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BassPlayer 2017-01

BassPlayer 2017-01

CS ROBERT TRUJILLO

CS ROBERT TRUJILLO STONEFIELDMUSIC on some songs, you play the same thing. But overall, I thought it was really interesting to break it down and find a rhythmic pattern that supported the riff by playing less. There’s a certain impact and power to that. Do you have an image in mind for what you want the bass to sound like within a song, or how you want it to react? I always try to envision a heavy punching bag, and I really think, more than any other time, we achieved that on Hardwired. Whether it’s the tone or the power of the instrument, it’s all there on this album. It’s present. In years past, even back in the day with Cliff, his presence was there and it was enormous, but the bass was sometimes buried. On this album it’s not buried; it’s right there with the other guys. And that makes me feel good for the future. What else did Greg Fidelman bring to the table as a producer? That guy is amazing; he loves bass and drums, and he supports the rhythm section. This is the best-sounding Metallica album, I feel, from the rhythm-section standpoint. The tones are crushing. The fact that there’s love for the instrument is really a beautiful thing. What basses did you use? We did a listening test where we had six different basses, and we recorded the same part of a song, like a blindfold taste test. You play through it several times, and then you listen back and try to figure out which instrument stands out, not knowing which instrument you’re listening to. There’s a specific Warwick 5-string that just took control of this body of music and owned it. The Warwick crushed it. Traditionally I’ve used a lot of other basses; I love Nash P-basses, and I love some of my old Fernandez basses, which were built by the old Tobias luthiers. I used a lot of those on Death Magnetic. But my Warwick 5-string dominated this album. You can hear the subtleties of the low B. Is there a particular quality or character you’re looking to hear from the instrument when you’re doing these tests? At the end of the day, it’s what’s most important for the songs. I’ve done albums where I changed basses for almost every song. On the album I did with Jerry Cantrell, Degradation Trip [2002, Roadrunner], I was using everything from old Fender Precision Basses to Tobiases. I have a really amazing Tobias 5-string that I recorded a lot of the Infectious Grooves and Suicidal music with; it was my go-to bass. And that had a strong presence on Jerry’s music. But at the same time, I also used flatwound strings on a Danelectro. That music called for specific instruments. So what made Hardwired a one-bass record? Hardwired is much more in-your-face. I did also use an ESP bass for a few songs, because it had a certain “sub-grit” that was very present. But that’s the kind of quality that went into this record: taking the time to do these tests and figure out which bass was going to take command of the music. Do you generally prefer active pickups? It just depends on the song or the era. I have a really strong right-hand attack, and that plays into it. What happens sometimes with the P-Bass, with my attack, is the string will hit the pickup. If I hit too hard, I get this weird click or clank, and with the EMGs I don’t have that problem. Now, with the older, more vintage thrash songs, there are times when I prefer to play a passive P-Bass. If there’s more of a retro vibe, I’m going to pull out the P-Bass 4-string. Do you use two or three right-hand fingers? I do everything from one to four fingers. Sometimes, with faster double-picking, I rotate my index finger back and forth so it’s sort of like you’re LISTEN EQUIP i INFO Metallica, Hardwired … to Self Destruct [2016, Blackened] Basses Warwick Robert Trujillo Artist Series 4- and 5-strings, ESP Trujillo 5-string Pickups EMG w/Bartolini preamps Amps Ampeg SVT-CL, Ampeg SVT- IIPRO, Ampeg SVT-810E Strings Dunlop Trujillo Icon Series (.045–.130) 30 bassplayer.com / january2017

attacking down on the pad of your finger and then you’re coming back immediately with the nail. It’s like a rotation that serves as a pick technique. And to conserve energy on the index finger, I’ll switch to the middle finger and do the same thing. Sometimes I even throw in the ring finger, too. But it’s all to conserve energy. What made you develop that technique? Back when I first joined the band, I found myself running out of gas and cramping up. So I developed this technique to conserve energy and stay in the pocket. A lot of that double-fingerpicking works for me. Are you applying that technique to up-tempo galloping grooves? Actually, I developed a three-finger technique to keep up with the pace on some of the songs. When we play live, things get faster; it’s a natural occurrence with Lars and the guys. No disrespect—it’s just something that happens with all the energy. So, sometimes I’ll play a three-finger gallop technique that starts off with my ring finger and rotates. That way I can stay right in the pocket with James and Lars. But I had to learn all this. It was like I was lost when I first joined the band. As you’ve matured as a player, what do you find your greatest challenge has been? I’m always learning. When I did that album with Jerry Cantrell, I learned about the art of simplicity. Jerry is very specific about what he wants. He writes most of the bass lines, and he gets very specific about the feel the instrument. The presence needs to be felt, and the choice of notes needs to cater to what the guitar progressions are. There’s an art of simplicity with regard to specific notes and how they work with the note on the guitar and the vocal melody. Complementing the vocals seems like an important but sometimes overlooked aspect of rock bass playing. There have been times when I’ve prepared a bass part and we’re playing, and James is like, “That note conflicts with a note in the vocal.” So he’s thinking beyond just the guitar riff. I love being creative with players who challenge me. Any advice for our readers? I’m blessed to have worked with Mike Muir [Suicidal Tendencies] and Jerry and Ozzy Osbourne. It’s important to play your instrument and be prepared, but there’s another side to all this. You have to get along with people and be able to balance personalities. BP Q&A With Tye Trujillo Tye (right) with Lemmy Robert’s son Tye is only 12 years old, but he’s already turning heads with his bass playing. He’s in a band called the Helmets, which Robert mentors. We chatted with Tye to find more about this young gun. Who are some of your influences? I like Armand Sabal-Lecco, Cliff Burton, Justin Chancellor from Tool, and Geezer Butler. What is it you like about their playing? I like how Armand can play almost every style. I like Justin’s pick technique. And I like how Cliff Burton used distortion; it’s like a guitar. And I like Geezer’s bass fills. Do you play with your fingers or a pick? I do both. It just depends on the song. Your main bass is a Fender Precision. What do you like about it? It has cool bass sounds, but you can change it up on different songs. It’s versatile. Do the Helmets perform covers or originals? We play cover songs, but we’re trying to write more originals. What’s next for the Helmets? We’re trying to get in to record. We have some gigs in March, but we’re taking a little break to write enough songs for an album. If you had to name one thing that makes you proud to play bass, what would that be? I like that you can change the mood of the song. If you play a different note against the guitar chord, you can change the mood and the feel. bassplayer.com / january2017 31 WW_CS_3114_2,375x9,75_USA.indd 1 31.10.16 10:06

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