“Skyline” took many forms before finally appearing as a Gates song, but the original idea for it was completely developed using the Line 6 DL4 Loop sample feature. Two factors played a key role in it’s creation: the fact that I rarely had someone around to jam with in 2008 when I wrote the riff, and the fact that the DL4 only allows for 8 seconds of material to be looped. So the challenge constantly became to create something engaging entirely on my own with a short enough rotation time to fit within the sample, which forced the birth of the original progression.
The initial idea was to have a new guitar part start every two rotations, having only the bass notes change underneath. I still remember having added all the parts within the DL4 loop (much of which still appear on the final track), then having to go back and dissect it to try and record each part individually in the demo. I always thought it was cool how much the mood of the song was altered when everything stayed exactly the same and only the bass changed (the bass being the only thing that I didn’t loop). That idea is still featured in the final version of the song, as is the idea of new textures and melodies being introduced throughout the first half.
When “You Are All You Have Left To Fear” was originally released, we put together a video which I scored using the original idea, which highlights the loop rather well:
I played the “slide guitar” on the score with a screwdriver because I didn’t have a slide. A fun little fact is that the second half of the score is from another song I wrote around that time, which we reworked and recorded for our full-length album.
I’ve used the DL4 so many times to create crazy noises and unique delay textures within demos and songs, but had it not been for this pedal, “Skyline” simply wouldn’t exist. The loop feature continues to be a driving force for writing when I’m unable to jam with the band, and I’ve even transferred some of my DL4 loops to a Boss RC-2 (which I’m indefinitely borrowing from Corey of Vasudeva) for live looping between songs. It’s definitely an irreplaceable pedal on my board, and one that changed the way I write and play music.