When pop/rock princess Pink was auditioning guitarists for a world tour around four years ago, she pretty much decided on the spot to hire LA based axeman Justin Derrico. Pink quickly warmed to Justin’s amiable nature, rock star looks, and his amazing versatility and dexterity on the guitar. Derrico has now circumnavigated the world several times with Pink’s band, but the recent birth of her baby has finally meant some time off the road. Rather than rest however, Derrico has been busy working as part of the band on the mega-successful American television talent show The Voice. More importantly though, the time off has allowed Justin to complete his debut solo album, Boldly Going Nowhere. So excited about this new album was Derrico, that he packed his bags, pedals and guitars and headed to Australia in August for the world debut of his own headline shows. Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips spoke to Justin just prior to his Australian tour about the album and his amp use.
After being Pink’s side guy for so long, this new solo album, ‘Boldly Going Nowhere’ must be pretty exciting for you?
Yeah it’s pretty crazy. I actually recorded it about a year ago when we had a little break in the Funhouse tour. I had this window of time and I went into the studio and knocked it out.
A lot of solo albums by lead guitarists are simply a showcase for their chops, but there are some really nice melodic tunes on this. How conscious were you of not only reaching the gear heads, but also the mainstream public?
I wasn’t really trying to impress anybody. I really just wanted to do this record for myself. It’s kind of selfish but I really wanted to do it … to actually finish it and to have a piece of work that is all me. It’s kind of just what came out. I just wanted to make some songs that were fun to play and fun to listen to. I wanted something that would be enjoyable to listen to not something where people would say, wow what amazing technique. I didn’t want a record that people would listen to just to find out what licks I am playing.
You use Bogner amplification now but I’m wondering what you were using previously?
I have been using Bogner for so long, but I did have a Fender Twin which is a very different animal and then I had an old Marshall JCM800, an old 80s one which I still have. I guess it was the Marshall which I was using most before Bogner.
You chose Bogner’s Shiva amp over the Ecstasy and Uberschall models. What were the characteristics of the Shiva that you liked so much?
Whenever I plug into the Shiva I could hear my hands coming through. It was a little more organic. The Ecstasy was great too but the problem with the Ecstasy for me was that it had too many damn knobs and buttons and it sort of scared me away from it, but I recently played through a 30th anniversary model and it’s unbelievable. The Shiva has a big sound, a really nice low end and it cuts really nice. For my lead sound, I use the distortion and the boost which is on it and it has a milky, creamy sound that I really dig.
How do you usually have the dials set?
The clean channel I have the volume at about twelve o’clock. The bass at eleven and then the treble about one o’clock. On the dirty channel, I dime the gain. It’s high gain but not super high, so I turn the gain all the way up. I turn the bass to about two o’clock, sometimes even crank it to three. The mid and treble are at about one o’clock. the volume on that channel is usually at one. The Master Volume is at twelve or one. The funny thing about that amp, when you change the dial it doesn’t change the tone a whole lot. it takes a big sweep to make a major change.
Is it a reasonably quite amp as far as surplus noise goes? Do you use a noisegate?
I never used to use a gate but it came into my rig because I was having some noise issues in a lot of the arenas. There was some sort of hum that we couldn’t work out and for some reason when we put the gate on it, it got rid of it. I don’t use the gate all of the time though. We travel all over the world and sometimes you get these arenas where the power isn’t the greatest. So when we play those arenas with funny power I use the gate to get rid of the hum. For the most part, it’s a pretty darn quiet amp.
You used a few guitars on the album including a Telecaster. Will you be using the Tele on this tour, and if so, how would that work with the Bogner?
I’d like to be but because I’m traveling from here to Australia, there is only so much I can take with me. I know for sure I have to bring my main Les Paul. I also have to bring a guitar with a whammy bar on it so I’ll probably bring the Axcess, which has got coil taps which are nice. It’s not like a Strat or a Tele, but I’ll bring that unless I can get my hands on a Tele over there. Actually, when I recorded the track Fricken Chicken, I used the Tele through a Fender Vibroverb. I wanted to get that open backed combo gritty country sound. The Shiva is its own animal. The clean channel is pretty good but the dirty channel is where it is at with that amp. The Ecstasy is one of those amps … you have 3 channels on it and you have a million possibilities. The Ecstasy is a great utility amp. I am on the TV show, ‘The Voice’ at the moment and the other guitar player, Dave Barry has hooked up with Bogner and he is using an Ecstasy amp. Dave is a ridiculous player. He played on Janet Jackson’s song Black Cat. He played on most of Rhythm Nation and plays with Cher now. For my rig when I come to Australia, I will be using a Bogner Twin Jet, which is kind of like the Uberschall, and also I’ll bring the Shiva. I’ll AB between the two. I used the Twin Jet for a lot of the lead stuff on the record. The rig that I use now is so catered to Pink, that I have to pull it apart and figure it to my own stuff.