By Jay Hale
Adrian Galysh is seemingly one of the busiest guitarists in the Los Angeles area. Followers of his social media streams get regular notifications of gigs at the legendary Baked Potato and guest spots at Hollywood’s Ultimate Jam Night, as well as for sets he plays at local wineries and aeronautic events. When last we spoke with Adrian he was releasing 2014’s Tone Poet, a soaring musical landscape of tones and textures. This year he’s back with Into The Blue, a more vocal blues-oriented record that features epic blues grooves, a great production, and the vocals of Kacee Colton (Joe Cocker, Luis Miguel) on many songs in addition to Adrian’s own vocals. Drum and bass duties are handled by Joey Hereida (Stevie Wonder, Tribal Tech) and Paul Loranger (Eric Sardinas), and the album features guest appearances by Carl Verheyen and Johnny Hiland. We recently caught up with Adrian to get details on Into The Blue and everything else he’s been up to.
This album is somewhat of a stylistic departure for you compared to your previous release, Tone Poet. Was it entirely intentional on your part, or did it develop more organically as the sessions progressed?
It was both intentional and an organic development. Tone Poet was an intense and epic project with progressive rock, world music, and classical influences and instrumentation. Self-producing that album meant I had to deal with a lot of tracks, overdubs, MIDI programming, multiple electric and acoustic guitar parts, and overall was just a lot to manage.
Tone Poet came out very well, and I am very proud of it, but man, it was a lot of work! When I finished that album, I was being asked about what I had for future plans, and the idea of doing that kind of production all over again was daunting. So, I decided the next album was going to go back to my roots, pulling from my 70s-era influences, like Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix, Uli John Roth, and Robin Trower, and combining it with some newer blues influences ala Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart. Instrumentation would be like a live five piece band.
Your press release indicated you pulled from your 70s influences for this recording. You’ve mentioned Carl (and Seymour) as an influence before. Any other deep Blues influences creeping in?
Well, when it comes to classic blues, Seymour really speaks to me. I’ve been lucky enough to jam with him a number of times and he comes from the Roy Buchanan and Albert Collins school, with a cutting Telecaster tone, and wicked vibrato and harmonics. When I think of blues, I think of anything from Chuck Berry, Albert Collins, and Robert Johnson to more rock approaches by guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck… but also Robben Ford, Larry Carlton and Carl Verheyen.
When it came to tone and guitar solo approach to my songs, these folks are who I pulled from. Since the songs on Into The Blue range from smoldering blues ballads to Zeppelin’esque rockers, it helped to have that vocabulary be familiar to me, but no matter what the context, I knew I’d end up sounding like myself.
Did your selection process for musicians guesting on the album change from the last time at all? Was working with Carl Verheyen & Johnny Hiland “bucket list” items you got to check off?
Well, this time, I had a core band for the whole record. So, Carl and Johnny were to be “guest musicians.” For Tone Poet, picking the musicians for each song was really about using the right tool for the job, as different tunes required different kinds of players.
I’ve worked with Carl before, he appeared on my albums “King Friday” and “Earth Tones,” so I’m completely familiar with what he brings to a track, and with my updated arrangement of “Messin’ With The Kid,” I knew right away it was perfect for him.
I’ve known Johnny for while too and always loved jamming with him. I knew I wanted him on the record, and it was pretty certain that “Further On Up The Road” provided the swinging feel that would suit his chicken-picking style the best. Funny enough, he sent me five takes that were complete rockers with full-on gain and a ton of rock licks – all great. But, the sixth take was really what I was looking for, barnstorming chicken-picking with all those great country bends.
How did you find Kacee Clanton?
I knew I wanted a lead vocalist for this project, and was considering all sorts of guys, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt that was sort of “been there, done that.” I love Joe Bonamassa’s albums with Beth Hart and felt that was the direction to go. Kacee was roommates with my long time keyboard player, Maureen Baker. However, I had never heard her sing until recently at the Ultimate Jam Night in Hollywood. She tore the roof off the place with a couple Janis Joplin numbers and the crowd went nuts. I knew then that she’d be perfect. She has that raspy, soulful style, and was really easy to work with in the studio.
This is self-produced – and the production on the recording is stellar, the instrumentation and vocals sound great. Tell us about your recording process, where it was tracked, etc.
It starts with song writing, which I do with my computer, running Logic Pro 9 software. These turn into demos, which eventually see their programmed parts (drums, organ, piano) replaced by real players. The whole project just morphs from an idea, to a demo, then to the final recording within the Logic 9 project. All guitars, bass, and vocals were tracked at my home studio, as well as some keyboard parts. My set up is pretty basic: SM57 and Rode NT1 mic, into an MBox, tracking with Logic 9, and a Presonus Studio Channel preamp.
Live drums were tracked at Joey Heredia’s studio, Groove Gallery, in Burbank, CA. Alan Okay’s organ and piano parts were tracked at his home studio in Hawaii.
What was your recording rig for this project, guitar and amp-wise? Did you rely mostly on your trusty Brian Moore Custom and the Tone Poet JMP1 rig you outlined when last we spoke, or did your rig evolve?
For the recording, it was super simple. I had acquired an all-original 69/70 Fender Strat via an auction (hard to date it exactly). I got a good deal on this guitar, but my plan was to turn it around for a small profit. However, while it waited to be sold, I began jamming on it, and then starting to write songs on it. This Stratocaster had some cool mojo, and just had THAT sound. With only a 3-way pickup selector, it delivered that Hendrix-era Strat tone in spades. So I began writing and recording demos with this guitar, and it sounded so good – I kept most of those takes. The guitar needed a refret, but that made me really work for it, and you can hear that in the solos I tracked with it. Eventually I ended up selling it…. to Joe Bonamassa. He strung it up with flat wounds, and uses it to play slide guitar ala Ry Cooder!
In addition to the Strat, everything else is my signature Adrian Galysh C90F Brian Moore Guitar, which gives me a wide variety of tones.
All electric guitars were recorded direct, using Logic Pro 9’s built in amp models. As surprising as it is to say that, I have to admit that they just sound great, and I can always change the tone and amp style any time I want. Not to mention, it allows me to fix takes without having to throw up a mic and try to recreate a live amp set up every time.
As for my live amp, the Marshall JMP1 is retired. I am now using a Backstar HT-100 head into a Marshall Vintage 1960 4×12 cabinet.
Are you still using the JB and Alnico II Pros as your main pickups, or have you experimented with any of Duncan’s new offerings?
I am still using the JB and Alnico II Pros. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I do have a black Les Paul Standard that needed its pickups replaced. Seymour put in a couple Antiquity Humbuckers in it and it just sings. Great vintage tone, without any microphonic feedback problems. Here’s a strange one though, I have a Gretch Electromatic with Duncan Alan Holdsworth custom shop humbuckers in it – similar to the JB and Alnico II Pro but with a midrange bump.
Which Duncan pedals are you using?
I use the Pickup Booster and the Dirty Deed Distortion pedals. With the tube Blackstar amp head, the Pickup Booster really is effective at getting a volume boost but also some extra gain. The Dirty Deed Distortion is my go-to pedal especially when I am playing gigs with a backline. It delivers that Marshall JCM 800 tone wherever I may be playing.
I did play the Palladium Gain Stage at NAMM with year and it is really impressive. Real tube gain in a pedal. I was blown away. It’s really the best distortion pedal I’ve ever heard.
What can Duncan readers expect next from you?
I will be releasing a jam track version of Into the Blue later this year, and have been writing a new instructional guitar book.