CM : Compared to other guitarists we ’ re chatting with , you ’ re a bit of a different case given that you ’ re playing country music these days . What was it like making that switch ?
McLeod : The approach just shifted from a minor perspective to a major perspective …. The difference is just a flat third or a flat fifth . It ’ s a lot more connected than anyone would realize until you start putting the genres together . But it does make perfect sense because there ’ s such a southern sound to a lot of metal . One of my favourite bands growing up , Pantera , had such an impact on me . Dimebag [ Darrell Abbott , guitar ] was as country as they come . His playing is very similar to a lot of country music . And listen to some of Zakk Wylde ’ s [ Black Label Society , Ozzy Osbourne ] performances . He ’ s country as hell . So , it wasn ’ t that different for me . My perspective just changed and I turned the gain down a little bit . I ’ m not going to say it was easy because I was not thinking from a major perspective and I certainly wasn ’ t doing a whole lot of chicken-picking in metal , even though I ’ ve always had a sort of hybrid style with my fingers , which I probably owe to Stevie Ray Vaughan because he was using a lot of hybrid-picking . I guess it just depends on the player . If you really have your technique dialed in in metal , it wouldn ’ t be that difficult . I think once you get to a certain level as a guitar player in any genre , it ’ s always going to be an uphill battle to learn new things , but learning new things really does come so much more easily once you ’ ve honed in on your technique .
CM : I ’ ve always liked your tone on the Kittie album I ’ ve Failed You ( 2011 ). I ’ m curious to know how you found that sound ?
McLeod : Oh , that ’ s awesome ! Our producer , Siegfried Meier , had a lot to do with that . He really understands Kittie and that ’ s why we ’ ve worked with him a bunch . He ’ s been to so many of our shows , so he understood completely what we were going for . Obviously , as you know , when you get into the studio , you can ’ t just plug in your live gear because it doesn ’ t sound the same . He just knew how to capture the live tone that he knew we liked , but in the studio . The credit of being able to translate that into the recording goes to him . Honestly , I believe in the AC / DC method : cleaner is better . Cleaner makes it sound bigger , and it ’ ll make it sound heavier . Or else you end up with bedroom tone . We ’ ve all fallen victim to the bedroom tone ( laughs ).
CM : What does your typical practice regimen look like , if you have one ?
McLeod : I always start with basic chording to get my hands warmed up — and I really mean completely basic chording . I ’ ll sit and pick through some chords for no reason , just
to get the blood flowing . And then — and I tell people this all the time — I go into that good old chromatic exercise that everyone learned at the very first guitar lesson they ever had . I still do it , but I do lots of variations of it . I was a guitar magazine kid , and — I ’ m gonna talk about him again — there was a special on Dimebag where he listed all his warm-ups and I just took a whole bunch of those , and a whole bunch of those are those chromatic exercises . So , I ’ ll do chording , my chromatic exercises , then run through my scales , and a lot of the time it ’ s major then work through the modes , and a lot of pentatonic runs . Now because of trying to be a chicken-picker , I ’ ll take the D and the G string and play the E major scale through that , but I ’ ll fret the note then hybrid pick through the B and the E string , then make my way up the scale like that . I ’ ll include the D string in that , too . The exercise I use for that is alternate picking . I ’ ve got to put a little bit of everything in it . I do believe in the boring exercises , but to make it musical is probably the best advice I was ever given .
CM : Is there a specific piece of gear you want to get next ?
McLeod : The purist in me is really afraid to say this , but Neural [ DSP ] makes a really great amp modeler . It ’ s a footboard , much like all the other modelers out there , and I would love that . That ’ s kind of a cheater answer , because by saying that , I can cover so much more . But if I could choose one , it would be the Neural DSP Quad Cortex .
Simon Girard is the founding guitarist and vocalist for Montreal-based technical death metal band Beyond Creation . Their latest album , Algorythm , was nominated for Metal / Hard Music Album of the Year at the 2019 Juno Awards .
CM : Can you walk us through a breakdown of your usual live rig ?
Girard : We all have in-ear monitors and so we go through the Line 6 StageSource ; this is where we connect everything and control the volumes . We have
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