Published On: Mon, Jun 15th, 2009

Want to Sound Like | Bloc Party | Russel Lissack

Learn how Russel Lissack from Bloc Party gets that unique Bloc Party sound with his Telecaster and various pedals…Read more

The Sound
“It can range from epic to gentle, melodic to full-on mega rock,” explains Bloc Party’s axe minister Russell Lissack. “I would say my main influences were a combination of Johnny Marr‘s melodic style, with the effects frenzy of Smashing Pumpkins.”

The Gear
Live, Russell uses a Fender USA Telecaster Standard through a Fender Deluxe amp, and has two separate pedal set-ups running into alternate channels on the amp. “My Electro-Harmonix Big Muff was great for creating heavy riffs, like the intro ‘Song For Clear (Disappear Here)‘. The Pitch Shifter Delay (the latest version is a PS-5 Super Shifter Delay – music gear ed) was useful for some of the more electronic sounds, such as the start of ‘Hunting for Witches’.”

In The Studio
Garret ‘Jacknife’ Lee (U2, Kasabian) produced ‘A Weekend In The City‘. According to Russell, Jacknife showed him how “to build up layers of rhythm guitars, or simple root melodies, to create a much heavier sound. Playing parts was no problem, but getting delay tempos and feedback levels just right was time consuming. Also deciding which guitar sounded best for the part, which usually involved me grabbing my Telecaster, then Jacknife beating me until I picked up the Les Paul. He also made me a Marshall Stack, causing me to involuntarily fingertap (see ‘Wayne’s World’!) on every song! Any advice? Avoid going through unnecessary pedals; the more you go through the weaker your guitar sound.”

On The Stage
Lissack translates a lot of Bloc Party‘s keyboard parts to guitar for gigs. “I’ve got a Custom Telecaster I had my friend build, which I use for the solo section of ‘Uniform‘ live,” he reveals. “It turned into a bit of a noise fest on the record, but sounds more like an alien invasion live. Russell’s current fave during gigs is ‘The Prayer’. I wrote the vocal ‘ahhhhs’ as a guitar melody originally, changed them for record, but switched them back to the guitar for the gigs as it gives it a lot more energy. Plus the solo is always fun to play, especially when I know my friends are watching, thus causing me to mess up!” Russell’s pre-gig routine includes some hand and arm stretches to ward off muscle pains. “I’m meant to do them after, too, but I forget,” he admits, “and have really sore hands when I wake up.”

The Technique
Russell believes the cornerstones of his style are a mix of fast arpeggios (i.e. when the notes that make up a chord are played separately – usually in quick succession – rather than together) with delay effects. “I tune the B up to C for ‘Two More Years‘, but that’s about it. We used different tunings before we got signed, but when we started gigging and only had one guitar it became impractical.”


Best Trick
“If I had to pick one thing, a versatile delay pedal is pretty handy… the Boss range has always served me well.”

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