In our semi-regular nose around the equipment that some of our favourite bands use, Planet Gear, Django Django talk us through the sonic arsenal they used for new album Marble Skies.
Jen Synthetone SX1000
We picked this up from a band who were trading it in for an MS-20, which I suppose is an upgrade in terms of capability, but we’ve had so much use out of it over the years. It is Italian made and built like a tank. We’ve gigged with it for ten years now. We have a spare but it doesn't sound the same and we've never had to use it. The octave knob is a bit scratchy – Dave knackered it hammering it back and forth recording 'Default'. You can hear it at the very start of the track.
On the surface it seems pretty modest; it’s monophonic, has only one oscillator, the ins and outs are just a single quarter-inch jack output round the back...but we love it. It’s simple to understand, and produces really big and growly bass sounds that sit great with the drum kit. It is just fun to play and great for ‘popcorn’ style staccato patterns with its natural low note precedence.
We have cardboard templates which we mark up to switch patches between songs that you can just flip over the pots – much simpler to do than our SH101 which can't save presets either.
I got this after our second album and we used it a lot on Marble Skies. It's basically Korg’s version of Roland’s Juno 60, but they have a totally different character. Whereas Roland used brand new Digital oscillators, Korg continued with the analog ones that had made their previous synths sound so great. It sounds more organic, and produces really nice mid to highs pad sounds as well as great arpeggiated bass sounds. The result sounds amazing, but I wouldn’t like to gig with it cause it doesn’t hold it’s tuning like the Juno 60.
The memory chord button is cool – hit the switch whilst holding down a chord and it saves that chords shape, allowing for one finger chords (v handy!) you can then arpeggiate these, or save octave shapes for a really fat unison mode. You can hear the chord memory on the lead synth on 'In Your Beat', also check out the main arpeggio on 'Real Gone' which was done using the Polysix unison mode arpeggiator.
We bought this because Prince used one on his drums. It has totally crazy sounds. I actually think it might be broken but I like the sound it makes so don’t want to get it fixed. The turntable on top is used as an instrument a lot too; we like to sample a lot and play things backwards and at the wrong speed through delays etc. I did a lot of hip hop djing in the 90s and learned some tricks of how to reverse records and make loops using just a roll of masking tape. Fun times.
Jim bought this mad thing from Russia I think. Its just makes mad noises. It’s hard to tame... but then so is Jim.
This is quite a cheap 80s synth. It was the second synth I bought after the Jenn. I was looking for really cheap synths and got this then a CS1 because it was widely used by 80s digital dancehall producers. This has that vibe. We used it on 'Waveforms' I think, and it was always in the live show.
Jolana Hollow Body Bass Guitar
These were in production in the 70s and were made in the Ukraine or Czech Republic. We've used it quite a lot on Marble Skies recordings over the past year or so. It has a beautiful organic sound kinda similar to Carol Kaye's bass sound who I'm a massive fan of. You can pick them up pretty cheaply but they generally need a bit of TLC.
Apart from being my favourite film growing up, it turns out it's also an amplifier. I think Dave found this at a junk yard sale somewhere in Scotland a few years ago. It has a pretty amazing echo and delay which we've used a lot over the years on recordings. The vocals sound great through it, so me and Vinny run ours through it a lot. It gives the vocals a really nice garage sound.
I bought this drum machine from Gabe who plays in Factory Floor a few years back. I think it's Russian...the controls look kinda Russian. Its meant to be linked up to drum pads, but you can send a rhythm click through the input and trigger the sounds which in turn means you can then modulate sounds whilst running a beat. We've used it a lot on the more dancey songs over the past two records for more textured snare patterns and stuff.
Box Of Percussion
Tommy found this in a charity shop. I think it’s come out of a school and must be from the 70s or 80s. We use tons of live percussion over samples and drum loops. Jamming with percussion helps bring tracks to life, especially if you’re using drum machines a lot like we do.
Marble Skies is out on 26 January via Because Music. For more information about the band, and to pre-order the new album, please visit their official website.
Photo Credit: Fiona Garden