NAMM INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN THRASHER BY TALIA FARBER

Kevin "Thrasher" Gruft is an American Virtuoso guitarist for the band Escape the Fate as well as a proficient songwriter, producer, vocalist, artist manager, and CEO of Thrasher Threads. You can find him at instagram.com/kthrash and www.escapethefate.com.




1. What was your favorite moment at NAMM 2017?
My favorite moment at NAMM 2017 was seeing Mr. Zakk Wylde and Mr. Blasko rock out as Zakk Sabbath. I've always been a huge Wylde fan and they just put on a great show this year at the Grove of Anaheim.

2. I know you're sponsored by ESP Guitars, Peavey, and EMG, can you tell me more about who else helps you out?
Yes, you are correct I'm endorsed by these amazing companies and have been for many years. Another company that helps me out is called Positive Grid a new company that designed a really cool amp modeling software and interface. Another huge thank you to Ernie Ball for supplying me with Strings and Basses!


3. I remember Escape the Fate being sponsored by Schecter, why did you guys switch to ESP?
We have much love for Schecter, but I had always been an ESP guy. I got my first ESP when I was 15 years old. So when ESP invited me back on the roster I had to take it, they make some of the most high quality instruments. Schecter's custom series has had some cool guitars as well, and I have a prototype that they gave me which I still rock.

4. Do you already have your dream guitar or did you have a specific design in mind and hope to have created one day?
I do not feel as if I have my "Dream Guitar", which you're exactly right. I do want to design a guitar with special features that are derived from what I already play. Hopefully ESP can help facilitate this venture!

5. What's the writing process for ETF like? How long does it take to bang out enough songs for an album?
The writing process for ETF is madness. For those of you that don't know I just wrote and produced the most recent Dead Rabbitts record with Craig Mabbitt. This is a solo project for him, so as a producer, part of my job was playing all of the instruments and programming all the cool synths/sound clips that you hear on it. We decided to make this one as theatrical as we could while maintaining the metalcore edge that DR has. 




6. How do you go about creating the perfect tones?
As a perfectionist and a musical explorer is there ever a perfect tone LOL? I would hunt all day and spend my life searching for the perfect tone, unfortunately being in the business of music, and creating art on demand I have deadlines to hit. So I'm really good at pulling up bad ass tones and making them work for me. I should add that I really do believe the tone comes from the player. Which is something that has been instilled in me since my beginning years.

7. I know you produce bands on the side since my friends band A Hard Knock Life just recorded with you, can you tell me a little bit about that?
Yes, we just wrapped up tracking the vocals on their EP. Producing and developing young bands and artists is a huge passion of mine. Fortunately, these guys were super easy to work with and came in with an open mind to take suggestions on their songs. And the singer Doody has some really diverse range of singing styles. For these guys it was all about bringing in their diverse tastes in music and honing in the sound for them. We tracked their drummer at my friends studio in North Hollywood for his first time, and it was a blast to see their reaction to a properly recorded track with REAL drums. It sounds bad ass!




8. What got you into music production and was it easy for you to start up?
Music production was always a dream for me to do. Early on in my career I was fascinated by the recording studio. In the 7th grade I recorded a song called "Soldiers Don't Cry" based off of a book for my final project. In 2012 when my band LOVEHATEHERO broke up I went straight to a studio and started working as an engineer. I pretty much learned all the basics there.




9. How did you learn about music production, did you go to school or self teach yourself?
I never went to school for music production. I worked at a studio called STRZ with my friend Mike Riley who really helped me out on Pro Tools. At the time I was using primarily Logic 9 and dabbled in PT. I'm a very hands on learner and when I decide to do something I go with it 110 percent. I remember thinking if I can get pretty decent at guitar I can get pretty decent at music production LOL. I really would go in the studio and touch every knob and try everything out. You can develop your own personal style by doing this. You tweak things until they sound good to you.

10. What strings and gauge do you prefer and why?

My strings are always Ernie Ball, but the gauge frequently changes due to the different tunings I use. On my drop C guitars I'm using 11-54 on drop B 12-56 and drop A can be 11-68/80. Of course in the studio it's a completely different scenario because then I'm choosing the gauge based off of intonation and tone. I tend to go heavier in the studio for these dropped tuning.

11. Is there a specific pedal you prefer over an FX process?
For this upcoming record you are going to be hearing a lot more of my whammy pedal, and I've just picked up a few reverbs that I am really excited to use.

12. How long have you been playing guitar? Must be since a young age since you shred sooooo hard now!
I've been playing guitar since I was 8 years old haha. Although I really took it serious around the age of 16-18, now I've just recently become a bigger student to the instrument studying jazz and theory. I've been so focused in my career for the past 10 years that I felt like it was time to dig back into the instrument and study the theory behind all my playing.

13. What made you pick up a guitar in the first place?
When I was 8 I had this huge desire to own a guitar, fortunately my dad really listened to me and bought me my first electric for my birthday. 


14. Word on the street is you're producing the new Dead Rabbitts music, how has that been going?
The new DR is completed!!! Craig and I worked on this record for a few months. While everyone was partying on the tour bus I was working on it and being the "Quiet" guy on his computer. So apologies to anyone that tried to hang out with me, this is what I was working on. Make sure to pick up a COPY of it!



15. How do you get ready for tour and what do your sponsors do to help?

To prep for tour is a nightmare haha!! Seriously, I'm usually wrapping up a project the week we are leaving and it all happens very fast. I'll get all my guitars setup at ESP HQ, order my Ernie Ball Strings, make sure the tube in my Peavey 6505+ are good to go and rock!

16. Any tips you have for musicians starting out and people learning how to produce?
My biggest advice to young people starting out is you can never learn enough. Don't ever stop learning, growing, and work your ASS off to get what you want. There are no shortcuts to this business. If you're a band playing your first shows don't expect a guarantee or to even get paid unless you're able to bring 100 people out. Accept every show offer, play anywhere and everywhere. Work on your social media, invest in a sick band logo/design. Practice, Practice, Practice!

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