PedalsAndEffects coming at you with another entry of our Song Dissection column! This time it’s Seattle indie-rock band Minus the Bear! Again, to start off with a disclaimer: some bands/artists are very protective about their sonic secrets so some of these dissections are based solely on our own knowledge of the capabilities of effects pedals, a little internet research and of course the songs themselves. So let’s not delay, today’s entry of PedalsAndEffects Song Dissection is Knights by Minus the Bear.
Minus the Bear is an indie rock quartet that makes great use of effects. Every member of the group has a wide arrange of pedals and effects at their disposal that they all use to great extravagance. Today we’ll be examining the song “Knights” of their 2007 album “Planet of Ice.” We’ll be taking a look at the intro riff which becomes the verse riff and the main heartbeat of the song. Guitarist Dave Knudson (who also played in Seattle metalcore band Botch) is no stranger to looping and sampling. Often times rocking not one, not two, not three but FOUR Line DL4 delay/looping modelers in addition to two BOSS RC-3 Loop station pedals. Knudson does a large amount of sample manipulation, both live and pre-recorded.
From l-r: Cory Murchy, Dave Knudson, Jake Snider, Alex Rose
The intro/verse riffs are done on two Line 6 DL4’s in the looping function (the other two he has set in delay mode). He records just a tiny part of two separate chords for each DL4 (Dmaj and Bmin respectively). One is set to a longer sample whereas the other one is a much shorter sample that has a “stuttering” effect. Now, what separates the DL4 from loopers like the BOSS RC30 or the Ditto Looper X2 (both great loopers in their own right) is the “Play Once” function. By using it as a tap tempo, you can really change the rhythm of your samples and that’s exactly what Knudson does. For the intro riff, Knudson does some clever tap dancing by activating one pedal with the “Play Once” feature in rhythm and then activating the second DL4 to finish out the measure. On the recording I believe Knudson uses an octave pedal like a Whammy to pitch his guitar up, and live I think he omits the octave. Some people aren’t too aware of this, but a cool trick with the DL4 is you can set the loop to play a pitched up, or slowed down before recording your loop. By doing so you can get some really weird warped and time stretched samples.
Photo credit: line6
Time and time again, Minus the Bear manages to surprise listeners by what they’re capable of pulling from their effects pedals. As a musician its important to see what others are doing, you might like it, you might not, but what you take away is a better idea of how you create your soundscapes. You never know what settings or sounds you might “unlock” from pedals you’ve owned for years. In some cases it might save you some money! Really take a good hard look at your effects and try creating other effects from the hardware other than what was intended. Try and make your delay sound like a chorus or your chorus sound like a vibrato.
Really dissecting a bands or artists sound is a good way to attempt to figure out their songwriting mentality and apply it to your own. We’re testing out some new columns and features so bear with us as we test the waters! If there’s a song you can’t quite figure the effect out and want us to try dissecting what pedals are being used, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Until next time!