Laguna Beach-based Open Air Stereo make pop-rock that sings and soars. On the band’s debut full-length album, Primates, Scott Pounds (guitars), Chase Johnson (lead vocals), Nick Gross (drums) and Evan Smith (bass) show their affinity for melodic rock that’s still edgy and tough with a set that ranges from guitar-centric, meaty hard rock to glossy pop-rock numbers.
Pounds’ guitar of choice, by far, is his Les Paul Gold Top. We chatted with Pounds about why the Les Paul feels right, his admiration for players such as Jimi Hendrix and The Edge and his guitar philosophy on Primates.
Open Air Stereo are touring with Hinder this fall, and you’ve been on the road with Candlebox, as well. How is all the touring going?
The tour is going very well. We’re winning fans over every single night we take the stage. I couldn’t be more ecstatic to be on a tour of this magnitude. It’s a dream come true.
Who are some of your favorite guitarists?
My roots can be traced back to some of the typical answers that most would give, like Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, etc. As the years have gone by though, I’ve really gotten into texture guitarists like The Edge and Jonny Buckland.
Congratulations on your new album, Primates. What was your guitar philosophy on the release?
Thank you. This record took blood, sweat and tears. To finally see “Primates” released is truly a blessing. The philosophy on this record was a mixture of getting really solid parts such as dirty rhythms, but to also get an experimental side that gave the songs a little more “vibe.”
Your music video for “Stuck on You” was directed by Anthony Leonardi, who has worked with Imagine Dragons. What was it like working with him?
A person of Anthony’s magnitude can give the greatest of the greats butterflies, but within two minutes of meeting him we were blown away at how humble and amazingly talented he is. He made the process of the shooting so easy and we were able to focus on what we do best. He helped us construct an incredible concept for the song. When you watch the video, it will surprise you, because the song can totally remind you of something different visually than what we came up with together.
The Les Paul Gold Top is your main touring guitar. Why is that your choice guitar for the road?
The tone that came out of that guitar when I first picked it up was unparalleled to anything I had ever used before. The Gold Top was the first time that I had used P90s. After hearing those pickups through my rig, I fell in love.
What other Gibsons are in your collection?
Currently I have the Gold Top Les Paul and a Les Paul Special.
What is it about Gibsons that make them stand above the rest?
After touring the hollow body factory in Memphis, I took notice at how much care goes into making a Gibson guitar. The precision that goes into each instrument truly makes it a stellar work of art that is next to none.
What’s next for Open Air Stereo?
Writing, writing and writing, and continuing what we are doing on a grander scale.
What tips do you have for up-and-coming guitar players who have big dreams?
Always follow your dreams. I woke up this morning thinking about this exact thing. Through all of the years of struggle and hard work, I am sitting in a restaurant next to Irving Plaza in NYC getting ready to play a show: a dream come true with amazing bands, family and friends.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Weiner