Pete Thorn Interview

By Tony Cole

Pete Thorn

MGS- Welcome Mr Pete Thorn. Thank you so much for doing this interview.

PT – My pleasure!

MGS – For those that are not familiar with your work can you give us a recap of your pro career?

PT – I attended M.I. waaaay back in 1990. Then I worked in various original bands, writing and recording and playing gigs. I was in a band called Surreal McCoys and we got a deal in Japan around 1996… made an album for the Japan and Southeast Asia markets. That was my first foray into being a professional, full-time musician. I was also in 2 other original bands- Snapdragon and Forty Foot Echo- that made albums for major labels. Around 1998, I started touring as a sideman, first with Adam Cohen, and then with artists such as Evan And Jaron, Robi Draco Rosa, Jewel, and eventually with Chris Cornell, Melissa Etheridge, and Don Henley. I also started doing sessions, working with producers like John Fields and Linda Perry, recording with artists such as Alicia Keys, Pink, Courtney Love, Daniel Powter, Peter Cincotti, and others. In 2011 I put out my first solo album, “Guitar Nerd”, an instrumental rock guitar album.

MGS – What has been your favorite tour and why ?

PT – Too hard to pick! Playing with Chris Cornell was incredible- you really can’t beat playing those intense rock songs for huge festival crowds in far-flung places like Europe and South America… Even though we were still sideman technically, we got to play rockstar I guess. Run around on big stages, egg the crowd on, you know. It all felt very “big time”. And at the same time we were really a band- we played like a band, hung like a band, fought like a band. I think we played something like 300 shows. And he’s a great guy, Chris. But Melissa Etheridge has some amazing songs too, and on that gig I really get to stretch and improvise, she encourages that. It makes me a better player. She’s also just fantastic, an inspiration and a friend. And playing with Don- you feel the weight of those great songs- “I better not suck on this”. I could listen to him sing all night. Sometimes I almost forget I’m up there playing, I feel like I should have bought a ticket, you know? He’s such a legend.

Pete on tour with Melissa Etheridge

MGS – Funniest thing to ever happen to you on the road?

PT – hmmm… well, lots of mishaps come to mind……my favorite is when the tech accidentally hands you a guitar with one string tuned off a 1/2 step from where it should be. There’s a chaotic sound for you! Especially if its the low E or A string. It’s happened a few times to me, once in front of about 60,000 people on live TV. Awesome! Also once, my Axe FX just decided to mysteriously go into full bypass mode, in the middle of a pretty hard rocking Melissa Etheridge song. The sound I was left with was basically guitar into D.I., clean and dry as a bone. I kept playing, I couldn’t figure out what the hell had happened…. the drummer later said “you did the right thing, of course, to keep playing, but it sounded totally hilarious….”

MGS – Your new CD is killer. Can you tell us about the recording process and where it was recorded including a gear rundown?

Pete Thorn's New CD

PT – Well it all started as an experiment in “let’s see how far I can go with this recording at home business”. I Bought a computer and a simple interface, and a nice mic pre and compressor (a UA 6176) around 2004. I started learning about these devices and how to use them- I had lots of recording experience on analog 24 track machines and old consoles and whatnot, and later on ADAT’s and DA88’s, I knew the basics, but working with a laptop and Logic was all new. So I’d write and demo things, and as computers advanced, I’d upgrade. I went from a laptop that I could maybe get 12-15 tracks going with a few plug ins, to an Imac in 2006, and that was faster. I Could now do more sophisticated production, like 24 tracks plus, with more plug ins, etc. I moved into a place that had some space for me to isolate a 1-12″ cabinet with mics on it, and bam- all of a sudden I could record some pretty happening tones. My amp collection was growing, so I had some variety. And I could use programs such as BFD and Steven Slate Drums to get some cool virtual drum tracks happening, although these programs would bring the old Imac to it’s knees. But all of a sudden I was tracking things that sounded like, quite professional. My engineering and mixing skills were improving also. in 2009, I moved to a Mac Pro 8-core tower, and that made the sky the limit. I moved into a bigger space, and by this time,

“Guitar Nerd” was taking shape. I’d been inspired by the Steve Stevens album “Memory Crash”, a great guitar album, and I thought, I should do one of these, to the best of my ability, with the resources I have at hand.

The amps on the album include the CAA PT100 (my signature amp), and the Suhr Badger 30 and Badger 18, a Top Hat Emplexador, the Marsha from Dave Friedman, the Komet Concorde, Divided By 13 RSA 31 and FTR 37, a 66 Bassman, and Probably some others I’m forgetting. All through a Bogner 1-12″ with a Scumback M75 or a Celestion G12H30 Heritage. Guitars were a 58 LP Historic reissue, a couple Suhr Classic S models, a couple Suhr T models, an EVH Wolfgang, A Suhr Modern, a few other Gibson LP’s (a custom and an R9), a Hiro Ebata 6 string acoustic, a Fender electric 12 string, a 63 Gibson ES335, a Gibson J180….. a 1964 Fender Strat… that’s all I can remember! I used a bunch of pedls- the Eternity Overdrive, the /13 Dyna Ranger, a Mojo Vibe, EVH Flanger and Phase 90, anEVH wah (a gift from from Ed!) and the Axe FX Ultra from Fractal was also used.

I usually mic’d the cab with a Shure 57 and then one other mic- either a 421, or a Heil PR30, or PR20. I used a Groove Tubes GT55 on the cab a bit too, and also for acoustics. Also a Neumann KM184 on acoustics. Mic pres were the UA and mainly an API A2D, into an Apogee Ensemble interface, and my DAW is Logic Pro. I use a slew of Waves plug ins, as well as Steven Slate Drums and his new VCC (Virtual Console Collection) is awesome- I wish I’d had it when I was mixing the album. I mixed 7 tracks, and Bob Clearmountain mixed 3. It was mastered by Ross Nyberg up in Seattle.

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