In our continuing search for brutal heavy tone and the tools used to create it, we came upon Brandon Ellis, who has toured with Arsis and Sylosis and has the unique ability to learn songs incredibly fast. We took one look at this video and said “yes, we need this guy.” Check it out!
You recently filled in for Sylosis on the As I lay Dying tour and it is said that you had only one day to prepare, learn all the songs by ear, and then tour.
“To say it was difficult would be a huge understatement, I thought I was in way over my head. I started around 10PM and stayed up all night learning the Sylosis setlist until they picked me up at noon the next day. We drove to Philadelphia and I had to play the first show without having slept in 48 hours and never even having heard the songs before the last night! The first show was a little crazy but after that it was all smooth on tour with Sylosis, iwrestledabearonce, The Ghost Inside, Of Mice And Men, and As I Lay Dying!”
How did you get started playing guitar?
“I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old, I got sucked into guitar players such as Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen. I remember playing Eruption and Blitzkrieg at my middle school battle of the bands. I was always inspired more by the attitude and touch of a guitar player rather than the licks he can play. If I were to list some big influences it would include Eddie Van Halen, Mattias IA Eklundh, Blues Saraceno, Greg Howe, etc.”
How did you find yourself in Arsis?
“Well I had previously playing in a band with Noah Martin, the bassist from Arsis. I have since left that project but we stayed in touch and talked about working together on something else. So one day I was in economics class at my university when I left the class to answer a phone call from Noah and it became clear that in about a week from that time I would be filling in on guitar for Jim Malone in Arsis. I left in the middle of class to go straight to the enrollment office and drop my classes for the semester that night, went home and started learning the 9 song 45 minute set that I had about 1 week to learn. We had 1 rehearsal before hitting the road and it was all gravy after that.”
“I play mostly Charvel guitars with Seymour Duncan pickups. I like the JB and Duncan Distortion for the bridge position, the ’59 in the neck, or the STK-S4 if I need single coils. My guitar collection consists mostly of 80′s and early 90′s axes but I really like the Charvel pro-mod series that they produce now. My main workhorse guitar is a San Dimas Style 1 from that series, I think that series are the best bang for the buck you can get in a guitar today. Incredible tone, very loud and snappy not to mention incredible feeling necks. In my amp collection right now is a Soldano Avenger, a Hughes and Kettner Duotone, and a Krank Rev Jr, with the Mesa Rectifier 4×12 being my favorite cab. For playing live, the Avenger gets my choice for heavy metal rhythms, while the Duotone is my amp of choice for leads or an eighties style rock tone. The 20 watt Rev Jr is, however, absolutely perfect for recording in my home studio. It sounds absolutely crushing paired with a good cab. All of my amps have in front of them a Maxon OD808, and an ISP Decimator G-String, which is a dual stage noise gate. The Decimator gets used both right after my guitar AND after the Maxon or in the effects loop of the amp to keep the gate super tight.”
Where do you find the energy to go on stage night after night and produce such brutal metal?
“The energy to play this stuff night after night comes of course from the crowd and the music itself! It is really important to put on an energetic stage show and get the crowd pumped up. The best shows are the ones where the crowd is stage diving, crowd surfing and enjoying themselves as much as they can, and in order to have that you need to have energy yourself! An important thing to remember, that a lot of bands don’t, is that even the people in a small crowd have paid their ticket price and come out to see you play, and they deserve for you to put on the same show for them that you would for a crowd of thousands. A lot of times the small crowds are actually the most energetic and fun to play to!”
For more information on Brandon, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/brandonellisguitarist