In Search Of Tone: Igor Sydorenko Of Stoned Jesus

IIIIIII’M THE MMMMOOOOUUUUNNNNTTTTTAAAAAIIIIIINNNNNNNNN!!!!!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I remember hearing that for the first time, stopping whatever I was doing and thinking ‘holy shit, that was amazing’. I immediately started the song again and I’ve not been able to get enough of Stoned Jesus ever since.

Igor Sidorenko / Stoned Jesus
Igor Sydorenko / Stoned Jesus

When Igor Sydorenko, guitarist of Stoned Jesus, agreed to be a part of the In Search Of Tone interview series, I was very excited. I love their sound and was intrigued with how he creates those really heavy riffs. He’s an outstanding musician creating some of my favorite songs and a comedian!?! Well that just makes me want to see them live even more now!

my perfect choice would be Marshall JCM 800…

There’s a lot that goes into making a perfect tone. I feel with songs like Water Me, Sweet Whore of Babylon and Falling Apart, you have perfected that fuzz tone. To achieve these amazing tones, which amps are you currently using and do they differ from studio recording to live?

Hey, thanks for your kind words! Yeah, it’s usually pretty different in the live setting, the sound depends on so many factors, but my perfect choice would be Marshall JCM 800. If not, then 2000, or Orange Rockerverb 50 – these are rather flexible and almost universal for any genre.

When dialling in a tone on your amp do you start with a clean tone or add a little crunch before the pedals?

Yeah, always clean, never crunchy, I don’t really get ‘the dirtier the better’ attitude.

Igor Sidorenko / Stoned Jesus - Guitar & Pedalboard
Igor Sydorenko / Stoned Jesus – Guitar & Pedalboard

It seems the pedalboard is an ever changing tool. Which pedals have made it to your pedalboard and are any of them custom made for you?

Oh, a few extremely nice dudes gave me some custom made pedals as presents in the past, but honestly, these rarely worked for me for one reason or another. So my setup is more or less the same for the last few years…

Guyatone PS-013 Chorus
Ibanez TS808 TubeScreamer Overdrive
DigiTech DOD Gunslinger Distortion
Boss DD-6 Delay
Strymon BlueSky Reverb
Dunlop M101 MXR Phase 90 Phaser
Volcano Power Power Supply
Polytune Tuner

I’m the ‘I like how this guitar looks!’ kind-of-guy actually, haha…

Last but not least are the guitars. What guitars are you using and do you have a preference in single coil, Humbucker, P90 or active pickups?

I’m the ‘I like how this guitar looks!’ kind-of-guy actually, haha! So at the moment all my three guitars are Gibsons: Les Paul Studio Pelham Blue (2012, bought in 2012), RD Standard Exclusive Trans Amber (2010, bought in 2015) and Les Paul Junior DC Tribute Blue (2019, bought in 2019).

Do you have a guitar, amp or pedal that you have had for a long time and will never part with?

It’s my Les Paul, I call it ‘Baby Blue’. I was the promoter for Red Fang’s 2012 Kyiv show, and it turned out very well for me financially, so I bought this guitar from the money I made on that show. Also the band got like an extra $500 from me, on top of our agreement, so I guess everybody was happy in the end. You can hear this guitar on The Harvest (2015) and Pilgrims (2018).

Igor Sidorenko / Stoned Jesus
Igor Sydorenko / Stoned Jesus

I’m The Mountain is a killer song with many changes throughout (not to mention your epic twenty second scream), but how do you go about forming your songs with unique sounds and riffs?

Thanks! Well I can only hope they’re unique enough, haha. These days I’m usually bringing likea 70-80% ready song to the guys, and we’re finishing it together. With earlier tracks it was a little different – I was bringing stuff that was definitely complete, and we’d never change anything. Speaking of I’m The Mountain, we’re truly blessed to have it as our most popular song! It shows so many sides of Stoned Jesus and playing it live is usually the highlight of every show.

Listening to other genres helps a lot. In fact, I almost never listen to heavy guitar-based rock/metal music…

Often I find I play a cool sounding riff only to listen back and hear how terrible it was and get discouraged. I’ll then just continue playing what I already know how to play. What do you do for inspiration if you’re having an off day or to keep from playing the same things over and over?

Listening to other genres helps a lot. In fact, I almost never listen to heavy guitar-based rock/metal music, unless it’s something I’d known for ages like My Dying Bride, Tool or Iron Maiden. I like the flexibility of ambient music, I like the intensity of industrial music, I like the immediacy of electronic music… Sometimes it’s really cool to try to bring these different vibes to our ‘progressive stoner rock’ thing, or whatever genre Stoned Jesus is attached to these days.

Igor Sidorenko / Stoned Jesus
Igor Sydorenko / Stoned Jesus

Do you have any practice routines or warm-ups that you do on a daily basis?

Well, even without rehearsals and shows I try to play at least twenty to thirty minutes every day, be it a fresh idea, an old riff or just some random exercise. I love playing along to music on in the background, whether it’s familiar to me, or completely new. Works very well with pop music from the 80s – Bowie, McCartney, Prince, Sting, Depeche Mode, Talk Talk, The Cure – because these guys surely knew a thing or two about melodies!

I try to play at least twenty to thirty minutes every day, be it a fresh idea, an old riff or just some random exercise…

Do you remember the first song you ever played? Mine was Walk The Line by Johnny Cash and I drove my parents crazy – haha.

I’m pretty sure it was either the verse from About A Girl (only two chords!) or that mean riff from Come As You Are, both songs by Nirvana. I was the biggest Nirvana fan when I was 10, so I asked my dad (who used to play guitar and bass in local bands) to show me basic stuff. Then I went to art school and had guitar lessons for five years, so I took this music thing very seriously from the very beginning! Glad to see it eventually brought me to where I am now.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I really appreciate it. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for having me, it was a pleasure! Just wanted to wish to everyone reading this to be healthy, because we need an audience when we’re back to touring, haha. Seriously though, stay safe y’all, see you soon!

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Interviewed by: Josh Schneider