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The fact that this power pop punk quartet has never even been to Japan seems to make perfect sense, or possibly none at all. Big in Japan, made up of bassist Joey (no surname was given on the band's website) guitarist Toddball (no surname was given on the band's website) singer/guitarist Zac Damon (the least suspicious surname from the band's website) and drummer Corky Pigeon (the most suspicious name from the band's website) seems to be interested less in the promotion of music than the playing of it. It's about time somebody was. Recently, Guitar Center got a chance to talk with the aspiring foursome that's likely to be big in the land of the free and the home of the brave, as well.



Interviews:
Joey
Toddball
Zac Damon
Corky Pigeon

Big in Japan Links:
www.biginjapan.net
www.honestdons.com
www.fatwreck.com
Hear the .mp3:
Dig that Stupid Sound


GC: Let's talk about the basses you use.

Joey: I got two that are my main basses. One is a 5-string Mark Campellone custom built for me. I had Bartolini pickups put in them both. Full scale. Active EQ. Pearl inlays. The whole nine yards. If I'm going to get one made, I'm going to do it the way I like it. I bought a 5-string Tobias from Guitar Center about a year ago that's become my main bass. I've always loved high-end basses, with the nice woods and stuff. I just love the precision. I love the sound of the Bartolinis.

GC: What do you think of the bass rig you have now?

Joey: I've always been a big fan of SWR, but a friend of mine turned me onto David Eaton gear.

GC: Do you use any pedals or effects on the record or live?

Joey: For the record, I tried out a flange and an overdrive on some to give it a little bit more balls. Some of the parts have a lot of riffing going on where I match what the guitars are doing. I use the overdrive on that. I got the Boss overdrive and the Boss flanger. The flange is more for some of the soloing. I do it high on the neck, just to bring it out a little bit more. I have the Boss tuner, the stomp box. I built a custom effects pedal board and a case. I'm a carpenter so I always build stuff like that. I use it live.

GC: What's the coolest recent addition to your set-up?

Joey: Probably my custom effects pedal box and rack. I work for a company that builds things for Universal Studios, Disneyland and what not. I have access to a lot of cool equipment and machine tools. I just bought some wood and some aluminum and built myself a nice gig box and effects rack.



GC: Any advice for the intermediate level player out there?

GC: Anything on your wish list?

Joey: Probably the next thing I want to get is another five-string bass made by Michael Tobias. He's got his own line called MT designs or MT Michael Tobias designs. Those basses, there's nothing that compares to them. They're just unbelievable. They feel so right. When you strap it on, the thing basically plays itself. That's definitely something I'd like to get. I'd like to get another 410 cabinet so I can have an Eaton enclosure. I'd love to get a stand-up bass. I love the sound of old jazz basses. I just love to play the bass, so anything, any other instrument that I can get my hands on. Joey: Get a good book on some chord changes. Definitely take some lessons. A lot of people say lessons will make you a Joe Guitar-head. I think it'll help you get there so much quicker. It develops your ear and your fingers. Lessons are definitely cool. Also, get a good bass with some good pickups that are clean-sounding. GK heads have pretty good punch in a small package. You can take them out on the road and beat the crap out of them. They'll withstand the wear and tear.

GC: Do you practice a lot?

Joey: I used to practice a lot. I would say when I do practice, I usually warm-up with finger exercises, keep my fingers moving nimble because I'm a carpenter and my hands take a beating at work all week. So, when I sit down to play, I got a couple of exercises that I always do, just alternate finger exercises. I like to read. I got some old chord progressions that I like to go back over every now and then. I'm not a major reader, but it is fun when I get back into it every now and then. If I hear something on the radio, I'll just come home and maybe fiddle around, maybe go over some old music.

GC: Do you do any songwriting?

Joey: Lately I've been getting into writing just to expand on the writing capabilities of the band. I'm trying to do some more writing so we can have different influences. I think it's always better when you have more than one writer in a band because you can always have some new material, some new influences coming into the mixture.

GC Do you warm-up before a performance?

Joey: I usually do. Ten minutes before, I go and bring my gear up. I'll take out my bass, retune it and do my finger exercises just so I can get my fingers working. Sometimes, it's cold when you're out on the road. You're just stiff from sitting in the van for eight to 10 hours on a ride.

GC: What advice would you have for a young player who might want to model their career after yours?

Joey: I would say just play. I used to put on the radio and whatever song came on, I'd play my bass to. Whether it's top 40 or funk or whatever, I would just play to every single song. It helped me develop minor and major scales. I could see how chord progressions run. Definitely, if you want to go to school, pursue that, too. I did some courses in different music schools. I love to play so I was always open to whatever came my way. I played funk, jazz, rock, thrash. You name it. I played in every type of band there is. When I strap my bass on, that's where I feel like I need to be. I used to fall asleep with my bass on my stomach, laying down in bed.

GC: Do you shop at Guitar Center?

Joey: I have. I do most of my shopping at Guitar Center because of availability. They have pretty much everything I need.

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