This week on TPS, Dan and Mick take a look at a genre of music they aren’t too familiar with and sit down with Bring Me The Horizon‘s Lee Malia.
Music comes in many different shapes and sizes; it always has, and it always will. In a sense, this difference is what makes being a musician so rewarding because while everyone has a genre they lean towards, you can appreciate the other music for what it is. Sometimes, you can even learn a thing or two when you step out of your comfort zone and take in another type of music or technique.
This week on TPS, Dan and Mick take a look at a genre of music they aren’t too familiar with. Sitting down with Lee Malia of Bring Me The Horizon, the guys get a sense of how Lee crafts his tone, the gear he uses, and how he got to where he is today. You might be wondering: what could two guitar players who lean towards the traditional route of gear have in common with a heavy English rock guitar player? A lot more than you’d think.
The Origins of BMTH
Similar to many other guitar players, Malia’s love of playing was initiated by his dad’s appreciation for the instrument and his taste in music. “My dad loved classic rock,” Malia adds, “so he’d always have bands like AC/DC playing when I was around. So when I was 13 or 14, I bought a Strat copy with my Christmas money and the rest is history.”
Starting with tab books, Malia began to teach himself in his room. As his technical skills grew as a guitar player, he opened his catalog to different genres of music and found his stride with very heavy music taking the reins. “Metallica was the first big thing for me,” Malia admits. “Particularly ‘Ride The Lightning,’ but then from there I got into Cannibal Corpse and Slipknot, so much of our early stuff  is very heavy.”
From his experiments with heavy music Malia practiced palm muting, which is a key aspect in getting that signature “chug” of progressive rhythm of heavy rock. “When we were first forming BMTH, we weren’t writing songs: we were writing sections of music to mosh to, tied together,” Malia says. That interaction with bringing in the crowd began to fuel BMTH’s sound and as they began to evolve musically they wanted to keep that level of energy as they grew.
Malia’s Rig and Spectrum of Sound
The first thing any gear head would notice about Malia’s rig is not only the impressive pedal rig, but also the intimidating stack of Marshall heads. Malia uses three independent amplifiers: for his main gain/riff tone, he uses a Marshall JCM 800, a Marshall JTM MKII for the clean tone, and then his secret weapon is a Kemper Profiler which is powered by a spare (yes, a spare) JCM 800. Between the JTM and the Kemper, they share a 4×12 cabinet that is split so that each amplifier comes out of only two speakers. This brings a wide array of possible sounds that Malia can use on the fly and in the studio.
For effects, the list is quite long but each pedal does something unique and subtle to the sound. For example, he has two Strymon pedals (BigSky and Timeline, respectfully) always on so his clean tone has ambiance and presence. “The delay here helps keep notes active longer, and keeps movement from note to note without choppy hand movement sounds being added,” Malia explains. With the JCM 800 active, he uses an Electro-Harmonix Pog 2 with an added fuzz effect from the Kemper to add texture to a massive sound without distorting it too much. He uses an Electro-Harmonix Cathedral and Synth-9 to add an e-bow effect as well as an ambient synth sound, mainly to create something different and unique to fill holes in a sound.
While he does have a few other pedals that change his sound like a Klon clone and an Electro-Harmonix Soul Food modded by JHS, the real magic here is the efficiency of the RJM Music Mastermind. Acting as a MIDI switcher, all of the in-ear and sound boarding that the band follows is changed by the RJM. “Instead of switching anything on stage and having all of my effects with me,” Malia explains, “all of my effects and presets are time gated with the setlist.” As the band works through their set, the board will actively turn pedals on and off, as well as change their settings, depending on how it was set up to help create a seamless flow for the show.
Signature Epiphone(s) and Go-To Axes
When Malia was first approached for a sponsorship, Gibson was the first brand at his doorstep. After a while, the Gibson rep asked him if he’d want to do an Epiphone signature; he immediately accepted and went forward with the design. Malia’s dream guitar (which he later acquired) was a Gibson Les Paul Artisan, which they only made from ’76 to ’82. So his quest for a signature mark on guitars for him was to start there. Starting with a Les Paul that was a huge success, they also went on to make an Explorer and an RD model as well. They copied the same inlay pattern, a similar finish and weight, however instead of three humbuckers Malia decided to do a P90 in the neck and a humbucker in the bridge. “The cool thing about [my signatures] is the P90 has a Dummy Coil so it is hum-cancelling,” Malia explains. Besides these three guitars, Malia also uses a ’76 Gibson Les Paul Artisan, a Gretsch BST ‘Beast, as well as a Fender Strat HSH to craft the tone he’s worked so hard to achieve over the span of his career.
That’s it for this week’s episode of That Pedal Show! If you’d like to hear more of Bring Me The Horizon, check out details and tour dates here or check your favorite streaming service for more information!
TPS Rig Rundown
Guitars: Epiphone Ltd. Ed. Lee Malia Signature Les Paul Custom, Epiphone Ltd. Ed. Lee Malia RD Custom Artisan Outfit, Epiphone Ltd. Ed. Lee Malia Explorer Custom, Fender Player Stratocaster HSH, ’76 Gibson Les Paul Artisan, Gretsch BST ‘Beast’
Pedals: Shure AD4Q, TC Electronic Polytune 3, MW Hybrid FuzzyTone, Klon Clone, Electro-Harmonix Cathedral, Electro-Harmonix Soul Food (JHS Mod), Electro-Harmonix Pog 2, Electro-Harmonix Synth 9, TC Electronic Sentry Noise Gate, Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork, Strymon BigSky, Strymon Timeline, Free The Tone PA-1QG, Furman PL-PRO DMC, Radial JX44, RJM Music Mastermind, RJM Effect Gizmo
Amplifiers: Marshall Vintage Reissue 2245 30W JTM45 Head w/ 2 Celestion G12 Anniversary Speakers in Split 4×12, Kemper Profiler Rack w/ 2 Celestion G12 Anniversary Speakers in Split 4×12, Marshall JCM800 2203 100W Head w/Celestion Vintage 30 Speakers in a 4×12