Rod Janzen is his name and professional guitar playing is certainly his game. But seriously, Rod has played for many of the biggest names and toured the world performing in major arenas. He is currently happily playing with Country Star, Dierks Bentley. Dierks had the biggest Country record last year with his number one hit, “What Was I Thinkin’.” It was impressively the 4th fasting rising single in the history of Country Music. We caught up with Rod in Nashville and asked him the questions we knew you would ask if you could have been there with us.
TAGW: Thanks so much for being an Anderson Guitar Player. Let’s jump right into the interview shall we? What is you favorite breakfast cereal?
Rod: Actually, I like raisin bran.
TAGW: Do you feel this is the secret to your impressive skills as a guitar player?
TAGW: Okay then. You have been an Anderson Player for quite sometime but who are some of the people you have played with?
Rod: Scott Coney, who plays with Country legend George Jones, is a friend of mine, and about four years ago he turned me onto Anderson Guitars.
I’ve played for all kinds of artists, some for years and some for just a couple shows—Hank Williams III, Tanya Tucker, Chad Brock, Lee Ann Womack, The Kinleys, BJ Thomas—to name a few.
TAGW: How did you hook up with Dierks Bentley?
Rod: I believe it was Dierks’ drummer, Steve Misamore, who recommended me for the job. I had worked with Steve off and on for years.
TAGW: Besides lead guitar, what are your other duties in the band?
Rod: I play lead guitar, acoustic guitar, sing, and have occasionally been seen playing mandolin.
TAGW: Is there another guitar player in the band and how do you play off of one another?
Rod: Besides Dierks of course, there is not another guitar player in the band. We have Gary Morse playing steel guitar. Gary has a large resume including Pam Tillis, Ricky Skaggs, Highway 101 and Dwight Yoakam, to name a few, as well numerous recording credits. We interact all night long, trading parts, solos and also twinning parts. It’s a lot of fun!
TAGW: Do you have a technique that you like to use for layering guitars into a track?
Rod: I often record one side dry and the other side with effects, but the dryer the better—usually. You can do a lot in postproduction these days. The real trick is great parts with great tones that fit together perfectly and make the song happen. Solos are often done mono, then doubled and panned to each side.
TAGW: How does the band go about rehearsing before a tour begins?
Rod: We all congregate in a rehearsal facility and, in a few days, put the show together. For the George Strait tour, because of the in-the-round stage layout, Dierks actually set up the room like the arena stage. We then had four sides to work and put the show together by practicing and performing to all four sides. It was a little weird to do in a rehearsal hall but it worked great when we got to the arenas. That was fun.
TAGW: What is the touring scheduling like for the band and what do you have coming this summer?
Rod: This past January and February we were out with George Strait on the 04 tour. It was awesome to be out with the King of Country Music. Currently, through May 30, we are touring with Kenny Chesney, on their “Guitars, Tiki Bars & a Whole Lot of Love” tour. Keith Urban is on the bill too—now there’s a cool guitar player! Then this summer we are back out with George Strait on some big outdoor shows and a string of sold-out Canadian dates.
TAGW: As a rule, how much do you travel?
Rod: About 120 dates a year but this year it will be closer to 200—wow!
TAGW: Is there something you do to relax when on the road or at home?
Rod: Spend time with friends, play a little golf and don’t ask about the score.
TAGW: What allows you to stay centered?
Rod: I try to keep my head in normal things like church, family, friends and studying my favorite guitar players.
TAGW: Who are some of your favorites?
Rod: Some of them include, Lenny Breau, Joe Pass, Clint Strong, Brent Mason, Albert Lee, Redd Volkeart and Roy Nichols. I also like Dan Huff, Eric Johnson and Steve Vai.
TAGW: What is the craziest thing you have ever done with an Anderson guitar in your hands—but perhaps more importantly, what is the most intelligent or meaningful?
Rod: Nailing my part on the first take is perhaps the most intelligent! The craziest is spending all day and never getting the guitar part the way I wanted it. And the most meaningful had to be playing for the kids of the “Make A Wish Foundation.”
Editors Note: The Make A Wish Foundation is an organization doing a lot of good in this world. Check them out at: www.wish.org
TAGW: We owe you big-time, you have turned a lot of other artist onto Anderson Guitars—care to name names?
Rod: You don’t actually have to turn people onto Tom Anderson Guitars, you just have to let them play one and the rest takes care of itself. A few of the guys that have played my Andersons and loved them are Landon Taylor, guitarist in Clay Walker’s band, Clayton Mitchell with Kenny Chesney and a friend of mine who plays for a new artist Josh Turner, Clint Chandler.
TAGW: How about your rig, what sound are you trying to achieve and what do you use to get that out to the audience?
Rod: I use TopHat Ambassador 2x12s. They are 35 watts with a “Blackface” front-end and get a Class-A tone that is somewhat like early AC30s—it’s clean and fat with the sparkle you’d expect out of Class-A amps. Also, I use a Line 6 pod with them and can send 4 signals to FOH (the main mixing board). For the over-the-top stuff I added an old Hiwatt Custom 50 with a Marshall box that is loaded with Celestion and Jensen speakers. My guitars are all Andersons! I currently have a matching set of Translucent Blondes—a Hollow T Classic and a Hollow Classic with 3 stacked singles. There is a new Transparent Yellow, Hollow Cobra with P-Series pickups on the way and can’t wait to get it! In fact, I could hardly sleep last night when I heard it was ready.
TAGW: Thanks, your very kind. How do you set up the Hiwatts?
Rod: The Hiwatt I set up fairly clean, “Normal” at 10 o’clock and “Master” at 2 o’clock and use effects like a Full-drive 2, a Sparkle Drive or a TS9 to get it dirtier.
TAGW: If you could offer one statement of wisdom to the world that you would hope they would heed, what would it be?
Rod: A little less judgment and a little more tolerance. God Bless.
TAGW: It’s time to meet the band. This was their Christmas picture from 2003. Starting right and moving left we begin with Gary Morse (steel guitar and wearing a jean jacket) then Dierks (you know him), Michelle Poe (bass guitar for the band and has a single of her own due out this month), Jake the Dog (Dierks’ dog), Steve Misamore (drums) Kai Griffin (tour manager) and (the happiest man alive and Anderson Player) Rod Janzen.
• MODEL: – Hollow Cobra
• FINISH: – Transparent Yellow with Binding
• BODY WOOD: – Flame Maple Top with Mahogany Back
• BODY WOOD BACK COLOR: – same
• NECK WOOD: – Mahogany with African Rosewood Fingerboard
• HEADSTOCK COLOR: – Matching
• NECK BACK FINISH: – Satin
• NECK BACKSHAPE: – T/A Standard
• NUT WIDTH: – 1 11/16-inch
• SCALE LENGTH: – 24 3/4-inch
• FRETS: – Heavy—Exclusive Anderson Stainless Steel
• BRIDGE: – Fixed Bridge
• TUNING GEAR: – Split Shaft
• HARDWARE COLOR: – Gold
• PICKGUARD: – N/A
• NECK PICKUP: – P1
• MIDDLE PICKUP: – N/A
• BRIDGE PICKUP: – P3
• SWITCHING: – 3-Way
• PICKUP COVERS: – Cream
• PICKUP RINGS: – N/A
• STRING GAUGE REQUESTED: – .010-.046 Elixir Nanoweb
• DESTINATION/LOCATION: – Guitar Heaven/Nashville, Tennessee