Rigged: Complete Failure



Complete Failure

Usually our Rigged columns feature one member of a band running through his live setup piece-by-piece. When we asked Pittsburgh hardcore wreckers Complete Failure to submit a Rigged column the band got back to us with descriptions of not one, but three members’ rigs! All four if you count vocalist Joemack’s broken microphone cable as a “rig.”

Complete Failure’s new album The Art Gospel of Aggravated Assault comes out on February 19th via Season of Mist; pre-order it here and stream a new track called “The Unlove Overhue” below:

Without any further ado, here’s guitarist James Curl:

My name is James and I play guitar for Complete Failure. Professionally, I’m an audio engineer and have a lot of guitars, amps, mics and recording gear that I use when I work with bands and musicians who care, but… that’s not what we’re here to talk about. Complete Failure is loud and fast, careless and violent. Just about everything we have is based on pure necessity.

We typically play shit bars with shit PA systems and shit sound guys running them. We don’t have the luxury of depending on someone else to make us sound good, so we play loud instead. Obnoxiously loud.

I played a Gibson Les Paul for a decade until I broke the headstock at a show last year. Now I play either a Gibson SG, a Fender MIM Tele, or a Fender Jaguar through a Peavey 5150 II and two old Sunn cabs (Sunn 610L and 412L) or a Marshall Orange Crunch 1960a that Mike lets me borrow. I’m also building a pair of offset 4×12’s that I hope to be using soon.

I don’t use pedals live. It’s not that I don’t like what they can do. It’s just one more thing to carry, one more thing to set up, one more thing to trip over and break, etc.

To record our latest full length, The Art Gospel of Aggravated Assault, I used a Jet City JCA20 head through two semi-open back 2×12 cabs that I built (pictured below). I used my Les Paul and my Tele for most of the tracks, and I actually used a few pedals on a couple songs. In no particular, I used an Electro Harmonix LPB1 power boost, Elecro Harmonix Russian Big Muff, Fender Blender re-issue octave fuzz, Boss PS-2 digital pitch shifter/delay, Boss OC-3 super octave, Joyo digital delay, and a DOD Extreme stereo chorus. They’re low in the mix whenever they’re used and are mostly unimportant.

Mike [Rosswog] had this to say about his drums:

I use a ten-year-old Pearl export drums with rusty hardware and gouged up orange finish covered in vocalist Joemack’s spit and toxic concrete dust. I use a Pearl brass free-floating snare; my wife bought me another snare, but Continental Airlines decided to smash the fuck out of it on our way to Europe in 2008. Blood splattered heads as always.

I use Zildjian cymbals; A custom hi-hats (hate these hi-hats but cant afford to buy new ones), A Custom 18″ and 20″ crashes, a K custom dry ride (pretty much the tightest sounding ride ever made for blast beats; mine was peed on by an asshole cat [since deceased] and features a custom “splatters and drips” etched finish), and a broken 18″ Oriental China Trash. I bought a 22″ Wuhan china to record with and it lasted through about two takes. Will never purchase again. Both crashes and chinas used on the new record were hopelessly broken. You can hear the pathetic death cries of my main 20″ crash on “Hero of the Church Herd.” The crashes have since been replaced (thank God for the Guitar Center credit card – FML).

I use a ddrum trigger and Roland TD-3 module for my kick drum sound. Piece-of-shit fail triggers have been repaired by James Curl, and now I have a backup. Live, I have these running through a QSC KW181 1000 watt active sub and KW152 1000 watt active loudspeaker. I like my kick drum LOUD and this setup allows me to fill the small rooms we play with crushing sub-bass. I point it right at my left ear and crank that shit so the hair on the back of my neck stands up and all of the drumheads resonate wildly. That’s when I know it was worth buying.

The most important pieces of equipment are by far my heart and lungs which I keep in shape by riding my bike (Cannondale CAAD9) up to 120 miles per day. No, that’s not a typo.


Mark [Bogacki] uses a Warwick Thumb Bass bolt-on 4 string and runs it into an Ampeg SVTPRO amp and two Ampeg SVT610HLF cabs. He uses a Boss ODB-3 bass overdrive. The whole thing is loud and nasty as fuck. A definite improvement over our old bass player’s tone.

Thanks for reading. I think Joemack owns a chrome microphone and a broken green xlr cable.

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