EVH Interview: Andy Williams of Every Time I Die

If it hadn’t been for a high school talent show, Andy Williams might never have been the guitarist for Every Time I Die.

Luckily, he decided to pick up a guitar and put down his drumsticks for that event, and the rest – at least since ETID formed in the late 1990s, – is history.

As ETID gets set to go on a European tour with A Day to Remember, Williams took some time to chat with EVHGear.com to talk about his amps of choice and his early influences.

EVHGear.com: You’ve been playing with the EVH 50-watt head. What do you like about this head?

Williams:  First off, I really like the fact that the head is 50 watts and not 100 watts.  I’ve actually always been a 100-watt guy and even talked a lot of crap about 50-watt amps – “There’s just not enough power!” But, then I got this amp and I was blown away.  It turned up to five is like me typically playing on an old amp at, like, two. I like the fact that it has more gain if you want it, but I admit I only use the blue channel and it’s more than enough. It also has a resonance on it, which I think is cool, so you can get a little more beef out of it.

I’ve never had amps that were so versatile.  Most of my other amps were all one-trick ponies, and this can do it all.

EVHGear.com: I heard you were initially talked into the EVH 4×12 cabinets, but came around on them. What do you think now? 

Williams: I was really worried about the cabinets.  My experiences with a 25-watt speaker were pretty bad. I tried an old amp with Greenbacks in it, and it was just too hard to deal with.  I pushed it with a 100-watt amp and couldn’t get it to break up the way I wanted it to, so I was kind of worried.

I kept asking the guys at EVH, “So you sent Gojira these cabinets, right?  You’re sure?”  They kept telling me “yes” and that they didn’t change them.  I was kind of a psychopath.  Every time I had to email them, I always felt like starting the email with “Sorry, but…”   The reason I really wanted to get a hold of the cabs was because I watched an entire Gojira set, and it sounded insane.  [Frontman Joe Duplantier] was using EVH heads and EVH. That was the combo. It sounds like a guitar, not a processed thing.

Of course, as soon as I plugged it in, it was perfect.  Even Jordan [Buckley], our other guitar player, told me it was the best my shit has ever sounded.  We’ve been playing together for so many years, he would know.

EVHGear.com: Where are you with your upcoming record? Have you begun writing?

Williams: We’re going to record in March. That’s the plan.  We’re currently in the writing phase, and we do have a producer – I don’t know if I’m allowed to leak that. Right now, I’ve got like six songs written, and I know Jordan has a few.

EVHGear.com:  How does your writing process work?

Williams: Jordan lives in Orange County now, our drummer lives in Ontario, Canada, and me, Keith [Buckley, vocals] and Steve [Micciche, bassist] live in Buffalo.  My thing is, I started drinking coffee just over three years ago, and I’ll take four Alpha Brains in the morning, drink an entire pot of coffee, pick up a guitar and go from there. Because of that, Jordan would get like 19 riffs a day.  I’d be talking a mile a minute and excited about everything.  He thinks completely different than I do.  But, between all of us, we get a stockpile of riffs, then come together and put it all together.

EVHGear.com: How did you get started playing guitar?

Williams: The reason I got into guitar was kind of crazy, but follow me.  I had a teacher in high school named Mr. Olesky, and he used to talk about how much he liked Spam.  At the time, I was really into the Melvins, really into Jesus Lizard. My buddy told me there was a talent show coming up, and he wanted to do something. At the time, I played drums. I never even had a guitar, but I didn’t want to play drums. I told him, “I got it.” I remember my aunt gave me $450 for something when I was a kid and I had that in the bank. My dad told me we were going to save that for a car or something, but I had a show to play. [laughs] So I went to the music store and bought a crappy guitar, head and cabinet for like $400. They were all terrible, but I didn’t know.  I didn’t even know how to tune a guitar, but somehow wrote some songs.

So for the show, it was a band called Spam Beach. It was named because my teacher would talk about Spam. All I wanted to do was sound like Duane Denison from Jesus Lizard. He just did a ton of noises, which I found out later on were actual things he meant to do, but at the time, I was fired up for the distortion.

EVHGear.com: So you became a full-on guitar player at that point?

Williams: Pretty much. After that, the drum set wasn’t getting touched because I was playing guitar more. Eventually, the first band I was really in was a grind band, so I’d just play as fast as I could. Then it broke up, and a record came out called Work Ethic by a band called Deadguy. Jordan and I were obsessed with it. We weren’t like friends at all at that point, but I was wearing a Deadguy shirt at a show in 1997, and he said, “Hey, do you want to start a band that sounds like Deadguy?” I said yeah, and then he asked me if I had ever [used] dropped D [tuning]. I said, “Isn’t that cheating?” He was like, “No, but you should try it.”  I dropped my top string down to D, and the rest is history.

EVHGear.com: Who were some of your other guitar influences and how have they changed over the years?

Williams: From the time the grind band broke up to the time ETID started, it was me sitting in my room trying to emulate Duane Denison, Buzz Osborne (the Melvins), John McLaughlin, Robert Fripp (King Crimson).  I wasn’t into learning what George Harrison was doing, because at that time, I didn’t understand what a song was. I just wanted to do the gnarliest shit and make the craziest noises.

Now, I want to do what George Harrison did and [Eric] Clapton does. At that point, I just wanted to make people’s jaws drop. It wasn’t until later.  I remember hearing “Grace” by Jeff Buckley a ton of times, and it finally clicked – “This guy is doing exactly what I’m doing, but he’s playing pretty stuff over it.” [laughs] You kind of grow up and your palette changes.