There are those of us who stay busy, and then there’s Jonathan Hischke. Alternative-rock supergroup Dot Hacker puts the 4-stringer next to Clint Walsh and Eric Gardner from Gnarls Barkley and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, and Hischke has worked his way into other bands heralded both in the underground and at the top of the charts. With a resumé that ranges from the hip work of the Shins and Broken Bells to the math-rock of Hella to the desert rock of Sweethead and Earthlings?, Hischke’s unusual and unpredictable thump is enhanced by an effects chain that includes “easily over 100 pedals.” Shortly after hitting the road with another supergroup, the Sound Of Animals Fighting, Hischke got his hands dirty while talking about his aggressive style, the new two-part Dot Hacker record How’s Your Process?, and a collection of pedals that just won’t stop growing.
How do you decide what pedal to try next?
I’m fortunate to be around people like Josh Klinghoffer and Juan Alderete, who runs pedalsandeffects.com. Pedal companies want him to have the stuff, so sometimes I get the hand-me-downs, and it’s the same with Josh. I get to try out a lot of things and figure out what’s useful or inspiring.
How do you decide what pedals to take on tour?
I try to take conditions into consideration—if the backline is unfamiliar, I like being prepared with pedals to help the general tone. I have a lot of tone-shaping things, so I don’t have to rely on circumstances. I like to have control of what I send to the house.
How do you decide the settings for each pedal?
I’m all about trial and error. I can’t think of a time I’ve opened something out of the box and just nailed it. By the time I play a show with it, I’ll have played it a thousand times and maybe even checked the manual to compare my mistakes with reality.
How does How’s Your Process? compare to Dot Hacker’s first album?
If we sound very different, it ’s not because we set out to. The process of making the record might have made it a little different. It’s more aggressive and has a few more rock moments; it’s more in your face, while the first album was mellow and atmospheric. How’s Your Process? is more collaborative because we recorded it together, while the first was recorded in short, separate recording bursts. This has a lot more musical interaction.
Dot Hacker, How’s Your Process? [2014, ORG Music]
Main bass ’73 Fender Precision
Live rig Aguilar DB 751 head, two Aguilar DB 115 1x15 cabs
Effects Electro-Harmonix Superego, Tronographic Rusty Box, Aguilar Octamizer, Mantic Vitriol, Walrus Iron Horse, Wren and Cuff Tall Font Russian, Malekko Diabolik, DOD Bi-Fet Preamp, Tech 21 VT Bass, Earthquaker Devices Dispatch Master, DigiTech PDS 20/20 MultiPlay, DigiTech Timebender
Strings La Bella flatwounds