Billy loves his BOSS pedals, “I’ve always used BOSS pedals. They’re part of the signature sound on “She Sells Sanctuary,” which was all BOSS pedals. If I had to pick only one brand of footpedal, I’d have to use all BOSS pedals. Y’know, they pretty much make everything. I like the delays — I use the old analog delays.”
“People used to bribe the producer to tell them what pedals and effects I used to get the guitar sound in the beginning of the song, that whole kind of mystical Easterny sound. The story that goes along with that is, it was a whole BOSS pedal board. I definitely had two delays in it, ‘cause there are two delays working against each other —long and short delays. It’s 400 and 800 milliseconds, approximately, at the beginning of the song. Also, it’s the way I pick — the attack of the pick and where I pick it on the neck. It sounds like a silly old story, but we were recording “She Sells Sanctuary” in a studio in London called Olympic, where Zeppelin and Free used to record. It subsequently was bought by Virgin and has become a more modern studio, but back in the day it was an orchestral studio where they’d record film scores. I was in there during “She Sells Sanctuary,” and I found a violin bow, and I started to play the guitar with the bow like Jimmy Page. I did it to amuse Astbury, who was in the control room, and in order to make it sound weirder, I just hit every pedal I had on the pedal board. Then once I stopped banging the strings and doing all that, I played the middle section of the song, which was kind of a pick thing with all the BOSS pedals on, and that sound just leaped out. The producer went, “Hold it, hold it, that’s great!” And we decided to start the song with that mystical sound. If I hadn’t found that violin bow laying around, we wouldn’t have gone there.”
Don’t expect to pick one of these up at your local music store because the BOSS DM-2 is no longer manufactured as it is an analogue effect pedal and has be
replaced by the digital version DD-3. Billy says sadly ‘They don’t even make this pedal anymore they have no plans to re-issue it but they should
Whilst this is Billy’s original Delay pedal he actually twins it with the newer digital one to get his signature sound.
Billy explains how the BOSS DD-3 pedal became so important to his live sound…
‘This is my go to pedal for subtle delays. When we supported Billy Idol in 1987, on the Whiplash Smile tour in America, I didn’t have any delay pedals and was blown away by Steve Stevens (Billy Idol’s guitarist) in the sound check. He was an amazing guitar player, still is, and there was this little echo after his guitar finished and I was like wow! The delay was there to make the guitar sound bigger and fatter and more impressive. Its not like a classic Echo which is a clear repeat, it’s a cheat on the ear, a bit like the kind of reverb you get in a church as opposed to being in a basement. I learnt that from Steve and very quickly grabbed hold of one of these pedals myself and just messed around with the settings until I found one, at about 800 milliseconds, that works for me. A year later in the studio, Bob Rock, who’s a great musician and engineer, explained the mechanics of this all to me.
Another time, producer Ted Templeman told me that that little delay trick was what Eddie Van Halen used on the early Van Halen albums which helped explain why that one guitar sounds so amazingly big.
I’ve ended up using the BOSS DD3 ‘cos it gives you that effect in an easily replaceable, robust, very reliable way. When I’m stopping on these with my motorcycle boots, when they’re on airplanes and the back of trucks I don’t want them to break. I use Boss pedals ‘cos they sound great and they’re made well. I could never take something on the road that wasn’t reliable, it would just create incredible headaches.”
“As well as all BOSS delays, I use their flanger and the Super Overdrive, still, on occasion.
When I was in Theatre of Hate prior to The Cult I didn’t have any effects, I had the Gretsch White Falcon and one overdrive pedal but it was quite a clean sound. So when Jamie joined I inherited those pedals and started to experiment. Its very much part of the early Death Cult and Cult sound and features heavily in the ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Fire Woman’ intros. They’re part flanger part phaser MXR100, but the phaser is very minimal and there’s times I can do without it.”
Billy uses the BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor within his pedal board effects setup to eliminate unwanted noise and hum without altering an his guitar’s natural tone.
- The Noise Surpressor unit is integral to the efficient use of the ME-5 both LIVE and in the STUDIO -