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Troy Dean Van Leeuwen began playing music at a young age and started playing guitar at age 13. He soon became a sought after session player, which later led him to join such legendary rock bands as A Perfect Circle and Queens of the Stone Age.
US musician and producer Troy Van Leeuwen first picked up a guitar nearly 30 years ago and soon honed his craft in many bands including Failure and 60 Cycle. But is was his skill as a session musician that led to a very high profile outing with supergroup A Perfect Circle with Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howderel. Troy played on their huge debut album Mer De Norms which got to number four in the Billboard 200. He also played on three tracks on the band’s second album Thirteenth Step but a successful audition then led to him joining Queens Of The Stone Age. He famously had to learn 30 songs in a week before heading out on a major tour with them in 2002 after the release of their third album Songs For The Deaf.
Troy’s been with Queens Of The Stone Age ever since, playing on their Gold-selling album Lullabies To Paradise and 2007’s Era Vulgaris. The band have built up a big following thanks to their sell-out performances around the world that have also included some huge festival appearances. Troy also plays in Sweethead, whose self-titled debut album came out last year. He uses a range of gear from TC Electronic, TC-Helicon and Dynaudio. In fact why don’t we let him fill us in…?
“The set up I use depends of what project I’m working on,” he reveals. “With Sweethead I am the only guitar player so sonically I have to cover a lot of ground. That means lots of processing, MIDI capabilities and stereo imaging for both guitar and vocals. For Queens Of The Stone Age the use of ambience and the color of sound is what I focus on. So the set up I use is always evolving. And TC Electronic always seems to be a part of this ever changing experiment that is my sound.”
“I’ve been using TC Electronic gear for years,” he continues. “My first TC pedal was a Boost/Line Drive Distortion pedal. In studios I would always use the 2290 for delays and doubling and in my home studio I use two TC PowerCores in my Mac and a FireworX for processing. On the road my main effects processor for guitar is the G-Force, the Nova Reverb pedal and a TC-Helicon VoiceLive2.”
That sure is a lot, so what is it that led him to choose so much TC gear?
“TC Electronic is a company that’s been around for decades and the quality has always been consistent,” he replies. “Most of the time I use gear not just for the sound but for the durability out on the road. And on the road, things usually break. Every piece of TC gear I own has lasted throughout my years as a touring musician.”
And it’s a good job that he finds it so durable because Troy has some interesting ideas when it comes to actually using the gear…
“My philosophy with gear is to abuse it, push it, make it scream and occasionally spill wine on it,” he says. “So I’ll use the PowerCore Tubifex plug-in for drums. The sound of the G-Force is really designed for guitar or bass because the effects can sound like pedals if you want them to but I also use it on vocals. And the VoiceLive 2 can compete with any studio multi-effects processor in the studio as well as live and I even use it on keys. As long as the meters are pinned in the red it’s doing what I want.”
And as Troy is using the gear he finds that TC have made it very easy to use and abuse it…
“It’s easy to dive into the features of all of the units I use,” he says, “and yet there are depths to be explored if I choose. The G-Force, for instance, has endless routing combinations just in case you want to put an auto-wha filter after a reverb in series or parallel and then distort the left side of the mix.”
Finally what does Troy have planned for the future?
“Near future plans are for Sweethead to be touring and promoting our debut record in North America, Europe and the UK starting this spring and throughout the summer. There are some loose plans for Queens Of The Stone Age to do some shows in the fall and start recording a new record shortly after. But there’s always a plan to create music.”
TonePrints by Troy Van Leeuwen
Videos with Troy Van Leeuwen
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Gear Run: Troy Van Leeuwen / Queens of the Stone Age
Troy Van Leeuwen (QOTSA): interview
Troy Van Leeuwen creates Flashback Delay TonePrint "Warble Tape Delay"
Troy Van Leeuwen creates Flashback Delay TonePrint "Quick Slap Delay"
Troy Van Leeuwen creates a Hall of Fame TonePrint "Vibrato Spring Reverb"