A discussion with Jeremy about his influences and his gear
Jeremy Savo, guitarist and vocalist for Out of the Beardspace brings a contemplative spirit to his music that helps shape the multi-directional character of his band. He also brings a unique insight into guitar acquisition that might not occur to the average musician. While most players can walk off the street and try out dozens of guitar models in any music store, left-handed performers have a very limited choice when shopping for quality gear in person, “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever played a Les Paul that was left-handed…” he mused while discussing the guitars he has managed to acquire. He admits good, left-handed guitars can be ordered, but is quick to add, “Would you order a guitar you’ve never played?” Luckily for him, though, Savo has been able to find instruments that work nicely for his sound: a decade old Gibson SG, a MIM Strat that is largely featured on Beardspace’s about-to-be released EP, and a semi-hollow D’Angelico Excel DC which is showcased on many of his other band’s numbers (PanSong). As one might imagine, the acquisitions were not always easy.
On the SG, his go-to guitar for over a decade of heavy touring, Savo has little to say because it just returned from a substantial overhaul that included replacing tuners, nut, fret work, and reconditioned electronics. The repairs hit a few snags and took almost two years to complete. The SG was returned the week before our interview. He shrugs, “That’s what happens when you play the crap out of a guitar for ten or more years…” He hasn’t had the time to re-familiarize himself with his old axe and, in the meantime, has had to turn to his other guitars to fill the gap, “That’s what got me on the Strat thing…just not having this (the SG)…”
And although the Stratocaster was also one of Jeremy’s first “real” guitars, it was only recently that he re-entered into what he calls the Strat world, “This is the first set of Beardspace recordings that I used the Strat for…the studio stuff…and I was so happy with it…I was getting great sounds out of it…I threw it out of my Blues Junior…it was hot and crunchy and Stratty…it sounded great.”
A pair of years or so ago, he also undertook a “weekend adventure” riding a mega-bus all the way to Baltimore to hunt down the D’Angelico, “I wanted a semi-hollow…it’s not like there are so many options… and here’s one…it’s cool…there’s maybe only a handful in the whole region…alright, I’ll buy it.” It was second hand and the stock Seymour Duncan pups that usually equip the Excel were switched out for a set of classic TV Jones humbuckers; the guitar gave the expansive, jazzy sound solid bodies can’t quite achieve and he found it was especially suited for his groups’ more experimental repertoire.
He uses D’Addario .10s on all his electrics and has traditionally plucked them with the Dunlop Tortex .75 medium plectrum. Recently, he has switched to the Dunlop .88 finding it more fitting to his present style of playing, “I just went through a bluegrass phase and I was realizing I needed a heavier pick to get that sound.” In the end he found it was great for the electrics, too, “You know what? I actually prefer a heavier pick across the board.”
Speaking about his acoustics, Savo showcased two: a Taylor 114c acoustic/electric, (strung with D’Addario .12s) and a 1940s Ambassador arch top whose origin and history are a mystery; it is, “maybe my favorite guitar,” and is a converted right-handed instrument with a modified nut, bridge and an absent pick-guard. He bought it at Carter’s Music store in Nashville and puts D’Addario .11 silk core strings on it.
He normally plays through one of two amps: a 2x12” Fender Blues Deville or his favorite, a Fender Blues Junior with an Eminence Cannabis Rex 12” speaker. On the one hand, he likes the Deville because “It’s funky…and delivers a lot of low end…(but) it’s a little bit unruly and very loud and it’s very hard to manage…very heavy…The Blues Junior solves those problems for me…I can get it to break up at a low volume and it’s really easy to carry…” He laughs, “I love it! It’s very pretty looking and sounds great.”
Savo works a basic pedal board stocked with some half-dozen pedals that enable him to get the various enhancements he seeks: volume, compression, distortion, delay, boost, reverb, chorus, and a POG (Polyphonic Octave Generator). He particularly likes the POG because it also boasts an attack filter that gives a “synthy” sound to his work.
In describing Beardspace’s musical personality, he explains, “The whole thing that makes Beardspace sound the way it does is the fact that it’s a band that’s not run by any one person. It’s a very democratic band…it’s a synthesis…” He adds that in the past, song writing was usually the work of a single member who would bring in material and flesh it out with the team; now, and especially on the new EP, the writing is done in a much more cooperative way. “The last batch of songs that we just wrote and we just recorded…were all written collaboratively.” The finished product is a compilation of every member’s creativity and voice.
Interestingly, the Beatles and Stevie Wonder serve as the two most significant influences in Savo’s musical formation, and when pressed for specific guitar players that influenced him, he says he’s “…a guitar player who is more influenced by things that aren’t necessarily guitars.” He cites, then, jazz piano titans like Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock as both influential and inspiring to his musical personality. In the end, he does admit that Jimmy Page, Angus Young, Lindsay Buckingham and Billy Strings among others have all provided models of study for informing his style and technique over time.
Beardspace characteristically holds yearly festivals of music, arts, and free-wheeling self-expression as part of the mission to spread their music’s groove. Reminiscent of the musical festivals of the late 1960’s, the band finds platforms in diverse outdoor venues among trees, on blankets, in parks, or wherever they can make a scene happen. There is acoustic work as well as electric and Savo grins, “I really like acoustic music in natural spaces a lot…it’s something I’m into.” Yeah, like the band’s name, the music is all about finding the zone.
Here's Jeremy playing a new Beardspace riff on his Stratocaster.
Jeremy playing his Gibson SG, fresh from being worked on by his luthier.
Coming soon - Interview: Zach LoPresti of Out Of The Beardspace