Article By: Leanne Ridgeway
The Gear Assembly interview series is especially for the music gear addicts, or simply the curious like myself.
Each article in the Gear Assembly series features a different musician answering the same questions, highlighting both their varying preference in music gear, as well as their own music that results from using that gear. Hopefully it brings some awareness to both the artists and their gear makers. You’re reading, so we’ve got at least one more. Find new music, learn about who’s making it and what they use to create it…
GEAR ASSEMBLY Series #8:
HEXXUS’ Billy Luttrell
Billy Luttrell, guitarist and vocalist (one of them) for Birmingham, Alabama’s HEXXUS, recently described their music as “Emo played with loose floppy strings.” Now, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with Mr. Luttrell, but I would suggest tacking on a couple of clarifying words, such as “emo brutally played with howitzers and loose, floppy viscera strings.” Possibly.
HEXXUS is currently working on writing the follow up to their 2017 album ‘Tunguska‘, but we’ll take it straight from the bull’s mouth. Check out what Billy Luttrell is up to these days, as he’s here to be our eighth piece in the Gear Assembly! Rock on…
Riff Relevant /Leanne: What instrument(s) do you play?
Drums / Percussion
Riff Relevant /Leanne: Give us a rundown of your current live gear set-up.
Hilbish Beta preamp
Two Sunn Alpha Slave power amps
Three Carvin V412 4×12 cabinets
Fender Custom Shop Telecaster
Effects Pedals: Boss Tuner, Rat, Op-Amp Muff clone, EHX #1 Echo, Boss DD-3, Dunlop MXR 10-Band EQ.
Riff Relevant: When was the exact moment you realized you wanted to play your instrument(s)? Who was your primary influence at that moment?
I got my first guitar, a Harmony electric, when I was 10. My dad bought it for me at a yard sale.
I was hooked. At that moment, I was content just making string noises.
Riff Relevant: Which one of your songs best exemplifies you as a musician? Why?
They all do.
Riff Relevant: Is there specific gear you prefer to use in the studio that would be different from your live set-up?
Not really. I like overdubbing lead stuff with Ampeg SS Series amps for the way they cut through, but that’s about the only difference.
Riff Relevant: Any type of pre-show/practice warm up rituals?
Stretch. That’s gotten really important as I’ve gotten older.
Usually, I’ll try to chew some gum or a peppermint while setting up to help prevent dry mouth, so my voice doesn’t crack.
Riff Relevant: How do you keep things interesting when able to be out on tour & playing the same set each night?
Crowd response is a big one. The transfer of energy pushes you. Call and response.
We try to give the same show to the small crowds as the big crowds, but it’s definitely easier when the crowd – no matter the size – is energetic and responsive.
Mostly though, it’s the total belief in your songs and their meaning.
Riff Relevant: What do you think gives your playing its signature sound?
An odd tuning that I invented. Finger dexterity, neck bending, and the occasional pinch harmonic.
Riff Relevant: Any brand loyalty? Are you partial to one company over another? Any current sponsorships or your own signature gear?
I’m really partial to mid-80s Carvin cabinets.
Justin is a die hard Peavey T-40 bass player.
Riff Relevant: What is the most important piece of equipment currently in your live set-up? Why? What is it about that one?
Those Hilbish preamps.
We’ve always been loyal to the Sunn Betas, but also have had too many tours and shows with 40 year old amps that are difficult to find someone who can do maintenance and repairs on.
The Hilbish ones actually sound a little bit darker which is even better… they’re made with modern components and assembled in Virginia. Any issues, we can ship them back to Nate Hilbish and he’ll repair them. Just overall better and more reliable for an active band setting.
Riff Relevant: What do you enjoy doing outside of music, that you feel ultimately contributes to your musicality? (For example, a hobby that you turn to in order to stimulate your creativity.)
The majority of our song content is based on tragedy. Friends and loved ones passing, dealing with depression, or self destructive habits as a way to cope. We need this band to help with our personal sanity more than anything.
It seems we have no shortage of horrible things happening, so the creativity is staying stimulated without hobbies.
Riff Relevant: Are there any newly emerging artists or bands who are currently influencing you (or you just enjoy)? If yes, how so?
That we admire and adore? Definitely.
Ether Coven, who we got to tour for a week of shows with last year just dropped a new album on Century Media. Wvrm is about to drop a new one. Hepatagua recently released a song and digital ordering for a new EP.
Tons of new stuff that I’m forgetting.
Riff Relevant: If you could give one piece of advice to an up and coming musician, what would it be?
Don’t talk about, do it. Get in the van and go.
Well, maybe not right now. After all this is settled, then go.
Riff Relevant: How has the virus pandemic impacted your music life or career? What are some ways you’ve been doing things differently?
It really hasn’t yet, since we weren’t touring – but I’m sure it’s going to.
We’ve been focused on writing and getting prepared to record a new demo for label shopping.
Riff Relevant: If you could have any music gear you wanted, what would be your ideal set up?
I’d like to own a Dunable guitar.
A second Hilbish for a back up would be cool. I’m pretty happy with what I have and what I’m able to do with it.
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