Harper and The Moths Guitarist Chan Redfield Explains His Love For '80s Synthesizers | Phoenix New Times

Harper and The Moths Guitarist Chan Redfield Explains His Love For '80s Synthesizers

In Pound For The Sound, we get technical with local musicians about what gear they use to create their signature tones.
Photo Courtesy of Luxicon Photography
Photo Courtesy of Luxicon Photography Valerie Rudland
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In Pound For The Sound, we get technical with local musicians about what gear they use to create their signature tones.

Guitarist Chan Redfield is no stranger to living and breathing music. He is a staple here in the Tempe music scene, currently in Harper and The Moths and The Dead Eyes of London, with roots connected as far back as his days as lead guitarist of Tempe rock outfit Redfield.

Redfield's work has been nothing short of brilliant over the years. Redfield brings an energy and vibe that is fun, engaging, and professional. And he certainly has the respect of his peers.

By day, Redfield works out of his studio, composing music not only for his bands, but also for the likes of Canon, Nickelodeon, Skull Candy, and Budweiser, to name a few. By night, he shreds face and gets the party going.

And Redfield continues to keep it rolling as his band, Harper and The Moths, are performing at Pot of Gold Music Festival this Saturday. Luckily, Chan was able to graciously offer New Times some words about his sound and upcoming events.

New Times: What's the secret weapon of your sound? And how does that help you find your "signature" tone?

Chan Redfield: My Fender Telecaster with Seymore Duncan Alnico pickups and Emerson custom tone and volume pots running into a Fender Vibrolux amp, which has such an amazingly warm clean tone. Lately, I’ve been keeping the pickup selector in the neck position, and when needed, use a [Visual Sound] Jekyll and Hyde pedal with a very low gain setting to add some dirt to the sound.

What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?
That’s definitely a tough one, I geek out in my studio all day with guitars, keyboards, and recording gear so it changes daily. Besides my guitars, right now I’ll say my Ableton Push. I use it on a lot of demos for The Moths and other projects. I dig it because it gives a totally different way to look at an instrument, the notes aren’t laid out in a traditional way like a piano or guitar, it forces you to think differently and try things you normally wouldn’t try, allowing you to break away from your usual chords or progressions.

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Chan's set up with Harper and The Moths
Chan Redfield
Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?
My Telecaster is pretty random. It’s a ‘52 reissue with a Bigsby, something you don’t see a lot. There’s only a few hundred ever made in the butterscotch color. Usually, I would prefer an American-made Fender, but this one was made in Korea and it’s one the best feeling and sounding Tele’s I’ve played on and it’s a really solid, heavy piece of wood. I found a guy selling it for $1100 and was about to buy it, then I changed my mind at the last minute. The guy called me up later and explained that he really needed money to finish his record and he’d take $600. He finished tracking his guitars and brought it over to me and it’s been on my records ever since.

My other is is the Korg Microkorg. [W]eird thing about me is that although I’m a guitar player, I find it sort of relaxing to read synth user manuals and try to learn all they can do. This little synth can get very complex and it’s amazing how many people have one and really have no idea what it really can do. I went down the rabbit hole of knobs and oscillators and probably know way too much about it since I’m not officially a keyboard player. I did this same thing with a Yamaha DX7 and a Roland Juno 106, it gave me a lot of respect for people who had to spend all that time in the 80’s programing synths, they aren’t the easiest or fastest thing to figure out.

We found a demo on the band’s YouTube of a song you wrote called, “There's Something Better.” How did you go about crafting this robotic, dance monster?
I demo songs all the time for the band, some become Moths songs and some might get used in side projects. I have a huge obsession with '80s synth sounds and drum machines (which is also why we released our '80s mixtape of covers) and went all out with this one. John Carpenter’s soundtracks are also a huge influence for me. I just wanted to write something dancey and dark that featured a robot voice that sounded like it could be used in an 80’s sci-fi film or something. Before it was done, I showed it to some people and it eventually it got approved to use in a commercial.

The song was never officially finished or released by the band, but we wanted to people to be able to hear it in its entirety so we released the demo on youtube only. Hopefully, we’ll get back to it one day and I can guarantee it will be very different from the demo, releasing it was a way to freeze the original version in a sort of time capsule, since we’ve never released our demos before.

We noticed HATM just recorded two new songs at Premier Studios recently. We are excited to hear them. What are they called and when are you planning to release them?
These two songs are called "Your Love" and "Move Me." We’re planning on releasing "Move Me" in a couple months with a video and the other will be included on a new EP with some other new tracks that we’re recording in April. "Your Love" was originally an instrumental track I wrote and produced from my home studio. I was never sure what to do with it, but I randomly showed it the band while on the road and Harper wrote some amazing hooks with some beautifully crafted lyrics that blew us all away, so we started working on it as a live band at our rehearsal studio and eventually brought the track to Jeremy Parker at Premier.

These songs sound like we’ve been listening to a lot of Daft Punk and Michael Jackson, and Jeremy really killed it with helping us capture the tones we wanted, so get ready to dance! For now, you can only hear them live.

General Mills or Post?

Ha, what a random question. General Mills has all the classics.

You are playing Pot of Gold this Saturday. Who you are most excited about seeing and performing with?
There are a ton of great bands that day. Of course Fitz and The Tantrums, we’ve always loosely joked that they would be the ideal band for us to open for or tour with, so with any luck we’ll be best friends with them by midnight, haha. I’ve never had the chance to see NOFX so I’m pretty excited about that. Kelsee [Ishmael, Moths keybordist] recently sent me a few tracks from X Ambassadors that I really dug, so I’ll definitely be making my way to the stage for their set.

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Photo Courtesy of Harper and the Moths

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