Guitarist, writer, and life enthusiast "Downtown" Randall Brown hails from Knoxville, Tennessee. He's a rock-n-roller from way back who cranks up the electric guitar in the land called "The Cradle of Country Music."
He began absorbing music about as early as a person can. Music critics (his mom, at least) heralded his unique cover version of Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" at age 3. Repeated performances of his original composition, "Tennessee Do-Do-Di-Woomba," of the same era, inspired her to ask, "Do you know any other songs besides that one?"
From that auspicious beginning, Randall made his way through the metal years, the punk years, the Americana years, and somehow ended up with a flair for riffs and psychedelia — hopefully blending influences from Angus Young, D. Boon, and Steven Drozd while trying to be as cutting-edge as Annie Clark.
Now frontman for the eclectic power trio Quartjar, which also includes rhythm-section supreme Malcolm Norman on bass and Tory Flenniken on drums. They bring a storied heavy-metal experience to Randall's blues-tinged, psychedelic punk aesthetic. Together, the trio throws a little of everything into the pot.
Primally, it must go back to how cool KISS looked to a kid in the 1970s. Also, I can't imagine a moment going by without some kind of soundtrack humming along in my head. It's something I inherited directly from my mother, Robbie. She was always humming. If you asked her a question, she would sing the questions back to you while she thought about it.
Keep practicing as an adult as often as you practice as a teen, and if you like a style don't let anyone tell you it isn't cool. Also, for goodness sake buy that Travis Bean hanging in your guitar teacher's shop in 1982.
Making music is the most immediate outlet for a creative thought. I'm a professional writer, and those skills pays the bills. But banging out electrified guitar sounds feeds the need. If I can blend choice wordsmithery with the right riffs, I've done The Thing.
The community and fraternity with my music bros is also invaluable. Meeting up on the regular with folks who get it.
A fuzz/overdrive, preferably the Nano Big Muff I recently added. It sounds the most like my first overdrive, an EHX Muff Fuzz that I wish I knew the location of. Gotta have that crunchy punch. My ear defaults to the late 1960s/early 1970s.
The Ravish Sitar — my first "out-there" pedal beyond a delay. It throws so many extra textures into the mix.
The EHX Freeze, for the self-accompaniment effect.
I'll noodle around on the guitar neck in an area that I feel like I've neglected in recent times, or that I've never given enough attention to. Lately I've been playing around with the feel of an errant half-step in the middle of an otherwise straightforward scale.
I got really into 1070s-era Miles Davis during the work-at-home tome of the pandemic. Applying things from that while noodling at home.
I locked onto The Flaming Lips as my favorite band many years ago, and they are still the band I follow most closely. They evolve with every album, so the journey continues to be fresh and exciting.
In recent years, I've really connected to Led Zeppelin. Their music is ubiquitous in so many ways, but I realized I hadn't really delved into them as deeply as they deserve. I think it started with seeing a Rick Beato video about the way Bonham's drums were miked back in the day. I tried out the set-up and was sold.
I think the first thing I ever do is strum a G chord. Then I probably riff around in pentatonic A minor. These days I'll do a couple of Quartjar riffs.
The black Fender Flame Elite that I got in 1986. It's simply a high-quality guitar, and I've never wanted for a different instrument. It's got a wide tone range. It's a beast at full humbucker power, and the coil-splitter switch flips it immediately to a jazz mood.
I've been attending to my home-studio capabilities in recent years, so probably some amazing microphone. Otherwise, Electro Harmonix annually comes out with some new pedal that makes a sound that I suddenly absolutely need.
My primary guitar is the black 1984 Fender Flame Elite, the smaller sibling to the Esprit, a.k.a. Robben Ford model. It connects via the initial Rattlesnake cable into an EHX Switchblade. That takes the signal to two pedal lines that go on to two different amps via two more Rattlesnakes — color-coded so I can visually check that I'm going into the right amp for the right pedal line.
The Rattlesnake cables offer just a superb signal, keeping tone full even as I go through numerous pedals. The rugged outer weaves protect the cables in various conditions, and the ability to have different colors helps me keep track of the monster board I've assembled over the years.
My forward line is the "guitar texture line." I've lined these up in order of how they interact: which one should give its effect to then ext. The chain is EHX heavy, currently thus: Guitar — EHX Ravish Sitar — EHX Intelligent Harmony Machine — Way Huge Atreides — EHX Cock Fight — Tonebutcher WeeWah — EHX OD Glove — BOSS DD-2 — EXH Freeze all going into a Roland JC-120.
My back line is for secondary overdrive tone and "bored keyboardist emulation." The chain: EHX Mel9 — EHX Key9 — EHX Canyon — EHX Nano Big Muff Pi — EHX Small Stone phaser — Catalinbread Bicycle Delay — BOSS TU2 tuner, all going into a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe.
Something about the Fender tube amp fills out the keyboardish tones of those emulators. The Roland's signature onboard chorus gives the guitar textures just the right bit of swirl for my taste.
I was recently gifted a second JC-120 in exchange for some songwriting, so I'm working on what to do with a third amp.
Also just started using a Rattlesnake mic cable for rehearsal/studio, and liking the smooth boost over the generic cable I've used for years.. For my home DAW, I have Rattlesnakes going to my monitor speakers. I prefer the Snake Weave design for these studio infrastructure cables.
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