Tag: Orange

Fantastic Negrito’s ‘White Jesus Black Problems’

fantastic negritos white jesus black problems

About two years ago, after finishing his third consecutive Grammy-winner (2020’s Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?), Xavier Dphrepaulezz—aka Fantastic Negrito—did some research on Ancestry.com. As with many of the site’s patrons, the results blew his mind.

“I was like, ‘Holy shit!” he says. “I didn’t know I was a seventh-generation descendent of a white Scottish indentured servant and a Black enslaved person. 1700s? How did they do that? How did they live? No one killed them?’”

On his mother’s side, his ancestor was a woman from Scotland sold to work in 1750s colonial Virginia. She lived, somehow, in a common-law marriage with her enslaved Black husband. For Fantastic Negrito, that discovery was transformative. “I felt like my ancestors were tapping me, like, ‘Hey man, we’ve got this amazing story. We’re not on the left. We’re not on the right. We’re not entrenched in some ideology. We’re just two people from the opposite sides of the spectrum who found love together at a time when that was impossible.’ I am the result of that, seven generations later. I didn’t know who I was, but I guess I am exactly who I need to be.”

Fantastic Negrito – White Jesus Black Problems (Full Film)

On record, Fantastic Negrito’s main guitar foil is Japan’s Masa Kohama. When Kohama auditioned for the band, he could barely speak English and Fantastic Negrito was skeptical. He thought, “‘This is going to be quick. Let’s audition.’ And he blew me away. I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I was being prejudiced?’”

That story and the accompanying awe that sprang from unearthing his roots permeate his latest release, White Jesus Black Problems. But it’s not just an audio album—it’s a visual work of art that combines many of the songs’ videos into a seamless, Broadway-like production that’s essentially a companion film for the 12-song record. Both are a rich, high-energy explorations of identity, race, love, determination, freedom, and history.

But there’s another level to Fantastic Negrito’s artistry—something he wrestles with, ironically, because of his fabulous success. Winning a Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for each of his last three albums left him with a conundrum: Should he give fans what they expect or forge ahead with his constantly evolving musical vision, wherever that may lead?

“I always start by myself. I have an $89 Rogue bass—it’s like an old violin bass. I start out on that a lot of times.”

He chose the latter. “I am going to answer to the music,” he says. “You can’t win three Grammys in a row and then not push to make something that’s outside the box, something that’s brave, outrageous, bombastic. It was like my grandparent’s story. That story’s real, and that meant the album had to be out there—as far as I could push—because my grandparents are obviously out there. You have to push the boundaries of your creativity and challenge yourself sonically, and that’s what’s exciting about this album: It’s how uncomfortable it is. The artists that I loved were always the ones that were a little uncomfortable. You hear the record and think, ‘Is it okay that this is happening?’ I always strive for that.”

White Jesus Black Problems oozes catchy melodies and is eminently singable, although it’s anything but conventional. It starts with “Venomous Dogma,” which eschews the standard verse/chorus formula and feels almost through-composed, morphing trippy psychedelia into a heavy, riff-centric romp.

“That song was fun,” Fantastic Negrito says. “I wrote that and thought, ‘My grandmother must have been a little girl in Scotland when, one day, boom, now you’re an indentured servant for seven years. What the hell?’ The tumultuous energy in that song—complete bliss turning to complete hardship, which must have been the same for my grandfather—I wanted to tell that story and capture that energy. It was very cathartic and that’s why it does what it does.”

Other songs on the album, like the funky “Highest Bidder,” or “Trudoo,” which owes something to classic P-Funk (or maybe Prince), go in a very different direction. The same is true for the doo-wop feel of “Nibbadip” and the ’70s-era riffage of “Oh Betty” and “Man with No Name.” Yet White Jesus Black Problems feels cohesive because its story has twists and turns of the sort we encounter in real life.

“With me, it’s completely organic,” he says. “A song could start out with a beat that I clap, or a groove, or a poem, or with a guitar or piano or bass. I have no routine. The routine is to let the song write itself, let it happen. Tune into this channel—this frequency of the universe—and let it happen. Maybe most of it’s not great, but 10 percent of it may be pretty good, and that’s when you tell the story.

“One of the most important things to me as an artist or songwriter, regardless of genre—roots, Americana, the blues, whatever—is the stories the songs are telling. That’s it. Really. That gets lost, the stories, but it’s about the stories. People needed those stories to keep making it through the generations, whether it was bondage, Jim Crow, segregation—they needed the story, the music was the medicine. There’s a reason why African-Americans created all this music—all these genres for the whole world to enjoy: They had to survive some of the most challenging situations in this country, and the music has all that feeling because people were trying to save themselves.”

“I can’t paint these pictures without these other musicians. They have completely different tastes than I do, too, which is good.”

Part of keeping it organic is making sure he’s always prepared for when the muse strikes. Fantastic sleeps with an Epiphone Masterbilt acoustic-electric next to his bed and always has an iPhone on hand to record ideas when they hit. “I am full of ideas,” he says. “I wake up in the middle of the night—I live on a farm—you walk out and clean out the chicken coop and then, ‘Oh no! I got something!’ I always have my guitar. That Epiphone is a good friend. It’s fed me and my tribe.”

When he gets to the studio, he scrolls through the audio files on his phone, picks out the gems, and presses record. “I always start by myself,” he says. “I have an $89 Rogue bass—it’s like an old violin bass [the instrument makes an appearance in the video for “Venomous Dogma”]. I start out on that a lot of times. I start tracking, lay down everything, and then I get the boys in, because I am really a songwriter first.”

But he’s also an arranger with a keen ear for orchestration and interwoven parts. Layers of guitars—and an occasional Minimoog—weave their way in and out of the various songs off White Jesus Black Problems. And once a song starts taking shape, his artistic vision is crystal clear. “That’s what makes the records go fast and easy,” he says. “But I can’t paint these pictures without these other musicians. Their contribution is massive and I give full credit to them, always. They have completely different tastes than I do, too, which is good.”

​Fantastic Negrito’s Gear


  • Epiphone Masterbilt Zenith acoustic-electric
  • Gibson Les Paul Signature semi-hollow goldtop
  • Chapman ML3 Pro Traditional
  • Gibson Hummingbird
  • ESP 400 Series T-style
  • DR Strings .009 sets


  • Orange TremLord 30 combo
  • EarthQuaker Devices Sea Machine V3 Chorus
  • EarthQuaker Devices Park Fuzz Sound

Masa Kohama plays lead guitar on almost every track on the album, while he and Fantastic cover rhythm-guitar chores together. They’ve been a guitar team for almost 25 years, since a young Xavier Dphrepaulezz first signed to Interscope Records (as simply Xavier) for his ill-fated first outing with a major label, 1996’s The X Factor.“

I was looking for a guitar player who could play all the different styles that I play and, boom, here comes this Japanese guy who can barely speak English,” he remembers. “I thought, ‘This is going to be quick. Let’s audition.’ But he blew me away. I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I was being prejudiced?’ I didn’t expect that from him. He’s such a great player, and I’ve never made a record without him.”

The pair gets together to write and bounce ideas off one another in the same room at least once a year—Kohama is still based in Japan—and they share files across continents the rest of the time. But after so long, their natural synergistic relationship is at a point where they know what to expect. “We can read each other’s minds. Absolutely. He knows and I know, and that’s how it goes.”

Kohama doesn’t tour with Fantastic, though. That job is filled by Tomas Salcedo, who’s been on the road with the group for years. He’s also the guitarist you see in most of the live clips and videos. He makes an appearance on White Jesus Black Problems, too.

“I always let Tomas get on the records, and he brings something different than Masa,” Fantastic Negrito says. “He’s on the song ‘Virginia Soil,’ and I needed him on that song because he does less a lot, and that’s amazing. That song is empty, open, beautiful, and a lot of it is breathing.”

Fantastic’s affinity for “less” applies to his tonal approach, as well. He primarily uses just a guitar, an amp, and mics. Pedals are not a big part of his sound—although he does have two EarthQuaker Devices units, a Sea Machine V3 Chorus and a Park Fuzz Sound, that sit on his mixing console for use in post-production. But for the most part, he records guitars clean.

“I tell Masa to play completely dry. No effects. I say, ‘Even play direct if you have to,’ because then you can reamp it. Or you can use board distortion. I love that—where you’re just pushing it from the board. I’ll use the mics that are in the piano to catch part of the guitar. I love reamping. You can be more creative and get more interesting sounds.”

But, again, those great sounds, those recording techniques, and that gear are just tools for conveying the all-important stories, whether they’re about reaching majestic heights or sinking to painful lows—like the debilitating car accident that put Fantastic in a coma for three weeks and cost him both his first record deal and much of the use of his right hand. That he rekindled his will, stormed back from career death, and can still lay down an infectious guitar groove makes him a bona fide inspiration. Perhaps it’s because he never ceases looking for inspiration from something he feels was always embedded within him.

“I hate to keep talking about my seventh-generation grandparents, but it’s from them,” he says. “You find a way. The most challenging situation, the most insurmountable odds were against me to play again, but I found a way. I figured out all this came from these people—these incredible people who lived in the 1700s. I feel there’s something about DNA and blood, and I always had this attitude that no matter what, we can do it. And that’s from them.”

Fantastic Negrito performs a short acoustic set and talks about the family history behind White Jesus Black Problems at South by Southwest 2022. Note the technique he has developed with his accident-damaged picking hand, which he calls “the claw.”

How Many Amps Do You Use?

how many amps do you use

Kevin Morby joins the discussion of what we’re plugging our guitars into these days. Plus, musical obsessions!

Q: Do you own or use more than one amp—why or why not?

Kevin Morby — Guest Picker

Kevin Morby

A: I technically own four different amps. Two different Orange 15-watt practice amps that are great for recording and running vocals through in my living room. I also own a Supro and Fender Vibrolux. The Fender Vibrolux is my most used amp, and the Supro is good if I ever want a lot of overdrive.

Kevin Morby’s Current Obsession:

My current musical obsession is MJ Lenderman, a young artist from Asheville, North Carolina, who is making incredible music. If I didn’t know his backstory, I would maybe think I was listening to a lost demo from the early ’90s Drag City submissions bin. But it’s not from then, it’s from now, and it’s amazing. I listened to it while mowing the lawn recently and it was perfect lawn-mowing music. He is also incredible at guitar. Go listen!

Joseph Müs Contento — Reader of the Month

A: Yep, and I use them both at the same time. Got a Vox Night Train combo set clean and a Marshall Class 5 set dirty, and the resulting sound is a sparkly, gritty mix. Chimey and articulate, while warm and meaty. Best of both worlds.

Eventually I want a Fender ’65 Princeton Reissue and a Marshall Silver Jubilee 20-watt combo to really accentuate those qualities. I also use stereo delay and ping-pong the signal between the two amps. The further I physically keep the amps away from each other, the more dramatic the effect. It’s trippy and atmospheric AF, fills out the space between notes, and I love it.

Joseph Müs Contento Current Obsession:

Continuing to build the coolest guitars I can. I’ve settled into my job at Gibson Custom and have slowly built up a woodshop of my very own. The inaugural build that I just started this spring is my entry to this year’s Great Guitar Build-Off. I’m excited to dig my teeth into my new tools and techniques and to see how far I’ve come as a luthier in the past two years!

Shawn Hammond — Chief Content Officer

A: Yes! I love the variety of tones and textures imparted by different types of power tubes—and that you can further tweak responsiveness with preamp-tube swaps.

My ’76 Fender Vibrolux Reverb (6L6 tubes) is a killer pedal platform and pairing it with a Fender Rumble 200 bass amp adds massive oomph. An old Fender Vibro Champ (6V6) is great for middle-of-the-night playing that still sounds nice (I hate headphones).

A Sound City SC30 (KT66s) yields a huge array of British tones with killer reverb, a Goodsell Valpreux 21 (6973s) is great for soulful, old-school tones at a reasonable volume, while a Jaguar HC50 (EL34s) combo has big, brawny sounds, thanks to its Hiwatt-esque circuit and oversized cab.

Shawn Hammond’s Current Obsession: 

Current obsession: Fontaines D.C.’s new album, Skinty Fia.

Ted Drozdowski — Senior Editor

A: I’ve curated my amps for a wide variety of tones, and I love having Marshall, Fender, Carr, Supro, Orange, and Quilter sounds at ready for the stage—where I run in stereo—and studio.

After many years, I’ve found a voice as a guitarist that’s my own, and blending a variety of amps, guitars, and effects is part of it.

Ted Drozdowski’s Current Obsession:

Germanium fuzz and octave fuzz pedals. Over the past year I’ve gone deep into fuzzworld and acquired a pile of stomps, including three custom builds (my one-off Burns Buzzaround clone with four germanium chips is satanically heavenly), and they’ve expanded my sonic vocabulary even more. I want to keep it expanding, like the universe.

Ten 2×12 Cabs to Try

ten 2x12 cabs to try

Zilla Fatboy 2×12

This oversized closed-back 2×12 aims to emulate the response of a 4×12 with added low-end punch and can be preloaded with a handful of different speaker options.

Starts at $432 street

Blackstar St. James 212VOC

This newly designed cab is up to 35 percent lighter than a normal 2×12 set up. It also has a removable rear panel and comes loaded with Celestion Zephyr speakers.

$749 street


Mesa/Boogie Rectifier Compact 2×12

Modern metal-ers will rejoice with this 120-watt closed-back cab that is constructed with marine-grade Baltic birch. The rear-mounted Celestion V30 speakers round out the package along with the twisted jute-dipped grille filters.

$749 street


Avatar 3D Vertical Forte Replica

The standout feature of this cab are the side vents, which give your sound a wider feel. It’s constructed with 13-ply void-less Baltic birch and is available with either customized speaker options or totally bare.

$698 street


Marshall ORI212A Origin

Classic styling meets modern construction in this retro-flavored vertical cab. The Celestion Seventy 80 speakers offer 160 watts of power, and the angled setup is decidedly British.

$549 street


Orange PPC 212

You can’t miss the trademark Orange vibe of this beefy horizontal 2×12 cab. Brit-style tones are right at home with a pair of Celestion Vintage 30 speakers and a closed-back design.

$899 street


Vox V212C

For fans of that unmistakable chime, this Vox cab not only matches the vibe of an AC30 but spreads the sound out a bit with its open back. A pair of Celestion G12M speakers aim to offer clarity and warmth.

$599 street


EVH 5150III 2×12 Extension Cab

Designed to King Eddie’s demanding specs, this straight-front cab is a powerhouse and features old-school tilt-back legs. Inside is a pair of Celestion G12H speakers and a very handy built-in head-mounting mechanism for the EVH 50-watt head.

$599 street



As a tribute to the sound of late-’60s rock guitar, the PRS HDRX line is vintage flavored and full of vibe. This closed-back cab features the decidedly British Celestion G12H-75 Creamback speakers and poplar plywood construction.

$899 street


MojoTone 2×12 West Coast Cab

The wood wizards in the cab shop at MojoTone offer a mind-boggling number of options, right down to the piping and Tolex. This one comes stocked with Celestion G12M-65 Creamback speakers and an oval-ported rear panel.

$774 street


Xabier Iriondo’s “Energy from My Fantasy”

xabier iriondos energy from my fantasy

Italian guitarist and sonic adventurer Xabier Iriondo has an affinity for the Basque term, metak—which literally means, “pile”—and he often incorporates it into the names of his various projects. His custom-built experimental guitar is the Mahai Metak (or “table pile”). Some of his unconventional musical collaborations also include the term, as in PhonoMetak and PhonoMetak Labs. And Sound Metak was the name of the eclectic shop he ran for about a decade in the early 2000s, which sold everything from boutique guitar pedals to shoes. (Check out his Instagram profile, which, in addition to pictures of his amazing collection of guitars, pedals, and vintage amps, is also a showcase for his impeccable taste in footwear).

“I am half Basque,” Iriondo says. “And these words—like “mahai” and “metak”—come from the Basque language. A metak is when you take the grass that you’re cutting, and you make a mountain of this grass in the garden. In the past, you gave this metak to the cows.” Another traditional Basque practice and type of metak involves shredding and drying corn stalks to use as fodder over the long, cold winter months. So, a metak is a pile of collected things that are preserved for an extended period. In Iriondo’s view, this serves as an analogy for something deeper. “I love this idea, because you can put everything inside the metak,” he says. “It’s like a collection of your emotions. For example, with my shop, Sound Metak, I sold different kinds of things—from old gramophones and vinyl shellac records to fuzz pedals and jukeboxes and guitars and amplifiers—it was a lot of different things. Metak for me is an idea, and my instrument, the Mahai Metak, is the same thing. It’s an energy from my fantasy, which is everything I can put out from my mind.”

Conceptually, metak also helps to explain Iriondo’s musical diversity. Born in Milan, he started playing the guitar at 17, and became something of an Italian celebrity as part of the alternative band Afterhours, with whom he’s been a member since 1992 (except for hiatus throughout most of the aughts). But Afterhours is about as mainstream as Xabier gets. He’s also made incredible noise with myriad projects, like his recordings and performances with Can’s Damo Suzuki (Damo Suzuki’s Network), collaborations with the cream of Europe’s avant-garde (?Alos, Pleiadees), numerous solo projects, and the list goes on and on.

Bunuel Xabier Iriondo's pedalboard

His most recent outing is the abrasive, apocalyptic, noise-rock quartet Buñuel. Named after the legendary Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, the band first came together in 2016 and mixes the talents of a trio of Italian musicians—Iriondo, bassist Andrea Lombardini, and drummer Francesco Valente—plus American vocalist Eugene S. Robinson. Their new release, Killers Like Us, is awash in fuzz and rages between brain-crushing, metal-tinged cuts like “A Prison of Measured Time” and “When God Used a Rope” to slow, doomy dirges like “Hornets” and “When We Talk,” as well as moments of unstructured, free improvisation interspersed throughout the record.

BUNUEL – When God Used A Rope (official video)

“We are three Italian musicians,” Iriondo says about Buñuel’s genesis. “We were a little bit famous here in Italy, and we decided to choose an international singer. We wrote to Eugene Robinson, and he accepted our idea. For our first record, the three of us recorded 10 songs in a studio in Italy. We sent them to Eugene in San Francisco, he sang on them, and then sent the tracks back to us. We did that again for this record.” Not only were the vocals recorded separate from the rest of the band, but Robinson didn’t even get a chance to rehearse with them. The first time the band played together as a quartet was onstage in front of an audience. “We didn’t rehearse with Eugene—we rehearsed ourselves—and we met with him the first day of the first gig. That’s how it started.”

Despite Iriondo’s years of experience with group improvisation, that was not the approach he took with Buñuel. You’d think improv would be helpful when stepping onstage raw with an unrehearsed new singer. Rather, the band’s vibe is through-composed songs that are played the same way—except for planned sections set aside for improvisation—night after night.

“When I want to take a solo, I adjust the Cornish directly with my foot. I open up the volume, and then I arrive in the cosmos.”

“We play the songs like they are on the album,” says Iriondo. “Although we do have some parts, or structures, that can change. For example, on our first tour, we wrote our 10 songs, and that’s all we had. At the end of the show, the audience asked for more. I said, ‘Okay, let’s start with an improv,’ and that improv we used on those gigs from the first tour became a song on the second album [“The Sanction” o 2018’sThe Easy Way Out]. We composed each day, each gig, and the song transformed and arrived at the end of the tour.”

When recording Buñuel, Iriondo harnesses that live feel by taking a minimalist approach to overdubs. Aside from an odd guitar solo or two, the instruments are recorded live, with the band members standing together and looking at each other. “I also play pop rock with other bands, and overdubbing is okay for that kind of music, but the wildness of this project gains a lot when we’re all playing together in the same room,” he says.

“In the past, in the ’90s, I used the VHT head system that people talked about,” he says about the now-rebranded Fryette Pittbull Ultra-Lead. “I bought the second one that arrived in Italy in 1994. But in the last 20-to-25 years, I started using theHiwatt DR103, and I think that’s my sound. When I plugged in for the first time, I said, ‘What the hell is this?’ I can go from high-frequency, crystal-like sounds to really deep grunge sounds with a lot of low frequencies. In general, with Buñuel and also Afterhours, I use the Hiwatt, and then also another amp, a 300-watt SWR California Blonde, which is a transistor amp. I have the headroom also in the clean sounds, but when I engage all my fuzzes and boosters, the gain is incredible, and it’s still in front of you all the time.”

“I love this idea, because you can put everything inside the metak. It’s like a collection of your emotions.”

Iriondo’s tone is wild, too. Considering how mangled, heavy, and distorted his sound gets, it’s interesting how he crafts his tone almost exclusively with pedals, which he uses to drive his amps. He owns more than 20 heads and cabs, and his preference is classic British amps like Hiwatt, Orange, Carlsbro, and Simms Watt—he has a few of each in assorted colors—that have a lot of headroom. He feels those work best with his high-gain pedals.

Xabier Iriondo’s Gear


  • Two custom Billy Boy Guitars made by Fabio Ghiribelli (a white model and a purple model used with Buñuel, with a TV Jones pickup in the neck position and a ’52 Tele pickup in the bridge)
  • NukeTown Venusian IX Signature 9-string
  • Loic Le Page (Mahai Metak Guitar)
  • James Trussart Red Star Steelcaster
  • Hiwatt DR504 stack
  • Hiwatt DR103 head and 4×12 cab (1970)
  • Vox AC30TB (1992 reissue)
  • Orange OR120 head with 4×12 cab (1969)
  • Orange bass cabinet with 18″ speaker (1970)
  • Simms Watts AP100 Mk2 (1972)
  • Marshall 1959 SLP Purple Limited Edition (1994)
  • 300-watt SWR California Blonde


  • Hologram Microcosm Granular Looper
  • TC Electronic Ditto X2
  • Pete Cornish NB-2
  • AC Noises AMA (reverb w/ oscillator + bit crusher)
  • Supro Tremolo
  • DigiTech Whammy Ricochet
  • Death By Audio Waveformer Destroyer
  • EarthQuaker Devices Organizer
  • EarthQuaker Devices Acapulco Gold
  • AC Noises Arpiona Xabier Iriondo signature
  • Korg PB-03 Pitchblack
Strings & Picks
  • D’Addario .010–.052
  • Dunlop Tortex Purple 1 mm

Iriondo has a seemingly endless collection of pedals, too, although his go-to is his signature octave-synth-fuzz-boost Arpiona, made by Italian builders AC Noises. The pedal starts with a gated fuzz circuit inspired by Death By Audio’s Harmonic Transformer, followed by a sub-octave bass synth, more fuzz, and a boost. He uses that in conjunction with an EarthQuaker Devices Acapulco Gold, and a Pete Cornish NB-2 boost that’s always engaged. “When I want to take a solo,” he says, “I adjust the Cornish directly with my foot. I open up the volume, and then I arrive in the cosmos.”

Afterhours – Spreca una vita

They’re Italian, which is probably why this Afterhours video looks like a Federico Fellini film.

Iriondo is also no purist. If an analog circuit will get him the sound he wants, great, but he’s just as happy using a digital device. “I use everything that can give me satisfaction,” he says. “Why not?”

Why not, indeed. He also gets that satisfaction from his guitars. “About 80 percent of my choice in guitars is the feel, and 20 percent is the sound,” he says. “When you’re using some of these destruction pedals on the loud and heavy stuff, the guitar isn’tso important. You destroy everything with these kinds of pedals. They completely destroy your clean sound. Although when I play pop-rock music, I change my guitars a lot.”

But that feel is elusive, which may explain Iriondo’s vast collection of instruments. He has vintage guitars he doesn’t mod at all, but in general he’s an itinerant tinkerer. He usually swaps out pickups, even on his less expensive guitars, and has a significant number of custom-built guitars as well. “I’m not only a collector, I’m a professional, which means guitars are my life,” he says. “I want to have tools that work well with me. In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to have my dream guitars that I ask luthiers to build for me with my specific specifications. The principal guitar that I used on the Buñuel project is made by Billy Boy Guitars. It has an incredible tremolo, and it’s a light guitar. All the sounds you hear on Buñuel are made with that guitar.”

Perhaps Iriondo’s most unique instrument is his custom-built Mahai Metak. It’s a 10-string, short-scale table guitar. Six of the strings are tuned to D in different octaves and act as drones. The other four are G, G, F, and A. The instrument has pickups on both ends—near the bridge as well as near the nut—plus an onboard oscillator and distortion unit, and controls for volume and tone. He plays it with an assortment of items, including marbles, roach clips, and steel wool. “I play it with Chinese sticks,” he says, “and I create rhythms and special sounds with steel wool—that stuff you use in America to wash your dishes. It sounds great. I use it with the loopers and reverbs and it creates these noisy and bizarre sounds, as well as melodic sounds that create a nice texture.”

It’s that openness and wonder, as exemplified by Iriondo’s voracious appetite for gear, as well as his embrace of disparate genres and styles, that are the ingredients that make up his metak. Call it his esoteric pile of ideas, which gives him permission to explore the endless energies of his imagination. He’ll conjure up sounds that are heavy and dark—or playful and light—and almost always fun, and, maybe, even a little mischievous.

And isn’t that, ultimately, the ideal?

YouTube It

This live performance shows Buñuel from their last tour in 2016, with Xabier Iriondo playing his custom Billy Boy guitar. It takes a while for Iriondo to enter, but it’s worth the wait. Head to 2:45 to hear one of the guitarist’s deliciously mangled solos.

10 Amps That Are Portable and Powerful

10 amps that are portable and powerful

Naturally, when you are looking for a practice amp, something for the office, or a vacation companion, there are some sacrifices that will need to be made. Check out this list of 10 options that aim to balance power with portability.

ZT Amplifiers Lunchbox Reverb

Need a lot of power on the go? This 100-watt beast offers stage-level volume in a package that can fit in your carry-on. It’s loaded with a spring-style reverb, 2-band EQ, and a DI/headphone output that offers speaker emulation.

$499 street


Positive Grid Spark

This 40-watt combo offers a lot of tech under the hood. Alongside deep integrations with streaming services, the mobile app uses the company’s BIAS software to emulate your favorite amps and effects. It also offers handy learning tools like smart chord detection, looping, and more.

$299 street


Yamaha THR30II Wireless

The latest iteration of the THR series is a 30-watt, battery-powered wonder that models 15 different guitar amps and three bass amps. Bluetooth connectivity offers a way to edit presets via the mobile app and jam along with streaming audio. A big bonus is that it can also function as a recording interface via USB.

$549 street


Blackstar FLY 3

Even though this uber-portable setup only pumps out 3 watts, it offers a wealth of features that are perfect for practicing on the go. Along with Bluetooth, aux input, and a headphone jack, it uses Blackstar’s Infinite Shape Feature to get the most out of its 3 speaker.

$75 street


Vox Adio Air GT

Even though the classic look of Vox is represented here, the Adio Air GT offers a cross-section of tones ranging from Texas-style dirt to over-the-top gain machines. It boasts 50 watts of stereo output, VET (Virtual Elements Technology), and 19 types of effects.

$329 street


Roland CUBE-10GX

Inside this 10-watt combo are three amp models (clean, crunch, and lead), a 3-band EQ, and a handful of effects including chorus, reverb, and delay. If you pick up the mobile app, you can access even more models including bass and acoustic amps.

$171 street


Orange Crush 12

Desktop rock in a little orange box. Designed to emulate the dirty channel of a Rockerverb, this mini marvel sports a no-frills setup that features a 3-band EQ, overdrive and gain controls, and a CabSim output that aims to mimic an Orange 4×12.

$99 street


Pignose 7-100

The OG of portable amps has been a staple for lo-fi rock since the ’60s. This solid-state setup not only runs on a handful of AA batteries, it has a preamp output that can feed a PA, DAW, or even a bigger amp.

$123 street


Boss Katana Mini

Decked out in sleek, modern style, this 7-watt combo houses a multi-stage analog circuit that fuels three different amp models (clean, crunch, and brown). Practice junkies will dig the cab-emulated output and aux input for jamming along with backing tracks.

$109 street


IK Multimedia iRig Micro

A recording interface is the magic ingredient in this 4-watt setup. Using a built-in iRig 2 HD, this micro combo functions as a fully formed audio interface for when you need to record on the run. Combine that with the company’s AmpliTube software and you get a deep well of tones.

$149 street