How Abominable Pedals Found Their Way Onto Tool’s ‘Fear Inoculum’

Adam Jones of Tool managed to keep his amp and pedalboard set-up closely guarded for years. Just after we started to peel back the curtain behind Jones’s iconic guitar sound, the band went on a 13-year break with no new releases. With 2019’s “Fear Inoculum,” we have some clear details about the unique pedal combinations behind Tool’s distorted darkness.

One of Jones’s top picks for the new album was the Hellmouth distortion pedal from Abominable Electronics, a detail he revealed in a post on Instagram. That post turned into a conversation with Abominable pedal builder Patrick Emmons and a whole collection of Abominable pedals for Jones and Tool producer Joe Barresi to play with.

After finding out about the post, Emmons pulled together all the enclosures he had in stock and spent a couple days building pedals. He filled two boxes with pedals and swag as a “care package” and sent it to Jones to add to his Hellmouth.

“I was pretty much starstruck and had to send everything I could find,” Emmons said. “If Trent Reznor emailed me asking for some pedals, I’d probably faint. But then when I woke back up I’d block a week off and build him everything I could possibly build.”

Emmons grew up on Tool and it got him through a lot when he was a kid, he said. “’90s alternative, grunge and metal was my life in middle school and high school. To be able to create something for a guitarist I’ve admired for decades was a huge opportunity.”

Emmons doesn’t normally send off free pedals like he did for Jones. As a small shop that doesn’t typically have anything specific in stock at any given time, Emmons makes pedals in batches to ship to customers. His roster of artists includes several heavy hitters in addition to Jones, including Tim McIlrath of Rise Against and Paul Banks of Interpol.

Jones and Barresi were quick to put the pedals Emmons sent to work. While it’s not completely clear which pedals besides the Hellmouth appear on the album, it’s clear that Jones was impressed by what he received.

“Abominable pedals are epic – many are like two pedals in one,” Jones posted in a follow-up on Instagram. “The chorus with dirt, the metal sewing machine crunch, the smooth fuzz, the crispy reverb.”

Based on the circuitry of the classic “green overdrive,” the Hellmouth features more low-end and an expanded gain, – with an added toggle switch for even more gain. With plenty of low-end and loud – along with LED demon eyes and evil artwork – it’s no wonder the Hellmouth found its way onto “Fear Inoculum.”

“All of our pedals have a dark them to them and I think that if the full-color art wasn’t there and you had the name on the pedal and the control names on the enclosure, it wouldn’t have the same impact, regardless of how it sounded,” Emmons said. “Eight years later, it’s equally exciting to get both the artwork and a final working circuit board for me.”

Emmons collaborated with artist Matt Kerley for the artwork on all of Abominable’s main line of pedals. Emmons has been collaborating with other artists as well on Abominable’s new yet-to-be-released mini pedals, including Anthony Lucero, Heavy Hand Illustration, Jacob Bannon and Killer Acid. Emmons is working with Kurt Ballou on the circuit boards for the mini pedals.

The mini pedal line is a series of 10 tiny pedals based on Abominable’s signature effects and simplified. Imagine Abominable pedals that fit in our pocket, but still feature the full-color artwork. The mini pedals will sell for $125.

Emmons also is working with Ballou on a pedal that will essentially be the distortion/octave sound of Nine Inch Nails’ “Broken” and “The Downward Spiral” era in a box.

As for other musician collaborations, Abominable sent two prototypes to Loma Prieta that they will use on their new album. They’ll be making a version of that to sell in a package deal with the record when it comes out. They’re also collaborating with Code Orange on a project, but Emmons is remaining tight-lipped on that one for right now.

Abominable is also working on bringing back the Unholy Grail Delay as well as a new version of the Wicked Garden chorus/distortion combo. Keep an eye on for more.

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