AXEMEN SERIES | Jason Higson of Yanomamo

Tell us your name and the band you play for:

My name is Jason Higson & I play guitar for Australian Sludge/doom band Yanomam

Who made you want to pick up the guitar:

Ace Frehley from KISS!!!

Are you self taught or did you take lessons?

I am completely self-taught.

Can you read music, Can you read tab?

I can’t read music but I can read & write tab … I don’t think that reading & writing tab is a skill though …

Do you feel like you have your own sound/tone?

Yeah, I think I do. I’ve worked pretty hard at my tone over the last 10 years.

I think tone is a complicated combination of the guitar, pickups, amps, playing style, technique, influences, emotions & environment.

Tell us about your guitar (brand, model, year, color):

I love guitars … I’m always looking at whats for sale on the 2nd hand market. I’m a definite guitar nerd.

My current guitars are:

– 2008 Gibson Les Paul Custom – Silverburst

– 2006 Gibson Les Paul Custom – Creamy White

– 1972 Gibson Les Paul Custom – Black

– 2002 Gibson SG – Silverburst

– 2018 Dunable Yeti – Flame black

I’m a huge silverburst fan. I’ve also owned more guitars than I care to remember, but this current line-up is the best I’ve ever had. I’d love to add a silverburst YG from Seger Guitars in Maine USA & a silverburst Flying V from Warden Guitars in Melbourne Australia one day (soon).

What about pickups? Passive or active? Tell us about them.

Always passive. I used to be a huge fan of high output Lace pickups – especially the Heshers (Matt Pike signature model) & Winos (Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich signature model).

These days I’m all about low output pickups, specifically Gibson T-Tops. These pickups were produced by Gibson between 1968 & 1980 with outputs of around 7.5k in both bridge & neck. They are a biting & aggressive sounding pickup that play really well under heavy gain & low tunings (Yanomamo tune to B Standard). I’m lucky in that my ’72 Les Paul has the original T-Tops in it. So any clones I’ve had made get compared to the real ones! I much prefer the low output pickups as they sound warmer, & fuller to me than higher output pickups.

I’ve had really good T-Top clones made by Orpheus Pickups in Melbourne Australia & Vertigo Instruments in Brisbane Australia.

Let’s get into amplification. Same drill: brand, model, speakers etc

Haha! Man, I could talk about this stuff for daaaaays …

Current amps:

– 1971 Orange OR120 with master volume mod

– 1996 Orange OTR120

– 2013 Hovercraft Dwarvenaut

I’ve also owned more amps than I care to remember …

I like simple, single channel amps with minimal knobs. I’m a huge fan of the tone of vintage Orange amps. For the brand of Sludge/Doom that we play, they are as close to be perfect as you can get to me. I have a Sunn Model T clone being built by Ceriatone Amplifiers in Singapore. It should be delivered towards the end of August & I’m quite excited to fire it up.

Do you have a pedalboard? Tell us about that bad boy.

I love pedals too … Hahaha … who’d have guessed?

My standard pedalboard for Yanomamo, in order, is:

– Morley Maverick Mini-wah – optical because fuck that switch

– Anarchy Audio Maggot Fuzz/Distortion – custom built for me by Anarchy Audio in Perth, Australia. It’s a 2-1 pedal. A Rat distortion into a heavily modified version of the Black Arts Toneworks Pharaoh. It has quite a few switching & tone options. Johannes built it for me back in 2014 when we toured Australia with Conan. It’s played a lot of shows & has been on a lot of recordings.

– MXR Phase 90 (I’ve tried so many phasers & this one is the best I’ve found … I’m still not 100% happy with it though

– MXR Carbon Copy delay (really great pedal)

– Boss TU3 Tuner – always at the ned of the chain because I find it cuts down on unwanted noise.

Now tell us your Dream Rig in detail.

I’ve been fortunate enough, quite a few times, to play live through 2 full stacks. So, stack 1 would be an Orange OR120 head, into 2 Orange quad boxes & stack 2 would be a Sunn Model T into 2 Orange Quad boxes.

What guitarist can you not stand?

Oh, savage question … nobody in particular, but I’ve never been into those crazy ‘shred-dudes’. I’m more into players who might not be the best technically, but can create amazing riffs & play them with so much passion & swagger that they knock you on your ass. Guys like Jeff & Mike from Bongzilla, Jimmy Bower from Eyehategod, David & Chris from Slomatics, Jon from Conan, Pig Champion from Poison Idea,

Is tone more important or is the technique?

I think a player’s technique influences their tone in a huge way … and I don’t mean that good technique equals good tone! Most of my favourite guitarists don’t have the best technique but have amazing tone! Ace Frehley, Greg Anderson from Goatsnake, Jeff & Mike from Bongzilla are good examples. I’ve have a really shitty technique from a pure players perspective! Haha … but it is what it is. I think attitude is way more important than technique.

Name your top 5 guitarists

My top 5 favourites … hmmm … this could take a while …

#1 is easy though:

1) Ace Frehley – KISS

2) Scott Gorham – Thin Lizzy

3) Tony Iommi – Black Sabbath

4) Matt Pike – High on Fire/Sleep

5) Steve Jones – Sex Pistols

Honourable mentions:

– Bill Kelliher – Mastodon

– Brent Hinds – Mastodon

– Eddie Hazel – Funkadelic

– Jimi Hendrix

– Malcom Young – AC/DC

Who is the most overrated guitarist?

I’m not going to call any guitarist overrated. Thats not a cop out … most guitarists work really hard & its not easy to be even half decent on guitar … but, sure there are guitarists I don’t want to listen to.

Who would you like a one-hour private sit down lessons with anyone dead or alive?

Ace Frehley!

Yanomamo formed in late 2011 via a shared love of huge, dirty
riffs, feedback & B-grade horror movies to unleash the sounds in their collective heads.

The band have toured Australia extensively over the last 9 years playing shows with the likes of Conan (UK), Black Cobra (US), Jucifer (US), Kylesa (US), Monarch (Fra).

After line-up changes which saw Jack Thomas & Scott Tabone join the band on drums & vocals respectively, the band released the full-length album ‘Neither Man nor Beast’.

The album containing 8 monstrous tracks of pure sludge ridden doom was recorded at Frank St Studios in Sydney & was mastered by Dav Byrne at Iridium Audio in Melbourne. It was released in October 2017 on Iommium Records.

In August 2020, the band a new EP entitled ‘No Sympathy for a Rat’. The new music was recorded & mixed by Adrian Griffin & was mastered in New York by the legendary Alan Douches at West West Side Music. The result is huge & captures the band at their brutal, crushing best.

The Yanomamo live show is a crushing experience that suffocates the audience with brutal, bottom-end-heavy riffs, volume & groove.

AXEMEN IS A GUITAR SERIES CREATED BY WES J.

Wes is the owner of Metal Moose , Metal Coffee , The Metal Times and The Pitchfork Syndicate, and he has 20 years of the biz under his belt, focused on the indie heavy music scene from the unlikely location of Oklahoma City.Wes is bringing his Guitar Series Axemen and Underground Spotlight to MHF.

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