Matt Jalbert is the guitarist in the NYC-based instrumental band TAUK. Matt is a fantastic player, able to convey emotions through his playing to the extent of a vocalist, while still being able to shred out of this world. His guitar playing usually drives the band’s sound, and effortlessly intertwines with keyboardist AC’s melodic playing. Check out Matt’s playing on this version of my favorite Tauk song, “Time’s Up,” which has a jam on Led Zeppelin’s classic “No Quarter.”
Supro Neptune Reverb
Signal Chain: Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner > J Rockett Archer Overdrive/Boost > Archer Ikon > T-Rex MudHoney II Dual Distortion > Vertex Boost > Strymon Timeline > Digitech Whammy 5 > Eventide H9 > Boss TR-2 Tremolo > Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander > 3 Leaf Audio Proton Envelope Filter > Strymon Big Sky > Meris Ottobit > Line 6 DL4 Delay ModelerRight board (Start of chain)
Unused Pedals: Keeley Compressor, Pigtronix Mothership 2 Analog Synthesizer, Electro-Harmonix Mel9 Tape Relay Machine, Ernie Ball VP Jr. Volume Pedal, Moog EP-3 Expression Pedal
*I talked to Matt about the 2 board thing after the show, and he said that the right one is everything that’s essential to his sound, his bread and butter pedals. If he had to fly out for a gig, he’d just take that board. The left one is all of his extra “fun” pedals, as well as where more experimentation gets done. He alluded to an answer below where he mentions that sometimes he’ll think something sounds cool while practicing, and then realize it doesn’t fit the band’s sound at all while using it live, which was the case with that Pigtronix Mothership 2 pedal apparently.
InterviewPhoto credit to Patrick Hughes (Faces of Festivals)
Jared Lindquist:What is the one pedal on your board that you couldn’t live without?
Matt Jalbert: I’d say maybe the Timeline, the Strymon; I use delay a lot. A lot of it’s kind of almost like a reverb, like a subtle delay. That pedal has so many presets, there’s like 200 presets. I could cheat and say like my Eventide cause you can put like any effect on there, but that’s kind of cheating that question, so I’ll just say in general, the delay. You can always turn an amp up and get some distortion like that.
JL:That seems to be a general theme. I just interviewed Tom Hamilton and he said the delay too, cause he has an overdrive in his guitar.
MJ: In his guitar?
JL:Yeah, his first guitar was like a B.C. Rich, and he tracked down the guy that made those electronics and got him to make them for a Becker. So he has an overdrive in his guitar, a Noisekick dual overdrive, and he has a transparent Euphoria by Wampler, and then he keeps his Twin [Reverb] super clean.
MJ: That’s wild! Yeah I like that, keeping a super clean amp and getting drive from pedals.
JL:You mentioned the H9, what are some of the presets you’re using?
MJ: On the H9, I’ve been using it mostly for like wacky stuff. I like one of the reverb sounds, I think it’s called “Nebula” or something, and it’s just a cool spacy vibe, like really spacy, like I wouldn’t play it during a song. It’s mostly for like either in between songs, or like setting up an intro where I just need something really long and spacy sounding. I like the one, I forget if it’s called like “Rise”; it just like keeps going up. It’s one of the effects that came with the pedal.
JL:Is it called “Photon” by any chance?
MJ: Is “Photon” the one that’s like [laser noise]?
JL: Yeah, it sounds like it’s a really fast phaser.
MJ: Yeah that one’s fun too, [more laser noises] like you’re friggin’ shooting something. But the “Rise” one sounds like it’s going up chromatically like constantly. I was like “I’m never gonna use that for anything,” and then like one time we were playing and we were in some jam and I just kicked it on and it was like, “woah.” It might not be in time, but it instantly sets up this weird tension that’s like “Ok when am I gonna kick it off?” I mean that thing is so deep, you can find all these new sounds constantly so it’s fun.
JL:Who are some of your inspirations as a guitar player?
MJ: John Scofield, Frank Zappa, Hendrix of course, David Gilmour, Bill Frazell, Pat Metheny, Mark Lettieri, uhhh shit I don’t know [laughs]. I’ll just keep naming guitar players, there’s so many.
JL: I’ll continue that into who are some of your favorites on the scene right now?
MJ: Mark Lettieri is… y’know. He’s playing with Snarky Puppy and then he’s got this cool solo record out. Marcus King sounds great, doing the blues thing but kind of taking it out a little bit which I appreciate. I just saw Grizzly Bear the other night, and their guitar player, I don’t even know his name to be honest, but just like his tone. He uses this really cool reverb and it’s one of those sounds where it’s such a unique sound that instantly you hear it you know what band you’re listening to. That’s really something that I’m conscious of, you want to find something that’s unique to you.
JL:I noticed that you have the two Archers, and the T-Rex dual distortion, do you mix them a lot?
MJ: I mix them a lot, it’s a lot of gain staging, sometimes too much I guess. I use the first Archer almost like a clean boost, but it’s got a little bit of grit to it so it’s almost on all the time. And then the T Rex is cool because it’s just two of the same pedal, so you’re either on one channel or the other, so one channel will have like a little bit [of distortion], it’s more for chords and stuff, and one’s more of a lead sound. So I can toggle in between those, and then I have the other Archer for an extra y’know, if I’m really ripping a solo and I need to just be on top of everything, I’ll kick them all on. I’m constantly rethinking that and changing and tweaking things; it’s an endless search.
JL: To continue that one, what other pedals do you combine a lot of the time?
MJ: Well the Timeline’s on a lot, so that gets combined with the distortions. I use the Whammy for certain things, like the octave sound in it I like a lot, and then there’s a couple settings where it gives you those chord tones y’know, you have to get used to them, like which notes are okay to play in a certain key; so I’ll throw that one in the mix. I just got the Big Sky, so I’m getting used to some of the reverb sounds in that, like what’s too much, what’s not enough.
I’m always flipping some on and flipping some off, and I always get happy when I’m feeling really comfortable in a show and I have something in mind that I’ve wanted to try, cause you never know until you’re in a show how it’s gonna sound within the context of the band. I might try something sitting alone and be like “Oh that’s cool!” and then try it with the band and be like “That doesn’t work at all, that’s way too much.” So yeah, you never know. I’m always trying different combinations.
JL:I was wondering how your Eastman sponsorship started and what drew you to those guitars?
MJ: Literally just picking one up and playing it. I was playing a Gibson, a 335, and I needed a backup guitar to bring on the road and I knew I wanted something, if not the same, something similar. Mostly just for if something goes wrong, like if I break a string or something’s messed up with the guitar I have something else that’s kind of similar. SO I was just going around New York City, and going to different shops and picking things up and playing them and I found that one [pointing at his guitar on the couch across from us] at Rudy’s, the one in Soho.
I knew Eastman made classical instruments, but I’d never seen these guitars and I picked one up it was like frickin’… I loved it. Even compared to some of the Gibsons I was playing, I was like “This one feels right,” and so that was it. It was supposed to be my backup guitar that I brought on the road and it just like instantly became my main guitar. It’s got a little bit of a longer neck than a 335, so I think sometimes if I play like chord clusters–sometimes I play voicings that are like seconds or like really dissonant sounding intervals–and I feel like they come through a little bit clearer and more in tune on a longer neck, having that little bit more space. So that was something that drew me to that over the Gibson.
JL:Is it completely hollow or is it semi like an actual GIbson?
MJ: It’s more hollow than the Gibson. It’s pretty much fully hollow, but it’s not like the Gibson with the block down the middle, it’s got a couple chambers in it.
JL: TAUK is obviously an instrumental band, and you kind of fill the vocal melody role with your guitar, the thing that comes to mind when I think about it is your cover No Quarter (Led Zeppelin), like you do the Robert Plant vocal stuff on your guitar. Do you ever write guitar parts parts like they’re vocal parts or do you always write in the mindset of a guitarist?
MJ: It’s kind of hard to draw the line sometimes, like it’s like thinking of melody. Sometimes you’ll come across a really great vocal melody that sounds like a really great guitar line, but then a lot of times too you’ll listen to a song and you sit down to learn the melody and you realize it’s like two notes, and it’s more just about the person’s voice. There’s no real rules when we’re writing our music so the role it fills is just kind of… unless it’s a section where AC kind of taking [control]. Sometimes you have a line that’s just something singable, maybe it was something that’s in my head that might be something that someone could sing to you, but it just happens to be played on the guitar.
Thank you Matt for sitting down to talk about your rig! You can grab TAUK’s most recent release, Shapeshifter I: Construct here.