October 13, 2012 by tonetribune
I was fortunate enough to come of age in the early 90’s during the backlash of the 80’s underground. After Nirvana inadvertently decapitated the poodle-headed shredders of the sunset stripper scene that polluted the airwaves for most of the previous decade, record companies and MTV ditched all the pre-fab poseurs and excessive arena rockers and started signing every band Kurt Cobain claimed as an influence or contemporary.
Though I loved and respected Nirvana for what they did the soundtrack to my emaciated, defiant and tormented pubescence (isn’t everyone’s) was of a much different ilk.
For me, the most radical, confrontational and heaviest sounds were coming from the likes of Ministry, Helmet, Melvins and the mighty Butthole Surfers. I did not know at the time, but these bands had a lot in common and would frequently collaborate yielding classic offshoots.
In keeping the theme of immaturity going and getting around to the point of all this nostalgia, one of my favorite groups of this time was The Revolting Cocks. Revco (as they are sometimes refereed too) was a conglomerate of musicians from all over the world and included members of Ministry, Jesus Lizard and Skinny Puppy even featuring William Burroughs and Chris Connelly for my favorite album of theirs Linger Fickin’ Good.
Anyone who knows this album remembers their hilarious cover of Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy.” I had somehow convinced my parents to buy me a bass guitar and used to wonder how I could get mine to sound as crazy as Paul Barker’s corpulant, grinding fuzztone he achieved on this classic track.
Apparently, Paul Barker was exposed to the obscure Maestro Brassmaster pedal during his early career in Seattle’s best band ever The Blackouts. Singer/guitarist Erich Werner coaxed some of the most irreverently unique tones out of this defunct 60’s stompbox and when Barker saw one at a music trade show years later he picked one up and discarded all his other dirt boxes.
Thankfully, Josh Holley and Paul Barker reverse engineered this beast of a pedal as the flagship model for their pedal company Malekko Heavy Industry and cheekily renamed it the Barker Assmaster. They have subsequently released many amazingly unique and expressive pedals and rack modules that you can view here Malekkoheavyindustry.com.
Though the original circuit was designed to make an electric bass sound like a brass instrument, I have found that there is no real-world aural reference for the chaotic cacophony that ensues when you step on the pink triangle.
As you can see here I have abused the Assmaster for many years now and it is the only constant distortion devise on my ever rotating pedal board. Though I use it primarily for guitar, I have had amazing results with drum machines, synths and bass (obviously). Describing the sound of this pedal in words is a bit like trying to explain Naked Lunch to an Alzheimer patient so I will let the masters of Ass do the talking….