Editor's Note: Gear and Beer is our equipment-focused Q&A series written by local writer and gearhead Brett Alderman. In each edition of this feature, Alderman will take a local band out for beers at a local brewery, and chat about their gear. The latest brings Alderman to Hotel Tango Whiskey for something a little harder than beer ..
On a hot Sunday night, I met with Gypsy Moonshine at Hotel Tango Whiskey in Indianapolis to chat about gear over handcrafted cocktails. It seemed fitting to throw down some locally distilled moonshine to discuss the equipment Katie Josway, Jonathan Green and Aaron McDonald use to create their ethereal music.
NUVO: I’ve got my moonshine on the rocks. What’s everybody else drinking?
McDonald: Purple Rain. It’s not what I expected. It has this spicy taste to it.
Josway: It’s Mike Moonshine, lavendar-citrus simple syrup. I got the Cactus Jack [lime, roasted jalapeno, cilantro simple syrup]. It’s really well done. I’m not a huge fan of super spicy stuff. It’s super easy to drink. I’m not a moonshine connoisseur. So the Melody Inn does moonshine shots when we play, so a lot of people buy me shots.
NUVO: Katie, Let’s start with you. What’s your current rig like?
Josway: I play a semi-hollow Epiphone Casino – have for a couple of years now, since the band started. I wanted to have something that still had that full, acoustic tone to it, but more versatility and a little more rock n roll style. It was a perfect fit for me. I wanted to have something that still had that full, slightly acoustic-y tone to it, but had more versatile and a little more rock n’ roll style. The semi-hollow body was a perfect fit and I love that guitar. Most of my life it was just me playing my acoustic guitar.
McDonald: Tell ‘em which one it is…
Josway: I have a 1964 Gibson, that’s like a small, training model that was only released for a couple of years. The Gibson is my baby. I don’t even know exactly what it’s called. I’m not a gear person, I’m like, “I make swirly sounds, “how do I do it?” Then I find people that know how and they help me.
NUVO: Do you still write mostly with your Gibson?
Josway: No, I use the Epiphone. It depends on where I am actually. If I’m out camping or at a friend’s house, I always bring my acoustic and sometimes I’ll write music there. If I’m at home I try to write with the band. We just kind of start playing stuff and improv and see what happens. Like today we started writing a new song. I record it on my phone so I can play it back and write down the lyrics that I sing and what we did.
NUVO: You write the lyrics on the spot?
Josway: I improv all the lyrics and listen back to it and try to interpret what I said. I have a hard time just sitting down and writing. To me, our music, I really get in the zone. It’s meditative, like stream of consciousness. It’s my form of therapy; psychoanalysis through improv music, I guess.
NUVO: What’s the rest of your setup include?
Josway: I’m still trying to build up my gear. We’ve only been a band for a little over two years. That’s how long I’ve been motivated to try new things. It’s kind of overwhelming as a female musician. You feel like you have to step up your game. I use a Fender Vaporizer amp, seafoam green.
Green: It’s a 2x10” with 15 watts. When she hits the Vaporizer switch it goes full on…
Josway: It’s pretty much like super hero mode, that you reserve when you want to shut down the power. It’s too much. Pedals, I use a Fender Reverb pedal…
Green: It’s a ’59 Reverb, Electro Harmonix Soul Food.
Josway: Thank you Jonathan. And I use a [Boss TU-2] tuner pedal and vocal effects processor for extra reverb.
Green: It’s a TC Electronic vocal processor.
McDonald: There’s one song where I used the Ditto looper and the MXR Delay.
NUVO: Aaron, What are you playing?
McDonald: I own a Yamaha Rock Tour, mahogany shells. I use a snare, floor tom and a bass drum with Fiberskyn heads and Remo black suede emperors on bottom. Sabian HHX cymbals - a 16” studio crash and a 20” stage ride. I use the Rute 505 from Vic Firth and the 5A mallets. I never use the tips. And Puresound Blasters snare wires. Oh, and I use the big ol’ vintage beater from Vater.
Josway: When I first met Aaron he was in like, a fucking metal band…
McDonald: Rock and roll blues…
Josway: Ehh ... He showed up with this whole set. I was like, “You need to get rid of half of this.”
McDonald: I showed up with an array. I really just wanted to find what sounded right.
NUVO: Let’s talk about bass.
Green: With these guys I mostly play a four-string [Fender] Jazz bass and a four-string P-bass that I put flatwounds on. Recently, I’ve been playing more of a Fender Starcaster bass; it’s the hollow body bass with humbuckers. It was a Christmas gift from my wife.
NUVO: Does the Starcaster bass fit the vibe of the band more?
Green: It adds this nice warm low end without cutting through the mix as much. It creates this really fat tone. Still using my Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 with two SL112s and an AGRO pedal for overdrive. I love that company no matter what. Their customer service is very good.
NUVO: What’s Nick using?
Josway: He plays a [Fender] Telecaster and a Jaguar for a couple of songs. He’s got a shit-ton of pedals.
McDonald: Ibanez Super Overdrive, that yellow one.
Green: He also has a 57 reissue Strat in coral pink. And a custom built baritone Strat. He plays a silverface Princeton Reverb, and it has vibrato.
If you go:
Caveofswords with ByBye and Gypsy Moonshine
Saturday, July 9, 8 p.m.
State Street Pub, 243 N. State Ave.