If you're into metal, and especially thrash, you are probably familiar with Kragen Lum's guitar work with Los Angeles-based bands Psychosis and Prototype and, more recently, with San Francisco-based Heathen. Lum got his start at age 8 after hearing AC/DC on the radio, and when he was 17, he formed Psychosis. A thrash metal band with strong melodies and song structures, Psychosis recorded an album called Lifeforce in 1992 and got a lot of airplay in the Los Angeles area.
Lum studied with a studio guitarist during his high school years, then studied classical and jazz at UCLA and the Grove School of Music, while continuing to play in rock and metal bands.
After some lineup changes, Psychosis eventually evolved into Prototype, featuring Lum and long-time musical partner Vince Levalois (vocals, guitar). In the past two years, Psychosis has reformed with a slightly different lineup, and the band released a new eponymous EP early in 2010. As of this writing, Psychosis is preparing a full-length album, targeted for a 2011 release.
Meanwhile, Prototype released two albums, Trinity and Continuum, and an EP, Cloned. Their song “The Way It Ends” is in Guitar Hero III, which brought the band to the attention of listeners who don’t typically venture into the “underground” music scene and broadened its audience. Prototype is currently in the studio working on an as-yet-untitled new album to be released in 2011.
In 2007, Lum joined the long-established San Francisco Bay Area thrash band, Heathen and wrote music for and played on the band's first full-length album in 19 years, The Evolution Of Chaos, released early in 2010. Heathen toured Japan, Europe, and the Southwestern U.S. during 2009 and 2010 and as of this writing has scheduled a European tour, starting in March 2011, as a support act for veteran thrash band Overkill. Heathen also plans to begin work soon on a new album.
Not content with playing in three bands, in 2010, Lum also recorded guest guitar solos on the latest albums by Abysmal Dawn, New Eden, and Artisan. All three albums are scheduled to be released in 2011.
Between extensive touring and working in his small studio, Lum has come to appreciate gear that delivers excellent audio quality, delivers the sound he wants, and is well made, yet doesn't take much space. That's why he got into PreSonus' 1/3-rackspace EQ3B parametric EQ and HP4 headphone-distribution system, as well as the 1U FP10 FireWire interface.
"The main reason I got the EQ3B was definitely audio quality," says Lum. "I heard about that unit from a friend that was using it in his guitar rig, and it sounded killer. I liked the way it sounded so much that I bought two of them, which I use in two different live setups! The EQ3B is an awesome addition to my guitar rig. It adds punch and clarity to the tone and really makes the crunch stand out in the mix. I used the EQ3B in my guitar travel rig on the last Heathen tour in ten different countries on three different continents!"
The FP10 and the HP4 are important parts of Lum's recording studio. "I did a lot of research before selecting recording equipment," Lum explains. "From product reviews to user reviews, the FP10 and HP4 consistently got high marks. I’ve been using these units to record the new Prototype album, as well as some demos we’re doing for Psychosis, and I couldn’t be happier with the ease of use, audio quality, and overall results. The FP10 Class A preamps are awesome! They are great for recording guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, all with clarity and a warmth that you might not expect from a non-tube device.
"As for the HP4, it’s just a great little device for headphones. We have a small studio so it’s great to have a portable device with multiple headphone inputs that doesn’t take up a full space in a rack."
Lum is sold on PreSonus. "I love my PreSonus gear and wouldn’t play a show or record in my studio without it," he insists. He hopes to add a TubePre for the studio, and, he says, "If we expand the studio, there’s plenty of other PreSonus gear that I’m interested in, as well!"Be sure to catch Kragen Lum both live and in recordings! You can check his tour and album-release schedules on the Psychosis, Prototype, and Heathen Facebook and MySpace pages.