Dino Cazares of Divine Heresy
Featured Artist: Dino Cazares of Divine Heresy
by Lisa Sharken
Dino Cazares is certainly no stranger to the metal scene. Over the years, he’s been featured in nearly every major guitar magazine and is one of the best-known 7-string players. Now a new Duncan endorser, Cazares became the first guitarist to score a set of 7-string AHB-1 Blackouts active humbuckers, giving them a test drive while recording Bleed The Fifth—the debut album with his new group, Divine Heresy.
“I’m always looking for the best tone,” Cazares told GroundWire while discussing his experience checking out prototype 7-string AHB-1 Blackouts. “I really love the Blackouts. They sounded great as soon as I put them in my guitar, and I’m so happy that I got them in time to use on this new record. They’ve definitely made a difference in my guitar tone, and I was able to nail the sounds I wanted.”
Cazares went on to describe the ways in which his playing style has evolved, as well as the creation of Divine Heresy and gear used in crafting the group’s inaugural disc, which is scheduled for release in August.
”I’m proud to be part of the family at Seymour Duncan—a company with a living legend,” he asserted. “I’m hoping that these pickups will take me to that level of becoming a living legend myself.”
In what ways have your style and musical interests changed in recent years?
Most people know me from Fear Factory, but I left the group four years ago. Since then, I’ve done some producing for local bands, trying to help them out and get signed, and I’d been playing in my Mexican metal bands called Brujeria and Asesino, which includes bassist Tony Campos from Static-X. In both bands, everything was all sung in Spanish and we toured a lot through Latin America. I decided to leave all that behind to concentrate on something that was more universal. So I began searching for the right guys to play, and it took me four years to find people that were really very talented. I have a drummer named Tim Yeung who came from the bands Nile, Hate Eternal and Vital Remains. He is really a technical drummer. We were jamming for about six months, and then we started auditioning singers. I thought I was never going to find the right guy. The owner of Century Media, Robert Kampf, told me about a guy that I should check out. Robert gave me his phone number and I called him. He was excited just to talk to me and very confident that he was the right guy for the gig. So we sent him some music, he sang on it, and sent it back. We listened to it and thought he was great! His name is Tommy Cummings and he played with a band called Vext. He came out to Los Angeles and we started rehearsing. Then we recorded a demo and sent it to Roadrunner, Century Media, and all the different metal labels. We got signed to Roadrunner in Europe and Century Media in America. Right now, we’re mixing our debut album. I played bass on most of the record, and Tony Campos played on some songs because things started happening so fast and we hadn’t found a bass player. We hadn’t even played a live show yet when we got signed! We had done a demo and had enough songs for an album, and then boom! We were in the studio recording the album. As soon as we’re done, we’re going to audition bassists.
In terms of the style and sound, how is Divine Heresy different from your other bands and from your work with Fear Factory?
With Brujeria and Asesino, the music was a little more simple, and it was sung in all Spanish. What I was doing in Fear Factory was a little bit more on the cyber-metal/industrial side. This music is a lot more involved and more aggressive than what I was doing in Fear Factory. But when you hear my playing and guitar tone, you’ll know that it’s me.
In what ways has your playing style evolved?
I’m doing solos and a lot more riffs. There’s a lot more guitar work going on in Divine Heresy. With Fear Factory, I wasn’t doing much soloing. Solos were kind of dead at that time, but now solos are huge. The main thing that’s changed about me as a player is that I’m doing more solos. One of the other things is that my speed has increased immensely because Tim Yeung plays really fast. It can be pretty difficult at times to keep up with the drums, so I definitely had to build up my picking speed. It wasn’t that I couldn’t play fast, but I practiced with Tim to build up the endurance. The music we’re playing is much more intricate than what I was doing in Fear Factory. At times, Fear Factory was very simple and very stripped down. For me, this music has a much stronger attitude. This is my coming-back record, and I feel that I have a lot to prove. I really want people to hear what I’m doing now, and I’m just really excited to be out there again.
Tell us about the main guitar you’re currently using.
I’ve played Ibanez® 7-strings for 11 years now because they make the best 7-string guitars. All of my guitars are made out of lightweight mahogany, but the main guitar I’m recording with happens to be made out of basswood. It has a bolt-on maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. I think it’s hilarious because it’s
not actually what I’m going for, but for some reason, that particular guitar sounds really good. All my new guitars are neck-through-body with maple necks, mahogany bodies, ebony fingerboards, and jumbo frets. But this one that I used for the recording is the opposite, and it sounds really good.
Which Duncan pickups are you using?
I have prototype 7-string AHB-1 Blackouts active humbuckers, which I got while I was already in the middle of making the record. They came just in time! I had been using EMG® 707s prior to this. The EMGs were good, and they worked really well for the music I was playing before this. But I wanted something a little bit different and Seymour Duncan made some pickups for me that would fit in the same size slot, so I put the Blackouts right in my guitar. The first thing I noticed is that the volume was louder, so I had to turn my amp down a little bit. But I also noticed the Blackouts were really rich in tone.
What type of tone were you looking for?
I was looking for more low mids and more high mids, but just more of the mids in general. The AHB-1 has a very full and rich tone with all the highs, mids, and lows I want, where EMGs tend to be more scooped. I noticed right away that the Seymour Duncans were just rich in highs, mids, and lows all the way around. Wow! All I did was turn the amp’s volume down a hair, set the levels to record, and then tracked right away with them—the same day I put them in. I didn’t change any of the other amp settings for the highs, mids or lows. Everything was right where I wanted it. We’re in the mixing process now, and I noticed that a lot of the tones I would usually have to add to make my sound a little fuller are already there on the tracks I recorded with the Blackouts.
Describe the rig and effects you used in the studio.
I used a Marshall® Valvestate 100 watt head going through a model 1960A cabinet with Celestion® Vintage 30s in it, and that was killer. For effects, I used a Digitech® Whammy, an old Ibanez® chorus, and I also used a Line 6® Pod Pro for a lot of my effects as well because it has a wide variety of effects that I really like. I used the Pod for all of the clean parts with effects. The dirty stuff was straight Marshall with the chorus and Whammy.
What do you listen to for inspiration?
I listen to a lot of music. I like older Steve Vai stuff and all the old Van Halen stuff. I love Eddie Van Halen’s playing and guitar tone from back in the day. Of course, I love bands like Pantera, Slayer, Metallica, and all the new up-and-coming bands like As I Lay Dying, Unearth, Shadows Fall, Beneath The Massacre, Necrophagist, and heavy stuff like that. I like to keep up with all the new music that’s coming out. I think that as an artist, you have to pay attention to the climate of what’s out there. Some people don’t like to think it, but it is a very competitive industry. You want your record to sound better than everybody else’s, and you want it to do very well. Even though we’re all friends, there’s still that competitive nature between musicians. I’m very competitive, and I want to put out the best record possible. I want to blow everybody away!
By Lisa Sharken, Seymour Duncan’s
New York-based artist relations consultant.