Guitarist - Bass Jam 2016


J.B. Brubaker

Contact: Heather Griffith, [email protected]

A founding member and lead guitarist for hardcore metal rockers August Burns Red, Brubaker was instrumental in garnering a Grammy nomination for the single “Identity,” off the band’s Fearless Records 2015 release Found in Far Away Places, in the Best Metal Performance category.

Who are your musical influences?
My favorite guitar player is Paul Waggoner. He’s the guitar player for the band Between the Buried and Me. Nick Hipa is another metal guitar player I respect a lot who plays with the band Wovenwar. I’ve played many shows with his old band, As I Lay Dying.

What’s your top gear?
My guitar is an Ibanez RGA 121 Prestige and it has EMG 81/85 pickups in it; 81 in the bridge and 85 in the neck. I’m using an Axe-Fx as a preamp and a Carvin DCM 200L as the power amp. I use D’Addario strings, gauge 10 to 52.

And did you mention effects...?
Well, the Axe-Fx is a processor with multiple effects. But I also have a Digitech Drop pedal, which allows me to drop my tuning without switching guitars. It just came out last year. It’s great, especially when you’re traveling internationally and you don’t wanna fly with as many guitars. You just step on this pedal a half-step up or down and it’s great. And it’s so much easier to avoid having to carry all these extra instruments in different tunings.

What strides have you made to become a better player?
At this point in my career I would say that my goals are more in becoming a better songwriter than in musicianship. And I find myself in my free time trying to write and compose stuff, versus working on technique or my chops. I guess I would rather be creative than be mechanical.

How has your sound personally, and as a band, evolved over time?
As we’ve gotten older we’ve expanded ourselves sonically. When we started we wanted to be as heavy as possible. We wanted to be technical, and I think it was more about writing riffs than writing songs. At this point writing a song is much better than writing a bunch of cool parts. And while we are still a heavy band we’re not trying to be the heaviest band in the world anymore.

Live lowlight?
When we were just starting out we were playing a show at a roller skating rink in eastern Pennsylvania. It was a floor show and there were a bunch of kids surrounding the band. And I was playing through a Peavey 5150, with a half-stack where the amp head was just sitting on top of the cabinet. So, we’re getting ready to go into this big breakdown in the song. And I was jumping up and down and kinda lost my balance and stumbled backwards into my half-stack and my amp. I knocked it over and spun around and tried to catch it. But this thing’s heavy and it pulled me down, with my amp head crashing to the floor.

See More: August Burns Red at Regency Ballroom in San Francisco

Live highlight?
We played a show in Nuremberg, Germany in 2011 at the Rock Am Ring festival. And we played at 10 p.m. on the small stage. This is an enormous festival where there’s 80,000 people watching the main stage. Even on the small stage it still felt like such a massive show.

Practice regimen or warm-up?
Before each show I like to play for about half an hour. I have a small practice amp called a Roland Micro Cube that I use. It’s battery powered, about a foot tall and I can take it anywhere.

Advice for guitar players?
I feel songwriting is something that needs to be practiced much like your instrument. People often take a lot of time to practice other people’s songs, and I think that’s really helpful in broadening your skills as a player. But I think it’s important to not get frustrated if you’re trying to write songs for the first time. Don’t get too down on yourself if you’re not happy with what you’re writing and how your songs are coming out. Like any skill, songwriting is something you’ll improve on by practicing.

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