Interview with Nels Cline

  • By Phillip Dodge @tonereport
  • October 13, 2014

Photo credit Christopher Johnson

PD: I know you are a big fan of the Klon Centaur and have been using one for years. I think I also read that you stopped traveling with the Centaur and started using the Sarno Earth Drive instead. Are you still favoring the Earth Drive? Have you tried any of the Centaur “klones” like the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food?

NC: I always use the Centaur with Wilco. The only reason I don't bring one out when I play other things is because it's so big. I need small pedals for my own gigs because everything has to fit into a small case, etc. But I don't think there's anything like the Centaur. The SMS Earth Drive is excellent, though. But so is the new Klon overdrive, which Bill Finnegan seems to have brought out and maybe withdrawn or something. It took me awhile to get with its design 'live', but now I just turn it the wrong way and all is well! It's very good. But the Centaur…I hear they are going for stupid money now. Oh well!

PD: You’re a huge fan of the Z. Vex Fuzz Factory. But you run it after a buffer right? Why is that?

NC: I run it after my Whammy pedal. It wasn't an intentional decision. It just happened. But it narrows the aleatoric wildness a bit, and consequently I can get amazing sustained notes with it. But overall I must say that I never leave home without a Fuzz Factory! I use it in many ways and contexts.

PD: And what about the old Boss Vibrato pedal? They are getting crazy expensive and harder and harder to find. What does it do that you love so much? Do you use it in latch mode? Have you found anything else that gets close?

NC: I just love its sound. I do not use the latch mode but that is a great feature, right? I have not heard anything that sounds as good. I have four of these things, acquired over the years, and two of them are sort of broken. But I use them anyway—all the time. I just love that effect. I hear the latest TC Electronic pedal (forget the name) is close but I have not heard it. I heard clone attempts and they did not get it right.

PD: Are there any other new amps or pedals that you are enjoying?

NC: My favorite amps are really old Magnatone/Panoramic amps. But in NYC I usually use a ZT Club amp—a solid state, Chinese-made (Berkeley, CA company) particle board piece of crap that sounds amazing and is versatile as hell and can be thrown in and out of cabs, carried for blocks. I have recorded with it! Deal with THAT! Also, I just got a 1959 Gibson Crest that is marvelous. Little amps record big, as we know. As for pedals, there are way too many to name. I love my Devi Ever pedals, especially the old Soda Meiser. I just got some Shoe pedals that are interesting. EarthQuaker is making some wild things. And Electro-Harmonix keep coming up with things, too! My friend in Los Angeles named Joe Berardi has a company called F-Hole that is making some nice fuzzboxes. Tone Concepts in Canada market cool pedals by JAM and Crazy Tube as well as their own pedals called The Distillery—very good stuff...

PD: What’s next for Wilco?

NC: Residencies in Nashville, Port Chester NY, and Chicago to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary. Then recording. No real hurry—we are doing tons of other stuff at the moment, and we took a year off. But there will be a new record eventually.

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