The Vallures talk throwback gear and Bloomington beer 

Hi-hats galore

click to enlarge The Vallures - TALL & SMALL PHOTOGRAPHY
  • The Vallures
  • Tall & Small Photography

Our resident gearhead Brett Alderman takes bands out for brews to talk about the specifics of the equipment they use to make the sounds we love – on record and onstage. For this edition, he met Jes Franco, Anju Chandy, Matt McConahay and Dani Graf of The Vallures at The Tap in Bloomington to drink pints of Bluebeard, Tipsy Cow, Bionic Dragon and Brass Goggles and talk rigs. The Vallures recently passed on to the semifinal round of The Bluebird's Battle of The Bands.

NUVO: Matt, what’s the bass rig like? Are you using a solid body instrument?

McConahay: I use a Mark Bass Traveler 102P 2x10” cabinet. I have an Eden amp [head]. It’s got a real tube in it, kind of a hybrid. [I use] all solid body basses in this band; a Fender American Standard 5 string Jazz bass. I use really old Ernie Ball strings to get that Motown sound.

NUVO: Anju, you’re on keys. What are you using? Any favorite settings?

Chandy: My baby is a Nord Electro 3. It’s a 73-key. The Hammond, playing around with it is so fun. It even feels like a [Hammond]. My amp is a Roland KC-350. I like to write on a piano. I feel like the piano’s my instrument.

NUVO: Do you use any of the Nord’s piano patches?

Chandy: I haven’t gotten it exactly what I wanted it to sound like, so I default to the Rhodes setting. For what we do it’s a little more high energy than just a basic piano sound.

NUVO: What’s your drum setup?

Graf: It’s awesome! It’s so dope. My drums are Pearl, I’ll never play anything else. It’s a 5pc Vision series. It’s birch wood with standard sizes. I only use one of my toms. I use the smaller 10” tom and the 16” floor tom. The snare is the Pearl Sensitone. I hated the snare until I put on an Evans HD Dry. All my other drums are Remo’s. I use a lot of bass on one foot, heel-toe technique, and the Pearl Demonator pedal is really responsive.

NUVO: What are your cymbals?

Graf: A 20” Paiste 2000, that’s my ride. I love it; it’s just old enough to really sound good. I have a Zildjian 16” A Custom Rezo crash. I use the 14” Rezo hi-hats. Those are the fucking bomb. They’ve got little half moon indents on the bottom; it gives you a nice crisp smack. I’m jazz trained and use my left foot, to add sound or keep time, in every single song. It’s the most versatile, artistic hi-hat I’ve heard.

NUVO: Tambourine was a staple of Motown; do you use one on your kit?

Graf: We have a person in our band who plays tambourine. On the songs she doesn’t she plays trumpet, tuba, cowbell… she literally has a tambourine solo.

NUVO: Is that Laura, the “Wall of Sound?” What else does she add to the music?

McConahay: Euphonium

Chandy: Concertina

Graf: Backup vocals, percussion, wood blocks. She takes care of all that and she does it really well.

NUVO: Who else sings in the band?

Chandy: Curtis, Laura, Jes and I do. We’re the vocalists.

NUVO: Jes, what do you want to add about The Vallures sound?

Franco: I want to pay soul homage. I want [our music] to sound like a record that is in your memory.

NUVO: Are you picky about microphones?

Franco: When I want Shure 55SH, but I’ll play with a 58 mic, I’ll play with no mic. All I need is the will and that’s it.

See for updates on Bloomington's Battle of The Bands 


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Brett Alderman

Brett Alderman

Guitar shop flunky. Music fan. Avid pen and notebook nerd. Live-in chef and entertainer for my wife and two daughters.

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