Ian Blurton

Ian Blurton
Ian Blurton isn’t your typical gear hound. While many musicians peruse new music shops ogling the latest in equipment, this C’Mon guitarist/producer (Weakerthans, Tricky Woo) is more at home scrounging pawn shops and friends’ forgotten stockpiles for true gems. He only wants it if it’s old and weathered. "I’m pretty much a vintage guy,” he notes during a short break while recording with Moncton, NB’s the Motorleague. "I appreciate tubes and analogue gear because it sounds natural. My rig is a 1975 Marshall 4X12 cabinet, Stevens 4X12 cabinet, 1997 Green 120-watt head, Marshall 50-watt head, my Garnet-Hertzog preamp is about five years old. He found parts lying around and made it just before he died. As for guitars, I have two 1965 Gibson SGs, a Gibson Firebird and a Mosrite that I found in the back of some store for $300 but lately onstage I’ve been using a Tokai Love Rock, a cheap Les Paul knock-off.

"You can get a lot of older stuff cheaper if it’s got a few scrapes on it but the tonality is still the same so there’s nothing wrong with it,” he continues. "Some people are just too tied up in how [equipment] looks over how it sounds. I don’t care about the way it looks. I care about what it sounds like.”

Solid advice from someone who isn’t exactly the most aesthetically concerned individual. With his trucker cap, scruffy beard, long-ish hair and denim jacket, Blurton is unmistakeable even amongst the in-vogue hirsute rock contingent. Despite his visual distinctiveness though, it’s Blurton’s music that stands out most. Initially revered for his work in Change Of Heart and Blurtonia, over the past few years, current project C’Mon have established themselves as Canada’s strongest power trio, renowned for melding the bluesy swagger of ‘70s Detroit rock’n’roll with the hyperactivity of early punk and fuzzy grit of ZZ Top. Blurton admits that it’s his gear that gives him such distinction.

"I guess I have my own tone,” he concedes humbly, noting that having a personal guitar sound is important to creating musical individuality. "It’s crucial. The sound [C’Mon] are trying to get is all about volume. When Tony Iommi turns on eight stacks, it’s the real thing. That’s the difference between a live show and a record: the air is moving around more. It’s powerful, [it’s] about air pressure and pushing it around small clubs with loud amps as much as it is about sound. It’s intoxicating.” Similarly, he notes that while much of today’s equipment is pretty and sounds nice, when lugging three people, gear and personal effects across the Great White North for weeks on end multiple times a year, looks are the last thing to be concerned with. Factor in that loud, boisterous rock’n’roll belted out in bars generally begets loud, boisterous people spilling drinks/tipping over said gear, and concerns for reliability compound tenfold. It’s because of this that Blurton foregoes appearance for sound and dependability. A collector’s nightmare, this stuff doesn’t sit on shelves and get polished with diapers. Blurton’s guitars are blood-splattered and chipped — one repair shop was so repulsed they refused to service his axe — whilst his amplifiers show more electronic innards and plywood than tolex covering. It’s some pretty rough, Frankenstein-esque stuff. Yet as he consistently reminds, it’s about function over fashion.

"All of my stuff is used. I don’t care that I put it through the ringer because it’s tough and I never clean it... it works well on the road. These things don’t break down because they’re workhorses. You need an amp that can live every day on the road; one that can get knocked over and thrown around. That said, I probably spend more time getting my gear repaired than anything else.”

Prospective vintage gear saviours beware though. There’s no saving Blurton’s rig from the throes of rock’n’roll torture. Because he’s so adamant about maintaining his own style, once Blurton gets a hold of something, it’s never coming back. Furthermore, be forewarned that if you have it and he wants it, eventually he’s going to get it.

"I’m happy with what I’ve got but it took a long time to find it. When I finally see the piece of gear I want, I’m relentless about obtaining it. For example, my amp previously belonged to a friend and it was sitting in his barn for ages. I really wanted it so I bugged him forever until he finally sold it to me, then I wrote, ‘Kick out the jams, motherfucker’ on the back of it in black magic marker to make sure I can’t resell it. Some people freak when they see that you’ve done something like that to a vintage piece of gear but now it will always be mine. To me, every scar [on your instrument] is a story. You know where it came from. I guess some of my stuff could be pretty valuable... if it wasn’t so banged-up.”