Artist to Watch: Mike Wren of Electric Church
Electric Church is a rock n’ roll band out of Oklahoma City. Formed by frontman Mike Wren, Electric Church is already causing quite the buzz, due in part to the vote of confidence from producer Steve Albini (who has worked with Nirvana, Pixies, and The Breeders, among many others). Wren, who plays several Guild guitars, answered a few burning questions of ours about his band, his sound, and his Guilds.
GG: Give us a bit of background on Electric Church. How did it come about? How did you get involved with Steve Albini?
MW: Electric Church started about a year ago. I had ended up on this tour with the Dandy Warhols, selling merchandise for the opening band. Anyways, that was really inspiring, to be on tour again. I had taken about a year break [from touring].
The Steve Albini thing was actually really simple and easy. I contacted his studio (Electrical Audio Studios) in Chicago and inquired about how they work. Steve does everything 100% analog, which was the most important thing to me. I’m also obviously a huge fan of Steve’s work. His technique and approach are perfect for what we do and who we are as a band. He’s great–one of the best in the business.
GG: When did you start playing music? When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a music career?
MW: I started playing guitar around 10 or 11 years old. My Dad took me to a U2 concert and that was it, I wanted to play guitar. My cousin Jeff then bought me a J Reynolds acoustic for Christmas.
At about 14-15 I decided to really get serious. I had some crazy things happen. I befriended my favorite band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, by showing up at sound checks in Saint Louis. So the second time I ever met them I was about 15 and they invited me to play acoustic guitar onstage with them for a song called “Love Burns”. That was my first time onstage ever, with my favorite band in front of 1,600 people. I loved it–I had never felt that rush before. So I immediately started a band and writing songs.
GG: How did you stumble on your S-100? What drew you to that guitar?
MW: I stumbled on the S-100 in a pawn shop in Oklahoma City. It was random because I was planning on getting a different guitar that was there but that guitar had been sold. However, they had just gotten in the Guild. It’s a 1970 as far as the serial number reads, and he only wanted $400. So I picked it up and made sure it was real! I saw it was also 100% original and bought it on the spot.
I’ve always known of old guitars as being quality guitars. I love the offset shape.
GG: Does your Polara shape your sound? Do you compose on that guitar?
MW: The polara definitely shapes my sound in every way. It’s my main guitar and really the only guitar I use (although, I am using the new Starfire V quite a bit now as well). I used it on the record along with my vintage Polara. I also compose everything on the S-100 these days.
GG: What does your rig look like? Can tell us a little bit about your pedals?
MW: My rig is pretty simple. In the studio I used a Fender Twin Reverb alongside a Fender Bassman head for all basic tracking. Live, I’m using an early 70’s Fender Super Reverb with a 4×12 cab added.
Pedals are a BIG part of my sound. I work with Keeley Electronics pretty exclusively so I am using a lot of their stuff: their Caverns Reverb/delay, Psi Fuzz, 30ms Double Tracker, Oxblood Overdrive. I also use various EHX Big Muffs, an old Visual Sound Jekyll and Hyde, MXR Phase 90, Digitech Whammy, MXR micro amp, Boss DD7, Boss Waza Craft Blues Driver, Akai Head Rush, and Boss NS-2.
GG: Do you have any favorite gigs or music moments?
MW: Recording with Steve Albini and using the guitar Kurt Cobain used to tracked overdubs on In Utero on our record (now owned by Steve). It was very surreal.
GG: What are the next plans for Electric Church?
MW: We’ll be heading back to Electrical Audio Studios again in December to track a full length record. Right now we are trying to shop around for a label to press and release the EP with just did with Steve. Once those things come together the possibility’s are endless!
Check out Electric Church here to stay up-to-date on touring and their album release! Learn more about Mike’s favorite Guild, the S-100 Polara, here.
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