Guitarist Nick Lee handles the instrument like a Porsche 911 hugs the road. The German sports car is as equally deft at carving through the Big Sur coastline as it is accelerating out of corners and showing its top-end, straightaway velocity. Similarly, in just two Moon Tooth albums (2016’s Chromaparagon and 2019’s Crux), Lee has flexed the same versatility. In a single song (much like the 911 rips through a lap of the Monaco Grand Prix), he’ll nimbly navigate a clean, precise, fingerpicked melody reminiscent of Chet Atkins before dropping the hammer and flying down the fretboard like Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell or Mastodon’s Brent Hinds.
While the band thrives in light-and-dark juxtapositions, their true colors and ambitions reach for the disparate musical extremes.
“The phrase we’ve been using is ‘aggressive progressive,’ but that’s really just because saying you’re in a rock ’n’ roll band doesn’t quite get the point across these days,” says Nick Lee when he spoke with PG in 2016. “We’re not trying to be a prog band, really. We totally get that there’s an element of prog in what we do, but to me we’re just a rock band in the purest sense of that term—we just happen to push the envelope of what we can do musically and push each other to do crazier shit.”
After wrapping guitars for the band’s forthcoming album, guitarist Nick Lee virtually invited PG’s Chris Kies into Moon Tooth drummer Ray Marte’s Westfall Recording studio based in Farmingdale, New York.
In this episode, Lee (also in Riot) showcases a duo of dazzling Vigiers (plus a stalwart Les Paul Standard), details his “most important volume knob,” tries to explain “peanut butter” tone, and demos core sounds that involve mid-focused drives, celestial repeats, and polyphonic pitch shifters.