Guitar company ESP has created two signature-series guitars for Chimaira's Rob Arnold and Matt DeVries. The company has a roster of 20 other custom-designed axes, including ones for Slayer's Jeff Hanneman, Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora, and the Rolling Stones' Ron Wood.
"Chimaira rocks," says Allen Steelgrave, ESP's director of marketing and artist relations. "The amount of work and energy that Rob and Matt put into their music is exactly the kind of artists ESP proudly endorses. These new guitars also have a great look and feel. These guitars are truly remarkable."
Arnold and DeVries started playing ESP guitars shortly before they recorded the band's 2001 debut, Pass Out of Existence. They've been endorsed by — which is industry lingo for "they get free stuff from" — the company ever since. But they were fans long before.
"This is something that's an honor for Matt and me," says lead guitarist Arnold. "I remember being 10, 11 years old and having pictures of the Metallica guys on my walls, and they were playing ESP guitars. So many things have happened to our band, but this is one of the biggest."
The Cleveland axemen customized the guitars, tweaking them for a sleeker style, easier functionality, and crunchier sound. Based on the M series, Arnold's LTD RA-600 has a floating tremolo bar with the volume knob moved to the tone position, allowing extra room for flying fingers. Designed for rhythm players, DeVries' LTD MFA-600 (short for Man/Matt From Ascension, his former band) sports a curvy Viper body like the Gibson SG, with one pickup and no whammy bar.
Priced around $1,000, the guitars will be in Sam Ash stores and available from ESP dealers by March.
"Fans of our music will probably appreciate these guitars more," says Arnold, "because they're built for playing the certain type of metal that we play."
Visit blogs.clevescene.com for pictures of the guitars and info about Arnold's upcoming instructional DVD and the band's next record.
• The Rock Hall will commemorate Black History Month with a monthlong series of events and displays called The Sound of Stax: A Celebration of Soul Music. The events pay tribute to the Memphis soul label that gave the world Booker T. & the MGs, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, and many others. Sound of Stax kicks off at Case Western Reserve University's Clark Building, 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 11, with Grammy-winning author Rob Bowman's lecture "Telling the Stax Records Story." All events are free; visit www.rockhall.org for details.
• God Squad guitarist Bob Squad has returned to the scene with the Drexels. The band plays God Squad covers from the late '80s and classic punk rock. Catch the band at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) on Friday, February 8.
• Spittin Image MC Verbal has posted three tracks from his upcoming new album, The Idiot Savant. Take a listen to the rhymer's solo debut at www.myspace.com/verbalofspittinimage. The songs were produced by the Kickdrums, the duo that includes SI's Alex "Fitty" Fitts. The 'drums are also working on the rap group's next record. "It's not traditional Spittin Image music," says Fitts. "The last album was more sample-based hip-hop. We're experimenting a little bit with some more up-tempo stuff like 105, 110 [beats per minute]." Verbal's album is due soon; Spittin Image has no date.