What’s the Deal with Oz Noy?

SMG: Do you get enough time to compose your own music?

Oz: It’s been a problem actually.  In the last couple of months it’s been hectic.  There’s been too much stuff that I’ve had to deal with.  I have these two songs that I’m supposed to finish and I just let it go.  It’s the first time that this has ever happened.  When I’m in New York I play my stuff constantly.  Every Monday I play at the Bitter End so I keep my thing going all the time.  The fact that I play every week gives me a reason.  I can write, make changes, and I keep this thing going all the time.

SMG: Are you’re playing older material?

Oz: I always do new stuff.  The only time I do old stuff is when I go to Europe or outside of New York, or when I have a special gig in New York.  Sometimes I do this double drummer gig where It’s two drummers like the records.  Other than that, when I play live it’s all new stuff.  Now with The Twisted Blues Band, I’ve been playing that for the last couple of months in New York.  That’s all I’ve been doing.  I haven’t played any of the old stuff.  Once I’m done with the record, I’m done with it.  I play it when I’m on tour or something, but when I’m in New York I’m already thinking about the next project.

SMG: Do your fans ever ask, “Where’s the stuff from Ha!?”

Oz: They ask but it depends on where you go.  I’m trying to make it interesting for myself.  Sometimes I’ll do an organ trio thing.  So it’s going to be me, organ, and drums.  Then there are certain tunes that fit that, so I might go for some tunes from the past.  Usually people who come just come to hear you play.

SMG: How do you introduce new songs to the band?

Oz: Once I have a new tune I just do a simple demo on Pro Tools.  If it’s Will Lee and Anton Fig from The David Letterman show, Anton has a room right by the theater.  So we just go there for an hour before the show and learn a new tune or two.  That’s how we’ve been doing everything.  It’s really easy.  We just go in at like one in the afternoon, go in for like forty-five minutes, go over the tune, then we play it live every week.  It just comes together.

SMG: You had a lot of toys on the floor at your gig at The Baked Potato.  What were you using?

Oz: I usually use a ’73 50 watt Marshall and a ’66 or ’67 Fender Bandmaster. They’re both tweaked by Ziv Nagari.  He’s like my brother.  He lives in New York and he’s really good with that stuff.  He works on my amps and even some of my pedals.  For the gig you saw me at, I was using the Line 6 Bogner head with the tube and the 4×12 cabinet.  It’s a pretty consistent amp and the thing with me is that I don’t play with a lot of distortion, so mostly I’m relying on cranking the amp.

A lot of times if you have to rent an amp, 90% of the time they’ll bring you certain amps that will just not react well.  The thing with this amp is it really feels good to play on.  I can get one really good tone out of it.  You can get a bunch of tones, but there’s one tone I can get that’s good for me.  There’s a thing with the gain, and the level, and all that stuff.  It sounds big and makes it feel like the amp is really working hard.  That’s really important to me because I don’t like to use a lot of gain out of distortion pedals, because then it loses the character of the sound that I have.  I sound like any other guitar player that uses a distortion pedal.

It’s tricky.  That’s why I use the Line 6 Bogner when I can.  It feels good to play on.  A lot of times they get you a Fender amp and you want to kill yourself.

SMG: What’s on your pedal board?

Oz: I use a Crybaby Wah Wah, then I have an Xotic Robotalk.  I do a lot of stuff with that.  The one with The Arpeggiator.  Then I got a bunch of boosters.  I have the EP Booster, the AC Booster, then I have this Blackstone Overdrive from this guy in New York.  That’s my main booster.  I usually use that, then I’ll push an RC Booster into that.  They’re all different levels of boost that gets more and more distorted.  Then I have an 808 Tube Screamer, and a Fulltone Octafuzz. I also have a couple of tremolos.  I have the Danelectro Tremolo, a Demeter Tremolo, a MXR Phaser, and a Leslie simulator.  Then I have the Line 6 M13.  All my delays and the looper is there.  That’s the traveling version.  (Laughing)

SMG: I was impressed with your ability to bring effects in and out seamlessly so fast.  Sometimes they would come and go very quickly.

Oz: I developed it from writing my tunes and playing with my band.  It’s developed over the years through the records.  Any pedal I have on my board has a reason to be there.  I do a lot of stuff with the Leslie when I turn it on and off really fast.  The reason is that in some of the compositions there will be a melody line and then a couple of chords.  I put it in for those chords just to make a difference between the melody and the chords.  Same thing with the tremolo.  It’s more like a rhythmical idea than an effect sometimes.  Same thing with some of the delays.  It’s important for me that the sound will be comfortable.  A lot of those effects are worked within the music to help certain sections come out.

SMG: When you’re composing are you thinking about what effects you’re going to use?

Oz: Maybe not in the beginning but eventually I do.  Some songs were created just by having those effects.  I usually don’t play too much with effects in the house unless I have to check something out.  I was playing with this tremolo along with a nice long delay and this melody came out just because of the sound.  Sometimes these things lead you to write.  On the first record, the track “Ha!” lead me to a lot of effects just from writing and playing out.  I remember the first time I heard an Octafuzz.  I went to a rehearsal and a friend of mine had it.  I played one chord and I was like, “Oh god!” I immediately went out and bought it.  Then I came up with that riff.  (Sings main riff to “Ha!”)  That’s the sound that made it work.

After that, all the reverse delay stuff I started to use was a part of it.  In that solo section I was thinking more like a Hendrix psychedelic thing.  I was thinking, “Why don’t I use the Line 6 Reverse Delay and see what happens.” The reason I have a bunch of those delays is because I use the reverse delay first, then I put it into some other delays.  That’s what really creates all those psychedelic sounds.  A lot of it just came out just from playing live or thinking about writing stuff with those sounds.

SMG: What’s your main guitar right now?

Oz: I have a few Strats.  I have a ’56 Relic that I do most of my trio stuff with.  For the blues stuff they just made me a Custom Shop of a ’68 Relic, but I asked for certain things.  I have one rosewood and one maple.  They’re unbelievable.

SMG: What certain things did you ask for?

Oz: They had a ’68 model that felt and sounded amazingly good but it was an ash body.  I was like, “Oh, I don’t know about that.” When I talked to them they said I could order anything I wanted.  I told them I wanted to order the ’68, and they told me they don’t make them anymore.  They said that if I change anything in the model they’ll make one for me, which was perfect.  So I told them to make me the exact same guitar, just put in an alder body instead of an ash body, and put in the regular vintage tuning pegs instead of the 70’s ones.  They made it, and it sounds unbelievable.  It looks and sounds like a ’68, exactly like the Hendrix thing.

SMG: Maple fretboard?

Oz: I have one maple and one rosewood.  The first one I ordered was a rosewood and I freaked out over it and immediately ordered a maple.  I got it, two days later I called them and said, “Can you make me a maple?” (Laughing)  That maple one is even better.

SMG: Those are the one’s that look beat up right?

Oz: Yeah.  I have a ’58 Relic Tele that I also use for the blues stuff.

SMG: Did you swap out the pickups?

Oz: No.  I use the originals.  They come with the ’69 Customs.  They’re really, really good.

SMG: What’s the first thing you play the second you pick up a guitar?

Oz: I’m basically a jazz musician.  That’s the thing I’m trying to go for but then I like blues, rock, and funk.

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