Friday, 18 January 2008
- When did you first "hear the call" to play bass?
There was a band around the corner that practiced at night when I was very young. From a distance, I could hear the BASS more than anything else. Plus, it was big & heavy & the amps were gigantic.
- What bassists inspired you when you were younger, and who are Billy Sheehan's Bass God's today?
Almost everyone I heard, but specifically Paul Samwell-Smith (Yardbirds), Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge), McCartney, Jack Bruce, Entwistle. Plus lots of non-bassists & drummers. Now? I still listen to lots of folks, but I can't think of any off hand. There are so many great talents today.
- You brought the bass, which primarily was known as a background instrument, to the forefront; was this a personal goal, or was it something else?
It just happened. I was far from the only one who did. Lemmy, McCartney, Bogert, Bruce, etc., etc. I learned to play rock solid bass FIRST though. I never thought about a solo till I had played for many, many years.
- What is your favorite all time record?
I have about 4500 CD's in my collection. Very few are unimportant to me (almost none, actually) Impossible to answer.
- Who influenced your now infamous two handed tapping technique?
I got it from Billy Gibbons when I saw ZZ Top in 1974. New Years Eve. They opened for Alice Cooper in Buffalo & I saw Billy hit a note on the fretboard w/ his right hand. I also found a piece called (I think) Attack of The Giant Hogweed by Genesis from the very early ˜70's. The intro is almost EXACTLY a part of VH's Eruption only almost a decade before.
- What was the first bass and amp you actually owned?
Gretsch Pro Bass amp & Hagstrom bass.
- Has your practicing ethic changed through the years?
It changes constantly. I think you need to be as creative a practicer as a player. I work hard, but it's always DOING something to make my playing better. In many ways.
- What was your first "real" band?
Opus One . In Buffalo, NY. 1970-71. 11 guys. Full horn section. Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears. It was Jazz-Rock !
- What basses do you currently own?
A whole bunch, but I'm not a gear whore . What I have, I use. My main bass for the last 15 years or so is the Yamaha Attitude. My signature bass from Yamaha.
- Is The Wife truly your all-time favorite bass still?
In a way. I have basses that play & sound better (different), but it will always be the most important to me, and the bass by which all others are judged.
- Which bass that you no longer own, do you wish you still had?
I had an Ampeg Baby Bass, an Ampeg Long Horn , a Dan Armstrong Acrylic, and a great Alembic from the very early ˜70's. All gone now.
- What do you consider your greatest moment as a bassist?
I don't think I've had it yet! I've been very lucky to have a prosperous & successful career, that seems to keep on going strong, but I look to the future more than ever.
- What do you consider your worst moment as a bassist?
I have a bad night here & there. It's inevitable. It all balances out in the end & you learn from it.
- From among the musicians with whom you've never played, with whom would you most like to gig with?
Paco De Lucia. Or do a tour with Slipknot.
- Do you have a "favorite gig of all-time"?
In Brazil. Sao Paulo, with Mr. Big. Hundreds of thousands of people on the beach, outdoors. What a night. Then, the Army showed up. I still get email about that show. Also, at Chicken George . A benefit gig in Japan right after the deadly quake there. One more, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Islamic girls up front with hands in the air & huge smiles on their faces. There's hope for peace.
- What's your current set-up, "from strings to amps," live and in the studio?
RotoSound Strings, DiMarzio pick-ups, cord, Ampeg SVT 4 Pro (2), before one SVT is a Pearce pre-amp. ISP Noise gate, Ashley Audio compressors also.
- How is life on the road with Stu Hamm and Jeff Berlin been on the BX3 Tour?Great! Stu, Jeff, & I have a blast! John Mader on drums & Jude Gold on guitar too. They are both awesome.
- What current projects are you working on?
New solo CD, & a bunch of stuff in LA over the next 2-3 months. Tour with Tony MacAlpine & Virgil Donati in Eurpe this fall. Much more.
- What does Billy Sheehan enjoy recreationally outside of music these days?
Not much. I love music it's pretty much everything to me.
- What is the greatest advice you could offer a kid just starting out on bass?
Get in a band & play! Really! Do it now. Get out of the bedroom or basement or where ever you've been & start to play. Copy band? That's fine! The BEATLES were a copy band at first. So was Van Halen & a million other huge successes. Figure it out on your OWN. Being hand-fed every lick by tab & notation doesn't develop EARS. Learn some SONGS. Licks, runs & scales aren't music, they are just parts of it. And sometimes insignificant parts at that. Play with OTHERS. Drums, guitar and/or keys. To play in an ensemble is the key. Playing alone is a drag. Learn SONGS together. SING! Get on the mic & SING WHILE YOU PLAY! Your career will do MUCH better. Pay attention to the audience! Reach out to them. They are the reason there is a music business in the first place.
A Bad Ass thank you to Billy Sheehan for our first of many interviews, and also to member Mike Burduck, for compiling the questions. For the latest on Billy, please visit httP://billysheehan.com
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 April 2011 )