Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeInterviewsTone TalkTone Talk with Xtine Reckless

Tone Talk with Xtine Reckless

As seen in
Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 22 – Winter 2022

Xtine Reckless, the punk with reggae roots. Growing up in the reggae scene, Xtine Reckless knew at a young age music and entertainment would be her calling. Her mother, Frances Fullwood, is a poet and real-life homemaker. With her father being the legendary Jamaican musician (bass) George “Fully” Fullwood (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Soul Syndicate, and recently Ringo Star), Xtine knew she had big shoes to fill, but it wouldn’t be in the same genre. In fact, punk rock was calling her name. A California native, Xtine was drawn to the edgy, fast punk sounds of California bands like Op Ivy, Rancid, and Narcoleptic Youth. With the first strum of an electric guitar, a pure bonafide HELLRAISER was born! With charisma like her father and music in her blood, Xtine followed her father’s footsteps and made music her life. Xtine picked up the guitar as a kid with just a couple of lessons, a lot of self-determination, and a natural learning-by-ear ability. She joined a couple of bands and started her journey. Throughout her growth as an artist, she drew musical influences from bands like Saves The Day, Thursday, Tori Amos, Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance, The Distillers, Armor for Sleep, The Lunachicks, From First To Last, The Refused, At the Drive-In, The Almost… The list goes on.

Not only does Xtine play guitar, but she is an IMDB-accredited actress, music engineer, videographer, and songwriter, recently working with the band Bullets and Octane.

When it comes to Xtine’s sound, she layers her guitars effortlessly, creating melodic, heavy-driving, post-punk alternative tunes with fun pop overtones and moody, melodic hook-laden leads. With her clever lyrics, she paints moody imageries, mixing personal, social, political, and fictional content. Blending technical, proficient riffs with tasteful layering of her guitars and vocals (no mud here), you won’t be able to keep yourself from tapping your feet and singing along. Xtine’s voice is powerful and loud with range. Her roars and coos demand your attention, and then, in a flash, she’s singing sweetly to you, then back screaming in your face. Xtine exhibits a stage presence and charisma that just can’t be ignored. Immersing herself in her performance, she almost glides across the stage, dancing on the tabletops, climbing onto the bar; you don’t know where or what she will do next while connecting eye to eye with her audience. Xtine Reckless provides many exciting elements to every performance. Like a trance, your eyes are glued to her every move.

A strong advocate for women, LGBTQ+, and POC, Xtine’s helping fuel this new female rock revolution! She strives to be a voice for young female and female-identified musicians everywhere. With the lack of female of color representation in rock music, Xtine is helping fill that gap. You can catch Xtine promoting female empowerment on the Gritty In Pink platform, co-hosting and performing events for the all-female music community.

In 2017, Xtine toured with the Greek band Barb Wire Dolls for their full U.S. tour. While a part of that group, Xtine met her bassist Rie Li Rebel (Iriel). The two teamed up with drummer Major Jett (Jeannette) and formed Xtine & The Reckless Hearts. Xtine writes the music for the band and describes them as a Joan Jett and the Black Hearts type of situation but with the sounds of My Chemical Romance meets Lunachicks, rooted in Y2K Post Punk but with nostalgic elements of early/mid-’90s punk alternative. You get melodies woven with heavy guitars and cougar-esque screams. Xtine & The Reckless Hearts live up to their name. Shortly after forming the Xtine and her band of Reckless Hearts they were offered an opportunity to record their first single, “Dead Weight,” with Tim “Timebomb” Armstrong (Rancid), a long-time musical hero of Xtine’s. It was revealed to Xtine by Tim that her Father, Fully, is one of his favorite bass players. The worlds of reggae and punk have been intertwined since the beginning. The political lyrical content of reggae with the rebellious freedom of punk simply just works.

Xtine’s professional interests focus on playing guitar, recording with her band, and acting. Over the summer of 2022, Xtine’s band went on their first headline tour in the U.K., released their first single, “Dead Weight,” now available on all music streaming platforms, and obtained new endorsements with Gibson USA and Get’m Get’m Straps. This winter, Xtine and her band will be heading into the studio to record their first EP.

Xtine continues to build her performance portfolio with more music, acting, and writing. She has been writing a graphic novel around her band called Immersive Music Universe, so be sure to follow her and the band for more about that, along with future tour dates. Keep an eye out for this young, breakthrough female artist. She’s a performer with a story you definitely cannot afford to miss!

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?

Tone, to me, hasn’t fluctuated too much over the years. I love a solid, loud, warm thick, but also cutting tone. The tone of the guitars from the Refused album The Shape of Punk to Come is an ideal guitar tone for me. Also, the band The Dead Love — their tones are insanely killer! I actually screamed out loud in my car when I first heard their music; their guitar tones are killer!!! Just a perfect blend of fullness, heavy, warm, but every note cuts through; it doesn’t sound muddy or too distorted that it just becomes a blended mix of muck. It’s tone perfection. When all the high notes cut right through while still sounding meaty and tough, but not like metal tones — just pure rock ‘n’ roll, but on crack, lol. I love loud, fast-driving guitars, so a nice solid big, but warm and cutting tone is what I look for. I love melodies, so I want to hear the lead guitars cut through but not overwhelm. I like adding a lot of sustain, soft reverb or delay to my leads. I think that mix with the meaty rhythms balances each other out in harmony. Another rad band with great tone is Jimmy Eat World. Fred from Taking Back Sunday also has great guitar tone that I also admire. For me, guitar has never been about how fast you can play or how fancy you are; it’s about expression. The guitar is like a second voice for me. It helps me paint the picture I’m trying to paint with music; each instrument or part is a color. In the end, I have all these layers come together to create a mood. The guitar tones help set that mood.

Photo by Jack Lue

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?

Currently, I use my Gibson SG standard and a custom “no name” version with a P90 in it. I actually love it!! Ha-ha. My real Gibson SG is what I use for all my recordings. It provides a beautiful warm tone while also being super lightweight. The neck is a nice fat ‘50s neck, and I love the original stock pickups — loud, warm, and cuts through nicely. I’ve never had to worry about my tone or having any feedback problems or weight/balance issues with the guitar, unlike most SGs, from what I’ve been told by those that hold my guitar. It’s my dream guitar.

For heads, I use an old original Soldano that was made by Mike Soldano himself. It’s got a pretty cool backstory. It was given to the guitarist of Wasp, and then to a friend of mine, who then gave it to me, all acquired through a handshake agreement. The amp must always go to a guitarist and can’t be sold for profit, so when I’m done with it, I shall then pass it to another guitar player. Keep the music going. Also, what’s cool about the Soldano is it goes to 11, literally, lol. I also have a Mesa Boogie Dual Rec early 2000s model. Both I use with either my Soldano 4×12 or my extended Mesa 4×12 slanted cabinet. The Soldano head I like slightly more than my Mesa because it cuts through much better without sounding digital or too “metal.” I can also turn it past 1, unlike my Mesa, lol. As far as pedals… none currently, but I used to use the Line 6 DL4. I also love EarthQuaker pedals. delays, boost, and tripped-out fx are the sounds of what I look for in pedals.

What about strings?

The strings I use recently have been both D’Addario and Ernie Balls medium top, heavy bottom .11 gauge strings. I like a heavier string. I play in drop C#, so that heavy string helps me stay in tune, and also, the tuning compliments my vocal range. The heavier string gauge is also really nice sounding with my Gibson SG; it’s already a warm guitar, so the strings make it even warmer and heavier of a tone.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

Hmm… I always double everything! Always play with a click! I generally go with whatever sounds best and is best for the song. Whether it be plugging directing into the board and using preamps or miking up an amp and getting true tone.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?

I think after years of tone searching and dialing in on different amps, I’ve kind of figured out the tone I like and how to get it or close to it. It also helps that I use the same gear every time. I think once you’ve found that sound you are looking for, you don’t forget it, and you search for it each time to keep it consistent. You learn that your tone can change due to room size and crowd size, so you adjust, and once you’ve done that a few times, you figure it out.

I prefer to have the bass up louder than the treble in the mix with the mid in the mid position. I always have my presence up; I like to build feedback for my sound. And the gain is usually cranked. I heard From First To Last record a few years back (2008 self-titled release) that made me fall in love with ultra-high gain tones. It’s almost like an industrial tone — that single notation stuff, very ’90s. Since then, I love that sound and try to emulate it and mix it up a bit.

What does your practice consist of?

Well, I practice with my band weekly, so we are all caught up together, and also, so we can work on new material. Most of the time, if I’m not going over the set at home by myself, I’m keeping my guitar chops up by constantly recording new songs. Writing actually helps me keep up with my playing and staying consistently creative by challenging myself with different ideas. I’ve never been much for strict practices, and my attention span is not the best, I admit. So sitting down and writing and recording songs on the spot really helps me. I also get to apply different techniques I learn with each new song I write, so I’m not always stuck in my own creative box. Recording is a great way to hear yourself. Play back what you’ve tracked and really listen to the notes. It’s hard when you’re in the s–t, so recording a song and having that playback really allows you to step back and listen to what you’re doing and grow from there. Recording has really helped me grow, not only as a guitar player but as a songwriter and engineer as well.

Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to play guitar?

The guitar riff that got me inspired… hmmm I guess it would have to be Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” I was just a wee kid, but when I heard that guitar hook, I was hooked. Also, Tom Petty had amazing tone. I’ve always loved his guitar parts and how he brilliantly balanced his warm heavy rhythms with those beautiful melodic lead riffs that expressed a sad dissonance that draws you in. I love haunting riffs, driving riffs. I also love At The Drive-In’s Relationship of Command. There are some beautiful and really cool guitar riffs that I admired growing up. 

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?

Don’t listen to naysayers! Be yourself! Don’t try to follow the crowd. Be genuine. Be patient. Grow with the process. Don’t ever think it’s too late. Be thankful and humble. Have empathy, treat others how you would want to be treated; this life is short, and this industry is small. Kill with kindness. Never say Never! Don’t back down from your vision. Don’t compromise your vision or dream. You are all powerful! Never underestimate someone with motivation, goals, drive, and an unstoppable imagination. Don’t let the rat race eat ya! If you stay focused, you will prevail. And remember, for every person who doesn’t like what you’re creating, there’s another who does!

GGM Staff

RELATED ARTICLES

Most Popular