Lucky (the monster) from Demonic Machines shakes the guitar pedals

In what would be the only bedroom in a small apartment in San Diego, the musician, guitar pedal builder and anti-establishment artist known mostly as “Lucky (the monster)” has put up some sort of plaque rotating for their multiple music acts and guitar pedal business. Their four-toothed little pooch, Rocco, makes his way through the small room, tail wagging between an array of guitars and mounds of electronic parts. It’s part mad scientist lab, part music practice space, and part disorganized headquarters for a rapidly growing online business – but that makes sense when you consider what Lucky’s day-to-day really is like. .

A teacher by day, Lucky became the head of Demonic machinessolo artist Big big thing crawling all over me (a nod to Big Black’s old punk song “Steelworker”), and a driving force in San Diego’s latest “queer doomgrass apocalypse project”, Fairies Wear Boots (best described as “black sabbath meets Kill in bikini”). So the Alabama transplant stays busy even when it’s not focused on creating guitar pedals that appeal to more musicians and critics around the world on a seemingly daily basis.

But it all happened because a professor in Lucky’s senior year in her master’s program in songwriting at UC San Diego wanted to get back on the music scene.

“She was the singer of [‘90s NorCal punk band] Blatz, and one day, one day, she randomly asked me, ‘Do you want to start a band?’ “recalls Lucky. “I said, ‘Yeah,’ because I’m from Alabama and nobody cool is from Alabama. But then she finally gives up, and I end up with a band that kind of becomes my main goal when I finished graduate school. I wrote so little in the last part of my masters in writing, but I put out a bunch.

Thanks to this now defunct group, Lucky discovered guitar pedals. They bought a classic Pro Co Rat 2 distortion pedal, realized they could modify it with a few light tweaks, then learned from a friend that they could build other effects pedals for a fraction of the price. they cost in store – a major plus for someone who didn’t yet have a lavish income for their post-graduate studies.

Without any electrical or engineering background, Lucky learned from trusted sources on YouTube and the rest of the internet, eventually learning to translate complex schematics and advanced jargon into a language they could understand. From there, their skills continued to grow until they launched Demonic Machines in 2019, providing slightly modified or evolved versions of classic effects pedals, then slapping humorous Lucky art onto the case. – like a boost pedal called Hulk Booster with a cartoon version of Hulk. Hogan as the Incredible Hulk, or the fuzz pedal designed to look like mold.

“I don’t think I’m reinventing the wheel, but I don’t think a lot of pedal manufacturers do,” Lucky says. “I have some mods that are just my signature mods – like I like having bypassable tone controls, because I hate fucking tone controls and I’m in a band of noise too. I’ll clone pedals all day, just to learn the circuit, but I usually don’t release a pedal unless I can add something to it.

While Lucky’s pedals have have earned a reputation for their audio quality and versatility, they also play in the general motto of their creator for their art. As someone with a Wendy O. Williams-inspired stage presence, Lucky often quotes the late Plasmatics frontman’s partner Rod Swenson and his belief that art isn’t high art unless it’s be confrontational as one of the driving inspirations for their own work – both on stage, on the upcoming Fairies Wear Boots EP, and in the workshop.

“I’ve always loved ‘trickster’ gods in any mythology — really anyone who has a sense of humor about things,” Lucky says. “I was in this band in Alabama where we wore drag and played what I would call ‘heavy noisecore’. It was so unsettling for this metal scene where everyone sounded like Killer and all had long hair and beards and wore all black. Throughout my life, I’ve always looked at any version of the establishment and thought, ‘Hey, why are you the big guy that everyone respects?’ It certainly got me in trouble when I was younger and drinking.

Another aspect that sets Demonic Machines apart from many of its competitors is that Lucky brings real LGBTQ representation to an industry where it is lacking. While the music industry, in general, is quite diverse when it comes to sexuality – especially in certain pockets like punk rock – the world of guitar pedal manufacturers is still quite dominated by white males in the IEC. While Lucky can “go into stealth mode” and impersonate one of them when needed, they still notice the obvious lack of diversity and seek out other strangers like Aisha and Fiona from Loe Sons.

“I’m from Alabama, so everything that happens to me here is nothing compared to what I experienced in Alabama,” Lucky says. “I try to bring up things like, ‘Why is there this huge gender disparity among pedal builders? and ‘Why are they mostly white guys?’ but I also try to network with everyone. I have several friends who fit this demographic. But when you meet someone like Loe Sounds, it’s like ‘Oh my god, another fucking queer pedal builder!’ I think our society has come to a point where we accept that transphobia and homophobia are wrong, so I don’t understand much, but it’s kind of a wasteland. Sometimes I deal with blatant transphobia – I had a guy stalking me on Facebook and then on my YouTube the other day – but most of the time it’s just people online assuming I’m there. ‘one of them. It’s always ‘Great pedal, mate!’ and they’re trying to be cool or whatever, so I’ll kindly correct people. It would be worse to be bad gender and make them think it’s a bad pedal.

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