020 | Chase Bliss Audio Thermae: A Closer Look at this Analog Delay and Pitch Shifter | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 20 of the Sonic Renegades podcast. We're exploring renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape. For today, we've got a fun one. This is the Chase Bliss Thermae Analog Delay Pitch Shifter Pedal. It's a beauty, and we can't wait to unpack it in this episode.
Hello, and welcome to episode 20 of the Sonic Renegades podcast. Scott and Eric here with Siren Pedals, broadcasting from quarantine, and today, we've got a really fun and fantastic pedal. We're going to be talking about the Chase Bliss Thermae Pedal, and I know Eric, you're a huge fan of this pedal. I know you've had it for a couple years. It's a beauty.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I've had it since probably the last year around this time, and I've really enjoyed using it for just song writing and loop ideas and it's just a really fun pedal.

Scott Schwertly:
Oh, yeah. I mean, it looks fantastic as far as the workmanship. Sounds great. It'll set you back a few bucks, but-

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, it was not cheap.

Scott Schwertly:
That's for sure. So, you definitely get into sort of Strymon price ranges with this sort of thing, but yeah, definitely worth every penny.

Eric Wilson:
For sure.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, hat tip too to Chase Bliss, the guys that actually made this pedal. I know you're also a huge Chase Bliss fan as well, right?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I've always been really intrigued by their pedals, like I think the first one I saw was the Warped Vinyl, and then they released the Tonal Recall and I was always just really intrigued because it's like, okay, you can have 128 presets on this thing. It has a ton of dip switches on the back, and a lot of secondary control. So, it's like if I'm going to buy one of these, it's going to take a while to know what it even does. So, it's been cool to actually get my hands on one and really be able to dive into all the different controls and options you have with it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, for sure. I mean, their line up is definitely impressive, but yeah. It takes a hefty user's manual to actually get comfortable with most of their pedals. But hat tip to them, I mean, Chase Bliss does a fabulous job. They put out really impressive products and pedals and a big fan here as well. For those not familiar with Chase Bliss, it's not your everyday pedal company that you think about boutique pedals or even mainstream pedals. You're typically thinking of companies like Wampler or EarthQuaker or mainstream ones like TC Electronic, Electro-Harmonix. Chase Bliss definitely has its own specific niche but I mean, again, they put out a fabulous product.

And for those that are not familiar with the brand, it was actually created by Joel Corte or Corte, sorry. And the company was actually named after his brother Chase Corte who actually passed away in an accident in 2007. He was actually hit by a drunk driver. So, given that his brother's name as Chase, and then Chase's... One of his favorite poems was Joseph Campbell's Follow Your Bliss. So, what Joel decided to do was actually name the company after his brother, which was a really sweet sentiment, and that was years ago, so fast forward to May of 2018. And Joel and his team rolled out with the Thermae pedal, which is what we're going to be talking about today. So this is an Analog Delay/Pitch Shifter pedal, so it does all those beautiful delay things that you probably know and love.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I think one thing right there that sets it apart from other pitch shifters is the fact that it pitch shifts by modulating the delay time, as opposed to actually just pitch-shifting up or down the signal.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, it's so unique. I mean, I was... I don't actually own this pedal, I know you do, Eric. But just listening to the different samples that you can find all across the web, it's just a... It's truly unique. I mean, it's hard to describe, and I can't wait until we get to the demo portion of this podcast, where people can actually hear it if you've actually never heard this pedal. It basically stands on its own. I mean, it's really cool.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, it's really cool to see because in a world of pedals where we've almost hit a wall in a sense of we're all doing our own version of one thing, this was really a venture out into something that just hadn't been done before. So, just being able to see that and get my hands on it and use it has been really cool.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, and in fact, I would encourage anybody listening now, if you want to actually learn more about sort of the history of this pedal and just kind of the thought process that went into it, Chase Bliss, Joel Corte actually created a documentary on it. I think it's about 17 minutes, and it talks about some of the inspiration behind it. The actual name Thermae, what that actually refers to is the public baths from Ancient Rome.

So, just again, really cool stuff. Again, I encourage you guys to check out the documentary if you haven't seen it already. Just really insightful again on just the creative process that went into really just capturing the magic of what this pedal's really all about. Speaking of magic, there are a lot of artists that have really tried to tap into the magic that comes from the Thermae. A lot of great artists out there, Joey Landreth being one of them. Obviously kind of a surprise because he's obviously in the alt sort of country realm. Sarah Lipstate-

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, Tyco has been seen using these, and then as well Andy Othling, which he almost serves as kind of the guy who shows you how to use Chase Bliss pedals on YouTube. So, I know I always enjoy watching his demos, his videos. It's really helped me kind of understand what's going on with it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, and if anybody's not familiar with Andy, he basically I guess performs under the name Lowercase Noise.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, he's done several different bands. I know Lowercase Noise is his personal ambient project, but I know he's toured with a lot of different artists, a lot of different bands and a few different genres, too.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, it seems like any time I'm researching pedals on a quip board or some other place, I always see his name as an artist, so but yeah, I guess testament to the type of stuff that he's doing every single day. But yeah, obviously, a lot of great artists that are fans of this pedal. And I mean, it's new. I mean, again, May 2018 hasn't been around for a long time, but a lot of big names who, yeah, who are actually choosing to utilize this pedal on their boards, which is impressive.
So as we like to do here on the podcast, we like to talk about things that we obviously like and dislike. Really as far as flaws, there's really not a whole lot. I mean, again, this is truly a unicorn in its own right. I mean, it's just, it's a fantastic stomp box. I guess if there was one thing that really stands out as far as a flaw, I would probably say something we kind of joked about earlier, it would just be the substantial learning curve because there's so much that this pedal can do.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, and I think it's one of those things where it's like, the Chase Bliss pedals are for a specific individual who's going to dive in, learn all the controls, learn all the capabilities of it, and when you do that, it completely justifies the price tag. But I know a lot of people pick them up, they'll have it for like two weeks, and they'll be like, "This wasn't worth it at all." And it's like, "Well, yeah. You spent like 10 minutes trying to figure it out and you didn't actually learn how to use the pedal." And so, I think that's the one thing. It's like, if you're going to buy them, just be prepared. If you want to use everything that it can do, then you need to just spend some time and really dive into it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, and speaking of price tag, if you guys are curious of how much this actually costs, it's about $500. So it's not cheap, that's for sure. And you're definitely making more of an investment when you get something like this, but it was funny even before we started this podcast today, Eric, that you were joking that even though you've had it for a while, you're still learning it. There's just so much.

Eric Wilson:
I literally learned more this morning when I was actually trying to look up how to put into words what the thing can do than I've learned just trying to use it over the past year. So, I'm definitely in that camp of, "I still really have no idea what I'm doing with it," but I'll figure it out eventually. But it's been really fun. I've used it quite a bit. Whenever I feel like in a rut, song writing-wise, I'll just start turning that on, turning knobs, see if I can get a cool sample or something, put it into Ableton, see if I can modulate it. It really serves as something where you can sample parts and stuff, and then use that in a song or... because it also doubles as kind of some really interesting synth sounds you can get out of it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, for sure. And I think the thing that really just stands out with this pedal is it actually has the four MN, three OO-5 bucket-brigade chips, or more simply, just the MN3005 bucket-brigade chips, and this is really kind of the shining star that allows you to have so much sort of tonal variety there when doing just simple delay, pitch shifting, all that stuff. That to me is sort of the powerhouse behind this entire thing.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, which if you don't know, the reason why those are important is those are what's in the electro harmonics, the Memory Man, the big box, the tap tempo one. Or not the big box, the tap tempo one.

Scott Schwertly:
Exactly. So it's a lot of people refer to it as sort of like a mythic or legendary chip. But yeah, I mean, that within itself is just, yeah, again, is the thing that really makes this thing... makes it shine. And the other thing that's really cool about Chase Bliss products is they have this whole idea of the digital brain. In fact, I think they even kind of have that on the outside part of the pedal that you're really sort of guaranteed this 100% analog sound, which is cool.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, and it's really cool, because even when you plug it in, I mean, it sounds... when you have the actual pedal on and you're running stuff, doing stuff, it gives you a similar sound with that analog noise you would get, like out of a Memory Man or something like that, it gives you that as well. So, that's really cool. But as far as the knobs go on this, it's got six knobs, three switches... Well, four switches if you count the preset switch. And then two actual foot switches, and then a whole bunch of dip switches on the back. Totally not going to get into those.

You can look up those on your own because literally, the sky's the limit with this thing. But just real quick, the mix control obviously controls the mix of your signal. All the way is 100% wet, all the way back is 100% dry, but what's really cool about the mix knob is on the back of the pedal, if you start flipping those dip switches, and then the other thing that the mix knob can do is it's assignable on the back of the pedal by those dip switches. You can assign it the different parameters of the pedal, so it's really cool. You can just control different aspects of it. There's also a low pass filter where as you turn it clockwise, it's brighter, and then as you turn it counter clockwise, it darkens up the signal, pulls the high end off of it.

And then the next control is the region, which is basically your repeats control and it can go from... if you set it just right, it can infinitely repeat, and then if you keep going, you can go into the self... or isolation, self-oscillation and just kind of the crazy mess of sound. And especially when you have the pitch-shifting and all of that, it sounds really cool. And then after that, we have the glide knob, which is basically... So, when it does the pitch-shifting off the delay times and stuff, this basically determines if it glides up to those pitches or if it doesn't. So, all the way down, it just goes... pops straight up.

And then as you turn the glide knob up, it slides up to those, similar to a glide on a synth. And then you have your two interval controls which also are switchable on the back to be your modulation control. So if you flip the switch on the back, the one in the middle is your modulation speed control, and then the one furthest to the right is your modulation depth control. But what those do normally if those dip switches are all down, is that they control the intervals that you're able to use for the delay time and the pitch-shifting. So, I believe there's like seconds, fifths, octaves, two octaves, I can't remember off the top of my head what all there is on there. But they each cascade into each other, and so you have two controls. So, that's kind of the general overview of just the knobs and the controls on the pedal.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, and those interval knobs really, give you sort of that interesting sort of time-warping sort of effects-

Eric Wilson:
For sure.

Scott Schwertly:
... that, yeah, would be [crosstalk 00:13:23]-

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, and there's a switch. There's a switch under each of those knobs, so under the glide knob, there's a switch that just determines if all the modulation and the pitch-shifting's off, what's your delay going to be? Is it going to be quarter note, eighth note, dotted eighth? And then it also has those controls under the interval knob, so it controls what delay those are going to be based on. The last delay that happened is I think how that works.

Scott Schwertly:
So, as you guys can see, there definitely is a learning curve with this kind of pedal. I mean, it's fantastic, but again as you said earlier Eric, it's not one of those ones that you can just sit down with for 10 minutes. You really have to be invested in maximizing it. Awesome. Well, if you guys are curious to see what this actually sounds like, maybe if this is your first exposure to the Chase Bliss Thermae, we're going to take it for a test spin here. Eric, what's going to be your guitar of choice?

Eric Wilson:
I'm going to use my Les Paul.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice, nice. Awesome. So, we're going to go ahead and get that plugged in, and yeah. We'll just take this thing out for a ride.

Eric Wilson:
All right, that's the Chase Bliss Thermae. It is so choice. In the words of Ferris Bueller, "If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. Love the Bueller reference. As a kid who grew up in the 80s, definitely love it. That's awesome. Yeah.

Eric Wilson:
I didn't grow up in the 80s, but I might as well have because I grew up on movies from the 80s.

Scott Schwertly:
They're the best. I mean, it's the best. I love in Hulu how you have the whole 80's Binge section. I can watch those all day long.

Eric Wilson:
Exactly.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Nice. Well, there you have it, folks. That's the Chase Bliss Thermae pedal. It's expensive, but it's definitely worth it. It's a great thing to have on your board. Definitely will diversify your board, give you so many different options. Obviously, we're big fans. So Eric, any other final thoughts on this one before we close out?

Eric Wilson:
No, I think I've said all I really know about it so far, so I'm probably going to go spend about three hours today just kind of trying to figure it out, now that we've talked about it so much.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, you could probably spend five if you wanted to.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, for real.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us on this episode. Join us next time. We're going to be talking about the Boss RV-5 Reverb pedal. As you guys know here, we're huge fans of Boss. You really can't go wrong with a Boss pedal. So, might as well cover the Boss RV5. It's a fantastic one.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, love the RV-5. Still such a standard of reverb.

Scott Schwertly:
Oh, for sure. I mean, some of my favorite artists use it. So, folks like Matt Bellamy, and many others. So, yeah, really looking forward to unpacking that pedal in our next episode. Well, there you have it, guys. Again, thank you so much for joining us. We hope you guys have a great day, great week. If you're in quarantine like us, stay safe. Stay healthy, and we'll see you in the next one.

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