A Chat With Paul Waggoner

Written by
Logan Tabor
Published on
February 14, 2023 at 12:32:53 PM PST February 14, 2023 at 12:32:53 PM PSTth, February 14, 2023 at 12:32:53 PM PST

These days, it seems more and more rare to find a successful band with the staying power of North Carolina-founded ‘Between the Buried and Me.’ This grammy-nominated band was formed in 2000, and has since released twelve full-length studio albums, along with a number of live albums; they continue to tour regularly and are constantly pushing the boundaries of the metal genre by infusing their music with a diverse array of influences.  

Paul Waggoner, guitarist and founding member of BTBAM, approached us years ago about designing a signature pickup to go along with his signature guitar and we jumped at the opportunity. The result was the ‘PW Hornet’, one of our most popular humbucker models and an absolute force to be reckoned with.  

We recently had a chance to catch up with Paul; BTBAM has been extremely busy over the last many years and it’s probably getting difficult to count up the victories, both big and small, but nonetheless we wanted to hear about some of Paul’s personal wins…

Man, it’s been a wild couple of years for sure. I guess I’m mostly just grateful to be back doing what I love. Traveling the world and playing music. I’m also super proud of what we accomplished with Colors II, and the response to it has been awesome. Outside of that, I’m just happy to be where I’m at in life. I actually got out of the coffee business at the end of 2022, which was a good thing for me. I plan on starting something new in the near future. It will definitely be coffee, but it will be a much smaller project that is more reflective of my personality and passions.”

For reference, Paul opened a roastery/cafe in Charlotte, North Carolina a while back – it was a rad joint for sure.  

Given the ever-changing nature of the music industry as a whole, we hoped to get some insight from a hard-working musician as to some of the challenges that have been presented by this shifting landscape…

“Everything has changed so much in the last few years. As everyone might expect, the costs of touring have skyrocketed. And touring is really how we make our living. Everything you can think of has increased in price. So that’s been tough to work through. It just means we have to be as economical as possible and try to make this thing work, given the circumstances. So many things are just beyond our control though, and we just have to remind ourselves of that. We try to focus on doing our thing, and let the cookie crumble how it sees fit. We are so lucky to have amazing fans who have always been so supportive of what we do. As long as we have that, I feel like we can weather any storm that blows our way.”

The BTBAM camp has always been well-versed when it comes to their stage and studio gear, and they’ve experimented with just about everything under the sun..

...so we wanted to get a sense of what the rigs looked like these days…

“Well in the studio we tend to use tube amps, and do a lot of experimentation with different amps and tones and really just hyper analyze to decide what sounds best for a given part. Live, I am currently using the Kemper, which is great for dialing in some pretty accurate representations of what was created in the studio. It’s a pretty intuitive machine, and has served me well for the past couple years. I run that through a Seymour Duncan power amp and into my trusty Port City 2x12 cab. And basically that’s my rig. I’ve largely abandoned the use of stomp boxes in favor of the onboard effects of the Kemper. I try to be as streamlined as possible these days with my equipment. The less I can travel with, the better. “

Well said, the gear gods have indeed blessed us all with intuitive and travel-ready digital rigs for touring. Speaking of gear, let’s hear a little bit about the creation and evolution of his signature Mojotone pickup, the ‘PW Hornet’.

Where did this bad boy come from and why?

“Well I loved the idea of having a signature pickup, and the thought of working with a North Carolina company like Mojotone just seemed to make all the sense in the world. Once the seed was planted, it all happened pretty quickly. I gave Dave Shepherd the basic qualities I was looking for in a pickup set, and he pretty much nailed it for me on the first try. We may have made a couple tweaks but that’s about it. I really just needed something that sounded tight and aggressive for the heavy stuff, but had the versatility and warmth required for some of the more dynamic stuff we do. And he just killed it. Since then, we’ve developed a second generation set that has even more clarity. So much about pickups is feel. Like, when you play the guitar it’s gotta feel like you are getting the sounds your mind is trying to manifest. It’s a hard thing to explain. But Dave is a master at realizing the dynamics of guitar playing in his pickup designs.”

Paul’s Gen 2 PW Hornet is available on our site now, and you definitely need to have a look at his signature Ibanez PWM20 – a beautiful creation packed with all kinds of wizardry.

Well folks, it’s about that time but before we go, we must surely see what Paul and the band have coming up over the next little bit…

“We are about to head across the pond for a 7-week European trek. It will be our first time there since 2019 so we are really excited to get over there and play again. After that, we have some plans for later in the year on the touring front, and I suppose early next year we will start writing again. So yeah man, we are just going to keep on truckin’ along for as long as we can.” 

Sounds like the boys are still doing what they do best. A big thanks to Paul Waggoner for taking the time to catch up with the Mojotone team – and an equally sizable thanks to all of you fine people for tuning in! Make sure you check out the PW Hornets at Mojotone.com and go give BTBAM some streams on your platform of choice!