Frenzal Rhomb : Geeking out on Gear

Date: 2021-02-01
If you've listened to alternative radio in Australia anytime since 1996 you've likely heard Lindsay " The Doctor" McDougall in some form. Sure, he presented shows on Triple J for quite a few years, and still presents a show on ABC local radio, but we are here to focus on his work with Australian punk legends Frenzal Rhomb. He has toured both here and abroad with some of Punk Rock's biggest names and with Frenzal he has left a memorable mark on the face of Australian music.
With a legacy of high energy live performances and a wee bit of controversy thrown in (a must for any good punk band), Frenzal Rhomb and "The Doctor" have been and still are a firm favourite of many Australian music fans, including Yours Truely.

Was there a particular reason you decided to start playing and why did you choose your particular instrument?

My mum got me piano lessons when I was about 12, so I was kinda "the piano player kid" at school. Then in year 8 we spent one term learning and playing guitar. We all had dodgy nylon string guitars, playing Skip To My Lou and Row Your Boat, those kind of classic two chord hits. At the end of the term our music teacher got the kids in the class to all say whether they'd stick with guitar or go back to piano. When she got to me she didn't even ask, and just wrote piano. I was kind of offended/upset/just a whinging little kid, and so just to be contrary I said "no, actually I'd like to continue learning guitar".
So I guess I play guitar now because I was a little prick back then.

When you first stared playing who was it you wanted to sound like?

I started by wanting to play like Slash, or Izzy & Gilby, with a healthy serving of James and Kirk. Then as grunge came in I wanted to play like Stone & Mike and then Kim & Jerry, and of course Kurt. Then I heard punk and immediately wanted to play like Tas & DD and Ben from Frenzal. So I pretty much kept lowering the bar until I found a style of music I could play well without being very good.

What setup are you currently running? ( instrument/ amp/ pedals )

Gibson SG (2003 model) into a Marshall JMP (single channel, bridged inputs, with an aftermarket master volume added later) or JCM 800, or both, sometimes with a delay pedal between them for a bit of stereo spread that absolutely no one but me appreciates. My pedalboard changes a lot, but my main sounds come from a Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster, and a Seymour Duncan Forza. I also have a Fulltone GT500 pedal for fatter distortions, but that guy's a bit of a dickhead so I'm replacing that soon.
And I've got a Micro Pog octave thing for rad solos, an Earthquaker Devices Dispatch Maker for unnecessarily beautiful delays and reverbs, a boss Noise Suppressor and a Line 6 pedal-sized wireless transmitter, although it drops out a bit when I'm jumping around so I gotta replace it before we ever play gigs again.
(Quick note that none of these are what makes the guitar sounds on our albums. We record at the Blasting Room in Colorado, and I just bring my guitar picks, everything else they've got and it's sounds too great to mess with)

Is there a piece of gear you've sold that still haunts you?

I haven't sold much gear because I'm a hoarder/bad with money (although I just remembered I did buy and then sell a Dean Dimebag guitar coz I couldn't handle the tuning system), but I've given away a few nice guitars. An old 1970s Gibson SG (got drunk at my then-flatmate's birthday party and forgot to bring a present) which was really nice, and the two SG-style LTDs I got given are now living at friends' houses
Dean Dimebag guitar
Dean Dimebag guitar

What budget gear has surprised you, and do you run anything in your setup that might surprise others?

What surprises me is that I still put my trust in cheap crap, and that sometimes it works really well. Sometimes it doesn't. I wouldn't recommend powering your stuff with 9v batteries you found in a box in a back alleyway, they will certainly stop working right when you need them.
But a great budget idea that I swear by (to the increasing frustration of my various rotating guitar techs) is my guitar case. I use an acoustic guitar case, I modified the inside so it fits two guitars in it. With some foam (or some clothes I pack for tour) separating them. I was sick of having to argue with check-in staff about excess baggage, and double-guitar cases are stupidly expensive and stupidly heavy, and just stupid. I catch the train to the airport quite a bit and this makes stuff much easier to carry.
I can also fit one guitar and my pedalboard in it too, with room for snacks.

I trust anything with a _________ Logo

I trust brands heaps more than my own ears. If you can make it loud, and not break immediately, I'll trust you.

Instrument/ pedals/ amp. Which is the most important for you to achieve YOUR sound.

I definitely need at least one of each, thanks.

I don't even know if I have a sound. I like to sound like lots of different things, and I like having slightly different sounds each gig, it's fun (for me more than our sound person I guess). That's why those Kemper things shit me up the wall. Who in the audience cares if that middle section of that song sounds just like the album. At a festival I watched the guitar tech of some silly post hardcore band spend multiple bands' sets side of stage setting up a bunch of those things for a band, with midi leads and multicores and power conditioners and USBs, I don't reckon greg from Bexley in the front row on his 7th CC and Dry can is going to write an angry blog if you don't get your tone right, dude.

If you could have any tone from any song, which would it be?

Victory Lap by Propagandhi. Although that's more Sulynn and Chris' playing. And that cool drop-C# tuning.

Have you ever had a horrible case of gear failure on a stage?

Constantly. See my above answer about trusting anything with a logo. But it's rare these days, that cheapish pedal-sized wireless has been my latest annoyance.

If you could talk over gear and setups with any musician (living or dead) who would it be?

The potential boringness of that conversation would mean that even if they're living now they'd be dead soon. Although talking tunings with Kim and Jerry and riffs with Sulynn and Chris would be fun.
Propagandhi: Chris and Sulynn
Propagandhi: Chris and Sulynn
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