On this week’s Pedals with the Pros, we had the chance to interview BAND-MAID guitarist Kanami Tōno. Known for her awe-inspiring solos and truly insane fingerwork abilities, Tony Visconti said it best: “Kanami Tōno is a fantastic guitarist.” Today, we talk effects and solo sculpting with one of Japan’s best.
BAND-MAID, created in 2013 by Miku Kobato with the image of Japanese maid cafés combined with hard rock, is well on its way to world domination. On their seventh studio album and having toured multiple countries, each member is a powerhouse in their own right. For those unfamiliar with BAND-MAID’s work, fasten your seatbelts:
For today’s interview, we spoke exclusively with BAND-MAID guitarist Kanami Tōno, a prominent Eventide user.
You are a classically trained pianist – what originally got you into playing guitar?
After joining the club playing popular music when I was in high school, I started to admire girls who can play the guitar.
As one of the main songwriters for BAND-MAID, do you sketch new songs out on the piano or guitar? Could you walk us through your songwriting process?
There’s no fixed process. When I think of a riff, I start making it from a riff or a melody. Sometimes I make the backing track first and add the melody later. When I want a change of pace, I sometimes make the melody using the piano.
Your solos are meticulously crafted and each one has a compelling arc. When testing out different solos, how do you know you’ve found the right one for the song?
I always work using a DAW, so I sometimes think of a solo phrase at a slower tempo depending on the song. I think about the delivery even within the solo, but in the end, I focus on a melody that will leave a lasting impression on the listener.
Could you outline your pedalboard for us?
Here are the typical settings of my pedalboard:
Delay: Free The Tone FT-2Y, Eventide TimeFactor
Reverb: Eventide H9
Volume: Shin’s Music Perfect Volume
Drive: One Control Strawberry Red Overdrive, Fulltone Obsessive Compulsive Drive Overdrive Distortion
Booster: Friedman Buxom Boost
Compressor: Pete Cornish OC-1
Noise Reduction: ISP Technologies Decimator II
Wah: Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2Octave: Digitech Drop
You have three delay pedals – the Free The Tone FT-2Y, the TimeFactor, and the H9. What role does each delay fill?
I use Free The Tone FT-2Y in a series circuit because it adds delays to a set tempo. TimeFactor is used to connect sends and return effects to clean and solo channels. On the other hand, I use H9 only for songs that use reverb. Currently, I only use it for reverb, but I would like to try more algorithms in the future.
Which are your favorite algorithms and presets on the TimeFactor and H9?
I prefer using Digital Delay on the TimeFactor and on the H9, I use Spring Reverb.
What role do effects play in your songwriting process?
When I compose, I don’t think much about the effects. I use it to enhance the songs I’ve already written live.
You have quite a few boost/overdrive pedals. When do you use one boost pedal over another?
I use the boost pedal to add more gloss and deepness in the clean channel or to amplify the sound of the solo or riff.
The PRS Mesa/Boogie tone is a classic, ripping tone – it sounds great for BAND-MAID’s music. Do you ever experiment with different guitars to pair with the Mesa/Boogie?
Yes, I have tried other guitars as well. Among those I’ve tried, PRS was the perfect guitar for my image of BAND-MAID songs.
Your last two albums were World Domination and Conqueror – what’s coming up next??
I am working on the theme of “evolution” for my next work, and I would like to create songs that will appeal to people all over the world.
I am a big fan of Eventide’s so I want to keep using it forever! Lastly, thank you very much for having this interview with me today!