Interview: Trace – Aerosmith


Interview: Trace – Aerosmith

I am based out of Oklahoma, the Tulsa area. I grew up in Chicago but moved to LA for 20 years in the 80's. I have been playing music and teching for other bands for over 30 years.

I have been both a player and a tech. For some bands I have done both. I was with Melissa Etheridge for 13 years as her tech and her keyboardist / guitarist during her shows. Made for a pretty hectic evening. In the past ten years alone I have worked with the following artists:

  • Aerosmith – I have been Joe Perry’s guitar tech for seven years.
  • AC/DC – This is my first tour with them, I am working for Stevie Young on their 2015 world tour.
  • Cheap Trick – Rick Nielsens guitar tech. Just another tour with over 40 guitars to take care of.
  • Keith Urban
  • Collective Soul – Been working with these guys on and off for the last decade. Great band.
  • Goo Goo Dolls – Fill in for their touring techs when there are not available.

It would take way too long to do the whole list, it stretches over all musical styles.

When was the first time you worked with a Marshall set up, and which band was it?

Wow, first band would be my own band back in High School. Saved a long time to finally get a Marshall half stack.

It was a JCM800 I do believe. I knew right then and there that this was the amp to have.

What is the loudest rig you have worked on?

Great question. Up until two months ago I would have said Joe Perry’s. Joe is unbelievably loud BUT AC/DC is louder. WAY LOUDER. I can’t walk past the guys amps when there on with out hearing protection. It hurts, but that’s the sound. And it sounds so good.

Best and worst gigs you have worked?

Best gig is the first show I did with Joe Perry of Aerosmith. I was kinda tossed into the fire with out a lot of preparation and no rehearsals. So I was pretty darned scared. Joe is very demanding and it could go bad at any moment if you’re not on your game. But I pulled it off, he asked me to stay and the rest is history. I only packed my bags for a weekend because I heard how hard it was to work for him. I ended up staying for seven years.

Worst gig, I actually have never had a gig that I would consider bad. I have had people I have worked for I would consider bad, but not really gigs. I always make sure that everything is backed up in two’s, not just one back up but I always have two backups. Preparation is the key. Makes for a much more enjoyable and less stress filled evening.

Favourite Marshall Head?

Joe has a ’69 Plexi that I just can’t get enough of. Sounds so amazing. So I would say any Plexi-era head would be my favourite.

Anything unique about the Marshall rig you are working on now?

Just the sheer number of Marshall amps on the AC/DC tour is mind boggling. We carry over 60 Heads on the road with us, it’s so amazing. Each one a story in itself.

Coolest person you have worked with or hung around with?

I have to say that growing up on AC/DC and Aerosmith’s music, cutting my teeth on guitar learning how to play that stuff and now actually be responsible of making sure there sounding the best they can every night is a dream come true. Now I am able to sit around and listen to Angus Young tell stories and Joe Perry and Steven Tyler tell stories. It’s music history, and it is just such an amazing thing to be part of. I do believe I have been truly blessed. 

Apart from the current Artist you have worked with who’s your favourite guitarist/band?

I loved working for Rick Nielsen and Cheap Trick. We’re actually from the same home town so they were always home town heroes. They’re such a class act and incredible musicians.

As far as favourite all time guitar players, it is hands down Randy Rhoads. I was privileged to see Randy play with Ozzy three times and man he was just so amazing. We lost a true legend in the making when he died.

JCM or Plexi?


Which modern day Marshalls do you like?

Actually I stick to the classics. Sorry, I am sure there are some great heads that you guys put out recently but if it isn’t broken and the artist I work for are not gonna fix it.

Anything in your rig modded?

In the AC/DC rig you would have to talk to Rick from Wizard Amps. He is the amp tech for AC/DC. I know he does a few things here and there but I will let him tell you, if he wants to.

In Joe Perry’s rig there are a few mods. He started using a few JCM800 hundred watt heads this last tour and he wanted a little bit more head room and a little less break up. So I sent two heads to Roy Goode in Boston, (Joe’s guy for years) and he souped it up a bit and darkened up the top so it wasn’t so shrill, that was one of Joe’s complaints.

I also sent two heads to Trace Davis at Voodoo amps. He did a few of his mods to give us a bit more headroom and also darkened up the top as well. Trace actually put in a push pull pot to access more top if we needed it. We have not.

I always try to get a couple people involved in things like that to really have some sonic options to really listen to and find out what works best for Joe. We ended up using all four.

What’s the secret Marshall weapon in your set up?

Oh the secret weapon, early 70’s Super Bass and Super Leads. That’s it, but that’s all you need when it comes to AC/DC.

Lastly any funny standout Marshall stories?

Joe and I were touring the Marshall Factory with Paul Marshall and Paul showed us this amp and saying how there were only a few still around and he isn’t even sure where there at and Joe gets this grin and says ‘I know where they’re at, my house”.

I thought that was amazing on multiple levels. Guys like Joe Perry and Brad Whitford of Aerosmith and the AC/DC guys all have hundreds of Marshalls and there’s a reason. It’s a huge part of the fabric that is there sound. Now if I could just get them to sell me a few.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Trace!