Burning Sensation creates its unique effect through a combination of lights, sound equipment, alcohol and audience gullibility. The following section is based on the extensive rantings of Dr. Peter M. Vallone, but was heavily edited for reasons of national security and general good taste.
Special Feature: Who is the "Pants Off Guy?"
I've been in charge of mixing down some of the live recordings. Repeated listening to the audio reveals a man who can be heard yelling "Pants Off!" at the top of his lungs at multiple BS events. Who is this man? Is he referring to the spontaneous depantsing of JTE during the 2003 show? At first I was kind of irritated by him, but now I am fascinated by his mysterious persistence. He has become my white whale, and I shall conquer him.
The All-Powerful Light Show
A spectacular light show is an essential element of all Burning Sensation
live shows. In fact, many consider the light show to be the band's seventh member
(or maybe sixth, depending who got kicked out that day). The setup consists of
a computer-controlled array of sixteen flashing lamps of various colors, perfect for distracting audience members
from Burning Sensation's general lack of musical talent. (It also confuses them about which band
member just "accidentally" touched them.)
Dr. John Elliott originally built the light show from scratch, putting over 18,000 hours of work into construction of the apparatus, later adding a series of eight sequenced strobe lights acquired from Radio Shack stores across the globe (ordered at a special clearance price!). John confidently predicts that that the strobes will induce seizures and motion sickness in even the healthiest and most robust audience members.
New Light and Sound Effects!
Never one to rest on his laurels (though watch out, he might rest his hand on yours), John has come up with three new mind-boggling effects:
New halogen lights
"The retinal burning lets you know it's a light show!" A tungsten filament encased inside a quartz envelope filled your favorite halogen gas (mine is Fluorine) roasting at ~3300 Kelvin produces enough light to induce the most crippling migraine imaginable. Covered by artfully chosen colored gels, the lights transform any basement or living room into a magical wonderland of gumdrops and angel dust.
"Hey John you know when 'light meters' go up and down with sound of music playing on your stereo, that would be cool". "Yeah, no problem". A few weeks later, we were confronted with two six-foot-tall pieces of pine wood with 10 light bulb fixtures embedded in each one. These were connected to a perfectly good mixer that was now cannibalized for its electronic brains (mmm delicious electronic brains). Said mixer had a mic that could be triggered by a bass, bass drum or whatever noise you prefer. The noise event was immediately followed by the lights turning on in rising meter fashion, thereby making giant sized meter lights.
Hugh and Pete were in charge of painting the light bulbs for the cleverly dubbed "meter lights." They spent long hours at Michael's arts and crafts store debating paint type (enamel, acrylic) and paint colors (red, yellow, orange) and sexual orientation. Hugh even drew and a skull and an eyeball on some of the bulbs for the Halloween 2004 show. When all 20 lights are simultaneously fired up, all electricity is drained out of the venue, causing amps to fail, toilets to back up and robot butlers to fail and indiscriminately start fingering bottoms.
The Virtualizer is a digital device integrated into our PA system (PA = public address for those of you not in the business). It can add reverb, presence, delay, and pull out annoying feedback (for some reason Colin's voice still gets through it). With the right settings it can make your voice even sound like ole timey radio. It can also make your voice sound like a robot, but we have never used it for that purpose, because that would be playing God. In short, it can do virtually anything, hence the name. In practice, I'm not really sure what is set to do.
Pete's Unassuming Axe
Dr. Peter M. Vallone's guitar is admittedly "a piece of crap Fender Squire"
originally purchased used for $100.00 (U.S.) at Victor Litz
Music. Pete and John have combined their exhaustive luthier knowledge and sunk over $300 of customized options into the otherwise unassuming guitar. Additions include Seymour Duncan
(Screamin' Demon - bridge, and Vintage Rails - neck) high-output pickups,
Graphtech teflon guitar bridge saddles (conductive,
of course), a shiny green pickguard and silver domed tone and volume knobs.
The basis for using such a low-end guitar in such a technically advanced band?
Clearly, to provide an excuse for missed transitions, poor soloing and sour
notes. "What do you want from me? It's not my fault, this guitar sucks!"
Boss OC-3 Super Octave pedal. Raises the tone of la guitarra one octave below and/or above the original input tone. In combination with the wah pedal, the Octave pedal can be used to recreate the best funky ba-chicka-ba-ba porn soundtracks imaginable.
The Red Button has been installed in my guitar. The idea was inspired/stolen from my main man Buckethead and maybe Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. This modification was performed by JTE in less than 15 minutes. The Button is a red-springy-square-switch from Radio Shack that creates a short in my signal. The effect on the sound can be heard here in this wanky 2-minute guitar solo. The Button marks the dawn of a new age in my guitar wankery. Note: this is not the same "easy" red button as seen in recent Staples commercials my Button rolls Hard, not easy.
The Mesa Boogie
The Mesa Boogie DC-2 is an all-tube 20-watt
powerhouse amp with a twelve-inch speaker, capable of drowning out all competing vocals,
guitars, bass, drums and low-flying jet airplanes. Pete originally
purchased the Mesa Boogie when the sight of J.T. Elliott's hot-rodded Dean MLX brought out his deepest feelings of inadequacy.
The members of Burning Sensation have developed a love/hate relationship with the MB DC-2: Pete loves it, and the others hate it and the pain it brings to their ears.
Side note: combined with the proper volume settings and guitar-playing skills, the DC-2 is capable pleasing ANY female fan seated atop it. Unfortunately, none of the band members possess the skill required for providing this transcendental experience with or without guitar amp.
John's Dean MLX Guitar: Heaven in Wood, Metal and Plastic
When one first meets Dr. John Elliott and then lays eyes upon his guitar of
choice, there can be no doubt that the two are a match made in heaven. As he is a lefty, John can have a difficult time finding a guitar that meets his technical AND aesthetic
requirements, but the Dean MLX fits that bill to a tee. The MLX was purchased in
a Memorial Day inventory blowout at Victor Litz music for $100.00. John has added a Seymour Duncan "Invader" pickup in the bridge
position for a hearty chik-a-chik-a-chunk rhythm sound. The guitar's Floyd
Rose floating tremolo system is equipped with a high-end "D-tuner" for rapid drop-D
tuning effects, which of course Burning Sensation has yet to employ.
New! A Guitar-Wankery Arms Race
After seeing what could be done with my customized Green Machine, JTE decided to take a shot a modifying an Indian made "Lotus" brand guitar. This left-handed gem was bought at Vic Litz for $88.00. John added new saddles, tuning heads, pickups and pickguard. The following email was sent to the band in anticipation of the forthcoming beauty:
Unfortunately, my $300.00 in guitar parts came in, but I have no pickguard. I don't think I will have the pickguard before the show. I think I am going to call my new guitar the "Broozer", slang for bruiser. It will kick your a*s and it will have black and blue marks on it.... Oh yeah!!
"Alright Everyone, I gotta strap on the Broozer for this next one. This song is gonna kick some and then it's gonna kick some." hee hee
The NSA is still trying to crack John's code to understand what in the hell he is talking about. He's a Windtalker for the new millennium I tell you! Elliottisms make the German Enigma encryption machine look like child's play.
Monkey see, monkey do. I get a kickass amp (Mesa Boogie DC-2), so John gets a kickass amp, in his case a British-built Laney LC-30. John has modified it (hard to believe). It now has a blinding blue LED on the faceplate. Purpose? Unknowable. He also made some mods to the effects loop in order to pipe in AM radio stations when plugged into ungrounded locations.
Colin's Fender Precision Bass: Slow and Low
The bass has many nicknames: Thunderbroom, Boomstick, Bull Fiddle,
etc. Colin P. Delany likes to call his instrument the "Sonic Thunder Dominator," or STD for short. Purchased used for $350.00 at the infamous Atomic Music in College Park, MD, the Fender P-Bass has composed the core of the Burning Sensation rhythm section since the abrupt and tragic loss of the Kramer "Jeff" Stryker bass (no photo on file) used in the previous show.
Colin is known to love his instrument and spends many a long hour practicing on it and with it (alone and
with friends, but believe me, mostly alone). If you catch him in the right mood, Colin will
talk about his STD for hours. BTW, if you want to play "Stump Colin," just ask him
what the bottom 2 strings on the bass are used for...hee hee hee.
New on the Drums
Not quite as cool as Dave's super-carbon-fiber-reinforced cowbell, Hugh's new cowbell does the job. Calls for "more cowbell" will be answered in the order that they were received.
Bass drum graphic
Like any cool rock band, we have a logo on the bass drum cover. Hey Ladies!
Matt's Patriotic Fender Fever
When M.T. Stevens signed an exclusive endorsement contract with Fender, they asked him what he wanted in a guitar. (Fender has spent decades outfitting professional musicians with guitars rich in custom features, such as high-end pickups, micro-measured fret sizes, exactly specified neck radius dimensions, exotic woods, etc.) What did Matt tell Fender? "I want it to be red, and I want it to have the
British flag on the pickguard." Fender came back with a resounding, "Can Do!"
The result? The M.T. Stevens Union Jackmehoff Special, pictured below. "It's Wanker-riffic! We give it 5 K's," says Kerrang magazine.
The Soldering Station
Without the Soldering Station, there would be no lightshow or customized
guitars. So, in a sense, you could say that without the Soldering Station there
would be no Burning Sensation. The trusty Soldering Station has been employed
to fix guitar cables, install new pickups and to create all lighting effects.
Here we see an attempt by Dr. Peter M. Vallone to replace his puny human eyeball with a
robot-bionic eyeball for improved night vision.
Burning Sensation spared no expense when purchasing microphones. The
vocal stylings of John, Pete, Matt, Mystery Guest Number One and Dave are the backbone of their
unique sound. For instance, when all members sing backup in "harmony," it's almost impossible for audiences to tell
tell who's out of range, off-key, or just plain mouthing the lyrics. A collection
of high end Shure (SM 57 and
58) and AKG D 660S mics were selected for their high-performance characteristics and high resale value. Pictured is the sweet Mystery Guest Number One becoming very friendly with the SM58 lead vocal mic.
The POD is a digital effects module capable of emulating a
myriad of vintage amplifiers and effects. This kidney-bean-shaped motherfucker
is what John and Matt use to obtain their carefully-crafted guitar tones. The
POD is capable of thousands of tonal variations, though we suspect that Matt and John use preset 9B
Matt's POD Purse
Matt uses a stylish official carrying case to transport his beloved POD
from gig to gig. Some band members call it a "purse," and Matt seems to be
comfortable with that assessment it seems to appeal to his "sensitive" side.
The fogger is a new addition to this year's tour. Doktors of Chemistry Elliott and
Vallone have a concocted a fogger juice mix that is guaranteed to instill a state of
euphoria in the audience. The ingredients of the new juice mix are kept a
secret, but some say it smells like a cross between carpet cleaner and sweet
strawberries. Note: side effects of the homemade fog juice can include (but are
not limited to): headaches, nausea, lockjaw, night blindness, impotence,
incontinence, hives, male lactation, incidents of spontaneous depantsing, and
an overwhelming desire to make out with Colin. Burning Sensation is not
legally liable for any of the fog juice side effects.
The Disco Ball
When the music starts and the sixteen-inch disco ball starts slowly spinning (with a one-million-candlepower light focused on it), it's time to grab your favorite girl/guy (or one of each!) and get ready to be swept away. Burning Sensation acquired the disco ball for an intense and unique lighting effect rarely seen outside of Studio 54. Plus, we wanted to audience members to go home saying "Not only did those freaks have a cool lightshow, they even had a fucking disco ball!"
Important note: Burning Sensation does not use "black light" lighting effects; we leave
that for the amateurs.