Robert Ciuca rocking out with Fairy Bones.EXPAND
Robert Ciuca rocking out with Fairy Bones.
Luxicon Photography

Robert Ciuca on Thrifting Guitar Pedals and Getting Wild at Yucca

In Pound for the Sound, Phoenix New Times gets technical with musicians about what gear they use to create their signature style.

Fairy Bones' lead guitarist and backup vocalist Robert Ciuca is a pretty chill dude. But put him on stage with his band and he nothing short of a beast. He also really loves his dogs.

Ciuca, pronounced "chew-kuh," came to the Valley from his birthplace of New York City. His parents are from Romania, and he moved from New York to Phoenix when he was 7. He calls the Valley home.

He started playing guitar at 13 when he recieved his first nylon string acoustic guitar, which he still has today. Ciuca took a couple basic lessons, but learned mostly through tab and by ear. At 16, he started jamming with friends, but they weren't really writing songs yet. Ciuca credits C.J. from Paper Foxes for  pushing him to play with other people and go beyond practicing in his bedroom.

Flash forward to 2018, and Ciuca has been a part of the Phoenix scene for a few years. Prior to starting Fairy Bones with the other members over five years ago, he also played in local act B.L.A.T.H.O. and helped Paper Foxes get off the ground until they found a permanent guitar player. Ciuca is also a painter, and has shown his art at the now defunct Firehouse Gallery in downtown.

Recently, Fairy Bones released a new video for their song "Hang Wit Da Boiz." The band also have a headlining show coming up May 24 at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. With the all the happenings, New Times was able to get some words in with Robert via phone and email about his gear, new video, and upcoming show.

Phoenix New Times: What's the secret weapon of your sound? And how did that help you find your "signature" tone?
Robert Ciuca: I owe my tone mostly to the Vox amp. In the very beginning of the band, I didn’t have good guitar gear because I had been a bass player for a few years, so I was borrowing [Fairy Bones drummer] Matt's stuff. When I finally got my own amp, it ended up being another Vox. It just has such a specific sound I love the hell out of.

What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?
I love my Ibanez Echo Shifter delay pedal. That thing can go from outer space to underwater in a split second, or just give you a nice surfy reverb.

Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?
My English Muff’n distortion pedal was a lucky Goodwill find. I didn’t buy it at first and when I went back for it the second day, it had a half-off sticker on it. It was like that ray of light from the top of Pride Rock in Lion King was shining on it. The rest of my stuff is mostly secondhand from good friends. I like to feel the vibes of all their talent.

Just listened to “Hang wit Da Boiz” from your most release , 0% Fun. Great tune, thought it was really fun and catchy. Absolutely loved the L& kind of vibe going on here. When you recorded the track, how did you go about getting all the different and tones on your guitar?
For that song, I use the Ibanez delay the whole song and the Muff’n for the heavier bridge part and the end. I always use Bob Hoag’s guitars and my amp when we record. For this song I believe I played his 60s Telecaster, but I could be wrong, in which case he’ll read this and know exactly which guitar I used and message me about it.

You also recently released a video for “Hang Wit Da Boiz,” on April 20. Can you talk about the video and your process for putting it together?
That video was super fun to shoot, we did it at Rogue Bar. The entire concept and organization of the video was all Chelsey [Louise]. She had this idea to do kind of a funny con video, where she ditches us for a glamorous solo career, but the whole thing is a con to get Fairy Bones on the stage in front of the execs. We tie up the new “cool” band Scooby-Doo style and take the stage as ourselves.

Fairy Bones has a show coming up May 24 at Yucca Tap Room. Any words you wish to share with fans about the show?
It’s gonna be amazing, we’re playing with some incredible bands! There’s been quite a bit of buzz lately about Ali A and the Agency, and it is well deserved — cannot wait to play with them. Another fun thing about the show, we’ll have Bob Hoag on drums and Matt will be filling in for his brother Ben on bass. It’ll definitely be an interesting night. Things always get wild at Yucca.

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