Lindsey Baker fronts Guts Club, a band with a heavy, doomy, guttural sound. Everyone in Guts Club is 5’3’’ and powerfully loud. They wear suits and boots and bolo ties onstage and they’ve been written up in many established publications. Separate from the band, Baker has done sound and booking at Banks Street Bar, then Gasa Gasa, and as of this month, Siberia. I sit down, prepped and ready to navigate her packed schedule and the serious topic of Gasa Gasa shutting down just days ago, which has prompted differing opinions all over the internet. Her video screen flashes on and three tiny plastic horses gallop across the Google Meet screen as Baker states, “This is the gear—these are the horses that create the Guts Club sound.” When we recover from the giggling, Baker says, “OK, let’s get it going before we laugh and goof and then I have to leave to write 45,000 ticketing links.” So we put on our journalistic faces and get to it.
Anybody who’s listened to Guts Club for a long time knows that your sound used to be radically different. What was your original setup?
Guts Club started with a single acoustic guitar: a Recording King shitty plywood guitar was all I used. Although I used to screen video behind the sets that were really fucked up found footage that I would illustrate over. But it’s really hard to do projections at bars, so I stopped doing it.
Did you add one instrument at a time until you got to the current sound?
The next album [Shit Bug] was still that guitar but we added an upright bass, a snare drum, a piano, and a trumpet; and then the next album [Trench Foot], I took it even further and used a hollow body electric jazz guitar. I was really dipping my feet into guitar, in terms of being louder. I was finding my way. I look back and think I wasted so much time in that scene, in that aesthetic, and I was always really miserable with our shows. Next, we had a bass guitar, another guitar and drums: electric instruments. We had an organ, not a Hammond, but some kind of old church organ. We had a few shows, a few tours where there were five members of Guts Club, including that organ. And I’ve had the same 200 square foot rehearsal space for five or six years.
That ridiculously tiny room you let my band [WAR BUNNIES] use before “The World’s Loudest Book Signing” show we did together?
That one! It’s flooded several times. I don’t know how we fit but we all had little combo amps [at the time]. Now I have two giant amps, Jett uses an amp, Jett uses a giant fucking Moog, Jett uses the biggest saxophone they make in history and then there’s [Ronna Sandoval’s] drums.
So how did the sound begin changing?
When [my wife] Kelly [McClure]’s father passed, he left all these guitars and I took the cool ones. They were all guitars that I had fantasized about buying and playing. I wanted the Epiphone Dot cause that’s the poor man’s version of the [Epiphone ES-]335. I took a Mexican Telecaster. I took a Mexican Stratocaster. And I took a 1980s Yamaha 12-string acoustic. I hadn’t fantasized about one of those but I did have that same guitar when I was 16. The one I had was in really bad shape—I had got it at a flea market for $30. This one’s in really good shape and I play it like once every three years. I played the Dot for a long time as I progressed into getting louder and more rockin’. Then I saw a rockabilly guy combine a bass amp and a guitar amp (I think because he was just a douchebag and couldn’t maintain a full band, in terms of human relationships), but I was like, “Oh, that’s a really good idea.”
With the Epiphone Dot, cause it’s a semi-hollow body, I couldn’t control the feedback. It was gross feedback instead of cool feedback, so I moved over to Kelly’s father’s Telecaster and I’ve been playing it ever since. I’m happy with it. I modded it out a little bit, changed the pickups. I have really thick, metal dudes’ 13 gauge strings on it, so I can get it throaty in a more boomy way, not high in the throat but a low end throat.
Is it an actual split rig or do all of the strings go through both amps?
I use a Fender ABY [Footswitch] to split it, and each has a little chain of pedals, so the bass amp is getting everything that I’m giving the guitar amp. It’s just affected differently, so it has this meaty buzzsaw quality and uncontrolled feedback… which is hard at a sound check. Even if I put it on standby, there’s still stuff doing shit but, otherwise, I’m really happy with it. I would like bigger amps but we’re also working people so we have the working people’s setup. We call it “rigs of junior.”
What’s your dream rig?
Some kind of Mesa/Boogie situation or maybe Orange amps and maybe some kind of tubey head. I like our tone now. I would like a little more clarity and a little more low end but we’re playing to people holding beers. It doesn’t matter, really.
When it comes to your voice as an instrument, how do you get that sound? Where does it resonate most?
I mean, everywhere? I feel it in my throat ‘cause I’ve been screaming more. We’re working on something now where I have a fantasy of crooning or Nick Cave-ing but I don’t want to digitally alter my sound and I’m still gonna scream but it’ll be a contrast and I hurt myself sometimes. We can only play the set once at a rehearsal. We don’t miss rehearsals. We’re there every week but we rehearse for an hour, same with recording. And I wanted to record live so when we were recording CLIFFS/WALLS we did it in mostly one take and I got sick and hurt from it, so I want to find a way to not get fucked up. A lot of it is being able to hear yourself, though. When we would play Gasa (Rest in Peace) Nick [Pope] would mix us there and I would not hurt myself as badly as I do when I play other unnamed spots. He’s just a really good sound tech and knows how to work the room that he’s in. He mixed our set and then mixed and engineered our album.
Any tricks on how to get the sound you want when live mixing?
I want 32 channels on the rig. I want 32 channels on the snake. And I want all the subs in the world. I like all the channels that I can possibly have. It’s really not about what a band is playing, it’s how they come to the room, how they perform the music, and how they communicate to you what they need. There are people that will have two inputs and they’ll make it seem like they have 32 inputs. I’ve mixed nine-person jazz fusion bands where it felt easier than that person with the two inputs. You can have a really simple two-person singer-songwriter setup where the drummer is playing a kit that’s designed for metal bands and he’s playing it as if he were in a metal band, and even with the whole fucking kit muted, I can’t push the vocals far enough and then I have some drunk dad behind me telling me he can’t hear his daughter, and I’m like, “Well, her drummer’s an idiot.”
Any pedals you can’t live without?
My [Electro-Harmonix] Memory Man delay, I use a little bit between songs. I have a pedal called a [DOD] Boneshaker distortion pedal. It’s basically a multi-value gain boost but I use it as a bottom end boost. I also have something called a [DOD] Meatbox. it’s a sub-synth octave pedal. I run that into the bass amp so I can get a more [makes rumbly chaos sound]. I’m playing very minimally—you’re just hearing a lot of sound.
Can you elaborate on the current Guts Club sound and how the saxophone happened?
I did this interview for a site called No Clean Singing and the question was sorta like, “What’s the next thing that you want to hear in Guts Club?” And I said that I wanted to hear it with a baritone saxophone and then Jett was reading that interview and grew up playing the saxophone and was like, “I’m gonna get myself a baritone saxophone” and I was like, “Let’s fucking do this shit.”
We have a kick drum mic on the saxophone and then a regular clip-on jazzy sax mic and they’re sending all these wackadoo signals into all these different places—one’s going into a bass amp that’s affected, one’s going into the house and now they also incorporated a Moog synthesizer that’s highly effective. They’re on a journey and I’m surfin’ along with them.
How did you become a live sound tech?
About a year before pandemic, I had put on this 15-band festival at Banks Street [Bar], when Kallie [Tiffault] was still there, and the engineer at the time, Milli [McKay], was working the show and she was like, “I’m gonna be moving—do you know anyone that would want to learn how to run sound?” and I was like, “I do. This guy!” So she taught me how to do it via the [Behringer] X Air system which is a digital version of a big console. When I started out, I worked the worst shows in the world: white SoundCloud rappers, fucking raves, jam bands, and
Valerie Sassyfras, who’s all wireless—it sucks to mix. I was the new tech, so they were giving me all of it. [Minus pandemic] I’ve been doing it since then, so I’m not super technical about it. I’m utilitarian—I’ll just make sure people feel good about it and don’t want to kill themselves when dealing with me.
What’s the best advice you can give to bands to help sound engineers help them at their live shows?
Come with a stage plot that you can share with your tech, be nice, and don’t play your instruments when your tech is on the stage, unless they ask you to. Don’t play your drum when my head’s in front of it. Don’t play your guitar when my head is in front of your amp—wait til I go back to the console. Don’t turn your amps up after a sound check. That’s where they need to stay. And tell your parents to stay home from the show.
Please explain your totally insane stage plot.
The people I’ve shown it to don’t do what it asks and I think it’s because I maybe wrote it like someone who doesn’t do this kind of work. I wrote it in an insane way. It hasn’t been helpful technically but it’s been helpful as an icebreaker.
I feel like we have to talk about Gasa Gasa, since they just shut down and there’s been such drama and mystery surrounding it.
I’m beyond devastated seeing all the hard work we put in go to waste. Watching it shut down after all of our blood, sweat, and tears went into that room was like losing a loved one. I did my best to create an atmosphere that didn’t suck within the confines of the bullshit I was dealt. I was only able to hold up the facade for as long as I could and as much as I could without my personal and creative life completely eroding. All of our hard work was shit on by some jazz fusion-loving money guys from Baton Rouge that bought a business in New Orleans they had no idea how to run. Luckily Siberia took me in with open arms. I’ll be staying in my own neighborhood now and working with people who live down the damn street.
Got some production news, studio tips and tricks, gear, or creative space you love and want to talk about it? Email us at email@example.com.
Top photo by Branden Kempt
Bottom photo by Mike Hartnett