The latest “15 questions” feature is with guitarist Dan Whinney. Dan is the guitarist from Rock/Metal/Jazz hybrid band “Mum Locked in Castle” (MLIC) who are currently causing a stir in the UK promoting their new release “Lions Led”. Guitar Jar catches up with Dan to quiz him on his guitar equipment, technique and how he gets that huge guitar sound…
…We’re all pretty happy with “Lions Led”, its good fun to play live – that’s the most important thing!…
- Hi Dan, before we get into the details of your equipment and technique, can you give Guitar Jar readers an insight to why you first picked up the guitar and how long you’ve been playing?
I heard Teen Spirit when I was in high school and it destroyed me, I’d never heard anything like it and I was hooked. I got an electric guitar for Christmas that year and went on from there.
- In the first few years in learning the instrument, which guitarist(s) were you influenced by the most and why?
My teacher would play me Van Halen, Deep Purple, Mr Big etc – just loads of stuff with dirty riffs so I got into a lot of 80’s bands. Nuno Bettencourt would have to be my main influence, funky riffs, that was something else, heavy but with awesome grooves. He still is a massive influence, his song writing is immense, from soft to hard, he made me realise you can blend stuff together.
- What’s the live music scene like in Scarborough? Is it hard to get regular gigs, having the opportunity to play your own material?
There’s a pub called the New Tavern that puts on regular gigs, and a nightclub, but that’s quite hard to fill up. We’ve played a lot up at the Uni and there’s a massive folk scene in Scarborough, with good open mic nights most nights of the week. As regards to original stuff, with there being so many music students about, there’s always the opportunity to showcase original music.
- Can you tell our readers about your band? How did you all meet and are there any clashes in musical tastes?
We formed in our first year at University, all living in halls together, there was always music coming out of everyone’s rooms. With the Uni being quite small, we soon found out we liked each others music taste and just decided to have some jams and see where that went. We spent our 2nd and 3rd years living in a house together so it was really easy to get together and go through ideas and experiment with different genres. I think we all have our own favourite bands, but no one dislikes anyone taste in music.
- What guitars do you use?
I have a Washburn N6, N4 and N2, but I’m selling the N4.
- How do get that huge guitar sound? Are you a man who runs through lots of overdrive pedals or do you crank your amp to 11, stand back and hope you don’t get tinnitus?
I bought some pedals and I gradually got rid of them, except an octave pedal which is cool to record with. I have an Orange Rocker 30 combo, the single speaker model; it has a clean channel with no EQ, and a dirty channel with a lush natural distortion. I like just turning it up and playing. I’m not one for messing about, I just want to play.
- Are you a fan of amp/guitar modelling? In the studio, are you averse to using this technology?
My opinion changes daily. I use Amplitube to demo tracks – it’s good, easy to get a decent sound and does the job well. In the studio I’ve always used amps and mics and I think I’ll stick to that, getting a good sound is rewarding.
- Do you have to work hard at creating the guitar parts or is it something that comes easy to you?
My guitars are always just lying about, so I can pick them up quickly if I feel like playing and see what comes out. Andy (bassist) comes up with riffs as well and we bounce our ideas back and forth to each other until we know they’re done.
- How often do you practice and what do you focus on to improve your technique?
I don’t practice guitar anymore, I know a couple of scales and just work around them. I probably have bad technique. I play guitar a lot, coming up with ideas and I play a lot of acoustic and Spanish guitar, but its never going over scales or anything like that.
- Can you tell our readers more about your EP, Lions Led? What was the creative process like – is it a group effort or driven by a particular member of the band and how did your role as the guitarist fit into the equation?
It’s actually a year old now; it’s just taken us ages to release it. It was a very collaborative effort, it always is, myself or Andy would bring in some songs or riffs and we’d jam them out, mess about with structure and while we’re doing this Ben is coming up with vocal melodies and it all just comes together. We’re all pretty happy with it, its good fun to play live – that’s the most important thing!
- Have you had any nightmare experiences whilst gigging?
I’ve dislocated my right knee twice now dancing onstage. The first time someone threw a pint at me and I slipped on it and my knee came out, I was on crutches for 2 months, so I now have to restrain myself a bit onstage, but there you go.
- Your house is burning down. What’s the one guitar item you would save?
It’d be the N6.
- If you could form a super group using famous musicians past or present, who would you have on drums and why?
John Theodore from the Mars Volta, because he plays topless and hits hard.
- Lager or Cider?
- What’s the plan for Mum Locked in Castle for the next 12 months?
We’re touring Lions Led and writing a full length which is going really well – just getting on it really!
For more information about Mum Locked in Castle, please visit: