Why Solo Lounsbury Doesn't Need Fancy Gear for Her Signature Sound
Elaine Thomas Campbell
Elaine Thomas Campbell
In Pound For The Sound, New Times gets technical with local musicians about what gear they use to create their signature style.
The Woodworks' lead singer and guitarist Solo Lounsbury has fully embodied the life of the struggling artist. But it's a little less of a struggle these days.
By day, Lounsbury is a hairdresser at Toni and Guy. By night, she is a bad ass rock 'n' roller, known for singing and playing her ass off at live shows with her band. She is also married to Woodworks drummer Konstantin "Stan" Bosch.
Born in Tucson, Lounsbury and her family moved to Riverside, California, where they lived for a few years. While performing in her kindergarten talent show, she made her first musical discovery. Back then, she was already blowing people away with her vocal abilities, and she had the full support of her parents from that day forward. Eventually, they left California and moved to Scottsdale.
Solo got her first guitar when she was 10, and at age 13, her aunt and uncle showed her how to really play some chords. From there, she began learning tabs to songs she liked, and she was really into punk rock. She wrote her first song at 14, and her first band was called Dora Maar, a Pablo Picasso reference.
Lounsbury attended Saguaro High School and worked with vocal teacher Gaylin Tutnick. That's when she really learned how to read music and reach her vocal potential. Flash forward to working with the Woodworks crew, that potential is something she reaches consistently and confidently show after show.
The band has been together for nearly seven years without any lineup changes. In fact, The Woodworks are her first and only band she has been in since becoming a part of the "scene" in Tempe.
The Woodworks are performing live on Saturday, July 15, at Last Exit Live for Sara Robinson Band's album release show. New Times caught up with Solo to talk about her choice of gear, the importance of packing up, and her band's upcoming show.
Solo's pedal board set up.
New Times: What's the secret weapon of your sound? And how did that help you find your "signature" tone?
Solo Lounsbury: I use a 100-watt solid state amplifier that has a nice clean tone and a Boss Power Stack to create that powerful distorted sound. I needed to have something that would focus on the low end since Steve [bassist for The Woodworks] is holding down a lot of the melody on bass and the combination of the amp and pedal make that possible. It's true that most people who geek out on gear might find it elementary for me to use such low-end gear, but with the sound we try to achieve, we just found a way to tailor it so that we weren't wasting our money on overpriced frivolity. The signature sound comes from focusing more on the lows and mids rather than the mids and highs.
What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?
I love my Digitech Whammy! It allows me to play around with intervals and gives a very circus like sound when a full chord is strummed. There are so many options that give me a lot more freedom with what I'm doing. I'm a simple girl and I like my riffs to be simple, too. With the Whammy, I can do simple but also flourish it to make it more extravagant.
Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?
Initially, I played a Music Man guitar with no designs on getting a new one. Stan [drummer for The Woodworks] had acquired a Les Paul Epiphone, but had not used it because of some broken components. We caught a break on getting someone to fix it completely free of charge and the first show I ever played with it ruined me forever. We bring the Music Man to shows as a backup in case of a string breaking or any other mishaps. And when I do have to use it, I hate it, but when it's necessary it does the job for sure, even if it doesn't have the fantastic sustain like the Les Paul. I also have a Behringer VD400 delay pedal and a Behringer Tremolo pedal, both of which were purchased completely on a whim. The wonderful thing about these pedals is that they are almost identical to their Boss counterparts at a much lower cost.
Just checked out your song “Choke.” Love the spacey and Primus-esque feels all over this track. When recording, how did you go about getting all those different feels on the guitar?
"Choke" is definitely something I utilize a lot of pedals for. Playing it live is one of the hardest things I have to do. Obviously, it starts out with some simple distortion. For the recording, we used an old Fender Stratocaster with a whammy bar and tremolo. During the slower calmer parts, delay is used to give it more of a spacey vibe. At the end of the song I use both distortion and a wah pedal. The song itself is about just doing whatever you can and ignoring all of the people who tell you that you can't do it when you want to follow your passion. I think using all of those pedals in conjunction and making it really hard on myself was kind of a personal challenge. Like, I can't do it? Okay, watch me!
You had said when you got your first guitar at age 10 that your dad accidentally stepped on it and you were guitarless for another three years. How did that affect the way you managed your equipment years following?
The very first thing I put away as soon as we’re done with the set is my guitar. Just like most, we are struggling musicians and we need to take pride in keeping our instruments in good condition if we want to keep doing the things that we are doing. That's not to say we haven't had mishaps before. Once upon a time, I played a Marshall half stack and one evening after playing a gig we haphazardly placed the gear in the back of our van. When we opened it again the high hat stand had pierced a hole through one of the speakers. Moral of the story, kids? Be as reckless as you desire, but don't forget to take care of your instruments. Those are your lifelines.
The Woodworks are playing at Last Exit Live this Saturday, supporting Sara Robinson Band for their album release party. Any words you care to share with fans about the show?
This show is going to be absolutely fantastic! On top of it being SRB’s first release, it's my birthday as well. You can get of free download of the album with your cover at the show. You can also get a vinyl of the album at the show. Last Exit is one of best venues in Phoenix, and I cannot wait until Saturday.
The Woodworks are scheduled to play Last Exit Live on Saturday, July 15.
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