Grammy-nominated musician Fred Sablan takes a moment to talk to us at his home studio in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Previously a bass player in Marilyn Manson, Fred now turns his attention to his solo project Ghost Gropes. He also plays alongside Wes Borland in Queen Kwong and the legendary Chris Goss and Jeordie White in Goon Moon.
How and why did you first pick up the guitar / bass?
I came from a family that played albums all the time. So I was always into music. When I was 11, my friend Lance was the first kid I knew who had a guitar. I thought it looked and sounded so cool. When I got my own, I was obsessed.
Who were your main early influences?
Honestly, it was whatever was on the radio or being played in my house like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & the Family Stone, Neil Young, The Clash, Talking Heads, Roxy Music, Bad Brains, Public Enemy, and Prince. It changed constantly though back then, and still does. Everything was a big soup of sounds.
What was your first guitar or bass?
Sears Les Paul copy guitar. First bass was a Fender Mustang.
What other instruments do you play?
Drums, violin, a little bit of piano.
Tone-wise, what is your favorite recording setup like? Amps, pedals, guitars, mics, etc.?
Honestly, whatever works for the moment or sound. Crappy gear to expensive stuff, anything goes. Chris Goss said that if the music and feel is good, then it’ll sound great even with the worst gear. It’s the intention. I’ve got piles of stuff. Any way I can make it to sound the way I want it works for me. I love Nash guitars and basses most. I use Ashdown bass amps. I use Logic for recording. I fucking love messing with guitar pedals and drum machines, endless sounds.
If you had to pick one pedal you could not live without which would that be?
Delay pedals…endless entertainment. I love the Boss RE-20, it’s the Roland Space Echo. Always use it.
Which players should guitarists/bassists study and learn from?
Paul Simonon, Richard Lloyd & Tom Verlaine of Television, James Williamson of the Stooges, Tina Weymouth, James Honeyman Scott, Eric Avery, David Gilmour, Larry Graham, Neil Young, East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedys, Johnny Marr, Simon Gallup of The Cure. I can go on and on.
Where do you find your inspiration for song ideas?
Movies and photos. Mood and vibe is essential to whatever I write.
What are you currently working on / any new releases in the works?
I’m currently finishing up songs for my first solo thing called Ghost Gropes. It’ll have guest singers with my music. That’ll be out in the fall.
Where’s the best place people can find more information about you / your band?
Stephanie Nicole Smith is a visual artist and make up artist in Los Angeles, CA. You can find her work at stephanienicolesmith.com and follow her @stephanienicolesmith. She currently contributes to The Fuzz Guide via her Five Minutes series.