MARK KLOEPPEL (Misery Index) – Song writing makes a guitarist unique

MARK KLOEPPEL (Misery Index) – Song writing makes a guitarist unique

(…this interview is in English…) 

Mark Kloeppel tok over gitaren i Misery Index etter den store bandmedlemutskiftningen i 2004/2005 og har siden da vært et stødig medlem i det etter hvert 3 person store bandet. Han er sterkt influert av Pantera og Metallica, noe svært mange er, men valgte å øve etter band som Nirvana og Green Day i begynnelsen da riffene til de 2 førstnevnte bandene var for vanskelige å spille for en ungdom i 13-14 års alderen. Mark har svært mye på hjertet og han deler gjerne sine meninger med oss alle i sitt 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?

I started playing guitar around 13. I had always been musically inclined as a kid. I would beat around and pick out chords on the piano, and I was constantly building drum sets out of trashcans. I had a small plastic guitar when I was about 8, but I really didn’t’ get started until about 13-14. My metal story is pretty typical of someone my age. Dime and James man! Metallica and Pantera. You can’t go wrong with that combination of influences. Those two guys run the gamut of what modern metal guitar is comprised of. I used to try to beat out their tunes, but they were a bit tough for starting out. I played stuff like Nirvana and Green Day to get started. Much easier.

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!

Song writing makes a guitarist unique, and obviously everyone has their own idiosyncrasies and own approach to the instrument.  If you are a great player, that is fine, but can you write a riff?  Satriani, your example, is a good package of great technique, and has written some pretty memorable guitar songs; so memorable, in fact, that Coldplay ripped off one of his tunes note for note. 

When you refer to technique, I assume you mean consistent clean playing of the music one is attempting.  There are tons of people you could mention that do this.  If I were to cite one person, it would be Frank from San Francisco’s late Animosity.  We recorded with Kurt Ballou for "Traitors," because Animosity did "Animal" there.  Kurt tells me that Frank cut that whole album in two solid takes; one for the right and one for the left.  He was done in two hours, and those tracks sound crisp.  The rest of us can only hope and pray to even come close to recording this kind of music like that.  That guy is an amazing player.

What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?

My first guitar was a GHS strat copy with a Crate 2×12 combo amp and a Metalzone pedal.  I swore by the Metalzone for a real long time.  My guitar was turned into an art project, but my first amp still resides with my old friend Stuart Black.

Do you think that the guitarist is making the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?


A good guitar player can play on any pile of crap and still sound like themselves.  I play out of a Crate solid-state head with a noise suppressor.  The magic is not coming from the gear.  It’s coming from my solid right hand.  I’m naturally a rhythm player, and my joy comes from playing as tight as possible with the drums.  I feel that is what really makes this music.  Leads are great too, and I still do the occasional lead, as long as it effective.  I don’t really like to go showboating, and I feel like sweeps are being abused these days.  Ultimately, the quality must come from the tightness of the music and the intensity of the emotions it evokes.  I feel like you can use any gear to do this, you just have to use your ear.  Amps and such are just tools of the trade.  They are all good for something when used appropriately.  Just don’t go hammering nails with a wrench and you’ll be fine.

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?

I use either an Ampeg VH-140c or a Crate VTX200h with a Boss NS through a Kustom 4×12 cab with vintage 30’s and a BC Rich Eagle Deluxe fitted with the standard EMG 81/85 set up and 1mm blue Dunlop picks.  In the studio, I like to grab a solid tube head that mixes well with the Ampeg and run that too.  Last time I used a Morris Engle.  On Traitors I used a Bad Cat Lynx 50.  On the next album I’ll use a Mesa Dual Rec Tremoverb set to solid state with the 6l6’s replaced with EL34’s and cranked.  Hey, it worked for Strapping Young Lad.

Construct the guitar of your dreams…brand, pick ups, strings..everything!

Already have it.  BC Rich Eagle DLX. The only thing I’d switch is the regular 81/85 for the coil tap 81 and 85.  I’d carve an extra pick up slot and put in a Fernandez sustainer.  Sit Strings or Ernie Ball, but I’d use a lighter top for leads. I’m currently at .13-.56. Why not throw in a Peizo in the bridge for good measure. I’d also like only anodized metal on a guitar so nothing rusts.

Now form the band of your dreams…with you participating of course…Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?

Well, I really like my guys, but if I were forced to switch it up I would grab Sammy Duet on lead guitar and Ben on vocals from Goatwhore, Shannon Lucas on Drums from BDM, and Noah from Arsis on bass. Talk about a sick line-up.

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?

At this point, I write the majority of the music for Misery Index. I suppose it’s pretty important for me to express myself, because I sure as hell do it a lot. That reason is exactly why I write the majority of the music; I just write a whole lot. There is a difference being an artist and a performer though. Those are two totally different processes. I would never mind playing someone else’s music in another band. I really enjoy performing, and would welcome such an opportunity if I had the time. I’ll always express myself in some way, but it seems kind of wrong to express one’s self into someone else’s vision uninvited.


Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?

If we did not have enough ideas for an album, we would not release an album. I’ve never forced out an idea. However, I have done things to keep myself inspired when time was of the essence. Those techniques sort of vary from one time to the next. Sometimes I’ll listen to modern music, sometimes classic, sometimes metal or grind, sometimes something completely different, and sometimes nothing at all. Being in nature and clearing your mind can be very helpful. Eventually your brain wants to do something, and, if you are musically inclined, it usually starts singing to you. You just have to be in tune with your mind and body and make sure you are listening for it with your internal ear.

Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?

I’m endorsed by BC Rich, Kustom, and SIT Strings.  It’s a win/win.  By using their stuff live you are promoting them.  In turn, they provide you with the gear to do your job.

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!

On the last tour, there was a power issue on the power conditioner I was plugged into.  Unfortunately, that piece of gear was the final thing I checked. Luckily, we hadn’t started playing yet. In my pre-show check, I found my amp not giving me nearly enough gain. I switched every cable, pedal, and went through 3 guitars and 2 heads before I realized that the power conditioner was busted. It was totally stupid and took about 20 min to figure out. I will now always check the power supply first.

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).

Probably John Gallagher.  He’ll have some pretty good stories to tell.