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Gear Nerd: Gary Bennett (Kill Your Idols, Sheer Terror, Black Anvil, Deathcycle)

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Kill Your Idols, Sheer Terror, Black Anvil… three distinct styles of music with one common link: Gary Bennett.

For well over two decades, Gary has been a staple in the New York hardcore, punk, and metal scenes. He is an accomplished musician who is also a father and husband that works full time and still finds time to create. I’ve never known another person to be as meticulous about tone as Gary,a  in all the best ways. He is a dear friend, bandmate, and a huge influence on my playing. I hope you enjoy this quick conversation!

Photo: Gary Bennett

Please introduce yourself and tell us what bands you've been in and anything you're working on now.

My name is Gary Bennett, and I’ve been in Kill Your Idols, Sheer Terror, Deathcycle, and Black Anvil most prominently. I’ve also been in a few other bands—Clockwise from Long Island as a bassist, Serpico, Big Sniff...I’ve been in and out of a few other situations. I’ve filled in on guitar for A.J. Novello in Cro-Mags more than a few times. Oh, I’m the current bassist of SSSP! I’m working on something new with some old friends...details coming soon.

What's your live setup like and do you tend to use different gear for different bands?

I’ll use any head that’s 100 watts and has at least as much balls as a standard JCM 800. I prefer straight cabinets. Typically, these days I float between a JCM 2000 and an old '80s Randall RG series head. I discovered how great those are by acquiring the 80 watt version really cheap. I bought it just to play around with, and it became my main stage amp for years, especially with Black Anvil and Deathcycle. Solid State heads are great for metal, but they work well in any situation. I’ve since bought two more 100 watt versions, and I love them. Randall has always made great stuff. I’ve got an Orange I like to record with.

Photo: Gary Bennett

Pedals? I’ve got more than a few. But my main stage setup is a Korg “pitchblack” tuner, Marshall “Guv’ner” distortion, which has been my go-to since the late '80s.. I like the original pro-co Rat, too. I use an MXR phaser or the Electro-Harmonix phaser, and I use a delay through the fx loop.. BOSS DD-7 or MXR “carbon copy”. Guitars, my go-to is Gibson SG. But I use LTD Vipers and Epiphone Pro SG’s as well.

Photo: Gary Bennett

Do you tend to use the same set up for local / regional and away shows? 

Pretty much. I have two of every pedal I hold most dear, and I have alternate set-ups and pedal boards. I vary here and there, depending on my mood, but it's always same or similar. I’m not a fan of noise gates, but I have one in my main pedal board, just in case. If I travel by plane, I have smaller pedalboards and I don’t bother to bring one. But the one I have is an ISP “Decimator II," probably the best one on the market, and I’m still not a huge fan. I really only use it if the amp is acting noisy.

I like the feedback a guitar creates, and I like the urgency of a guitar being switched on and off with the sound of the momentary screech...like Black Flag, early Corrosion of Conformity, and Carnivore.

Photo: Gary Bennett

Do you tend to use the same gear / settings when you're recording? If not, what are the differences?

I’m learning that recording requires a different approach at times. I try to keep things the same as live, but often times, I find I need to roll off on the bass, which I pin to 10 always. Less gain also works better as it still comes off heavier than you think it will, and less noisy.

Photo: Gary Bennett

Any home recording gear?

I use a Korg cassette 4 track. It has built-in guitar modeling. I’m a bit of a technophobe. I tried using Cubase software to record on my computer and I couldn’t figure out how to stop the latency, much less produce a sound. If I have to read directions, or take classes, I usually run the other way. This is something I’d like to correct in the near future.

Photo: Gary Bennett

Has anyone in particular influenced your setup(s)?

I got my first SG when I was 18. I played Kramers and Fenders before that. I fell in love with the SG. It was given to me by Marc Adams of In Your Face, Big Sniff, and The Arsons. He gave it to me on a trade during our time in Big Sniff. It worked best for me. Everything else, I took influence from all my heroes and just combined elements that worked for me: Tom G. Warrior, Eddie Van Halen, Tony Iommi, Pete Koller, Alan Blake, Marc Neumann, Greg Ginn, Dr. Know. Unfortunately, punk guys rarely got enough press back then to the extent that they’d talk about gear, so it was all metal guys that I’d have to read up on. But one moment in time affected me real big. 

I saw Pete Koller of Sick of It All borrow the backline from Nuclear Assault and Leeway at a show when I was 16, and he was chugging, doing a line check, through the JCM 800, which sounded great, but it was more of a dry, AC/DC-type tone. He walked to the front of the stage and clicked on a distortion pedal and kept chugging, and it sounded apocalyptic. He kept chugging and made a mean face at the audience and everyone cheered psychotically [laughs]. That’s the sound! Once I realized you needed to drive the amp that already has balls, rather than just be totally clean or distortion pedal on 10, the mysteries of the universe were revealed to me.  

Photo: Mike McLaughlin Photography

Is there any piece or pieces of gear that would be an ultimate score for you.. like dream shit?

I want a white or cream colored SG from the '70s that’s nicely worn. I’d also love to get one of those custom “old boys” from Jaydee guitars, who make Iommi’s SGs. I just got an Epiphone Tony Iommi signature series SG, limited to 2000.. it’s a great guitar. His signature pickups are in it, and it’s all built to his specs. I really do love it, but I’m sure the Jaydee’s are next, next level. 

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Tagged: black anvil, deathcycle, gear nerd, kill your idols, sheer terror

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