and he says to me, "You know, you really should have a signature model." And I'm like, "Yeah, I probably should." I've never really been that type of guy who works too much with companies and all that. I like the under-the-radar-type situation with The Cult. So really, it was his enthusiasm that made it happen.
MF: It's based on an existing model you've owned for a long time. Can you tell us what you like about it?
BD: Physically it's identical to the first single-cutaway Falcon I ever owned. It's been forensically copied in a lab deep underground. So it has the same weight, the same feel. It's just more modern and fresh, and better made. To be honest, the era that I ended up buying a Gretsch from wasn't one of their halcyon eras, the Baldwin era. They were very hit or miss, but with mine there really weren't any issues. I made a decision to change the hardware to chrome. Nearly every Falcon I've ever seen is gold and white and I just thought for mine I wanted to change it up, primarily because with my original one most of the gold's worn off through 10,000 gigs. So that was the big decision that we made aesthetically.
As regards the mechanics of it, it's exactly the same as another one. It just has, as Joe Carducci from Gretsch would say, "a reverse-engineered pickup", which is basically a version of what was made for me by Seymour Duncan in the '80s. Because in the dark days before boutique amplifiers and this and that, there were very few people making pickups, and Seymour Duncan was one of them. I always was more about tone because in the '80s, contextually, a lot of people were really into metal and I was at the other end of the spectrum in terms of what I was looking for. I wanted power, but I wanted to retain the chime of the Gretsch. Like any semi-acoustic you're going to get some problems with bottom-end feedback. You just have to work around it. There's no get-out-of-jail card with that.
But this one's pretty good. You can hear that the levels of the top and bottom strings are equal, which is important for articulation. When I started, I was the
only guitar player in the band, so I tried to make what I did as filled with sound as possible. Plus, in the days we started, '83-'84, it was still a bit of a post-punk hangover. There weren't a lot of solos. It wasn't really about blues rock. It was an experimental phase of music where we, as fans of punk, were trying to find our own identity. We didn't want to sound like bad versions of the Sex Pistols. So a lot of bands in The Cult's peer group were looking experimentally at the instruments, and that's why Gretsch
"…IT'S A MAN'S GUITAR. NOT EVERY GUITAR PLAYER CAN HANDLE ONE OF THESE. IF YOU THINK YOU'RE TOUGH ENOUGH…PUT IT ON AND SEE WHAT YOU'VE GOT."
really made a unique sound. And that was what became synonymous, me with the blonde hair and the big white guitar and him (Ian Astbury) with long black hair, almost like a trademark thing even to people who weren't really aware of The Cult.
So the Gretsch has always been part of it. It's not the only guitar I've ever used. I've used Les Pauls as well a lot and my first ever guitar was a Les Paul, but it's certainly the most unique. And again, I think as my singer most eloquently put it, "It's a man's guitar." Not every guitar player can handle one of these. If you think you're tough enough, turn up all this stuff, put it on and see what you've got. It's like trying to tame a wild horse. You know what I mean? It kicks back. It's a big guitar physically. It has a big sound
and you have to be able to man it out and tell it who's boss.
MF: How has your pedal selection changed over the years? Are there three that are your favorites, your go-to pedals?
BD: Yes. If there was some kind of disaster, pedal-wise I'd have to grab an overdrive, a delay and maybe a wahwah. When I do little flying gigs or guest slots and those, you've got to have a really good overdrive pedal. It can save your life—a good quality overdrive that really enhances the guitar. Then you've already got two settings because you've got the amp setting plus the overdrive setting.
Lately, I've gotten into these clean boost pedals and really all they do with the signal is give it a clean boost, which is quite handy. The boost pedal's a thing I started using a lot the last couple of years, so that would probably be the third one. The other stuff is decoration. The flanging you can live without, but the overdrive and the delay is mandatory.
MF: Your amp rig consists of a Roland Jazz Chorus and Marshall equipment. What is it about Marshall?
BD: Well, Marshall, I mostly use for the bottom end, the punch. I like the closed back cabinet. I always like two cabinets going. And basically that just lets me bring out my inner Sex Pistols, which I still think is probably the best guitar sound through a Les Paul, even though it actually was not a Marshall and that I do know for a fact. It was a Fender, but a very unique Fender. But, it sounds like it was a Marshall and that sound to me really works.
MF: What do you enjoy most about touring these days?
BD: That's a very good question. You know, it sounds very unlike me, and I don't even believe I'm going to say this, but I actually get more out of the fact that the fans enjoy it. To be quite honest with you, in the old days it really was very much about me and me having a good time all the time. I suppose later in