In Search Of Tone: Jon Imbernon Of Gangrened

Jon Imbernon of the outstanding band Gangrened was kind enough to run through his massive pedalboard for us. That in itself is incredible [haha]. He also answered the rest of my questions and the answers he provided were in-depth and after our conversation I had a deeper understanding of gear and song writing. Thanks for the chat Jon!

Jon Imberton / Gangrened - Guitar & Pedalboard
Jon Imbernon / Gangrened – Guitar & Pedalboard

If you haven’t heard of Gangrened then you’re in for a treat. If you have read anything I posted before you know I have a (mild) obsession with echo, delay, reverb and ambience in general. Gangrened start their album deathly algorithms perfectly with that sound, but they also feed the side of me that loves a heavy riff. Gangrened will surely be on my radar for new music in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me Jon. This is really cool. I usually start these interviews with gear so can you tell me a little about the amps you’re using?

OK, well, I have two set ups now, but in both one amp is common. So, depending of the room we play, I use one or the other. Let’s say, set up A is for bigger rooms so for that I would use the JPTR FX Ohmmacht, which is like an upgraded version of 70s first generation Sunn Model T, and on left side a 70s Matamp GT120. For the last record of Gangrened I played in stereo with two amps. Then set up B would be the Matamp GT120 with a 2006 Marshall 1987X, and a 50 watts Marshall Plexi, which has many upgrades. I’ve put in better output transformers, caps etc. So total of three amps actually.

I use the amps totally like a pedal platform…

Do you get the distortion from the amps or use pedals?

I use the amps totally like a pedal platform. I like the typical AC/DC sound as a base, then I put in front of the amp my pedalboard with several fuzzes, boosts, and other effects

Jon Imberton / Gangrened - Amp Rig
Jon Imbernon / Gangrened – Amp Rig

What pedals are you currently using?

Well, my pedalboard is quite huge now and has been increasing through the process of writing and recording the album. The long list is as follows:

I start with the tuner -> Green Ringer Clone (which is a low gain fuzz, with octave) -> Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork -> EarthQuaker Devices Aqueduct -> Ep Boost Clone -> Dunlop Echoplex Tape Echo Delay -> EarthQuaker Devices Sea Machine v3 -> Hardwired Stereo Reverb -> then goes into a tree-way loop.

First loop is -> Red Panda Particle Delay -> Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water -> EarthQuaker Devices Transmisser.

Then the second loop is Ananashead Opamp Big Muff -> BBE Soul Vibe -> Dunwich Electronics Custom Masonic Fuzz Throne -> and the last loop is just the wah -> then an Ananashead tremolo, so the signal becomes stereo. Then comes a Line 6 DL4 -> Death By Audio Rooms -> Strymon Volante -> Super Hard On Boost Clone with stereo action (so 2-into-1, it had to be) -> and a Neunaber Immerse MkII and from there to an isolated aby box and to the amps

my pedalboard is quite huge now and has been increasing through the process of writing and recording…

Yes, that is quite a lot of pedals and a few I’ve never heard of so I’ll be looking into those immediately following this conversation. What about guitars? Do you have many or just a couple?

Now I have two Gibson’s. One Les Paul Classic from 1991, its actually a rare run, it’s all gold (or was), I removed the finish from everywhere except the top, so I ruined its value. I replaced tuners, electronics and pickups anyway, and the bridge, which collapsed some years ago, so it needed replacing also. The other is a 1980 SG Standard, which I changed the pickups too. I also ordered one aluminium guitar, but I won’t get it until May 2022. You can see a video of John Frusciante playing one of those all gold Les Paul’s in 1991, so there is a 1/200 chance Frusciante played my guitar! 🙂

Jon Imberton / Gangrened - Guitar & Amp Rig
Jon Imbernon / Gangrened – Guitar & Amp Rig

I bet he did! That’s pretty cool. I’ve always liked those gold top Les Paul’s and even better beat up. When you write your songs and riffs, do you come up with ideas and write out songs or jam as a band and see what comes up?

I really work like you said, I tend to jam and see what comes out. Then I work from there. Not always jamming with the whole band, sometimes just playing on my own. My ideas always start from jamming and riffs come about that way. Sometimes it takes jamming with the whole band to find the next part of a song.

Is there a specific tuning you like to play in?

We use baritone tuning B-A-E-D-G-F#-B

I just jam and see what comes out…

I’ve been obsessed with Harrbåda. The tone is perfect, and I love the echo. Is there a song or part of a song you are proud of writing?

Hmmm… well, the one I like less from Deadly Algorithm is Hologrammi, it’s an old song with a new title. I don’t know …. I can say I’m really proud of many parts of the rest of the songs, I’m proud of the whole record, as a whole, you know… maybe I’m quite proud of Kuningatar, for example or Triangeli from the B side of the album.

I have many days where I get discouraged playing guitar. What do you do if you’re having a bad day to get inspired to play again?

I use the ‘tomorrow will be another day’ kind of attitude, but I don’t really push myself hard, I just jam and see what comes out. If I think one song requires something more complex, then I can try the next day. For example, the chorus of Kuningatar was too simple for a while, I waited and thought on it and later I added an extra chord, and I was happy with the result.

Jon Imberton / Gangrened - Amp Rig
Jon Imbernon / Gangrened – Amp Rig

That’s really interesting. Do you practice daily or have any warmups you do to help?

No, I can go without playing for several days actually. I’ve played guitar since 1993, but I think technically I didn’t get better until after 2003 or 2005. I was never much into leads, I’m more into really minimal and experimental sounds. There is a lot of thinking work behind Deadly Algorithm. Choosing the right elements for here and there, more than virtuoso. For the ‘crafting’ of the different sounds and parts, listening to it afterwards, Deadly Algorithm reminds me of the last album by Daughters in some ways. Like some structures are really well crafted but not necessarily difficult to play. I mean the album You Won’t Get What You Want which I discovered last December and getting into it gave me this impression.

I was never much into leads, I’m more into really minimal and experimental sounds…

You mention Daughters what else have you been listening to?

Well, the last The Body album blew my mind, then like I mentioned my late discovery of the last album of Daughters. I’m looking forward for the new Low album. Seeds by Domkraft, I think it’s one of the best doom albums of 2021. I’ve also got into William Basinki which is like ambient and tape loops.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer my crazy questions and really teaching me some valuable information I will be applying to my own playing. I look forward to the future of Gangrened! In the meantime, their current album Deadly Algorithm is out now featuring five tracks in forty-three minutes of heavy doom and relentless sludge that was released across 8 labels.

Label: Burial Records | Domestic System | Gure Hitzak | Kohina Records | Noizeland Records | Odio Sonoro | Quebranta Records | Trepanation Recordings | Violence In The Veins
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Interviewed by: Josh Schneider