Dirty Sunset's Kevin Wiscombe on His Secret Weapon: A Fiddle Called Lucille

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Kevin performing live with Dirty Sunset at Rebel Lounge.
In Pound For The Sound, New Times gets technical with local musicians about what gear they use to create
their signature style.

Dirty Sunset's violinist Kevin Wiscombe likes to go in any and all directions musically. If he is feeling the song-writing, he wants to contribute creatively in his own right.

Wiscombe is a native Phoenician, born and raised. He started playing music in elementary school, but not violin. Viola was his first instrument. He made the switch in middle school and got his first electric violin in high school. But it was one with five strings, connecting him to both violin and viola sounds.

Flash forward, and Kevin has become of one the most active local violinists. He is a talented player, and often you can see him sitting in with other local bands when he is not out playing with his main project. He has worked with Banana Gun, The Woodworks, and The Banter, to name a few.

Kevin, and the rest of Dirty Sunset will be performing live at Pho Cao on Saturday, August 5. It is set to be a very emotional evening for the band. New Times talked with the violinist about his baby Lucille, the band's new track, and the upcoming show.

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

Kevin Wiscombe: Lucille. That's my main fiddle. It's an acoustic/electric five-string violin called the Tasman made by a U.K.-based company, Bridge. Before her, I'd normally used my fully electric violin, which is fun for effects, but not much for replicating anything that sounds like a real violin. Or I used a regular acoustic violin with a pickup mounted to the bridge. That would always require a fair amount of tweaking, eq, and compression to get a decent tone in a live setting. With Lucille, I plug into my direct input box and I'm off. Its plugged-in tone is amazing and sounds like a perfectly mic’d violin!

click to enlarge Kevin's pedal board setup. - KEVIN WISCOMBE
Kevin's pedal board setup.
Kevin Wiscombe

What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?
My Epitome pedal by Electro-Harmonix. It's a rad multi-effects pedal that has a great combination of reverb, flange/chorus, and octaves. It's also the first pedal I ever bought, and I think I've found a use for it in just about every band I played in since acquiring it.

Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?
Lucille again. The violin is named after my grandmother. I played at her funeral and carry a program from her services in my case at all times for good luck. Love you, Grandma!

click to enlarge Lucille and Kevin's other violin - KEVIN WISCOMBE
Lucille and Kevin's other violin
Kevin Wiscombe
This week, we are lucky enough to be premiering a brand-new song called “I Still Believe” by Dirty Sunset. Awesome song, love the old-time feel. Can you describe your process for recording your violin parts on this track?
All of the main parts — guitar, bass, drums, and violin — were tracked live. When we went into the studio, I knew I wanted to build a string section around the main violin melody and to build it bigger and bigger as the song reached its climax. So after recording the first violin part, I listened back and began to write additional parts for overdubs. Some of the parts were improvised in the studio, which, to me, adds to a bit of the magic on this song.
Listening back, “I Still Believe” is the string arrangement I am probably most proud of on our album we have coming out. We have a release show planned at Last Exit Live, September 9. Come check it out!

You had said that you have been doing session work for several Tempe bands, as well as for some local studios, on violin. That is really cool. Are you looking for more work? And if so, what are your interests?

I always have fun playing with new projects and love pushing myself by playing a variety of songs and genres. I guess you could say I'm always on the hunt for a good collaboration. The big thing for me is being able to emotionally connect with the work. When I feel a spark with what another musician or songwriter has created, that's when I do my best work. It puts me in the proper headspace and just makes everything that much better.

Your friend and drummer, Tyler Hedstrom, recently passed away. You had said you guys are honoring his memory with the release of your new song. Can you please expand on this?
Tyler was an amazing dude who could light up a room with his easygoing demeanor. He was also formidable behind the kit. In the short time that I knew him, Tyler pushed me to be at my best and became someone I was proud to call a friend.

Our song, “I Still Believe,” is about struggle, pushing through dark times, and finding the beauty in life. We wanted to dedicate it to Tyler's memory and feel it's a fitting send-off and hope others will connect with the song's meaning. All proceeds of the sale of the single will be donated to the Hedstrom family's GoFundMe.

You have a show coming up this Saturday at Pho Cao. Any special words you want to share with fans about the show?
It's going to be an emotional one for us as a band. If Tyler were here, he'd be on that stage with us. We're planning an acoustic performance, but don't think that doesn't mean we won't be rocking it. Come out and enjoy some good food, drinks, and live music with those closest to you. Life is short.

Dirty Sunset is scheduled to perform on Saturday, August 5, at Pho Cao in Scottsdale.