What is the SwampTank?


Significant time went into planning the individual instruments and design of SwampTank. Construction started in late 2019 and over the next year, each piece was handcrafted and tediously fine-tuned. There were many challenges to overcome while building SwampTank, considering there was no manual on how to build it. SwampTank had to be capable of holding up on the road for touring so, SwampTank was coated with truck bed liner and over-engineered making it built like a tank and as heavy as a tank. SwampTank also had to be built to ensure its’ sounds could be replicated live and in the studio. So, a combination of traditional close proximity microphones were used as well as piezo disks which were attached to specific instruments to capture vibrating sounds. A Mackie mixer was added to control and adjust the volume levels of each instrument. The mixer applies special sound effects like reverb and delays with the Line 6 Helix pedal. Visuals of smoke and lights were added to SwampTank but there was concern that they could cause sound interference. There are two sets of isolated power supplies within SwampTank that provide “clean” and “dirty” power to eliminate that possibility. There were a total of 3 tiers constructed to accommodate instruments and control stations.



What makes SwampTank?







Mackie Pro FX 16

Line 6 Helix Effects

ADJ VF1300

Venue Tetra Bar  

Venue Tetra 6 RGBA

Venue Tetra Control


Shure SM-57

Sennheiser e609

Shure SM-7b

Piezo Pickups


Salton Seas

Beer Bottles







All Threads

Sound Bars

Built for Horror




Top Tier

Salton Sea: Josh and Mike took a trip to the post-apocalyptic town of the Salon Sea in California to search for pieces they could use for SwampTank. As their feet crunched on a beach made of actual fishbones and the smell of rotting birds and fish lingered in the air they stumbled upon a rusted hubcap that would be used as a “cymbal”. The hubcap was mounted to a piece of conduit bent at a 180° angle. Nuts and bolts were added on the outside edge to add sizzle to the decay of the crashing sound.

Lightening: Constructed from a thin piece of 16 gauge steel, the edges were hand-hammered to roll the edges slightly upward. The piece of metal was then mounted on 4 bolts to float it above a hidden microphone. The result creates a unique crashing sound.

Wheel: The wheel came from a kids’ Star Wars bicycle purchased from Goodwill. Bolts were asymmetrically inserted through the wheel and pencil erasers were placed on them. When the wheel is spun the pencil erasers come in contact with a thin piece of metal bent upward at 90° producing a clinking sound similar to a heartbeat. The speed at which the wheel is spun can produce sounds of tachycardia or bradycardia with silence producing asystole.

Spokes: The spokes from the bicycle wheel are also are utilized to make ambient clicking sounds with a bow or mallet. When hit with a mallet they produce a distant singing note.

Beer Bottles: The inspiration for this instrument came from the 1979 film The Warriors. In the movie, the Warriors are taunted and summoned by the rival gang leader as he clicks beer bottles together. The result ends with the movie culmination of the two gangs finally clashing. Holes were carefully drilled through the bottom of the bottles to allow a steel rod to pass through the top and exit the bottom. The rod was secured by rubber stoppers and bent to hold the bottle. The bottles were mounted below the Salon Sea Cymbal.

Bowl: Josh wanted to create the eerie high pitch dings and ringing sound of a Tibetan singing bowl. The search led them to Goodwill once again where they found a 1960’s cooking pot. They noticed the lid had the odd musical quality they were seeking. The lid was mounted with all thread to the top tier of SwampTank.

Snails: A total of three Snails were crafted from thin pieces of metal that were then hand-hammered and then coiled to the shapes of snails (which was unintentional). After the pieces of metal were mounted on SwampTank, the creators thought they coincidently looked similar to snails. Google-y eyes were added to complete the look. They discovered that the eyes also enhanced the sound by adding a subtle rattle sound when activated.

Middle Tier

Mixer: A 16-channel Mackie Mixer was selected for the future expansion of instruments and to control the sound levels of each instrument. The mixer also adds and controls sound effects.

Effects: A Line 6 Helix Effects processor is used for SwampTank’s instruments. Reverbs, delays, tremolo, and other effects enhance the instruments.

Lighting: A Venue Tetra Controller is able to change the colors, flash, fade, and brightness of the internal lighting system.

Bottom Tier

Soundbars: Three steel bars were cut to different sizes to produce different pitches of knocking sounds. The bars slide in and out from under the control board to alter the pitch as well as to allow for easier transport. The bars can produce clinking sounds when tapped, knocking sounds when hit, and singing sounds when agitated by a bow.

Alligator: A small wooden wheel was attached to a motor with a footswitch that was pulled from a 1950’s sewing machine. Mike had a non-functional bass guitar that he didn’t need anymore. The headstock of the bass (which looked similar to the head of an alligator) was cut off and mounted to the top of SwampTank. A bass guitar string was then routed under the control board. The sound produced is a mixture of screeching and a low bass note.

All Threads: Three pieces of all thread of different sizes were cut and mounted to SwampTank. Washers were then placed on each all thread along with nuts to hold them in place. When the washers are lifted to the top of the all threads they emit a loud scratching sound and as the washer slowly drops to the bottom they create a subtle clanking sound.

Chains: Two eye bolts were mounted to SwampTank that support a steel cable. The cable suspends several heavy-duty chains on the side of SwampTank. A piece of steel was mounted to the side to allow the chains to fall and crash on SwampTank’s side without damage.


Fog: A fire alarm pull station activates the internal fog machine. A smoke chamber was built and lined with a rubber mat to isolate the inherent noise of the fog machine. A tubing system made from a 2” PVC conduit was was routed internally to funnel and release fog to specific areas of SwampTank. A small variable-speed fan was mounted to the smoke chamber to circulate the fog through the tube system and out the bottom and top of SwampTank.

Lighting: A 42-inch Venue Tetra LED Bar LED was mounted internally in the front of SwampTank. Two Venue Tetra 6 LED lights were mounted internally on the bottom of SwampTank. The lights all connect to a central control for commands.