Sally Gates: Shreddelicous talks to Orbweaver 's PRS Goldtop girl

Sally Gates with PRS guitar
[Shreddelicious] When did you start playing guitar?

[Sally Gates] I picked up the guitar when I was 14. I’d been playing the piano since I was 5, and also went through the violin and saxophone. For some reason I just decided that I was going to learn guitar that year and it stuck. As a kid, I loved listening to my parents' Queen, Pink Floyd and Bowie records. Initially I wanted to be a singer like Freddie Mercury, but that wasn't happening. Then I realised there were people such as Brian May and David Gilmour, whom I had a much better chance of imitating!

[Shreddelicious] What made you decide to take guitar seriously?

[Sally Gates] Right from the start I was serious about guitar, aiming to become a full time, touring musician. I wanted to play in bands straight away, and put up adverts looking for band members, before I'd even been playing a year. Some of the first jams I had with people were pretty terrible.

I took lessons every week for the first two years, and then every so often after that with different players that stood out to me. Even now I will still take the occasional lesson.

In 2007 I took a major step, moving to the States to concentrate solely on music. Within a few months of arriving, I was on tour with Gigan as their bass player.

Sally Gates

[Shreddelicious] What are your favourite albums?

[Sally Gates] These would be some of my all time favourites, and ones that make up a lot of my influences. There are really too many to count though!
  • Emperor - Anthems to the Welkin At Dusk
  • Hate Eternal - King of All Kings
  • Primus/Les Claypool - All
  • Mr Bungle - Mr Bungle
  • Queen - A Night At the Opera / Sheer Heart Attack
  • Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of the Moon / The Wall
  • Alice in Chains - Dirt
  • Today is the Day - Sadness Will Prevail
  • Kyuss - ...and the Circus Leaves Town / Welcome to Sky Valley
  • Morbid Angel - Covenant
  • Frank Zappa - any
Piano Tapping - Bach piece

Movies also influence me, for example the Clockwork Orange soundtrack is amazing, and juxtaposed with 'ultra violence', makes for some twisted ideas and riffs. Natural Born Killers as well - it's a bad acid trip of a movie with an excellent soundtrack.

Sally Gates
[Shreddelicious] What do you think of the use of social media for promoting your work?

[Sally Gates] I think it’s an invaluable tool to new and independent artists. It gives you an international voice that you would not otherwise have. However, it’s a double edged sword as things get very convoluted and there is such a flood of music out there that you have to shout very loud to get heard.

As far as exclusivity goes, even if the same tracks you have just paid for are available on youtube or wherever, you get a better sound quality when buying CD or Vinyl, as well as having the artwork and liner notes, and whatever else the band may have thrown in. I think nowadays part of the challenge for bands is to provide incentives such as packages with exclusive merch or artwork to encourage fans to buy albums from them. However, having readily available musical online is a crucial part of marketing.


[Shreddelicious] If you had a chance to play with anyone who would you pick?

[Sally Gates] Les Claypool - he is one of my favourite musicians, I take a lot of inspiration and techniques from him.

Mike Patton - the guy is a musical genius and I would love to see what kind of dementia we could create with him and Orbweaver.

I am also very lucky in that I have already got to play with two of my musical influences - Regi & Victor Wooten. Every so often I fly up to Nashville to take lessons with Regi, he is an amazing teacher and very generous with his knowledge. Back in 2010 he invited me to play on stage with his band there. We jammed ‘Crazy Train’ which was a lot of fun and very shred-tastic...

Rose Reburn sings Crazy Train -ozzy osbourne sally gates guitar regi wooten bass

In 2011 he took me to one of Victor’s music camps. I got to join in a group jam with him and a bunch of his students and friends. Coming from a background of extreme metal bands, improvising blues and funk is not exactly what I am used to, and I was nervous as hell when he asked me to take a solo! It was an amazing experience and I'm very grateful that I have been able to learn from both of these amazing musicians.
Sally Gates
[Shreddelicious] Have you ever had any live show disasters?

[Sally Gates] I've never had any major disasters on stage, the worst being forgetting the set list was changed, and starting to play a different song from the rest of the band. Also having my strap break once mid set was not a lot of fun.

Orbweaver Interview

[Shreddelicious] How do record your guitar videos?

[Sally Gates] Usually I will record them at home or in our studio. I have a Zoom Q3HD video recorder which has great audio quality. Generally it helps if you are rehearsed enough that you can go in and get what you are looking for after only a few goes. Otherwise you can sit there all day trying to get it right, and gets frustrating and your playing and movement start to get stale.

With editing, I will go through each take and analyse what is good and bad about each one, to figure out which is the most acceptable. Here is where it is crucial to be honest with yourself and make sure everything is up to standard, even if it means having to scrap everything and start filming again.

Sometimes I will do jam videos instead of rehearsed pieces. In this case, I will film for as long as possible and then splice together the best bits.
Sally Gates
[Shreddelicious] What do you think of illegal music downloading?

[Sally Gates] I think that it is a tragedy that the internet and ease of copying materials has killed record sales, closed record stores, and even other mediums like bookshops now too. This has killed the dream of ‘doing what you love and the money will follow’ for a lot of creative people. Also I think it’s extremely pathetic that some people won't even pay the dollar a track that most places like itunes or bandcamp charge.

On the flip side, if a band is willing to share it’s tracks for free, that can be a great promotional tool. Even in a record store, you could go in and listen to a CD before deciding if you wanted to buy it. It gives bands a chance to reach a larger audience in a shorter amount of time, who then in turn may come to their live shows, buy merchandise, and maybe even buy the physical CD while they're there. I know I've done it.
But the key point here, is that the band WILLINGLY gives out the tracks for free. They have weighed up the advantages of the extra income versus the extra fans. It’s never cool to steal anything.

Sally Gates
[Shreddelicious] Can you tell us a bit about your Guitars and Amps?

[Sally Gates] I am a total gear nerd! Actually my whole band is made up of gear's great.
I use a PRS Custom 22 Goldtop for pretty much everything that I do, live and studio. In 2011 PRS very kindly added me to their artist roster, which was a huge honour for me. I really admire their company - they are very innovative and passionate about what they do. They also have a great relationship with their artists, customers and players, it's like a big family.

I went through a few different guitars, Ibanez, BC Rich, and then Gibson for a few years. I loved my Gibsons but I wanted something with a tremolo. A friend of my let me play his PRS Private Stock Modern Eagle, and from that moment I was hooked! They are such beautifully crafted instruments and are incredibly versatile and well playing. Orbweaver is a very eclectic band, and it is great that I can get so many tones out of one instrument.

For my amp I currently use a Marshall TSL100 and an Orange PPC412 cabinet. The TSL is a three channel amp that I generally keep on the rhythm channel, and roll back my volume if I need a cleaner sound. The Orange cabinet really stepped up my tone, it is very warm with an excellent treble and bass response, I actually had to dial back the bass on my EQ!

In Orbweaver we use a sh*t ton of pedals... these are some of the tools we use to escape into psychedelic realms and create sheer walls of noise. As our guitarist/vocalist Randy Piro says - 'I want my guitar to sound like anything but a guitar.'

On my board right now I have a Dunlop Ring Worm, Seymour Duncan Deja Vu delay, Akai analog delay, Electro-Harmonix Clone Theory, Jerry Cantrell Crybaby, Boss TU2 tuner, MXR Phase 90, and a VooDoo Labs Chorus. I also use a Boss RC3 looper at home and will be purchasing a Diamond Tremolo pedal very soon.

For our EP, 'Strange Transmissions From The Neuralnomicon', I recorded with the PRS through my Marshall and an Emperor cabinet, then we re-amped everything through a JCM800 with the Emperor and Orange cabs, with a Pigtronix Fat Drive for gain. "

[Shreddelicious] Can you tell us about your latest recording?

[Sally Gates] Orbweaver will be releasing it’s debut EP ‘Strange Transmissions From The Neuralnomicon’ on August 2nd 2013. Primitive Violence Records are putting out a limited edition cassette tape with posters and trading cards featuring the artwork of Jean Saiz. We are self-releasing the CD and digital copies, and hosting a release party the same day in Miami at Churchill's Pub.

We recorded at Pinecrust Studios in Miami with Jonathan Nunez of the band Torche. He did an excellent job of capturing the vibe of the band and got us a very warm, analog sound. Brian Elliot from Mana Recording Studios in St. Petersburg, FL mixed and mastered the tracks. He added more of a modern, polished touch, which blended with Jon’s tones came out sounding amazing!

Right now, the 2010 demo tracks are available from our bandcamp page -

Sally Gates

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