Welcome to the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series of Gear Nerd features. As a musician, I am always interested in what others are using, so I approached Carlos with this idea. He was gracious enough to give me the thumbs up , so here goes nothing…
Unless you’ve been in a cave or under a rock for the last quarter century, this man needs no introduction. Daniel Foder—better know to many as "Grover"—is a creative force to be reckoned with. He’s probably most known for playing in C.R. (I used to play in the band along with him), Python, and the Budos Band. My old friend and I met up on a Saturday afternoon at his studio space on Staten Island, and here is our conversation.
Please introduce yourself and give us a quick rundown of the bands you've been in.
My name is Dan, I've played in a bunch of bands from the Island [Staten Island]. Obviously, C.R., Phallacy... I did a little stint with Serpico on tour for a bit. Basically, now I am playing in the Budos Band and I also play in a band called Python and a side project band called Shallow Lilac which is like dirtbag rock from the '70s like Deep Purple. That's what I'm up to now, you know?
Do you play bass in Budos and Python?
Yes, Budos primarily always bass. In Python I play a multitude of instruments. Keyboards, organs, bass, guitar, I do all the recordings, effects and all that.
Is Python just you and Lino Reca (ex-Hemlock, Ceremonium)?
It's me and Lino on the first LP and our buddy Eric is playing drums. So, the second LP, which we just got the masters back from Jerry Farley, he plays drums on that LP.
OK, let’s get down to it and talk about your gear. What's your main live set up? Break it down for local and away gigs.
So, if we do local gigs, I have an old Traynor head that I use. It's a YB1A which is basically an old JTM45 mimicked kind of amp. It's a great classic '70s all-tube amp. You can even daisy chain it if you want t play guitar through it to get that dirty old rock sound. This is mainly what I use now. I used to use this Fender Bassman 100 watt head, which is more for local stuff.
If we're playing overseas or we have rented gear, for the most part, I'll get an old Ampeg SVT. As for cabinets, I still have the same two old C.R. bass cabinets going that I still use, a 6x10 and an 8x10. For basses, with Budos I have a 67 Gibson EBO that's been through hell and back. I mean like everything Grover owns, it usually get busted. I use that for Budos and Python. When I do recordings with Budos, I have an old Harmony hollow body H72 it's got a Dearmond pickup. I just love them, and live they get such a nice growl, you know? Also, I put different caps in it to make the pickups hotter. So, it already has an underlying fuzz. The Gibson is already blown out and one cabinet has three speakers that are toasted so it's like this giant wall of fuzz already.
So, most of the time live I don't like to do DI I'd rather just mic the amp itself, plus these older heads don't have the DI (out) on the back like the newer amps. That's basically my live setup.
Does that differ from your recording setup (with Budos)?
When we do the Budos stuff, it's usually in Long Island City at the Diamond Mine, and I'll use an old B15 Ampeg and he has a Motown DI, it's a pretty amazing DI box. We run that from there to the board. Here I do the same kind of thing. My buddy Jens built this custom DI for me or sometimes I will run direct through the pre’s on the inside, just mic it in here.
[Laughing] With Python it depends on how intoxicated we are and where our heads are at on that day. Sometimes, we will go crazy with some old Hammond organs and some Moog or if Eric comes to play drums, I set the drums up right away and throw the guitars in the corner and usually stand in the control room to play. It really depends on what we're gonna do. A lot of the times it's very spur of the moment kind of stuff, and sometimes it's a little more worked out.
For guitars right now, I set up and old Ampeg guitar 410 which sounds amazing . Sometimes, we use this 50 watt Sun head through a Marshall cab. Depends on which sound you're looking for. I've also been loving this pedal. It's Black Arts .. it's called The Pharaoh. It's kind of a classic fuzz. You can get early Sabbath tones out of it. It's a great box. This one, from my buddy Hudson Electronics in the UK, I use a lot of his stuff. Pushing that over the top distortion. Snarl. Biting where you can bite. I've also been playing Mosrites a lot I have a couple of old ones over there, and this Univox. It's crunchy as hell. It really all depends on what project we're working on. Sometimes my old Strat will sound great just the way it is.
For nostalgia's sake, I see the old C.R. bass head. Let's talk about that.
How the fuck did you even see that up there?! (Laughter) Yeah man, she still works! My old Peavey. I still have my 48th Street custom bass, too, that I used in C.R.! Fucking neck was broke, our boy Matt (D'Ambrosia) fixed that shit right up!
I noticed the Charles Bradley poster on the wall. Do you wanna talk a little about your time with him?
Absolutely, man. You know? What a great guy. He always gave so much love to anybody he talked to , anything that he did, it's just the way he was. He was a great soul. We worked with him for years. I worked with him basically right up until he passed. When he first came to Daptone Records, he started working with me, Tom, and Brian. We were doing a band called The Bullets and that's where Charles started to understand he could play (original) music and have fun, because before that he was doing a James Brown tribute. He got to travel the world, meet amazing people and he left us with something amazing. When I listen back, I can't help but cry. Even now, I'm gonna.. you know. It's very emotional, he was such a great man and I enjoyed every minute I spent with him, everything I ever did with him.
How was recording (Black Sabbath's) "Changes" with him?
We actually recorded (the music for) "Changes" alone and he came in and did the vocals after. I wasn't there to see it happen, but was really just blown away by it. He really loved classic rock. I don't really think he was a Sabbath fan, but when he heard that song I think it relayed to him the feelings of being so attached to his mother and how much she meant to him, so he took that song on and really made made it his own. We actually got a letter from Ozzy [Osborne] and Geezer [Butler] saying how much they loved his version!
If you wanna give a run down of what I'm lookin at here that would be awesome [laughs]!
Basically, what we're looking at is an Auditronics board. It's an old '70s board it's got great EQs nice pres, it feeds to the Tasman 8 track, all tape obviously. We have some preamps, a 412 Warm UA2610, two 73s there, some modules, some compressors, an EQ based off of a '50s EQ, a blender made by my buddy Jens who built the DI box made. It takes your signal from a guitar pedal and sets the impedance right so you can use that pedal along any channel you want. So if you want to put a phaser on a vocal or guitar without going direct to tape you can do that. I have an old Echoplex, got a Moog delay unit, an old Premier spring reverb, Fischer space expander reverb setup in the controls as well. I also have a 2 track . You run your mixes from the 8 track into the two track, it gets dumped there and from there you can throw it into the computer.
Any history behind any of this recording gear?
It's just stuff I've acquired over the years, this board was my buddy Leon's over at Diamond Mine. They basically upgraded to something else and I bought that from them.
What made you want to start building your own studio space and recording your own shit?
I think it's like most musicians, when you're younger a lot of us hand old Tascam 4 tracks and sit and record and make your own songs, and I think it just evolves over time. If you're really into it you take it to the next level. Over time you evolve into what you need and what you want . I think that's really what happened. There's that part of you that wants to be in charge of what you're doing when you're recording music and having total control over something, and it's something that I enjoy. I'm fucking comfortable here. You gotta be comfortable.
Are there any people, or places in particular that inspired you to choose your gear, or the way you have the studio set up?
Well, yes and no. Yes, that dude Gabe Roth and my buddy Tom Brenneck they have amazing studios with amazing pieces of gear. It's really all a matter of what you can afford. Some of this gear can go for $8000 or more. Right now there's a lot of companies making gear that's more affordable for dudes like me that don't have a ton of money but can get that similar sound with less money. You just take from this and that see what other people have. People like us, gear nerds, are always looking at different studios and what gear someone else has.. what microphone is that? You know.. It really all depends on what inspires you to get certain sounds out of the gear.
Is there any piece of gear that is like a Holy Grail or dream piece of gear that you'd like to get your hands on? Off the top of your head.
Shit man, there's too many.. old Fender Jaguars, old Teletronix LA2As..there's tons of stuff.. Marshall heads.. it just goes and goes. [Laughs] If Thin Lizzy's truck was parked on the street, that would be filled with all my dream gear!
*After the interview, Dan texted me this link saying that it was part of his dream gear scenario.
The Budos Band's official website will keep you up to date with Daniel's upcoming tour dates.