It was a few months back and I happened to see post on Electrical Guitar Company’s Facebook page showing a YouTube video for the band Kid Is Qual. What I saw was two basses and a drum kit, and loads of groove happening. I was digging it instantly. The video was for their single “Knights of Ole” which I’ll post below.
Now, I’ve see the double bass action in the past. Usually it’s heavy, one laying the low, while the other is layering a melody. Kid Is Qual is completely different. Yes, there is a bass laying the low end, but the other is doing crazy leads. The groove is on the up beat and very infectious – totally different than the drony/heavy double bass stuff you normally hear. For vocals, Jonathan uses a vocoder and synth effects that are heavily exaggerated and at times sounds very robotic and machine-like.
Below is the video for Knights of Ole –
The band has seriously been killing it lately. They just finished a stint touring with Ween. Now, Kid Is Qual (KIQ) and Ween.. that would be a pretty awesome combination. Here is what Dean Ween had to say about KIQ (full interview here):
Also, we have a really good opening band called Kid is Qual, as in “quality.” It’s two bass players and a drummer and they play talkboxes like Roger Troutman and Zapp talkboxes, so we have a really killer opening band. We usually don’t have opening bands with us on tour, but these guys are special.
I had an opportunity to send Jonathan Sullivan (singer and lead bass) a few questions about the effects he uses. He currently has a bass lead board and vocal board. Lots going on here.
Bass Lead Board:
Digitech Whammy 4
Digitech Weapon (x2)
Pigtronix Mothership Analog Synth
MXR M135 Smart Gate (x2)
Electro-Harmonix #1 Echo
MXR Carbon Copy Delay
Foxx Tone Machine
Blue Beard Distortion
Boss OC-2 Octave
Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phaser (vintage)
Fulltone Fat Boost
Custom 5 Loop True Bypass Strip
Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2+
Electro-Harmonix V256 Vocoder
Electro-Harmonix Micro Synth (vintage)
MXR M135 Smart Gate
Custom 44 Watt Talkbox by JSL
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Custom 1 True Bypass Loop
Rocktron Hush Noise Reduction
– For the people not familiar with Kid Is Qual, how could you describe what you guys are about.
KIQ is a two bass and drums rock trio. Then throw in some Roger Troutman style talkbox vocals, some lead bass ala Ernie Isley / Vernon Reid, some glitchy white noise, massive amounts of distortion, a few bottles of Makers and Jager, and you have the sound of KIQ. But our aim is to write good pop songs and get the ladies into it.
– Where did the name Kid Is Qual (KIQ) come about?
You know Hank, picking a name is always a tricky thing. You want something that is easy but not cheesy. LOL. For some reason, at the time when I started to work on this music (back in 2007), the word QUAL was sticking out to me. “Qual” as in, quality. So for whatever reason, i went with Kid is Qual. I must be honest though, I wanted something that would come up in search engines (google) with little competition, you dig what im saying?
– Knights of Ole is a great song, and looked like one hell of a party. Please tell me shooting that video WAS a raging party!
Thanks for the kind words Hank! Yooooo, the video shoot was a fucking party royale my son! I pretty much had all my friends “fly in / drive in” for the shoot. We took to the bottle of Makers about 10am and the shit was tight. The first day of the video was shot at my friend Randy Odell’s house. He is the man! The second day was shot at this club in Richmond called the Bank. The owner pretty much gave us the keys and we had that joint rocking all day and night son, till 4am! HAHA. It was a blast. Lots of drank, lots of girls, and lots of good times. I think that the overall good vibe and party came through, even though we had to edit some of the footage out since some of my peeps ( ladies and dudes alike ) have official partners. LOL.
– So what’s the criteria for Knighthood?
The whole idea of “knights” came to me on the last tour i did with my old band Jack’s Mannequin. We use the term “ole” as a slogan for good times like….”Man that party was rad. Most ole it was”. LOL. You know how it is. When you are out on the road you make up some dumb shit since all you do is sit around all day on the bus with the same cats, drankin’ the same brews and doing the same thing every night. The “knights” are my boys, the cats who I work and party with. Whether I see them everyday, or if I see them once a year in another country. When we finally get up, it’s on.
– One of the things that caught my eye was the aluminum. So both you and Mike are riding Electrical Guitar Company basses?
Yup , EGC‘s are the shit. My boy Kevin Burkett is a fellow knight, and he makes these amazing and innovative guitars and basses. He is actually in the “Knights of Ole” video. The aluminum really shapes the tone of the distortion and effects, and they track VERY well. And btw, THEY LOOK FUCKING ACE! I’m really lucky to know such an awesome dude. He is my brother from another mother.
– What do aluminum necks give you that wood doesn’t?
They give you a little “sheen” on top. They also have a nice mid growl to them. I used them in Jack’s Mannequin as well. They sound surprisingly warm too. I mean, I like wood basses too. My favorites are old fenders, carl thompson’s, and old G&L’s. I like basses that cut like a knife, and other ones that sit there like three day old cheese (love you Dan Duggins). But for KIQ, the EGC’s ride tall and qual.
– You currently have two pedal boards. Your vocal board and main bass lead board. Let’s start things off with vocal effects. I’m assuming you’re starting vocal input signal with the Electro-Harmonix Vocoder 256 pedal’s XLR jack?
Yes, i go into the EHX 256 for their awesomely shitty auto-tune effect. It’s so gross.
– Have you messed with other vocoders in the past? Why did you stick with the EHX Vocoder 256?
I have an old Roland SVC 350. It is pretty sweet, though I have always had a hard time getting a good sound out of vocoders. I don’t use the 256 for the vocoder effect. I like the 256’s auto-tune because it sounds grimy and glitchy. I mean, it cuts in and out at shows sometimes. I will probably have to upgrade one of these days, but I don’t want too. I like the fact it sounds like shit. LOL.
– Are you chaining the other effects (digitech weapon, microsynth) in through the vocoder 1/4″ in/outs?
I use the microsynth and weapon in my talkbox loop. So to answer your question, no.
– Are you splitting your input signal before the two boards? Are going out from one board to the other?
No , i just chain my bass from the vox board into the bass board. It took me a time to figure out what the fuck i was doing. I guess I am still figuring it out, but I have come a long way. LMAO. This shit is expensive! It has been a learning experience to say the least.
– Were there particular challenges to having a vox and bass board?
I find the biggest challenge is the switching between the two of them. But I use true-bypass loop pedals, so it usually just one click and I’m good.
– Let’s talk about the custom 44 watt talkbox. It looks like a beast. Was build construction your primary reason for picking this up? Or was it all about the tone?
When I finally got into using talkboxes live, the old ones that weren’t powered (golden throat) gave me problems with the set up and all. I kept blowing them up and shit. So I found out about the Rocktron Banshee. Only thing is, they are pieces of shit and they are only 5 watts! 5 watts! “No can do”, as the song goes. So I needed a louder one. I contacted my boy James Seretis (he is in the final scene of the video busting his ass) and he made me the 44 watt one. You need the extra wattage if you want your words to be clear and to be heard. The construction is sturdy as well. We are still tinkering with them as we speak. BTW James also makes a custom bass fuzz pedal called the “Ole” fuzz. It has a mid and bass boost.
– I see that you have 2 Digitech Weapons on the lead bass board.. and 1 on the vocal board. What’s special about that pedal?
They do a lot of things, one being they have a “whammy mode”. It is pretty much a whammy pedal in a “boss” sized box. So I would say I use them mostly because of their size. I don’t have a tech in this band, so the smaller the better. They also have an input level knob, and a effect blend knob, which the whammy pedal does not.
– I understand the logic of the MXR gates on the vocal board and the lead bass board.. but why 2 on the bass board?
The MXR is a killer gate. It is really the best one i have ever used. When you use all these fuzz pedals and shit, you def need a great gate. This is the joint! I hear that Steve Albini uses one. ‘Nuff said, my son.
– How is crazy is the Pigtronix Mothership?
Hank, i gotta tell you. This MAY be the coolest pedal ever made. It pretty much turns your bass into a MOOG. It is def in my top 4 fave pedals, along with the Whammy, Akai Deep Impact, and Roland Jet Phaser. I use it on the second half of “Knights of Ole”. Peeps freak out when they hear it, they think I am playing with a track or something.
– I’ve seen some crazy bass leads in some live KIQ YouTube clips. What is your primary go to lead pedals?
The bread and butter of my lead tone is the whammy pedal, blue beard distortion, and the mxr gate. Everything else is bells and whistles.
– I wasn’t familiar with Blue Beard Distortion, what’s the story on those guys?
This dude Sonny makes them in College Park, MD. They sell them at Atomic Music. Good luck trying to get one, though. I call every week to see if they have any in stock. I pretty much buy everyone I find. It’s my favorite distortion pedal I have ever used. It has lots of gain, but it’s clean.
– For delays, you’re using the MXR Carbon Copy and the EHX Echo, any particular reasons why you chose those particular delays?
I got the EHX Echo for the slapback delay effect. The Carbon Copy rules, and it is small and qual. I am really just getting into delays, actually. I really want an Eventide delay BTW. I saw this dude from Japan named “Miyavi” play last year. Check him out! The shit he was doing with two of those Eventide’s….wow! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing my son.
– Let’s talk about the Foxx Tone Machine? What makes that pedal unique?
I got my first one in like 1995 for like $50. What a deal! I still have it. They def sounds different than any other distortion pedal I have ever used. I hear Adrian Belew based his whole playing style off this pedal. I also use this on “Knights of Ole”. The Foxx Tone has that awesome “octave” effect as well. They are gross as shit!
– I see you’re using a 5 loop true bypass looper. Are you creating combination effects loops (turning multiple pedals on with one switch)? Or are you focusing on the true bypass on individual pedals and for easy access?
Yes, in KIQ I use the 5 loop true bypass to turn on several effects at once. It is really a game changer. I also used one in JM as well. They are great because if something in your chain breaks you can always turn off the effect and have signal! And obviously it doesn’t suck your tone going through all your pedals. I’m kind of a tone snob. Funny story…… When I was on tour with the Fray in 2009, their guitarist had like 345 pedals. They were all in a chain with these Mickey Mouse cables and shit. LMAO. No bypass pedal! Man, every night I would go hang on stage left to just to see if his shit would break! It never did though, he was really lucky. My shit breaks all the time. Alas.
– I know you have a ton more boxes and used a lot of effects in the studio, are there any more that might make it on the live rig?
Yeah, there are a few I would like to add. The space is the issue, though. I already have two pretty big pedal boards. I need a tech!. The pedals I would like to add to my live set up would be the POG, the Roland Jet Phaser, the Foxx Tone Machine, the EHX Microsynth (vintage), and the Mutron Phaser, among others. And of course I WOULD LOVE to get an Eventide delay one of these days. Santa, do you hear me?
– Any on the board that you’ve been itching to replace? If so what? Why?
Not really. I have weeded out all the McCheese pedals over the past few years. It’s more of a “want to add” thing at this point.
– What is your deserted island pedal? If you could only have one pedal.. what would it be? And why?
As a nerd, this is a tough question Hank! LOL. I would say the Akai Deep Impact. It pretty much turns your bass into a digital synth. But one pedal wouldn’t satisfy my needs. If I was playing in a band on said island (haha), it would have to be the Boss Octave pedal. That is really the most useful pedal for any bass player, IMO.
– How do you learn about pedals you want to check out?
Back in the day I would run into sweet vintage pedals all the time (foxx tone machine), but now I just go to youtube and kind of snoop around.
– Is there something you’re always keeping a 3rd eye on? Type of effect, etc?
I definitely want an Eventide Delay.
– What amp(s) are you using for your live set up?
I use a Gallien Krueger 1001 with an Eden 2×10 cabinet. Mikey uses a GK 800 and a Eden 2 x 10 as well (for size reasons). In the studio I use a vintage Ampeg SVT and an Acoustic 360.
Kid Is Qual is releasing another EP on March 27th called “Ladies Choice” so be sure to check that out. For more info on Kid Is Qual – visit their website, like them on Facebook and follow the on Twitter!