F Steve DiGIORGIO and it felt like I had my EBS amp with me. We use in-ear monitors and don’t rely on the cabinets or wedges, so if my bass tone sounds like me in my ears, I’m set to play, and I’ll just leave it to the front-of-house guy to let everyone hear it the way they’re supposed to. You were heavily influenced by Jethro Tull’s Dave Pegg. That seems a bit unconventional. THE LOGICAL EVOLUTION OF BASS TECHNOLOGY WILLCOX SABER VL5 | TRANSPARENT NATURAL High quality woods and components, acoustically advanced design and boutique craftsmanship, combined with industry exclusive LIGHTWAVE OPTICAL PICKUPS, creates an instrument like nothing you’ve ever played before. Powerful and concise low end. Clear, sustaining highs. A vocal and detailed midrange... the true voice of the instrument at your fingertips. Come and HEAR THE LIGHT for yourself. Learn more at willcoxguitars.com/bassplayer It’s funny because if you look at his entire body of work, someone might be like, “I don’t get it.” The music is cool and you can tell he’s proficient, but his playing with Tull on A and Broadsword and the Beast is amazing. Maybe it was the period, or the songs they had written, but that’s the only time he’s ever really stood out. The sound of his fretless on those albums brought me into that world. Most people cite Jaco when it comes to fretless. How can you not appreciate his work? But I’m a latecomer to Jaco—I didn’t start there. Dave Pegg was my main fretless influence in a context that you wouldn’t really expect to hear it. When you hear Gary Willis or Percy Jones, their playing is 20 times better than Pegg’s on those Tull albums—it’s killer, but it belongs there. With Pegg, it was unexpected, and that’s what drew me in. Playing fretless in metal bands gives you a distinct flavor. That’s usually where I lean with anything. Early on I realized it’s pointless to try to be the best at anything, because there’s no such thing. But you can always be different in some way. You can always have some small identifying factor that makes you “you.” I’m always looking for something to keep me a little different from the regular flow of everyone else. Who are some of your other influences? The list of players who influenced me, created me— the building blocks that I could stack together—is huge: Geddy Lee, Chris Squire, Geezer Butler, Steve Harris. I’m not exclusively channeling early-’80s Jethro Tull. I listened to Stanley Clarke a lot, right before my friends turned me on to metal. I’d listen to Return To Forever, take off my headphones, pick up my bass, and start playing Sadus riffs to thrash beats. You have to be a sponge and soak up all the drops of these different players. When you squeeze it, “you” come out. You mostly play an unlined fretless bass. Has that helped you develop your intonation? Obviously when you’re working on your intonation, your ear is developing automatically. I don’t wrap around and look at the front of the fingerboard too much. I rely on the side markers visually. I guess you rely on the ear for intonation, and sight to check yourself? Yes, but the one thing that applies overall is muscle memory. When you do something so many times, the stuff just ends up in the right place. Now, it’s not always going to be perfect. If I play a whole song without looking at my left hand, I will hit wrong notes. If I play a whole song without being able to hear what I’m playing, I will hit a lot of wrong notes. So, obviously, you need those senses, but you don’t have to strain the ear or keep your eyes locked on your hands if the muscle memory is there. It’s the oldest, most boring cliché, but it always goes back to practice, practice, practice. When you do something so many times, you just get better at it, and you can’t replace experience with anything else. BP 42 bassplayer.com / march2017
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