Minus the Bear’s Dave Knudson Gets Experimental with Line 6 Pedals
Few bands combine experimental technique, innovative guitar riffs and catchy melodies as effortlessly as Seattle-based quintet Minus the Bear. At the core of their sound is Dave Knudson, a guitarist whose technical prowess and musicality have contributed much to the band’s unique brand of guitar-focused rock. On Minus the Bear’s recently released fifth studio album, Infinity Overhead, Knudson unleashes a barrage of guitar-driven soundscapes, finger-tapped riffs and unusual tones that are sure to leave guitarists wondering, “How did he get that sound?” Line 6 caught up with Knudson to discuss the making of Infinity Overhead-and learn how he produces his tones in the studio and on stage.
Many people see Infinity Overhead as a return to form for the Minus the Bear. What was the recording process like?
It was great to get back in the studio with Matt Bayles, our longtime producer and former keyboard player. On our last record, OMNI, we went outside and worked with producer Joe Chiccarelli. We learned a ton from him, but there were also challenges‚ just like there are in any recording process. It was nice to get back in the saddle with Matt. He knew exactly what the band was trying to go for without us needing to explain it to him.
Minus the Bear’s last album featured a lot of keyboards. How did it feel getting back to a more guitar-driven sound for Infinity Overhead?
On this record I really wanted to get back into doing crazy stuff with my guitar. I wanted to get it filthier, nastier and more intense than on previous records. I think songs like “Steel and Blood,” “Lonely Gun” and “Lies andEyes” really shine as a result of that.
Infinity Overhead is full of unique guitar textures and tones. How do Line 6 pedals help you get your sound?
I've been a big DL4 freak for the past 6 or 7 years. I love sampling my guitar lines and manipulating them-backwards, double time, re-triggered-so there's definitely some of that on the record. “Lies and Eyes,” “Toska,” “Diamond Lightning” and “Lonely Gun” all have sampling in them. In the past I'd use the DL4 last in my pedalboard chain, but this time I did the opposite and put the DL4 first. This is especially apparent on “Toska” where the outro riff consists of me tweaking and tweezing a digital delay with modulation while running two samples into it simultaneously.
How do you incorporate Line 6 pedals into your live rig?
My DL4 pedals have been a mainstay for a long time. Plus I’m really loving the M5 stompbox modeler. It includes so many great choruses, reverbs and other effects that I’ve actually been able to ditch several pedals because of it. It’s really helped to streamline my crowded pedalboard!
Your effect-laden guitar riffs are the driving force behind many Minus the Bear tracks. Tell us about your favorite effects in the M5 stompbox modeler.
The M5 stompbox modeler's “Growler” setting is pretty wicked, it helped me get the filthy, thrashed sound for “Lonely Gun”-our first single from Infinity Overhead. The “Smart Harmony” effect is also great. I’ve been using it live to replace my Digitech Whammy and Electro-Harmonix HOG. The sound quality is incredible and I love being able to switch between effects so easily-it makes my life on stage much easier.
What’s your favorite feature of the DL4 delay stompbox?
The DL4 pedal provides lots of great digital delays-both with and without modulation-and I love tweaking the Sweep delay. Plus, the sampler feature is integral to many riffs I play. For example, the track “Knights” simply can’t be played on any other sampling pedal. However if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the one-shot feature. I love getting that glitchy stutter sound while re-triggering my guitar riffs.
What can fans look forward to on your current tour?
Recently at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NY a dude told me I was “a wizard with the DL4s.” I told him that would go on my epitaph. See you on the road!