There aren’t many professional guitarists who can claim to have worked with as many musical icons as Kevin Armstrong. In a career spanning 35 years he has clocked-up miles with some of the most influential artists of the era as a guitarist, songwriter, producer and musical director.
His credits include the likes of Thomas Dolby, David Bowie, Iggy Pop (with whom Kevin will be touring in June 2015), Morrissey and Sinéad O’Connor – not to mention his stint playing for the original Jonathon Ross show’s live band where he played with greats such as Tom Jones, Roy Orbison, and Sir Paul McCartney.
Our friends at MusicPsych caught up with Kevin during a gap in his touring schedule to talk about his history, experiences, and relationships with the instruments and technologies that have propelled him through his musical journey:
What was your first guitar?
My first guitar was an Audition single pick up electric guitar made for Woolworth’s (a now defunct discount high street chain-store that sold everything) I bought it in a junk shop for £14 in 1972. I cycled nearly 20 miles to get it and carried it home in a bag on my back. I sort of knew that it would be my passport to a better life and so it proved to be.
Is there a gig that sticks out as your all-time favorite?
Well Live Aid with David Bowie was obviously an outstanding life moment and a very memorable experience. Iggy Pop gigs were pretty intense too. We played a hundred gigs in six months during an 18 month world tour and that was really hardcore and attained a sort of zen level of band chemistry I’ve never quite experienced before or since. I have also really enjoyed some local gigs with a pick up funk band in West London dives with fifty people just because the vibe has been so strong.
I’d already been using a pair of amps as a stereo sound and I got talking to the chaps at Chandler guitars. They said there were rumours of a game changing new product from Strymon that would be worth having and they managed to find me a Timeline when even Radiohead couldn’t! Immediately it became clear that this machine would do everything I needed. I loved it from the off. People all across the States complimented me on my tone. True, my ’54 and valve amps were great but the Timeline was a secret ingredient that enabled me to do time accurate delays that really blended and shone in the band sound. I got the blueSky reverb too at first and again I was massively impressed with the transparency of the sound and the quality of it. The BigSky is a step ahead again. The Swell setting alone is worth the money. I’ve gigged it in pubs and with my two little Laney 30 watt combos it just soars up to the roof. Amazing!
We mentioned that Kevin will be going back on tour with Iggy Pop in June 2015. Before he does, Kevin has kindly shared the TimeLine preset he uses during live performances of Iggy Pop’s classic song, “The Passenger.”
The image below shows the knob settings and parameters. Dial it up on your TimeLine and try it out.
We’d like to send a huge thanks to Kevin Armstrong for sharing this preset with us, and we wish him the best on his upcoming tour with Iggy Pop!
Made your own tweaks to this preset? Post them below. Are there other preset types that you’d like to see in upcoming blog posts? Let us know, and we’ll do our best to make it happen.
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