In Search Of Tone: Aaron Wall Of Red Beard Wall

Red Beard Wall is a hard-rocking band that creates some heavy yet emotional music. Lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter Aaron Wall writes from his heart, puts everything he has into his music and it shows. I’m drawn to slower calmer music like REZN recently but, Red Beard Walls infectious riffs have made it impossible not to enjoy.

Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall
Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall

Aaron’s reputation precedes him. I heard about how nice and cool he was before I had the privilege to experience that myself. He was definitely both those things! It was less of an interview and more like two friends discussing their love and passion for music. I learned so much in our chat and look forward to the future of Red Beard Wall. All Hail!

I start these interviews typically with a chat about gear. Today, I have to start with a slightly more important question. How did you get the epic beard?

[Laughs] I don’t know man, I’m just blessed, I guess. Living in wisdom and with the band name tied to it, so I’m tied to it, and I’m dedicated [Laughs].

I have an OR100, a Thunderverb 200 and a Dual Dark 100, those are my Orange heads…

Alright! I guess I need to be more dedicated to mine because it doesn’t grow much [laughs]. OK, now to get into music. I saw the picture of your studio and it’s awesome. I noticed a bunch of Orange amps. Is that what you mostly use?

Yeah, mostly Orange. I do have an old Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket for real clean stuff, which I hardly use anymore. I have an OR100, a Thunderverb 200 and a Dual Dark 100, those are my Orange heads and then I have a Blackhawk Odin 120. That’s my most recent addition, but I’ve had it almost a year already. I’ve always been a pedal guy too, but that shit can get overwhelming, especially live when I sing as well. I’ve adjusted how I do things and my way now is much more expensive, and heavier as far as weight goes [laughs]. I just have different amps now to fill in the different tones and frequencies and the amps I have work really well for that. Each cover their own space and when you turn them all on together it really fills up.

So you’re singing and playing guitar with only a drummer backing you up, yet still sound so full. Is that due to the multiple amps?

Yeah, it’s just me and I have to account for the low end as well. That’s why I have the Thunderbird 200. I don’t really use it as a bass amp per say. I run it through 4×15’s and take the treble out, crank the bass and leave the mids right around 12 o’clock. I still use the gain and treat it like a guitar amp, it just adds a little beef to my low end and without a bass player its needed.

Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall
Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall – Amp, Cab & Mic Rig

How many amps are you typically running at a time?

Pretty much any venue, I’m running the OR100 and Thunderverb 200. That would be my ‘core’ sound. If I can use three I’ll throw the Blackhawk Odin in the mix as well. I have a custom Worshiper 6×12 cab that I run with the Odin. I also have the Dual Dark I mentioned and the Worshiper 6×12 is set up where I can split it and run the Odin on three speakers and the Dual Dark on the other three. Sometimes places are a little smaller so I have to use the 2 amps, but I try and do as much as I can without it becoming overwhelming.

That’s really interesting. I haven’t heard of splitting a cabinet. You mention you’re a pedal guy but have cut back because it gets overwhelming. What pedals are you currently using?

I use an EP Booster into a Tetra-Fet Drive from Nunez Amps. That’s all I run at the moment, but I have a Morley ABC Pro which allows me to run multiple amps. If I’m ever in a huge place, which is rare, I run the Radial Bigshot which allows me to run four amps at once. With the Morley I can control each amp individually, in a live setting I may start the song with just one amp and when the songs really builds, I’ll add the second and third amp in.

the Worshiper 6×12 is set up where I can split it and run the Odin on three speakers and the Dual Dark on the other three…

I’m originally a drummer. I play the drums on all the records. I started playing guitar when I was 15 or so, but I just kind of died out. I never got too serious. I got a drum kit when I was 16 and I was pretty serious about the drums for quite a long time. The guitar thing has just been a necessity almost. I don’t really consider myself a drummer, guitar player or singer. I guess I’m just a songwriter and those are my tools to get the songs where I want them to be.

I’m like you man, I’ve been playing guitar forever, I still feel like I don’t know anything and I’m not good. I feel like I struggle, but I just try and play, and you’re going to get better the more you play.

Do you have a bunch of guitars or just one or two main ones you use most?

That Gibson Explorer is my road dog. I’ve used that 98% of the time. I also have a Gibson SG 2004 and it’s black. I’ve played that forever. I play left-handed so my pick of the crop is not as great as all you righty’s [laughs]. My Explorer is from about 2018 and I love it. It just feels right to me. I play it live and it’s on the records. I also have a 2001 Les Paul custom. It’s a solid body and weighs about 16 pounds. It’s lime colored with the tiger stripe in it. It’s just beautiful and is the best guitar I have, but it’s so nice and I love it so much that I don’t like to take it anywhere. I take the SG as a backup.

Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall
Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall – Amp & Cab Rig

You mention you consider yourself a songwriter. I know you recently added Roderick Pink as your drummer. Do you write the music yourself or is it a collaboration and what is your writing process like?

I’ve always had a live drummer. I’m not a dictator or anything. It’s just when the band started, it was just me. Living out in West Texas, I live 7 hours away from Rodrick, so I don’t really have anybody around. It just came out of necessity as my first drummer didn’t really work out. Rodrick joined right before the pandemic started, so that made it hard because we can’t play shows together. I consider him a part of the band, it’s just when the albums came out, it just didn’t work out with a drummer. The timings were off is all.

Going back to the writing process though, I try everything on the guitar first. I had the songs exactly how I wanted, from the riffs to the transitions and everything. From there I’ll record some scratch tracks to a click. I’ll just sit behind the drums and start playing. Before you know it, it’s complete. I’m lucky like that and I hate taking credit for anything. I work hard as far as learning how to record and mix and all that kind of stuff, but as far as the song goes it just comes out. If it sounds good and it feels good, I don’t over analyze it. I just trust my creativity.

if I’m not around my guitar and I come up with an idea, I’ll actually whistle it into my phone…

I have a bunch of phone recordings that I’m constantly over analyzing [laughs].

Speaking of phone recordings, if I’m not around my guitar and I come up with an idea, I’ll actually whistle it into my phone. I don’t always record it immediately on my phone. I’ll just whistle an idea and it’ll be in my head. If that idea comes back to me a few times, then I’ll record it to my phone, or try and record it on guitar because then I know it’s something worth exploring.

It may sound a cliché, but it has to be memorable. If I like something and I record it right away, then it won’t be memorable because I know I’ve recorded already and it’ll just vanish. It’s a mental thing. My mind is not really going to save it because I don’t have to. It’s already saved. Once I have about twelve or so little ideas recorded on my phone, then I’ll start writing. I’ll start the first riff and try and work in the second. Once I get those, the rest of the song fleshes out pretty quickly. I really focus on the transitions to make sure everything flows smoothly, nothing really jars or gets boring.

Red Beard Wall
Red Beard Wall

What do you do if you’re having an off day?

I sometimes shut it down if I’m not feeling it, but on the flip side, there are some days where I’ve had a hard day at work, and I don’t feel like playing. That’s when you get your ass up and you do it, even if it’s just for 15 minutes

But to go back to your question, if you have an off day and you’re not feeling it, then just drop it and go back tomorrow. It’s easy to get down on yourself so you have to stay positive. It comes faster for some other people then maybe me or you. Some people are fucking amazing, and I will never be that. You just have to go at your own pace and take those little bits of progress as if it’s something huge because they are! When those little bits of progress add up then before you know it, you’ll think ‘well shit man, I sound like I can play’. For example, I’ll listen to the records that I’ve recorded and think ‘wow that sounds like real music, how the hell did I do that?’ [laughs]. You just have to keep trudging along, keep working at it and you’ll get there.

Great advice! I’ve been dabbling in recording with mics and shit, but that is quite overwhelming for me right now and it sounds terrible [laughs]. What has it been like for you recording and mastering your own albums?

When I started recording our first album, I discovered it would cost a bunch of money to go to a studio, so I thought why not just use this money to invest in some decent recording gear and learn it. So I bought a bunch of gear, and started learning from scratch by watching YouTube videos and making mistakes, I became obsessed with it. As far as that goes, I’m always here to help too. I know how hard it is to start off. If you listen to our records, you can second record sounds a little better than the first, and the third record sounds even better. You can hear my progression with my recording and mixing skills, I think all that’s pretty cool. I did have some offers to mix this new record, but I’ve thought I’ve put so much time and effort into learning, I thought I’d be cheating myself. Having someone else do it would’ve taken a lot off my plate, but I thought I worked so hard to do it this way, I just need to do it.

I discovered it would cost a bunch of money to go to a studio, so I thought why not just use this money to invest in some decent recording gear and learn it…

Well, you did a fantastic job, and personally I’m really enjoying it. I love Leave Me Be, the palm mute riff and drums have a great sound. Are there any songs you’re particularly proud of?

I love them all, but as far as the new record goes, when I finished it and I started listening back with all the vocals and everything and pretty well mixed, there’s two or three songs on this new record that I was itching to cry when I was listening to them. Not because they’re sad songs, but that feeling I got from the guitar sounds and some of the harmonies I do. There’s a song called Home and I’m a solitary dude, I love being home, so that’s really important to me, that’s a place where I can come and let the world dissipate.

There’s also a song called My Brothers which is about men doing better for women. When I play that song for my wife and we listen to it together, that’s pretty fucking hard. I love all the songs I’ve done, and I think they’re all bad ass, but I’ve never gotten that emotional before from a song I wrote. l put my heart and soul into the music and that’s what I stand for. As an artist you can’t just go to the convenience store and say what you feel. It’s a way to get my feelings off my chest. I’m not an angry dude, I was for a long time and here’s another cliché coming, it’s therapy and when you put everything you have into it, it can make you well-up on the inside.

Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall - Home Studio
Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall – Home Studio

It’s truly amazing how music can make you feel.

Definitely, when I was two or three years old even, I can’t even remember a time where I wasn’t listening to and wanting to play music. I’m forty-three years old, turning forty-four, and I’m still as excited as I was as a kid. I always want to be around it and it excites me. I think about music 24/7. It’s not something we do, it’s inherently who we are.

Another part of it is the actual feeling music gives you. I recently upgraded from my 8” Orange cab [laughs] and now I can really FEEL those vibrations it’s crazy.

If you’re like me, I can’t go back. The reason I bought that 8” speaker and that Micro Terror was to play in the bedroom, and I’ve played it like three times. With the 4x12s, there’s just something about it, it moves the pant legs when you stand in front of it [laughs]. I recorded the first album on an Orange OR15 head. That would be a good amp to get if you’re looking to step up. I used that for a while and then I moved onto the Orange OR100 because I knew I’d be playing live a lot. I love the sound of the OR15, so I went to the OR100 to get a little louder. It’s not always about the wattage though, the OR15 would be great, it’s, you know, over time you accumulate more gear and I like the OR100 as well.

My wife is cool as fuck, she’s allowed me to spend some thousands of dollars on my guitar stuff…

My wife is cool as fuck, she’s allowed me to spend some thousands of dollars on my guitar stuff. Damn near every interview I do, I talk about her because she stabilizes my life. She pulls way more weight than she probably deserves so that I can do this. You best believe I’m gonna try my ass off and then some. I don’t have a lot of money, so this is the only way I can leave a legacy for my children and my grandchildren. To leave something behind after I’m gone that is worthy and that I put something good into the world.

Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall - Amp, Cab & Mic Rig
Aaron Wall / Red Beard Wall – Amp, Cab & Mic Rig

That’s awesome and I think you achieving your goal. You’ve put some really great music out there and positive vibes. With that in mind, what music are you listening to?

I listen to a lot of the younger hard-core bands like Knocked Loose, Gulch and Drain, all that stuff. There’s a badass podcast called Cocaine & Rhinestones. It’s about the history of country music, but it’s really in depth. He does a really cool job. Because of that, I started listening to a lot of old country like George Jones. I listen to any kind of music, I love it all. I was a hip-hop kid. I still listen to tons of hip-hop.

I listen to any kind of music, I love it all…

I also have an eleven-year-old and a five-year-old daughter, so I try to keep up with what’s going on today. We listen to a lot of pop like Billie Eilish and all different kinds of stuff. I don’t know if you remember the band Downset, but they were like a rap metal band from the 90s. They didn’t get much recognition and they came out with a nu-metal scene. They were a political band like a super heavy version of Rage Against The Machine. I’m all over the place with musical taste.

Thanks Aaron for taking the time to speak with me about your guitars, guitar gear, songwriting, and recording process. Red Beard Wall is currently supporting their latest album 3 which is out now through Desert Records.

Label: Desert Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Interviewed by: Josh Schneider