What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I promise to give you a track that exceeds your expectations or you don't pay for it.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Try to communicate exactly what you expect from the beginning, if you have a clear vision for the completed song. If you are open to it, let the musicians be inspired by what you give them.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
My toothbrush, my 66 P-Bass, my 67 German Cosmotone Classical guitar, my Rob Allen fretless semihollowbody bass, and pad and pencil (counts as one?). My optimism compels me to keep writing and practicing until I am found and rescued.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
Started playing bass in 1977 to the Who, Black Sabbath, Genesis, Rolling Stones, Rush, and many others in cover bands. My band "Harlequin" wrote a rock opera and performed it in the high school auditorium in 1981 in Easton, Pennsylvania. I was learning bass lines from vinyl records at an early age. I could always pick out the nuance, and not just the notes from players like John Entwistle, Geezer Butler, Gary Thain, and Geddy Lee early on. I attended Musicians Institute in 1984 in Hollywood where I learned to love the passion in other types of music. I discovered that recording was just as rewarding as playing live to me. The fact that I was playing something that might be heard forever made me cherish every bar.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Pete Townsend for always being a relevant song writer. Mick Box to remind me how explosive the 70's were. David Gilmore for always leaving room for the other instruments.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Metal, bluesy rock, hard rock, smooth jazz, pop.
What's your strongest skill?
As a man, I'm best at lawn care and vehicle maintenance. As a musician, I'm best at being meticulous and creative in equal amounts. I am strongest at playing bass with the passion of the 70's, with the precision that modern day recording requires.
What do you bring to a song?
Sometimes you do not want to hear the bass track. What I mean is, you only notice that it's not there sometimes. If the tune calls for that, then that's what is best. Sometimes the song calls for a blistering guitar/bass riff that commands attention. I guess I would want to think that I bring flexibility to a song WRITER.
What's your typical work process?
I listen to the client's track and come up with a few ideas in my head. At that point, I usually have discussed what they expect and get to work on a scratch track. Sometimes it's best to tell me what you expect the bass to be like, but be open to letting me come up with something unexpected. I've found that the best recordings are when I'm left to just let the tracks inspire something unexpected. But I'm always ready to hear what the client wants, and give my best interpretation. Then I get to work on a scratch track and deliver as quickly as possible. Once I get feedback from the client, I will make changes as needed and deliver a finished file.
Tell us about your studio setup.
For bass I have two approaches. For hard rock and most other popular type recordings (rock, blues, jazz, etc) I plug my old Fender P-Bass into one of my three Great River pre's, then into the Apogee Ensemble, and along into Logic. This setup give me and the client anything they want to pull out for the bass. You will get thunder on the bottom end, plenty of "clank" to cut through, and lots of presence. For fast punchy metal, I use my Specter through a cranked up Ampeg SVT (think of the bass on Operation Mindcrime). I have two different heads and three different cabs that give me quite an arsenal of sound. I like to give metal clients three tracks; direct, live amp when appropriate, and a SansAmp track with lots of distortion. Between those three tracks you have a lot to work with.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Musically on bass, (for the heavy stuff) I get my inspiration from Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, Gary Thain from early Uriah Heep, and John Entwistle of the WHO. For fretless and all around great playing, I look to Pino Palladino. Since I also play classical and acoustic guitar, I get inspiration from Ottmar Liebert for both playing technique and writing. Chris Whitley and Hank Williams for reminding me that you have to live your songs and their lyrics to be believed.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I've been mostly recording bass tracks for metal and hard rock for the last 25 years. When I have my own time in the studio though, I record my own music which is much more mellow, dynamic, and organic. Usually I get completed drum tracks along with scratch or final guitar. Sometimes scratch vocals as well (which I prefer so I can get the general vibe of the tune).