Rising Dutch Guitar Slinger Timo Somers
Many players who are known worldwide are often American or British, with some notable exceptions. The Scorpions’ six-string hitters Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker are German and Henrik Freischlader is a Swiss guitar player who’s slowly yet steadily rising to fame. But there are many amazing players from my country, too. In 1973, Jan Akkerman was awarded the title of Best Player of the Year, and in the beginning of the 1980s Adrian Vandenberg climbed to the top of the charts with his band Vandenberg and from the mid-80s with Whitesnake, not to mention the living legend Eddie Van Halen, who was born in the Netherlands too! Unfortunately, since the beginning of the 90s not many Dutch players managed to punch through to mainstream audiences, which is quite a shame in my opinion.
As a way of promoting upcoming artists, Seymour Duncan offers this platform to showcase these artists. In this interview I want to introduce my good friend Timo Somers. Timo, born in 1991, started playing when he hit the tender age of 12. His father put a guitar in his hands; who could have imagined he’d build himself such an already impressive career? As a guitarist of the Dutch progressive metal bands Delain, Tri-head and Vengeance, not including his many side projects, Timo is an extremely busy and productive player.
How did you start playing guitar?
I never really was into music at all until I was 12. A friend of my dad gave me this CD-R with Linkin Park, KoRn, Limp Bizkit, etc. I loved the CD, particularly ‘In The End’ by Linkin Park. I listened to that song like 20 times a day. One night when I was blasting it in the living room my dad (who was a great guitar player himself) asked me if I wanted to learn the song on guitar. I said yes, and that was the beginning of the end.
Some time ago you asked me to change the nut of your Gibson Les Paul Classic and fix the buzzing output jack of your ’63 Stratocaster. I take it you don’t tinker with or modify your guitars much?
I am insanely clumsy when it comes to down to repairing things and all that. I can barely tie my shoelaces, haha! So I don’t really fool around with my guitars. I do always think about new stuff and I even designed a guitar by myself, but I never install things myself.
Do you use Seymour Duncan pickups extensively and if so, please share your views on them!
My main guitar is The Aristides 010, and comes with the Seymour Duncan TB-5 (bridge), APS-2rwrp (middle), and APS-2 (neck). I’d never really used Seymour Duncans extensively since I used the pickups that came with my guitars, so this basically was my first chance to thoroughly get to know them. And I absolutely love them! The TB-5 is a real screamer! It has really nice natural harmonics and starts to sing exactly when you want it to. It also has a lot of bite without getting thin. The middle and neck pickup just sound so good for Strat-like tones. They sparkle and bite but clean up really nicely when you use the volume pot. What I love is that the pickups sound ‘mixed’ already when you hear them in the band mix. It sounds like there are all kinds of EQs and compressors on there, but it’s just the straight guitar sound.
Of course the Aristides guitars have something to do with that, but for sure the Seymours match up perfectly.
Can you tell us a bit about Aristides; who are they and how did you get attached to them?
Aristides is a fairly new Dutch guitar brand. It was founded by Aristides Poort, who had the crazy idea to make guitars from an own-developed material. Scientifically studied the stuff for years (researching the famous Stradivarius violins for example). The result is Arium and they now use it for their guitars. It’s really impressive how they make the stuff, but it’s even more impressive how it sounds! They contacted me some months ago asking me if I wanted to test one of their guitars. I went to their former workshop in Amsterdam and I tried them.
I tried the Aristides 010, and being a full-fledged wood fetishist, you can imagine I was very skeptical. When I first plugged it in I was totally amazed by its full, fat sound with a lot of sparkle and bite. Harmonics were jumping right at me! Also, the clarity of the notes is amazing (piano-like clean tones), just as the insane harmonics and of course sustain (which is indeed endless). The sound seems very ‘multidimensional.’ I now do clinics for them and use their guitar exclusively when I need six strings. They unfortunately don’t have a 7-string model yet.
What or who are your inspirations? And in what way does that show in your playing?
I get inspired a lot, actually. When I first started out and just got into guitar soloing I was super inspired by Joe Satriani. I loved his feel and melodic way of soloing! Then I got to know Malmsteen, who blew me away and took everything to a next level. Then I stayed in that zone for a while and I got to know Buckethead. That man inspired me so much! He showed me that musical boundaries do not exist. I love Buckethead!
Anyway, then I moved on listening a lot to Gary Moore (one of the best that has ever lived), Marcus Demi, Richie Kotzen, Jeff Kollman, John Mayer etc. The guys who play more bluesy and feeling-orientated. Those guys inspired me very much too. Nowadays I try to combine all of that stuff into my own playing. I get inspired every day still when I listen to some great players or some great bands. I am listening to a lot of 70s funk lately which is inspiring me a lot at the moment. And the next minute I’m spinning the latest Andy James album and I get inspired again!
And of course, my dad Jan Somers was and still is the biggest inspiration of them all! You should really check him out.
A couple of weeks ago Seymour Duncan had a raffle where the Kemper Profiling Amp was up for grabs. I heard the rumor that you use that amp too! So… What is your live rig?
With my main band Delain I use Bo-El MC7 7-string guitars into a
Sennheiser wireless. The wireless goes to a Korg DT-10 tuner which goes into a Kemper Profiling amp. The Kemper goes straight into the PA. And that’s it.
We used very complicated stereo setups with two tube heads and two
cabinets and four mics and a huge 19-inch rack before we got to know the Kemper. It sounded great but it was just a hassle to set it up every night. Not to mention festivals like Wacken and flight-shows. We tried the Kemper a few weeks ago on our European tour and it was just awesome! We profiled my Dual Rectifier and used that profile. It’s just plug and play with that thing! It always works and takes like two minutes to set up.
And the sound is just great! It has balls, roar, everything you need and you can tweak the sound however you want it. And you have an amazing amount of stompbox options and post effects so you can really get it to sound like the real thing. Also it’s a heaven playing with a Kemper on your in-ears! When we used that stereo dual head setup I had one mic on one head with one cab on my in-ears, which of course sounds like shit. Now I have the great total sound that goes into the PA in my in-ears.
With other bands I switch with amps and setups a lot. I mostly use a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier or Marshall 6100LM on two Marshall
cabs. When it comes to effects, I only use an Ibanez Tube Screamer 808 in front and a Rocktron Intellifex in the FX loop.
Timo Somers was one of the players to take the stage in the ‘Jason Becker’s not dead yet’ Festival last year. This is an excerpt of his performance.