In 2017, the world watched one of it’s greatest musical acts go dormant. Like a great volcano, The Dillinger Escape Plan erupted with a raw and uncompromising final album, followed by a volatile farewell tour. The fearless void they left behind is one that has yet to be truly filled.
But in this aftermath, it seems a fair amount of fertile ground has been recovered. In addition to several solo appearances, the group’s various members have been involved with bands like Azusa, The Black Queen, Suicidal Tendencies, and Ho99o9 to name just a few.
Kevin Antreassian, rhythm guitarist and assistant engineer for DEP’s swan song Dissociation, also chose to utilize a set of long established skills, but in a slightly different way.
Returning his focus to Rockaway, New Jersey’s Backroom Studios and its corresponding Youtube channel, Antreassian assumes a liquid, jack-of-all-trades form that comes naturally to him. While reviewing sound products and engineering bands, he also shoots live video and offers guitar tech service from the studio.
It’s a long list, but somehow between all of this, Kevin was gracious enough to spare a moment to chat with us about recording, time management, and the real logic behind his new favorite phrase, “amp profiling is theft.”
FB: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Kevin! It really means a lot.
Kevin: Thanks for reaching out!
FB: Well, to start things off, in your latest Youtube video, you clarify not only your position on amp modeling and licensing, but also the new pronunciation of your last name. How has the more traditional pronunciation been treating you? I honestly had assumed you would still be going by “Angel-Muncher,” in accordance with a certain… necrosexual.
Kevin: Oh no, i cant believe you remember those Necrosexual videos. I was hoping they were lost in the corners of the internet… The updated pronunciation is way better, I owe that to my wife!
FB: I heard on an old podcast with you and Eyal Levi that there was another guitarist in a well known band trying out for Dillinger’s second guitarist spot while the position was open, and that they were giving you some serious competition. Has enough time passed to let on who this mystery shredder was?
Kevin: I won’t say publicly, he is a nasty player for sure though. I got lucky!
FB: Fair enough! This is a question I’ve seen come up in the Dillinger Compound a couple times and I wondered if you had an opinion on it: did you have a favorite second-fiddler in DEP throughout their discography? Other than yourself?
Kevin: They’re all great for their own reasons. Brian was my OG favorite from when I first got into TDEP. His movements were just so violent and intense. James is a super tight player with amazing tone. Jeff puts on a killer show and has a great voice to boot!
FB: With your Youtube channel establishing more traction around the same time Dillinger stopped playing shows, do you feel like you have more or less time on your hands these days or just about the same? Are you filling your time the same ways?
Kevin: I rarely have any free time, but I definitely had way more on tour. When you arrive at the venue, you have all morning to essentially walk around town or do nothing until soundcheck, then after that, nothing to do until you play. As Liam liked to say, “you’re getting paid for the 23 hours you’re not on the stage,” or something to that effect.
FB: When it came to the jarring process that was learning so much of DEP’s rhythm parts when you first joined, are there any parts that still stick out as the hardest? What was the most challenging song to learn? Did you have a favorite?
Kevin: Yeah, that material is really tough to learn especially considering you have to do it by ear. The hardest one still is probably “Fix Your Face”. That song is so nuts! My favorite, probably “Sugar Coated Sour.”
FB: What’s the most useful thing you learned from working with their longtime producer, Steve Evetts? Had you met him previously?
Kevin: I’ve known him for a while at this point, and he’s helped me in the engineering field in so many ways. He has so much experience under his belt and his work proves he knows what he’s doing. He’s a big part of the “Dillinger” sound and I try and pick things up from him in every interaction if possible.
FB: You stirred up some feelings across the internet (not to mention everybody’s local Guitar Center) when you mowed down that stack of Line 6 modeling amps with various firearms. When you were done with the video, were there any amps in the wreckage that made you think, “shit, I actually could have used that one?”
Kevin: No, most of them were garbage or might as well have been. They were all old practice amps that had been collecting dust in my studio from people leaving them behind because they didn’t even want them. Plus, shooting stuff is always fun!
FB: Do you have similarly charged feelings when it comes to new school high-wattage-but-solid-state amplifiers (Quilter, Dark Glass) versus units with good old fashioned tubes?
Kevin: I have so many Dark Glass pieces that I use almost daily. They’re all great and have their place. The “amp war” thing is really just an elaborate joke, but people really seem to get into the discussion…so I perpetuate it!
FB: Is it fair to say most digital plugins within a given DAW can offer more effective results when compared to digital modeling? Are there any that spring to mind?
Kevin: It’s totally plugin dependent. I’ve had some plugins that are horrible and others that I can’t live without. It all comes down to the programming and the UI. For instance, I have an API 2500 comp that I use on my drum buss and got into it from using the plugin for years. The software does a great job, but like most cases when I got the hardware version, it was that much better. Was it $3000 better? That’s up to your wallet.
FB: You once spent a couple weeks with Stephen Carpenter from Deftones to help with his guitar tones, and later served as a guitar tech for the band. What was your biggest takeaway from that? Do you think any of that experience influenced how you feel about modeling today?
Kevin: I learned so much from working with the band and the crew that it’s hard to pick the biggest takeaway, but I’d probably just say that you need to always try and insert yourself into (sometimes uncomfortable) situations. Even if you’re maybe not the most qualified person in the room, just jump in and figure it out!
FB: So many players, like you’ve referenced before on your channel, are into the idea of starting a studio. Despite the field’s numerous hardships, what would you say is the most rewarding thing about it?
Kevin: I’m my own boss and I get to work on music every day. I work in close proximity with such great talent and get to help them shape their music to be the best that it can in that moment, and it’s so much fun.
FB: Do you find the studio experience more or less rewarding when it’s your own band? In what ways did you approach engineering differently for Dillinger as opposed to Knife the Glitter?
Kevin: I typically don’t like engineering stuff that I’m personally involved in. You end up being too close to it a lot of the time and you tend to sacrifice something to attempt to wear too many hats. Let someone else be objective who can have a fresh take on it.
FB:Considering the amount of time it took to release the Knife the Glitter’s last record, it’s probably safe to say it’ll be a while before we have any chance at hearing another..?
Kevin: The reason it took so long is just because it wasn’t a priority. We stopped playing those songs long ago and don’t plan on bringing it back. We eventually did release it and it felt great to finally get them out, even if the 3 of us are the only people who listened to them. Nice to have the “achievement unlocked” to hang on the wall.
FB: Lastly, your Amp Profiling is Theft T-Shirt sale is a genius idea, especially with the option to donate the proceeds to a smaller amp company. Other than blasting more profiling amps to smithereens, what might be the next logical step when it comes to the profiling crisis?
Kevin: Like I said earlier, its half a gag, half a potential serious issue for the industry. I’ve interviewed a few amp manufactures at NAMM this year to hear their side of the story and most of them hate the fact that these companies just steal their intellectual property and get away with it because legislation hasn’t caught up to the times. But others say it can be helpful if its licensed through their company so they can at least put the correct names on the patches and get a small fee for the licensing of the name, which is a good deal!
You can head over to the Backroom Studios Youtube channel for oodles of high quality video content, or take this opportunity to blast “Limerant Death” at maximum volumes once again on The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Bandcamp page.