Shane Blay knows loyalty. He has been with Oh, Sleeper since its formation in 2006, and despite touring with other bands such as Wovenwar, his passion for his first project is undying (made clear by the tattoo on his chest). Blay has also faithfully played Ernie Ball Music Man guitars ever since his first live performance using a JP model. If it was not obvious enough already, his loyalty to the craft of metalcore is demonstrated every time he picks up his go-to axe; his ripping riffs can only be executed through dedication and hard work.
We had the opportunity to talk to Shane Blay and ask him about the mishap that led to his first performance with a Music Man guitar, his inspirations, and his pre-show routines.
Q & A with Shane Blay
EB: Obviously you’re a big fan of the John Petrucci guitars, making up most of your live lineup. What is it about these models that first captivated you?
SB: Oh, Sleeper’s first tour ever was with a band called The Human Abstract. The guitarists, Dean and AJ, both played EBMM and would let me fiddle around on them backstage. One horrible, but fateful day of the tour, a thief got backstage and stole both of my guitars. AJ let me play his John Petrucci 6 for our set. That show changed everything for me and I’ve never looked back. I wrote Derek at EBMM the next day and told him the situation, and four dates later I had two gorgeous JPs. That was 12 years ago, and I’ve been with the company since.
EB: What are some specific features on these guitars that make them your go-to for shows?
SB: All the features! Sometimes I play a solo “acoustic” song or two for the encore and the piezo comes in handy. Ever since the coil tap pull knob became available, most of my clean tones are middle position with the tap pulled. The JP/Majesty necks just can’t be beat, and I don’t think I’ll ever play another bridge again. Over the years, Petrucci has switched pickups in his models and I’ve loved them all.
EB: You and your band have some pretty incredible stage presence. What is going through your head when you’re up on stage in front of an audience?
SB: Mostly I’m self critiquing, especially on my singing. “Oooh, that was flat and everyone knows it.” “Welp, you flubbed some of that last arpeggio.” Or, “oh shit, what’s the next lyric?”
EB: When it comes to your unique sound with Oh, Sleeper, how do your EBMM guitars help you achieve that tone?
SB: Since our 2009 album, Son of the Morning, all guitar tones on our records have been EBMM. I have five EBMM guitars that make the rounds on all our records and live shows. Its ridiculous how many sounds you can get from one EBMM instrument, and I use five. On recordings, I’ve been using the Cutlass for cleans, Koa BFR for midgain, and for high gain rhythms I always tend to go for the JPX. Something about the JPX chambering that makes it sick.
EB: What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
SB: When I was seven years old, I saw an episode of Full House — the Beach Boys played on that episode. I saw the guitarist up there on stage playing, and told my dad I had to do that. He handed me his 12-string acoustic (with only 6 strings) and taught me to play G, D, and C: so began my journey.
EB: What are your biggest inspirations that you bring to Oh, Sleeper’s sound?
SB: It is hard to say where inspirations come from when writing. It seems, for me, subconscious. I just sit down at my studio and start writing riffs or beats and somehow songs happen.
If I had to pick three inspirational artists for me, personally: Muse, Thrice, and John Mayer (I know that doesn’t follow for Oh, Sleeper’s sound, but he is a hero of mine).
EB: Do you have any pre-show or on-the-road rituals?
SB: Typically before the set, you will find me taking a shot or two of whiskey and singing the first few songs of the “Futures” record by Jimmy Eat World… and, of course, doing all the boring warm up scales.
EB: What is coming up in the future for you and Oh, Sleeper?
Shane Blay’s Ernie Ball Music Man Collection
Shane Blay plays five different Ernie Ball Music Man models: the Cutlass, the JP6, the JP Majesty, the JPX, and the JP BFR 7. To check out the nuances of each John Petrucci model to find which one is right for you, check out Ernie Ball Music Man’s Official John Petrucci Signature Guitar Buying Guide. Find yours here.
Listen to Oh, Sleeper
*** Featured Image Credit: Michael Mullenix