Gear Metropolis

bringing the gear of DIY musicians to you every Monday

Brendan Hourican – Modern Chemistry

April 18th, 2016
photo by: Deadbolt Photos

photo by: Deadbolt Photos

Modern Chemistry has been making moves lately. They finished a “NJ World Tour” in February and will soon be releasing a new EP, Dreaming Adjacent, which they worked on with Adam Lazzara and Mike Pepe. Guitarist Brendan found some time to talk gear with us.  


Gear Metropolis: So lets start off with guitars? What do you use and how does it fir your style? Have you used anything different in the studio?

Brendan Hourican: My first guitar was an Epiphone Les Paul and now I use an Epiphone Sheraton. I’m pretty sure I’ve always used either of those in the studio. I’ve always preferred the Gibson/Epiphone side of things in the way they feel and sound. Now I exclusively use my Sheraton (unless there’s a broken string on stage situation). I’ve always loved the way those semi hollow body guitars looked and I’d be lying if I said the look of it didn’t influence my decision to get the Sheraton. Also I’m 6’2″ and I sort of felt like a giant with my Les Paul. Besides those superficial reasons, I had heard of it being used on some pretty cool records. So between all that and a super affordable price, it was an Epiphone Sheraton for me. Now that I’ve had it for a while I’ve learned how to get some great sounds and cool feedback noises out of it so I’d say it’s here to stay.


GM: Great! What about amps? Have you always used the same thing? How about on the records?

BH:  I use a little solid state Marshall amp called MG 100 dfx. I got it when I was in high school was the first real amp I’ve ever had. On paper it doesn’t really seem like it would sound good, but over the years I’ve learned how to get what I want out of it. I’ve thought about “upgrading” but any other amp I try doesn’t quite give me what I want.  

Most of the overdrive in my tone is coming from the amp. I have a big muff nano that I’ll kick on every once in a while, but other than that it’s all from the gain on the amp. I’ve come to love how I can get some good bite when I really slam on the strings, or I can pluck lightly and get a nice bright clean sparkly sound. I usually leave it on the dirty channel and if I need to get a little cleaner I’ll strum lighter or roll back on my volume pedal.  That usually cleans it up nicely.

As far as recording, I have used my amp for a few tracks, but usually there are amps laying around the studio that do the job much better. For our second EP we actually hooked my amp up to a big Marshall cabinet. That was fun. Kicked everything up a notch. I’d love to say that every time we record I use my own stuff, but I recognize that some sounds that I like for our live setting might not translate in the studio.

mc board

GM: Any other pedals besides the big muff nano?

BH:  My favorite and most used pedal is my ehx Cathedral Reverb. It’s almost always on. With the reverb being fed into the overdriven amp, I get a nice screaming sound for some of my lead parts.  I’ve come to really shape my sound around what that pedal can do, which is a lot. I’m still exploring all its features and I try to find a cool way to use them all.  I also have a boss DD7 digital delay and an ehx Hummingbird tremolo pedal. I try to use those to make weird interesting sounds that don’t necessarily sound like a guitar. I also have an Ernie Ball VP Jr. Volume pedal that I mentioned before. I love using that for swells as well as volume control.


GM: How would you describe your tone? Who are some major influences in your sound?

BH:   I try to achieve a few different things when it comes to my tone, and they all have to do with the song and what I think the song calls for. I like my tone to be screeching and bright to fill in the spaces of the wall of sound if need be. Other times I like to sound sparkling and dreamy to create some dynamic from the other instruments. And lately I’ve been getting into some weirder sounds by using different combinations of pedals. I’ve been getting inspired by sounds outside of our genre and I’m having a lot of fun trying to recreate things that might not have even been played on guitar. Lately I’ve been drawing a lot from R&B/Pop.

As far as influences on my tone, there have been a few bands/records that have been really important. I’ll always think the guitar tones on Blink 182’s self titled album are top notch. To me they don’t seem to be locked in any time period or genre. I just love the way the guitars sound on that album. I also loved the way guitars sound on Angels and Airwaves stuff. The Dangerous Summer was a big influence on the way I wanted my guitar to sound. The way Bryan used reverb and delay opened up a whole world of possibilities to me. I love the soaring lead parts he would get and how big they made the music feel. Kings of Leon is another one that taught me there’s no shame in turning the reverb allllll the way up if it sounds good.


GM: Great so whats up next for you guys?

BH: Right now we are gearing up for a pretty crazy 2016. We just recently went down to North Carolina where we met up with Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday to record an EP. He was kind enough to produce it with us and it couldn’t have been a better experience. Once that’s finished it will be released and we jump right back into the studio to record our first full length. We have been writing and demoing and making sure everything is ready for that. We’re all super excited that in the coming months we will be more than doubling our discography. After that it’s just gonna be a bunch of touring. Hopefully we will get to revisit some of the amazing places we’ve been and see some new ones too. New music, new videos, new live shows, new everything. It’s gonna be pretty great.


Modern Chemistry’s EP, Dreaming Adjacent, will be available digitally May 7th. The release show is the same night at the Asbury Park Yacht Club.   


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