song rest for a couple of weeks or so, and get back to it later.
Margo – It's true that sometimes, especially after composing you can have a sensation of emptiness and having the impression to have nothing more to say musically.
The creating and composing of the album happened very naturally with the band and the songs always arrived at the good moment. For the Death…album we went for a week in a cottage house in the woods and we where passing our days composing without knowing what would come out of it. It was an incredible experience (to renew) even though there where moments I had the impression to be off the track. In any case it all depends in which spirit you are in.
Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?
Jak – I don't know if it's a real endorsement, but we get deals on Gibson guitars. I'm thankful for it, because it allowed me to buy guitars when I was really broke. Endorsements are a good thing when they allow for artist to pursue their goals. As instruments are an artist's tool, I think it's pretty cool to get them cheaper. I don't have the feeling of being used as a living advert for Gibson; it's really cool to be able to play these guitars as they are my favourite!
Margo – I have an arrangement for strings with Everly. Important, I do not know; it's rather cool to have some discount for good stuff that normally cost a lot. In any case it's the musicians of the groups that tours the most that will have the most of endorsements. It would be better to pay attention to the little groups less known but maybe more creative that would need support.
In all the years that you've been playing did something go totally wrong during a concert of yours? If yes, what was it? Please go ahead!
Jak – The first time we did UK. On the first gig, my amp's fuse blew away, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Later on, at a gig in Nottingham, our bass player had massive bad luck. He'd borrowed an amp from Bossk, the band we were touring with; right before we started playing, our drummer went to pee and made the bass amp fall. Blaise was really pissed off, but the amp was miraculously still working. Then we started playing, and there were so many low ends that the bass amp fell again, this time breaking for good…
Margo – Some string that broke or my effects that suddenly did not work (happened once), I never had big troubles on stage (cross my fingers) With the years you learn to watch out for such things…but you never know, something can always brake!
There was one concert with Kruger where I did not have a clue what I was doing on stage, I did not manage to enter the concert, and it was long, horrible! But that has nothing to do with the material that is braking down.
Ok then…thank you for answering these questions. One last thing now! Who is the guitarist that you admire or that you would like to "punish" by have him answering these same questions?
Thanks again and good luck with your project(s).
Jak – Wes Borland, maybe?
Thanks for asking these questions!
Margo – Curiously good drummers impresses me more that good guitarists. I will not buy a magazine in order to know who's the best guitar player of the moment etc… actually I don't give a shit. There are tons of guys that are really talented and creative and its most of all the creativity of their music that interest me.
But as you want one I would pick Angus Young unique and impassable.
For those to punish the list is far too long in order to write it down in complete so I will start with Jak… and myself…