Ross Chapman talks Duesenberg, Strymon - and how a new amp changed the game for him...

Ross Chapman talks Duesenberg, Strymon - and how a new amp changed the game for him...

Ross Chapman is used to playing big gigs. As well as touring with singer songwriter Conor Maynard and British pop-band Union J, he played the support slots on Take That’s recent  arena tour and Maroon 5’s appearance at iTunes Fest. Ross’s obsession with guitar effects was driven by the wave of influential millennial rock bands; Muse, Incubus and the Chilli Peppers. He has applied this attention to his sound to a career playing guitar for the likes of Professor Green, Neon Jungle, Labrinth, A*M*E and more. We caught up with Ross to talk guitars, building pedalboards and his favourite musical era...

MPS
Who are you working with at the moment?

RC
At the moment I’m playing for a girl named Ella Henderson, and have been for just over a year now. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world with her during her promo campaign, and we just recently finished our first tour supporting Take That on their UK arena run.

MPS
What kind of work do you get the most satisfaction out of?

RC
Personally I get the most satisfaction out of playing a show. I love being in the studio but it can be tedious, and TV stuff is usually quite boring, so gigging is definitely my choice. As long as I have a good show!

MPS
Can you pick out a favourite gig?

RC
My favourite experience so far has been getting to play with The Roots on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. When Ella got the slot I assumed she’d do it just her and them as they’re Jimmy’s house band and that’s usually how it works with solo artists - but because I was out in New York with her doing acoustic promo at the time I was able to get involved, so I got to go and play guitar with a bunch of my heroes. It was the most surreal thing ever and they were lovely dudes. I’ll never forget it.

MPS
Who do you count among your musical influences?

RC
When I was a kid my Dad used to play a lot of Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi records, so I have to mention guys like Keith Scott and Richie Sambora, as they were the players that actually made me notice the guitar in a way big enough to make me want to get one and learn to play it. As a teenager I was obsessed with John Frusciante, his of style of playing influenced mine probably more than any other musician ever has done. That really percussive, kind of messy, frantic thing really does it for me. He’s also one of the guys, along with people like Mike Einziger and Johnny Greenwood - who got me into using effects pedals, which I’m totally obsessed with. I’ve always liked any player who managed to make their guitar sound nothing like a guitar! That said I have a lot of love for more traditional players too; I got big into John Mayer for a while (who didn’t?!), I love Ian Thornley, Derek Trucks, and my buddy Scott Mckeon is probably my favourite guitarist out there. Sorry I’m rambling but I can’t not mention Ben Kenney - that guy is a big musical hero of mine. Ok I’m done!

MPS
If you could go back to any musical era what would it be?

RC
This is going to sound stupid because I was most certainly alive in the 90’s, but I’m gonna say the 90’s. I want to go back to the early 90’s as an adult so I can see all of my favourite grunge bands, as I was like 4 years old when they were doing their thing and I really missed out. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, all that stuff. And yeah I know SG and AIC are back together now but it’s not the same!

MPS
What was your first guitar?

RC
My first ever guitar was a little half-size nylon string acoustic - I was 8 years old and my parents tried to trick me into playing classical guitar, but I soon realised that I couldn’t make the sounds I wanted on that thing! My first electric was a Squire Strat - but my first ‘proper’ guitar, as in the one I learnt most of what I know on was a 2003 US Standard Telecaster. That’s my grab-if-the-house-was-burning guitar.

MPS
What guitars are you playing at the moment?

RC
It kind of depends on the gig, but at the moment with Ella I’m favouring my Duesenberg Fullerton TV and my Nash T-Master. They kind of cover all the bases sound-wise for that one. I also have my US Tele, one of those John Mayer signature Strats, a Cabronita Tele, a PRS CE-22 and a 2003 Les Paul Standard which I fitted with a bigsby. Heaviest guitar in the world but looks awesome.

MPS
Tell us about your Strymon pedals, what made you chose them?

RC
I discovered Strymon whilst perusing a gear forum just before the Timeline came out, and after watching the demos I bought one as soon as I could. That’s one of the things I love about Strymon - their demos are fantastic. I’m always amazed at how many terrible gear demos there are out there…taking the time and effort to make a good demo is so worth doing, considering how many people buy pedals and things online without even trying them nowadays. Anyway on my big touring board with the MIDI switching system I have the Mobius, the Timeline and the BigSky (AKA the ‘holy trinity’) and as everyone knows, they’re amazing. The sounds are way ahead of the competition and the functionality is superb. They just work. On my smaller gigging board I have a Deco, a Flint, and a Dig - and those three go together so well. The tape saturation side of the Deco is the best low-gain sound I’ve ever found, and the Dig has turned out to be way more versatile than I thought it would. The Flint is hands down one of the best pedals out there, I absolutely love that thing.

MPS
We’ve seen your new pedalboard on your blog, can you tell us a little bit about the process of building it and how you came to decide what pedals to include?

RC
A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into building that board…but it was worth it! The process was the same as with any pedalboard build really; firstly figuring out what my signal chain would be, and then how the hell I was going to fit all of those pedals on there! Initially I thought I was going to get my Expression pedal on there too but there is just no way it would have fit. Most of those pedals had been on my previous board - I’ve been using the same kind of layout in terms of sounds for a while now, i.e. I like to have separate pedals for low, medium and high gain, because I don’t like to fiddle with knobs and settings during a gig. Although this is my first time having two fuzz pedals on the board - I’ve got a Roger Mayer Voodoo TC Octavia for that classic octafuzz sound, and then an SMFuzz for the all-out fuzz attack. I’ll be honest, neither of them get used much in the Ella set but they’ll get their moment one day! The brain of the board is RJM’s new Mastermind PBC and it’s amazing - incredibly customisable and easy to use thanks to the software editor they developed.

MPS
Is there anything you have parted with that you really miss?

RC
I only ever sell stuff that I know I definitely won’t use - I’ve never sold a guitar, only pedals and things like that, so not really. I sold my Flint when I got the Big Sky and Mobius and still kind of missed it, but then I got another one for my small board so I’m happy!

MPS
Can you think of anything that really changed things for you, and why?

RC
I’d have to say my Divided by 13 FTR 37. When I got that amp I finally felt like everything was there. I’d been through a few different amps leading up to it but had never really felt 100% happy with my tone, at least not every facet of it. But when I started using the FTR I knew instantly it was what I’d been looking for. It has masses of low end, but it’s still tight and punchy, and it takes pedals like a champ. I love it!

MPS
Is there any advice you can offer to people starting out on their musical journeys?

RC
Aside from the obvious stuff like meeting and playing with as many different musicians as you can, and practicing and whatnot, I’d genuinely say - and this will sound ridiculous, but, just be cool.. Seriously! One thing I’ve realised is that being a musician is a hugely social job - you spend so much time traveling and whatever with other people and if you’re not easy to get along with or accepting of others then you probably won’t get hired, no matter how good you are. I’ve just realised that makes me sound like I’m calling myself cool - that’s not what I meant! Ah forget it…

Find out more about Ross at rosschapmanmusic.com
Follow Ross on Twitter 

 

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