Premier Guitar’s world-famous Rig Rundowns take you backstage to explore the live gear used by your favorite guitar and bass players. Whether you’re into shred, country, indie, or classic rock, Rig Rundowns give you the lowdown on the instruments, pedals, and amps powering the biggest acts on the road today—and often we even coax them into demoing their favorite settings. Listen now and pick up new tricks for how to set up your rig!
Coheed and Cambria 
It’s common for prog bands to create a fictitious narrative for their concept albums. Often, the lyrics tell a linear story, while the adventurous, experimental, and elevated musicianship provides emotional support and dynamism to the album’s arc. Some ambitious wordsmiths may even spread their yarn over two albums or releases, but Coheed and Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez has penned an entire science fiction tale called https://www.boom-studios.com/series/amory-wars/ (The Amory Wars) that has been transcribed in comic books and graphic novels published by Evil Ink Comics. All but one of the band’s 10 albums, including the brand-new Vaxis–Act II: A Window of the Waking Mind swim in his solar system called Heaven’s Fence—a collection of 78 planets and seven stars wholly envisioned by Sanchez. (The Color Before the Sun, from 2015, is the lone release not centered in The Amory Wars universe.)
Crafting a daring soundtrack for these narratives requires an equally bold group of musicians. Through two decades, this fearless foursome have incorporated prog orchestrations, synth flourishes, pop-punk hooks, menacing metalcore, hardcore aggression, and electronica ballads—and yet it’s always felt like Coheed. No matter the direction they turn or how their colors and hues shift, it’s unmistakable. Having no genre allows for all genres.
It’s worth noting the band’s name is lifted from two main characters in The Amory Wars. Their original name in the late ’90s was Shabütie, and that trio (consisting of guitarist/vocalist Sanchez, bassist Michael Todd, and drummer Nate Kelley) released three EPs before rebranding for Coheed’s 2002 debut, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, released on Equal Vision Records. That first Coheed lineup included the Shabütie carryovers of Sanchez and Todd, and welcomed guitarist Travis Stever and drummer Josh Eppard. (The earliest incarnations of Shabütie included Stever, too.) The band’s current lineup has been solid since 2012, when bassist Zach Cooper joined.
Coheed’s headlining 2022 run is a dual celebration. They’re honoring the 20th anniversary of their debut and the just-released Vaxis–Act II: A Window of the Waking Mind. Before their July 23 show at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium, PG’s Chris Kies hosted conversations that covered upgrading Gibsons, overhauling an entire bass rig during shutdown, and how a stolen Big Muff eventually led to a signature sound and pedal.
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Any band that hammers along for 43 years should be praised. But for a hardcore outfit that first seethed “I don’t wanna live / To be thirty-four / I don’t wanna die / In a nuclear war” 42 years ago on their 1980 debut Group Sex, pushing on for over four decades is a bit of a miracle. The Circle Jerks should be honored with a skanking statue in their hometown of Hermosa Beach, California.
“If you would’ve told me in my 20s that I’d be in a seminal hardcore-punk band in my 60s, I would’ve said ‘you’re fucking crazy, dude! I’m going to be dead by that time,’” jokes longtime Circle Jerks bassist Zander Schloss. “Now I say, live slow, die old!”
The Circle Jerks were formed in 1979 by former Black Flag vocalist Keith Morris and ex-Redd Kross guitarist Greg Hetson. (Hetson has also been a member of another seminal SoCal punk rock band, https://www.premierguitar.com/gear/rig-rundown-bad-religion (Bad Religion), from 1984-2013.) They were joined by bassist Roger Rogerson and drummer Lucky Lehrer. Group Sex is one of the most important albums in the first swell of hardcore. It’s worth noting that the 14-song collection was crammed into less than 16 minutes of tape. Tasmanian devil Morris raged his commentary on sex, drugs, politics, the rich, and even self-reflection. His bandmates redlined to keep up. Hetson’s swift, stabbing guitar parts pierced and slit through the slamming, double-time rhythmic pistons that were Lehrer and Rogerson.
Their 1982 follow-up, Wild in the Streets, contained five songs over two minutes long and three covers (“Wild in the Streets,” “Just Like Me,” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”), but all 15 tunes were still laced together with the same frenetic guitar bursts and rambunctious rhythms of Group Sex. The last of their most-influential works was 1983’s Golden Shower of Hits, which alternated between short, melodic mayhem and slower-but-still-acerbic stompers. The next year saw the arrival of Schloss, who contributed heavily to the band’s final three studio releases: Wonderful (1985), VI (1987), and Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities (1995). While out in support of the latter, their major-label debut, the Circle Jerks imploded.
In subsequent years, Hetson focused on Bad Religion, started Punk Rock Karaoke, formed Black President, and built out his Hetson Sound studio. Schloss played guitar for Joe Strummer, drove the bass for the Weirdos, and even entertained on the silver screen, starting with the role of Kevin in Repo Man. While Morris battled health issues (he fell into diabetic comas in 2008 and 2013), he was able to get several projects off the ground and revisit old ones including Midget Handjob, Off!, and FLAG. The latter’s a Black Flag byproduct featuring former members bassist Chuck Dukowski, guitarist/vocalist Dez Cadena, and Bill Stevenson—who produced most of their 1980s catalog—on drums, plus Stevenson’s https://www.premierguitar.com/artists/guitarists/descendents-stephen-egerton (Descendents) bandmate https://www.premierguitar.com/videos/rig-rundowns/descendents (Stephen Egerton) on guitar.
Before the current celebratory run marking the band’s first live shows in 11 years (and first full U.S. tour in 15), they announced drummer Joey Castillo (Queens of the Stone Age, Danzig, Eagles of Death Metal) would be propelling the Circle Jerks’ runaway train. And since the band’s core members are now all in their 60s, and the resolution of the ripping “Live Fast, Die Young” is yelled out at each show (“I don’t wanna live / To be fifty-seven / I’m living in hell / Is there a heaven?”), they’re well aware that according to their own canon they shouldn’t be here and certainly not having this much fun.
“I never thought the Circle Jerks would tour again, but you know what? Dreams do come true, and in some weird way, we’re doing better than ever and this world tour proves it,” remarks Schloss.
Over the past decade and through four albums, Foxing has shown a lot of musical personalities. They’ve embraced the quirky, eclectic folk of Neutral Milk Hotel. Guitarist Eric Hudson has shown off some deft fretwork wrapped around complex rhythms similar to https://www.premierguitar.com/gear/rig-rundown-tiny-moving-parts (Tiny Moving Parts)’ Dylan Mattheisen. They’ve dabbled in complicated, ambiguous instrumentation that echoes Radiohead. Most recently, the band has flexed a cinematic, post-rock cohesion that connects plot points via varied emotions and energy rather than analogous storytelling. And during the Rundown, Hudson hints at heavier, darker moments to come as they’ve been writing in tunings reserved for https://www.premierguitar.com/artists/behemoths-adam-nergal-darski-shades-of-black (Behemoth) and https://www.premierguitar.com/gear/rig-rundown-melvins-buzz-osborne-2015 (Melvins). All of these experimentations and transformations have allowed Foxing to carry on without needing a roadmap to their rock. And we’re just along for the ride.
The St. Louis indie rockers formed in the early 2010s out of the demise of Hunter Gatherer. Originally, the band was a trio with singer/guitarist Conor Murphy, bassist Josh Coll, and drummer Jon Hellwig. Prior to recording their 2013 debut, The Albatross, they expanded to a quintet with the addition of guitarists Eric Hudson and Ricky Sampson. However, Coll left ahead of Foxing’s third album, Nearer My God, and prior to recording their 2021 release, Draw Down the Moon (co-produced by https://www.premierguitar.com/gear/rig-rundown-manchester-orchestra (Rig Rundown alumnus Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra)). And then Sampson departed the band. Murphy, Hellwig, and Hudson are the core members and tour with a rotating cast of contributors.
Ahead of Foxing’s July 5 headlining show at Nashville’s Basement East, Chris Kies hopped onstage and talked gear with Hudson, who touched on his love of “clanky” Strats, illustrated how his dual pedalboards can project him from pastoral to delirium, and explained why it always pays off to have good friends and to hang out at the merch booth.
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Def Leppard 
It’s been https://www.premierguitar.com/rig-rundown-def-leppard (eight years since Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen) met with PG while they were on the band’s arena-filling odyssey in 2014. Now they’re on the aptly titled Stadium Tour, playing packed mega-venues with openers Mötley Crüe, Poison, and https://www.premierguitar.com/videos/first-look/epiphone-joan-jett-olympic-special (Joan Jett), delivering songs from the 12 studio albums they’ve recorded over the past 45 years. It’s quite a legacy, with “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak,” “Photograph,” “Rock of Ages,” “Animal,” “Love Bites,” and plenty more classic hits. At their June 30 show at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, John Bohlinger talked with Collen, Campbell, and their techs, Scott Appleton and John Zocco, about the guitarists’ muscular live-show arsenal.
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After a five-year break in studio releases, Train came roaring back this year with AM Gold and a tour with dates stretching into 2023 that’s delivering their new songs and a sampling of the group’s 28 charting singles from their nearly 30-year history. PG’s John Bohlinger stopped in on the band’s two guitar players, Jerry Becker and Taylor Locke, and bassist Hector Maldonado, before their June 21 show at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater. They displayed the big bevy of instruments they use to recreate the Train sound live.
PS: Special thanks to techs Wayne Davis and Stephen Ferrera-Grand for help running down the rigs.
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Dead Kennedys' East Bay Ray
Punk rock is about energy, attitude, and message. It’s been the gateway drug for a lot of guitarists and music lovers. And those forces are what steered East Bay Ray away from his bar-band gig in 1978.
“The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up,” Ray remembered during a https://www.premierguitar.com/artists/forgotten-heroes-east-bay-ray (2016 PG interview). “I saw the Weirdos playing. I said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I phased myself out of the bar band and put an ad up in Aquarius Records and Rather Ripped Records. Klaus Flouride (bassist Geoffrey Lyall) and Jello Biafra (singer Eric Boucher) answered the ad.”
And with the addition of drummer Ted (Bruce Slesinger), the Dead Kennedys were born. By the time they recorded their 1981 EP In God We Trust, Inc. (on their own independent label, Alternative Tentacles), Ted was gone and D.H. Peligro (Darren Henley) became their stalwart skin slammer.
Through the band’s initial eight years, four albums, and an EP, their subversive harpoon of jagged political commentary was tipped by Biafra’s lyrics. That got the nation’s attention, but what inspires musicians to this day was the power trio’s cohesive combination of familiar and unfamiliar elements of punk and primal rock. Sure, you’ve got the power chords and the four-on-the-floor tempos, but depth and nuance under the biting messaging is essential to the DK’s chemistry. Their punk-rock bangers have modal tendencies and atonal flourishes, and some of their most thrilling songs have odd-metered backbones. Their debut single, “California Über Alles,” is a take on composer Maurice Ravel’s Boléro, no less. And nobody else in the land of the 6-string shreds quite like East Bay Ray.
“One of the reasons our songs have lasted so long is the structure underneath has a lot in common with a Beatles song or a Motown song or even a ’30s standard,” he says. “There are basic constructions that make a song work. I really had a hard time copying or figuring out solos off my favorite recordings when learning to play, so I’d develop my own musical method to get from one place to another. It’s actually a lack of technique that helped with the music.”
His creativity and resourcefulness don’t stop there. East Bay Ray was the band’s co-producer/engineer on most recordings, and he’s tinkered with his own tone tools, assembling partscasters that best suited his approach. Ray has jammed humbuckers into the bridge of a T-style for a twangier bite that helps his rapid-fire arpeggios sting a bit more. He’s slapped on short-scale Japanese F-style necks for slinkier playability. And, most notably, he put a Maestro Echoplex in front of his amp to create the signature clanging sound heard on his classic recordings with the band. (“One of my favorite records of all time is Elvis Presley’s Sun Sessions. That is one of the records that inspired me to get an Echoplex, to get that slapback echo.”)
“We just didn’t know the rules on what to play and how to play,” he relates. “That’s where not knowing something forces you to make your own solution, creating something unique and new, proving that necessity is the mother of invention. The lack of technique and knowledge helped create our sound and the music.”
Before the Dead Kennedys’ headlining show at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl on June 15th, PG hit the stage for a brief but illuminating tone talk. We covered Ray’s economically rich setup that includes a single Schecter doublecut and a simplified, solid-sounding Marshall, and we were enlightened about why he puts his Line 6 delay ahead of the amp and what that does to repeats.
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