Little Hurricane is a “dirty blues” duo from San Diego, California. Formed in 2010, the band consists of Anthony “Tone” Catalano, on lead vocals and guitar, and Celeste “C.C.” Spina, on drums and backing vocals. Their songwriting is faultless, their hooks are catchy and their sound is exquisite.
Little Hurricane’s debut album, Homewrecker, released in April 2011, is a gem. Their sound has been described as backwoodsy, swampy, gritty, dirty blues-rock, but the duo also bring soul and a cool indie vibe to the mix. Homewrecker is packed with great lyrics, outstanding musicianship, glorious melodies and stunning vocals, but what struck me most was the deep vein of sumptuous, raw, earthy tone that runs through the album. Little Hurricane leave enough space in their sound to let their rich, organic tone ring out. At the San Diego Music Awards in August 2011, they took home trophies for Album of the Year (Homewrecker), Best Alternative Album (Homewrecker), and Best Alternative.
CC and Tone have been building a following on the road, delighting crowds at festivals like SXSW, Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza. They were the first band to play Pier 26 in New York. Their stage performances are as raw and punchy as their recorded work.
In August 2013, after a long summer touring and recording, Little Hurricane released a collection of 10 favourite covers, Stay Classy, free to download from their website. I was completely blown away by their version of Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers). I was so taken with the sound that Tone got from his guitar, I just had to find out what gear he used. So I contacted the band and Tone very kindly took the time to explain how he creates such a stunning sonic landscape.
On Homewrecker, he mainly tracked with a 92 Matchless Clubman 35 through 2-10″ Guitar Warehouse Veteran speakers. On the tracks Shortbread and Tear Bucket, Tone used a custom 12w suitcase amp. On the covers album he incorporated a Supro Super 8″ combo blended in with the matchless.
Tone knows a thing or two about audio. He worked as a sound engineer at Carlsbad’s Le Mobile studio. He has engineered for acts such as Gwen Stefani, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Metallica. He always records his own work with an omni room mic (earthworks) through a UA-610 (tube pre) to balance out the ambience, and mics the guitar amps with Shure SM57’s through API’s with Purple op amps.
For guitars I use a vintage Silvertone hollow body mainly… 1418. This guitar has such a great voice to it. The pickups are very harmonic and sensitive. I used to play a double cutaway Les Paul before I found these guitars. For the slide guitar I have a 90’s era Fender Toronado that I replaced the atomic pickups with Gibson Classic 57plus humbuckers. I have shaved off half the frets, under ‘G’, ‘B’, and ‘E’ strings, so I can still fret the lower strings occasionally.
On his pedal board, Tone first runs a Bajo Mos clean boost (by HBE) which gets the sweetspot in the pre-amp stage. He says:
…that’s always on, along with a Strymon blueSky reverb on a small room setting. I also uses a Turtle Tone Machine for an occasional octave fuzz and echo toy for delay, and a Loop Master for switching.
It’s not often that a musician shares the secrets of his or her particular brand of sonic alchemy. Tone’s reveal is fascinating and very much appreciated.
Tone and CC are currently working on their next album, which is due for release in early 2014.
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