I had a chat with Aristides Instruments artist Timo Somers (Delain, Arrow Haze, Vengeance, et al.) about his creative process, life on tour, and gold hardware!
Kyle Karich: So I know you have a pretty nice collection of vintage axes: Les Pauls, some Strats, even a Model 5 (I just picked up a Model 4 the other day, I’m pretty excited about that). What initially convinced you to try something as modern and unique in design as an Aristides? What made you think “I need to try Arium?”
Timo Somers: Well, I love all kinds of guitars. Indeed I have a nice collection Les Pauls, Strats (even a ‘63 one) and plenty of other models. Aristides reached out to me and I decided to give it a go because I love innovation (on all fronts) and I’m always eager to try out new things. The guys were really nice to me and let me try their guitars (back then it was just the 010 model) at their factory.
K: Since you live in Holland and can visit them, how is it over at the shop? They seem pretty accommodating. How have they shown you good support as both a customer and an artist?
T: I must say their support is just as good as their guitars! When there are periods when I’m not too busy touring or recording, I often visit their factory like twice a month just to hang out and try some of their new guitars and give feedback. It’s like visiting my mates. They check the setup on my own guitars and switch to whatever hardware ideas I have in my head (they have quite an ‘ex-Timo’ hardware collection haha. I tend to switch color of my hardware and pickups quite often). The artist support is just amazing. They can ship guitars everywhere super-fast, accommodate all my needs regarding custom options, setups, loan guitars - the whole thing. I can only imagine the customer support is just as good.
K: That’s super cool. It’s like you’re getting another new Aristides whenever you go in there! Especially dropping the Fishmans in there lately, those are some killer pickups. And you just got off the road with Delain right? What kind of projects are you working on now?
T: Yes! Most of the time it’s just a case of golden hardware always looking better, haha. I love the Fishman Fluence sets, man! For me the pickup swapping stopped when I found those. Also yes, that’s correct. Well, actually we never really quite get off the road, but we had some time off during the holidays. We did some recording sessions for the upcoming EP and album and shot a video. Right now I’m doing some pre-production and recording for Delain, arranging and recording for my debut solo album, writing and pre-production for about 3 other albums, doing a lot of guest solo’s and some session stuff.
K: That’s awesome! Always keeping busy, haha. It’s really cool in the age we live in now, there are more kinds of musicians than ever. Bedroom warriors, people putting out their own albums, bands working together internationally; but at the end of the day you’re still playing live quite a lot! How do the Aristides hold up to touring?
T: Yeah, with the ease of home recording and the exposure of YouTube and other social media I think musicians have a very big platform these days, which is wonderful. While I love sitting in my studio all day and recording crazy guitar music it’s also really nice to tour and play live gigs as I feel that gives you a musical sensibility you would not get when you’re just playing at home. I love doing both! So touring has become so much easier since playing Aristides. For example, I did a 7 week USA tour a year ago with my 070. I put it in a Mono gigbag and checked it into the airplane (not as hand luggage). It arrived at the airport in NYC in tune. Then I threw it into the bus for 7 weeks. Playing in a freezing Canada and in a bleeding hot El Paso, etc. When the tour was over I went to the Aristides factory so they could do a checkup. The guitar was still spot on the factory setup. Nothing changed! It’s incredible. Before playing Aristides I had to do at least 1 or 2 checkups a month on tour. With my Aristides 070 I need to do a checkup about once a year when I’m touring.
K: I have a similar experience on a smaller scale! Mine being shipped to me in tune from across the Atlantic, living in Florida where it’s so humid, and receiving my 060 during the winter where our temperature regularly fluctuates 60 degrees a day, the Arium has been so stable. Speaking of the Arium, you play a lot of different genres from Symphonic Metal, to Blues, to ‘80s influenced shred rock. Do you feel the Arium and different Aristides models do a good job of covering the tonal ground your playing requires?
T: Yeah definitely! As you said, I do all kinds of things. People mostly know me from my metal gig with Delain, but at home I play (and listen to) a lot of funk, fusion, R&B, blues and what not. Somehow the Arium is perfect for all the genres. Of course I use different Aristides for different things, but given the broad palette of genre’s I work with every day, it’s pretty amazing to see I don’t ever touch any other guitars anymore. For example, a while ago I recorded a funk/R&B single with Bask. It had this typical Nile Rodgers kind of guitar parts. I recorded it at my home studio and my ‘63 Strat was literally sitting next to me… Instead of the Strat I took out my Aristides 020 (with humbuckers), switched on the coil tap and recorded the whole song like that. It sounded even better than my Strat, which is super rare in that genre. The same day I used that same 020 for a heavy Delain recording. Goes to show!
K: Yeah the tone is just so well balanced! My 060 is even HS and I regularly go from playing Fusion to Pop Punk to Tech Metal. It’s really liberating to have a guitar that sounds good without any tweaking so you can just focus on playing. I’ve been watching your Instagram clips and I know I’m really excited for your debut solo album. Do you have a timeframe on when a release might be? And my last question would be: what’s one thing you’d want anyone reading to know about Aristides?
T: Yeah man! I think it has a lot to do with the material combining the warmth and fatness of Mahogany with the bite and clarity of Maple. For me it’s the perfect combination and indeed is super versatile. Thanks man! I’ve been working on this album for years now, haha. Some of the songs were written 6 years ago. It’s pretty much a best-of from my huge library of songs. I was nearly done with the album about 2 years ago but then I was stuck in a pretty insane touring and recording schedule so I postponed finishing it. Last year I came back to it and listened to everything I had recorded. I decided to re-arrange and re-structure everything because I felt like I grew a lot as a composer and player in the years it took me to write the album. So right now I have 50% of the album re-arranged. I am really excited as the songs grew to be way more musical and have new life in them. I plan on recording everything this Fall/Summer. Then Atma Anur (drummer for Jason Becker, Journey, Greg Howe, etc) and Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian) and some special guests will lay down their parts. So realistically I’d say the release would be somewhere end of 2016. Super excited for that!! I want everyone to know that you don’t have to be scared to try something unconventional. Just be open and try an Aristides. You will never
regret it. (Your wife/girlfriend will, though.) I feel blessed and honoured to be working with such great people that are pushing the boundaries of guitar
building. Here’s to the years to come!
Author: Kyle Karich