Down a dark alley on Southchurch Road lies a secret workshop where you’ll find a local legend tinkering into the night, designing and building countless effects pedals that will turn your whimpering guitar into a monstrous one man distortion party!
RayGun FX is the brainchild of Steve Weston. In a very short space of time he has gone from building and repairing effects pedals for himself and friends, to providing hundreds of fuzz boxes to people all over the world, including for major artists such as Ash, Bloc Party and Snow Patrol. His most famous creation, the Super Fuzzboy, has even found it’s way onto James Bay‘s pedal board.
For as long as I can remember, Steve has been a major player within the local scene. He has been in fantastic bands such as The Nurse Who Loved Me
, and more recently High/Low
. He is also an accomplished producer, producing demos for countless bands over the years (including my old band Gozer
!). One thing that has always radiated from him is his love all things fuzz, things that sound meaty, and the holy grail that is the union of these two: meaty fuzz! But where did this fascination come from?
“I picked up my first guitar after listening to Nirvana
like most people!” explains Steve. “I was then given a Coloursound Fuzz pedal with FUZZ written in massive letters on the front which I found hilarious. I plugged it in, used it straight away and immediately loved it.”
Steve would go on to collect new pedals, but became frustrated that he couldn’t afford the ones he wanted! “In the end I would find rare and obscure ones, work out how they work and then fix them up.”
Steve’s big break came about 3 years ago when he was shown a picture of an original Gameboy that had been turned into an effects pedal and someone asked if he could produce something similar. “It was just a case of tracking down some shells and messing about with them. I uploaded a 15 second video demonstrating my creation, and simply wasn’t prepared for the response!”
The video went viral, shooting RayGun FX
to notoriety and almost melting his inbox with requests. To date, Steve has made over 200 of these, hindered only by sourcing the Gameboys themselves, as well as some overzealous gamers.
“Some of them can’t believe I can damage a Gameboy like that! Other than that though, the support has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The workshop itself radiates passion, from the experimental workshop where he realises his creations, to the production line where everything is meticulously handmade. Everything is boxed and packaged with his lovingly retro stamp on everything. There are prototypes dotted around everywhere, and Steve was only too happy to plug in his guitar and show me what they sound like. His enthusiasm is infectious and we were both grinning like idiots throughout my visit.
As well as his stock range (check out the Aurora
and Soda Drive
), Steve can offer you a personal service and pretty much take on any task you can think of. “I can clone any pedal you want, for example discontinued or rare and expensive ones. You might want some mods, for example the Rat is one of my favourite pedals
and I can do many different versions of it! Just ask me for anything and I’ll see what I can do. I can also customise the artwork specifically for your band.” Indeed Youth Club
, The Ends
and The Scarletts
have all taken him up on his offer.
It’s been a whirlwind journey for Steve, but what’s next for RayGun FX? “At the moment I’m fine tuning my own range, and I’m honing my craft all the time. We’ve got so big so quickly, but I’m looking to connect more with the local scene. I may even have a presence at this years Village Green so you can come and say hello!”
It seems the future for RayGun FX
is bright, and it’s always brilliant to see someone doing what they love as a full time job. Before I leave, I use my best detective skills and ask him if he’s got any ideas that are so ambitious they’re just in his head at the moment.
“Maybe! That’s all I can say!” We can’t wait to see what his next contraption will do.