Talking Out Loud With Gunner Talks Gear, Influences and More; The ‘other half’ of the EMN guitar duo is Travis ‘Gunner’ Butler. Gunner brings his unique style and sound to EVERY MOTHER’s NIGHTMARE as heard on ‘GRIND’ and the upcoming new album being released in 2020. We sat down with the “Gunslinger” to learn a little more about him.
1. When did you start playing guitar?
Gunner: Age 15. Bugged the daylights out of my parents til they agreed that I could have a guitar if I quit smoking. Didn’t do so hot at maintaining my end of the bargain, but I got right with it eventually (LOL).
2. Who are your top three musical influences and why is that?
Gunner: Billy Duffy, Jerry Cantrell, Audley Freed. Billy: Because he’s just the quintessential example of a well-intoned, well rounded, highly skilled guitar player. He’s like Angus and Malcolm Young rolled into one. Jerry: Tremendously emotive in both playing and songwriting. Again, distinctive tone. Stellar vocalist and writer. It’s Jerry – What else need be said? Audley: Sheer badassness. Dude is sick. Very very fluid, and precise in note delivery. All coupled with stellar tone and writing ability. Very licky riffs much of the time.
3. What are your main guitars?
Gunner: 2003 Gibson Desert Burst Les Paul Standard. Ahhhhh, that’s the sweet one. All stock. Has this incredible warm tone and feel. Definitely one of a kind, at least to me. After that, a series of Gibson Les Paul Customs. One is a black 92, love it – gives me a heavier tone; one is a 2000 custom Goldtop – rugged and roadworthy; last, I have a trans-red 72 Custom that’s being reworked back to factory stats, minus the shitty frets. I have a 2002 or so ES 135 Hollow Body I use quite a bit. It booms. Then I have an ought-seven or eight Gibson Firebird IV with Burst Buckers in it. Tone in that guitar has always been a little dodgy no matter what pickups I use. Lastly, I have an ’83 Ibanez Destroyer that my brother bought me while he was stationed over in the U.K. The same guy who modded Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen’s modded the Ibanez with a Khaler tremolo as well, complete with its documentation.
4. What is your current live rig setup?
Gunner: Simple and easy: Two versions: Optimal: Marshall JCM 2000 set to lower overdrive, a tick higher midrange. (Just a tick. Think Free/Rich Robinson/Humble Pie) A/B box Marshall DSL 100 set to high gain channel, midrange less predominant. Higher gain level. Into: Line Six Wireless Pedal (they’re great!) then: Boss Tuner/Ibanez classic tube screamer/Dunlop Crybaby/Dunlop Volume pedal (the good kind, with the metal swing actuator instead of a string). I like simple. Less problems troubleshooting. No noptimal: Just the JCM 2000 set to the high gain channel, no DSL, with the same aforementioned accouterments.
5. What type of strings do you use? What gauge?
Gunner: .11s. I usually prefer D’Addarios, especially the NYCLs .11s: more string mass equals thicker better tone, plus they stay in tune much more consistently.
6. What type of effects do you use?
Gunner: Not many at all. I use what I described in my rig pretty much all the time. Now in the studio I listen to the producer if he has suggestions for different tones. I’m always open minded about that sort of thing. But generally speaking, it’s usually what I described in my rig settings. Although, I am in the market for a good Rotovibe.
7. What types of pickups do you use?
Gunner: Gibson. Stock ones on the Les Paul Standard, 92 and the 2000, which I would guess are 490Ts. The 72 Custom has Burst Buckers in it as does the Gibson Firebird. It’s kinda weird I guess, but I have always really preferred Gibson pickups, to any other. They have a very creamy, rich and smooth tone. The Destroyer is a different story. The stock pickups sounded like shit. I took it to Eric Martin of Martins Music in Memphis, and told him to take it and experiment with it, and
figure out the best pickup to get me a good tone when paired with a Marshall. He came back about 3 weeks later, and had equipped it with some Seymour Duncan’s. I believe it was a pair that had been constructed in a similar fashion as pearly gates, but had been further modified somehow. They sound good.
8. Do you aim for the never-ending pursuit of perfection or is it better to strive for completion?
Gunner: I just give it 110%. Perfection is anthemic as concerns rock n’ roll anyway.
9. What bands have you played with?
Gunner: I’ve almost always played in original projects rather than play in bands where a lot of covers are utilized. I’ve played in Free Slamming Rain, did some work with Tony Spinner out of Jonesboro, Arkansas, Killing Zoe, The Clergy, and Stiff Kitty with Todd Poole. Those are the most notable ones.
10. Where do you stand as a musician five years from now?
Gunner: Tall – hopefully next to my brothers in EMN.
11. How long have you played with EMN?
Gunner: 5 years