Once you’ve heard it, you can’t unhear it: the roaring, angry, downright nuts-swinging fuzz bass tone of Ross Knight from the Cosmic Psychos
Before the Dozer Fuzz, that tone originally came from a very specific source: the fuzz circuit of a Shin-Ei 8TR Fuzz Wah. It’s one of those coveted classics, but not because of the wah, which never seemed to overly excite players. That fuzz circuit though…
Those Shin-Ei units have about five decades on them at this point, and Knight’s own pedal has seen some serious use and abuse, so he partnered with a bloke he can trust, Mark Quarrell from Australia’s Kink Guitar Pedals for the Dozer Fuzz, a tank of a pedal housing the 8TR’s fuzz circuit with modern components and a more player-friendly enclosure than the clunky 8TR layout.
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From a design perspective, the project was simple: Knight’s 8TR was no different to any other stock one, and the schematic – almost-but-not-quite the same as the Shin-Ei SuperFuzz design – has been out there for years. Mark built one prototype, substituting modern components in a few instances but staying faithful to that original circuit) and the feedback was that he’d nailed it straight away.
“If you listen to a Cosmic Psychos album after Ross started using that pedal, it’s very hard not to know it’s a Cosmic Psychos song. It’s definitely his sound,” Mark says. “We discussed whether he used the wah as well but it’s one hundred percent just the fuzz side of that effect. He never uses the wah part at all. So essentially the project is a part-for-part clone in a more obtainable pedal than spending 800 bucks on an old Japanese fuzz you can’t get any more.”
The next step was to decide what the Dozer Fuzz should look like, but Knight had already thought of that, coming in with a mockup of the artwork right down to the Dozer font. Then Kink collaborator Pascal D’Bras added the finishing rusty touches to make the design look more like a beaten up old Caterpillar bulldozer on the farm. The typical ins, outs, and control labels are all named with a Psychos bulldozer twist: the input jack is labelled ‘Diesel,’ the output ‘Emissions,’ the gain ‘Dig’, and the output ‘Rip,’ while the two-way voicing switch is renamed ‘Lift.’
The end result is a robust little bruiser of a pedal, powered off nine volts and with oversized control knobs and top mounted jacks to take up far less space than the original 8TR. Quarrell says the circuit required no special accommodation for bass, and is equally devastating on guitar.
“I ended up catching Ross at the Psychos show in Frankston, and crazy nice dude,” Mark says. “He told me that he sent a Dozer pedal off to Eddie Vedder. Eddie asked him for one! So Eddie’s got one of my pedals.”
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Other folks to stomp on a Kink pedal include The Chats, who have a signature Scratchie Fuzz; Earthbong, and Hamish Glencross of Godthrymm (formerly of My Dying Bride). There’s also a pedal in the works for a very well known Australian grindcore band, but we’re sworn to secrecy on that project for now.
In a way, the relative simplicity of the project took Quarrell back to his earliest days as a pedal builder, starting with a simple DIY bass fuzz kit from an online seller. “I got sick of spending so much money on my guitar G.A.S,” Quarrell says. “I was just buying tons of gear then selling it all the time, and then I thought, should I give it a go? So I bought a kit and made it and it worked, and it sort of blew my mind that something so simple on bass could sound so cool.”
From there, it was a relatively painless leap to the ColorSound one-knob fuzz circuit, which led to the Charlie Fuzz, a model still in the catalogue today. “I made a fuzz for myself and put it onto a DIY page on Facebook and got a heap of comments saying ‘You should sell it!’ And I went, yeah, it’s probably not a bad idea. Then five years later we’re making a pedal for Ross from the Cosmic Psychos. It’s pretty amazing.”
It’s been a bit of a fight for Kink Guitar Pedals to stake out its rightful chunk of the pedal world; some of your more corporate outlets have baulked at some of the darker elements of the designs. Quarrell puts it bluntly: “It’s always been a hard slog, because I have a pedal with Charles Manson on it. I have a pedal that has satanic kind of undertones (the Oath Of The Goat, a pentagram-and-sigil-clad distortion inspired by the HM-2 used by various Swedish death metal legends). A big pedal place wouldn’t take me because the guy was a Christian and didn’t like my stuff. So a lot of people either love me or they just don’t get me and don’t get the satire behind the whole thing.”
One quick glance at the Kink website will tell you this is a maker who understands the more aggressive musical genres and how to communicate that to exactly the kind of like-minded player who’s going to want to step on a pedal that looks like a bulldozer or a blood-splattered knife (or a purple unicorn on the Politically Correct Boost if you’d like a piece of Kink but are scared off by the, y’know, evil).
Among upcoming projects for Kink is a potential analog delay, but it won’t come out until Quarrell can find that elusive thing. That Kink factor. “It’s hard because I think, ‘What would I want?’ And I’d want a tap tempo switch and I’d want a couple of different options.”
But that’s for later. For now the Dozer Fuzz is flying out the door almost too fast to keep up.