If you’ve been starving for good old-fashioned hard rock, the Treatment has your number. The British band has been building its reputation for more than a decade, delivering in-yer-face guitar riffs and solos that echo Def Leppard and AC/DC. Their latest, Waiting for Good Luck, features guitarists Tagore Grey and his brother, Tao.
We asked Tagore to break down the Treatment’s relentless riffage.
You’ve come up with a million great riffs. What’s your secret?
The most important thing for a great riff is that it hits hard and is something the listener can easily remember. Some of rock’s greatest riffs are the simplest – the Stones, AC/DC, and Deep Purple are good examples – but writing something simple is harder than you think!
One key aspect is you don’t overplay.
Leaving space for the chords to ring is very important to us. Some bands like to use a lot of chords and breakdowns in their songs, but we prefer a simpler approach. We’re not fast, technical players; we are a band that likes to groove. Nothing sounds better than big chords ringing out at high volume on a big stage.
What, do you think, makes a great solo?
I have always preferred guitar solos with melody – something you can easily hum or whistle. Brian May is an expert at this. Songs like “Killer Queen” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” have such catchy melodies that they’re almost a vocal part. I’m not a big fan of the shredders; I’m far more rooted in the Angus Young and Paul Kossoff school of guitar playing.
Who are your main influences?
Angus is the reason I picked up the guitar, and has been a massive influence on me; I also like Billy Gibbons and Billy Duffy of the Cult. They all have really great feel, but in all honestly, my style comes from my manager, Laurie Mansworth, who played in two cult British bands – More and Airrace. We’ve been playing guitar together since I joined the Treatment at 15. Laurie is a very experienced guitar player and has toured with AC/DC, Queen, and Foreigner. He has spent a lot of time jamming with me over the years and helped me develop.
How do you divide up guitar parts with your brother?
It varies from song to song; I’m older, so he gets the parts I don’t want to play (laughs). Usually, we play different variations of the same chords, but sometimes playing unison parts sounds just as good. Regarding solos, I do the majority, but Tao is fast on my heels at the moment. I could be overthrown (laughs)!
Which guitars, amps, and pedals did you use in the studio?
I’m a big fan of early-’70s Master Volume Marshalls and JTM 45s. There’s something about a Marshall you just can’t beat; they’ve got a rawness and tone that cuts through everything. I use four 4×12 cabs with a mix of Celestion Greenback and Vintage 30 speakers. I use a Blue Note boost pedal for solos, and that’s about it.
My favorite guitar at the moment is my three-pickup black Les Paul Custom. I also have an R8 I really love, but next on my list is a Gretsch Brian Setzer.
Do you use the same rig in concert?
I use the exact same rig onstage. There’s no real trick to our sound – massive guitars live, and there’s nothing like a Marshall through a big PA.
What does Kevin Shirley, who has worked with Black Crowes, Rush, Aerosmith, and Iron Maiden, do to a mix that brings that patented hard-rock sound?
Kevin knew exactly how to mix our music. Laurie our manager, who produces the band, also worked us mercilessly in pre-production for four months. He gets credit for the fact we were well-rehearsed and the songs sounded great before they left the studio. Kevin gave it the final polish and put the cherry on the cake! It was a great team effort.
The Treatment has opened for Kiss, Thin Lizzy, and Mötley Crüe. How do you win an audience in a brief amount of time?
We’re well-rehearsed and work on the song order until we feel the set is running right. Getting the pace of the set is really important because you don’t want any dull spots. Once we’re rehearsed, we go out and try our best to deliver a high-energy show. It’s really important to connect with the audience from the very first note. We also try to meet as many people as possible after the show – that’s always a great bonding process.
This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.