“A lot of the EP was written before Troy sang and added his lyrics and melodies, so that’s why it was kind of a big foot-through-the-door, heavy, doom-rock record,” says Van Leeuwen. “But we’ve definitely spread our wings now, with him bringing in some music that we didn’t even expect. There are a lot of melodic, beautiful things that he brought to the table that were a little more colourful.”
The songwriting process was crammed in amidst extremely tight schedules, negotiated amongst the band members’ other jobs. “When we do get the chance to make music we do it pretty quickly,” Van Leeuwen says. “That’s why I dig this project as well, because you only get enough time to learn a song and then you just play it live. I would say about 80 percent of the record was played live, and you’re countering what’s going on as it’s happening. That’s where the rawness of the material comes from. And then when it comes to adding guitar and key overdubs, that’s where we can get as expressive as we want.”
One of the unique characteristics of Gone Is Gone is Troy Sanders’ ‘lead-bass’ kind of approach: not in the sense of solos, but as a bass player who drives the song forward in the classic Geddy Lee kind of way. This gives Van Leeuwen a lot of space for experimentation around the edges.
“His stamp on this is vocally and lyrically driven, and of course he’s got that thunderous bass,” says Van Leeuwen. “He’s definitely holding it down. So it gives me and Mike a lot of room. Let’s just say there are a lot of effects pedals on my board.
“I definitely may have overused the Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander. It basically turns your guitar into an 8-bit synth. It has three octaves on it and a fuzz, and it’s just really cool,” says Van Leeuwen. “The Rainbow Machine is another pedal they make which I use a lot. There’s a company called Fuzzrocious who have a pedal called the OC Demon, which I use a lot. It sounds like a buzzsaw. And another big sound on the record is the Eventide H9. That pedal alone could score movies. I use a Whammy Pedal a lot too, and some Way Huge stuff like the Pork Loin and Green Rhino overdrives.”
Van Leeuwen’s main guitars for the session included his signature Fender Jazzmaster as well as a lot of other ancillary instruments, including several Echo Park guitars. “One is called the De Leon. I believe Leo Fender designed this shape when he was at G&L, and Gabriel from Echo Park was his apprentice back then,” says Van Leeuwen. “It’s basically a really fine Telecaster with these gold-foil pickups that are pretty interesting-sounding. A really great guitar. And I used my double-neck too, a Fender 12-string on top and a 6-string Jazzmaster on the bottom.”
Echo Park is also responsible for the amps Van Leeuwen used on the Gone Is Gone sessions. “They’re kind of a cross between a Fender Bassman and a Super Reverb with an AC30 blended in,” says Van Leeuwen. “And I also used my Fender Bassman through a Marshall cabinet, and a Marshall 50 Watt Jubilee for a lot of stuff.”
“I’m working on some ideas with Echo Park but I can’t really say what they are yet,” says the guitarist on his future plans for gear. “But Gabe makes everything by hand and if I come to him with a design, he makes it so. So I’m always looking.”
Gone is Gone’s debut album Echolation will be released through Cooking Vinyl Australia on Friday January 6.