Zombie Dust pickups have carved a reputation as the go-to company for guitarists and bassists looking for that extra bit of performance and tone not readily available from industry standard models.
Zombie Dust’s speciality is overwound hot boutique beasts, handcrafted for doom and sludge. Although Lee, Zombie Dust’s witchfinder general, reassures me they are capable of so much more – as he pulls off some tasty lead licks on one of the many Zombie Dust loaded guitars adorning his workshop walls.
So take us back to the beginning, how did ZD all start?
It all started out with me just wanting to try out loads of different pickups, but not really having the money to do that, so I watched a few videos on making your own and took it from there. I built my own Winder from scratch, buying different bits every month until I had a working machine. It took a lot of trial and error, so I knew I was on the right path, even though it’s hard to get a perspective when you’re the only one hearing your pickups all the time. Even now I have to borrow friend’s guitar so I can have some kind of comparison and reset my ears.
At what point did people start to take notice?
I soon decided that the best way to go about things was to contact bands that I really liked, but actually, David from Slomatics got in touch with me, and he was after a Doomster (one of ZD’s flagship models).
He got back to me and said they were the best pickups he’d ever tried even over other boutique makers, Bare Knuckle and the like. He didn’t need to say that, he’d paid for them and everything; they weren’t freebies so he didn’t need to tell me they were good. That’s when I realised this might be a viable thing. And to be honest David’s probably got more people playing my pickups than anybody else, myself included.
Your pickups are being used by some top artists at the minute, as well as Bongzilla, Slomatics you have Gozu, Beastmaker, Blood Ceremony, Boss Keloid and many others, that must make you proud?
Yeah I mean, that’s the beauty of the internet! I’m just one guy in a shed and I’ve been able to reach out to people and they dig it. I think they realize I’m just a normal dude who loves Horror Films and Heavy music and I’m catering for people like me really.
It’s not a bunch of guys in an office hearing Doom for the 1st time and going ‘Lets tap into this market’. Like I’ll do 7 & 8 string version or custom jobs and it’s not that much more expensive, but some company’s when you get into that realm just sting you. I guess this is a bit of a punk rock business model. Its hand to mouth most of the time and its lucky my customers do a good job of promoting my products because I don’t pay for any advertising.
So what does the future hold for Zombie dust pickups?
Who knows! Lots more 2.00 am finishes and 7.00am starts I guess. I just want to build a legacy where I can look back knowing loads of kick ass music was made using my pickups.
Words and Image: Dave Brand