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[Note: Guitar Messenger provided Misha with a POD X3 Live processor for his guitar tones and a Vox AC DA5 amp for monitoring. In this video Misha is playing his Blackmachine Guitar tuned to Drop-C and using Dunlop Jazz III Ultex picks.]
One big thing we get asked a lot is what ‘djent’ is – and it is djent. The ‘d’ is indeed silent. We didn’t invent it, Meshuggah did. I just use it because it’s a way to describe a sound. It’s when you do a four-note power chord – which I like because it sounds very metallic and aggressive. Since we play in drop it would be 0-0-0-2.
As opposed to regular chug chords, which would be like a [two or three-note] power chord. So you get a super metallic sound, and I like gear that it enhances that or is conducive to that sound. That’s while you’ll always hear me saying that I like something that’s djenty. As I said, I did not invent it – I’m just using a word that I heard someone else say, because it is the best way to describe it [laughs]. It just sounds like it – it’s an onomatopoeia. Just to clear that little thing up there.
I do like very rich chords. I try to come up with chords that would be played [on instruments besides guitar], like piano, so I end up stretching my fingers – I end up finding these extended chords. I do not know a thing about music theory, unfortunately, so I have no idea what these chords are called – maybe you can tell me. I just like it when… in my mind, it defines how it sounds. It makes it very specific as opposed to [plays power chord] That could be major or minor. There’s one chord which I really love, which I came up with for a song which will be a Periphery song eventually, called ‘Not Enough Mana.’ One of the riffs in the song [goes like this]:
I really like the relationship [of the sliding notes], and I wanted to transpose that. So I had to come up with a chord that could do that, and I came up with this bitch here [laughs]. Because then you can do the same notes.
It’s a very rich and defined chord. You need an amp that’s very midrangey, so you can hear all the notes. Then there’s the variation on it, which I guess would be the major version. I love that chord.
A variation on that is in a song I did called called ‘Heliovice.’
When I write riffs, I usually wait until I’m recording to figure out how it’s going to sound, but I usually have a bunch of moves that I want to work in – I’m sure a lot of people write like this. It makes it kind of fun, it makes it kind of spontaneous if you figure it out on the spot. It means that a lot of times your riffs will end up sounding different than maybe you thought they were going to sound like. I usually record all of my stuff to a pulse, because I like my stuff to groove. A lot of times it ends up in 4/4 – something you can bob your head to, and this is no exception:
I had this ambiguous-sounding scale thing, which is based around a pattern of five, where you go up a string and up a fret. There [on the B string], because of the relationship of the strings, you have to shift it over. Because you’re playing it against a pulse, it kind of dances around it. I wanted to work that move in as a theme with this other, more groovy [riff] – so it’s them fighting against each other in my head, fighting for the spotlight.
Then it goes into this weird bit – I don’t know why, just because. I do a lot of these hammer-on things, because they’re easier to do than alt. picking, and I’m not very good at alt. picking. So all of my stuff is stuff that sounds hard, but is easy to play [laughs]. It helps if you palm mute – you get that attack. Then tapping, and then the riff repeats like that.
This is something Tosin [Abasi of Animals As Leaders] showed me way back in the day, which is a cool idea – to have a chord and then tap around it. So it’s as if you had some weird capo on your guitar. [For the chorus] you do that chord that I showed you, and then tap on the 15th fret, then back to a variation on the first riff.
Another little lick in that song which is kind of cool is a tapping sort of breakdown. I use breakdown in the wrong sense – it’s not like a [plays chugging riff], it’s like a calm bit in the middle. I’m really bad with counting, so I actually don’t know what time signature that’s in – I know it’s not 4/4 because it’s kind of odd. The first half of it is odd, but the second half is in 4/4.
**Very special thanks to C-Rob and Phil of Infinite Descent for their assistance in shooting this feature, C-Rob for making a kick-ass video intro, and Nolly of Red Seas Fire for providing the flawless transcription of Buttersnips**