Visiting Peter Holmström | The Making of Stompbox Book

Peter Holmström is nearly as famed for his pedal knowledge these days as he is for being the Dandy Warhols’ innovative guitarist. Okay, maybe not – but dude knows a lot about pedals. I mean, he co-conceived the Malekko Charlie Foxtrot, fer Chrissakes…

So it’s funny to think that when Holmström first acquired one of the pedals he’s most associated with, the DOD Stereo Flanger, he didn’t quite know what he had on his hands. “That was perhaps the third pedal I ever got, after my Crybaby and Rat,” he explains. “I honestly don’t know how I ended up with it. They were having a sale at this local shop, Portland Music, and I just came home with it.  Don’t know why ended up with flange; I didn’t know what pedals were – let alone the differences between a flanger, chorus, and phaser! I came at music from an art background, though. Music to me was kind of like painting, and pedals were like adding color.”
Earlier this year, Stompbox got the opportunity to document some of his pedal wonders, like his wonderfully odd DOD Stereo Flanger. “That was an early one,” Holmström recalls. “Those pedals, the switches used to go bad pretty quick. Nobody could fix ‘em for a long time. I went through three of those! During an early rehearsal, we were working on what would become “The Dandy Warhol’s TV Theme Song.” Midway through, Courtney looks over to me and yells, ‘Solo!’ I’d never played a guitar solo, ever, so I choked. Not knowing what to do, I let go of the strings and stomped on the Flanger going into a RAT. That started making noise on its own, so that became solo for that song. That led me down route of using pedals to see what they did at their extremes.” (As such, when Holmström upgraded his switching apparatus to the Bradshaw Custom Audio system, he got a rackmount Rat R2DU modified to not use the footswitch function, and then switched to a Malekko Fetish.)

Holmström continues to add color to his pedalboard palette at Portland, Oregon’s esteemed Black Book Guitars, where he can be frequently found working behind the counter when not touring or recording with the Dandys, his solo project Pete International Airport (whose album art he cannibalized for the Charlie Foxtrot’s distinctive graphics), or another of his prolific musically adventurous associations. This means he basically has the Pacific Northwest’s cream of both vintage and boutique stomps – a pretty damn cool gear locker, if we do say so ourselves. “I truly admire everything Death By Audio does,” he says. “Their sound and aesthetic are absolutely united. Also, I love a lot of Wren and Cuff stuff, and Vintage FX is cool. Lately, I’ve been getting into the Cooper FX Moment Machine and all the new synth pedals, like the Meris Enzo. Some of those have deep menu dives. I also dig the Boss SY-300 – it’s all over new Dandys stuff, so it had to go on the board. I use it as an eq, too; it took the place of my pitch shifter and harmonizer, too – I do it all with that Boss.”

 

“I came at music from an art background, though. Music to me was kind of like painting, and pedals were like adding color.”

Naturally, Holmström is tight with the community of local pedal makers, like the mighty Spaceman Effects. “I’ve been friends with [Spaceman founder] Zak Martin since the earliest days,” he says. “Spaceman pedals are ultimate in the way that they look – and the inside almost looks better than the outside! I got the second pedal they ever made, and I’ve been a follower ever since.”

Because Holmström was going on tour, we decided to host our deep dive into his pedal game at his other home/natural habitat, Black Book Guitars, who proved most accommodating. 

 

In the end, Stompbox’s exclusive peek was only the tip of the iceberg for a pedal maven like Holmström. “It’s endless, if you wanted to get to the bottom of it,” he notes. “It could go on for a long while!”

 

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A selection of Holmström’s most dear pedals, shot by Stompbox’s Eilon Paz at Portland’s famed Black Book Guitars.

A selection of Holmström’s most dear pedals, shot by Stompbox’s Eilon Paz at Portland’s famed Black Book Guitars.

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For Holmström, a personalized pedal board rules okay over all...

For Holmström, a personalized pedal board rules okay over all...

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Holmström is a major aficionado of the legendary RAT distortion pedals. “I’ve been a fan of RAT pedals since forever,” he notes.

Holmström is a major aficionado of the legendary RAT distortion pedals. “I’ve been a fan of RAT pedals since forever,” he notes.

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Helping keeping Portland weird, Holmström is a longtime supporter of local cosmic pedal gurus, Spaceman Effects.

Helping keeping Portland weird, Holmström is a longtime supporter of local cosmic pedal gurus, Spaceman Effects.

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Spaceman Effects also made the Wow! Signal fuzz as a collaboration with The Dandy Warhols: “I told Zak I wanted trem and fuzz mixed together, and he did what he did.”

Spaceman Effects also made the Wow! Signal fuzz as a collaboration with The Dandy Warhols: “I told Zak I wanted trem and fuzz mixed together, and he did what he did.”

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Pedal makers seek Holmström for his input – hence his collection of many prototypes from the likes of Scandinavian boutique builder Locomofon.

Pedal makers seek Holmström for his input – hence his collection of many prototypes from the likes of Scandinavian boutique builder Locomofon.

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More Locomofon love. “Their shit’s amazing,” Holmström says. “Norwegian band friends introduced me to them. They make crazy fuzz pedals and a really extreme version of a Tube Screamer.”

More Locomofon love. “Their shit’s amazing,” Holmström says. “Norwegian band friends introduced me to them. They make crazy fuzz pedals and a really extreme version of a Tube Screamer.”

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An early prototype of a Charlie Foxtrot owned by Holmström – uniquely cased in a Malekko Scrutator housing.

An early prototype of a Charlie Foxtrot owned by Holmström – uniquely cased in a Malekko Scrutator housing.

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How many signature pedals does your band have? In addition to his signature Charlie Foxtrot, Spaceman Wow!, and the Dandy Warhols Distortland pedal by Malekko, Holmström can count this ultra-rare Dandy Warhols Mission Control by Death By Audio!

How many signature pedals does your band have? In addition to his signature Charlie Foxtrot, Spaceman Wow!, and the Dandy Warhols Distortland pedal by Malekko, Holmström can count this ultra-rare Dandy Warhols Mission Control by Death By Audio!

(Slideshow: hover or click for captions)

 


Full interview and photo of Peter’s chosen pedal will be featured in the Stompbox Book, coming summer 2020.

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