Six Questions with Kurt Ballou (Converge)

What is your current set up? Guitars/ basses,  pedals, strings, picks,
& amps. (feel free to keep any secrets you deem necessary)

I’m actually not sure what my current set up is.  At this point, I haven’t played a show on my own gear in 8 months, so I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be using on our next tour.  
The last time I played in the states, it was a couple of First Act custom guitars and a couple of Electrical guitars (all with EMG 85’s), a TC electronics G-System multi-FX, a Bad Cat Lynx, a Bad Cat Panther, 2 Emperor 6x12’s (top 2 speakers are open back),  D-Addario picks and strings, and 2 Palmer PDI-03 speaker simulators (like Def Lepard use.)  
Next time we play out, some of that will stay the same and some of that will change.  Not sure what yet.  My rig at band practice lately has been a Warmoth Jazzmaster that I put together with EMG’s, a Yamaha T-50 head, and an Emperor 2x12.  For some songs I use a FoxRox Octron octave/fuzz pedal, and for others I use a Way Huge Aqua Puss delay pedal.  
I’ve been trying to branch out recently and learn about other pickups, since I haven’t strayed to far from the EMG 85 in over 20 years.  I’ve learned a lot, but when it comes to converge, I keep coming back to EMG.  The Jazzmaster I just built uses a P-90 sized version of the 85 which sounds a little fatter than the regular 85 to my ear.  
How long have you been playing?

About 22 years.
Do you have any music training?

Not on guitar.  I played alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone, bass and contra-alto clarinet in various school bands and continued that on into college a bit.  I received musical training on those instruments, and picked up some theory along the way.  But as a guitarist and songwriter, I’m self taught.  I feel that in a lot of cases, people who rely on lessons when they are young never develop their ears as much as the people who are listening intently, trying to learn for themselves.  And a lot of seasoned trained musicians are kind of stiff in their playing.  That being said, there’s A LOT I could learn if I had the time, patience, and ability to retain it.  
Who are your influences?

Dischord Records, Entombed, Sonic Youth, Slayer, The Pixies, Black Flag, Bad Brains, Woven Hand, Van Halen, U2, Born Against, etc.  

What piece of your “rig” can you not live without?

AEA R88 microphone.  
Do you prefer recording or playing live?

Writing and Recording.  I always love creating music, but I don’t always love regurgitating it. 

Thanks Kurt.


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