David Pastorius, Musician, Songwriter, and, yes, Jaco Pastorius is his uncle
"The first thing about Jaco, is that his songwriting is even better than his playing, as amazing as his playing was. That to me, is why Jaco is so relevant, really, because of what he wrote. I consider Jaco as a Rock/R&B player who happened to be in a Jazz band."
- David Pastorius
"The only thing about music that is not subjective is whether you’re in time, or whether you're in tune." -David Pastorius
By: Abbe Davis
March 4, 2019
The late, great
Peter "Mars" Cowling
David Pastorius visits Jaco Pastorius Park, Oakland Park, FL
This story involves three significant bass players. I can't write this without honoring all three of them.
Last year was tough. I was blown away when I had suddenly learned that my dear friend, Peter “Mars” Cowling, had passed away from an aggressive form of Leukemia, in his last month of life. If you knew Pete, he wouldn't have wanted anyone to feel sorry for him, thus, hardly anyone knew about it. I felt terribly sad, so I wrote a post on Facebook, adding photos of him. I also wrote about how we all need to pick up the phone and call that person, and not let too much time slip by. I really was crushed.
As for how he was as a musician, Peter was masterful with bass counterpoint lines and rhythm. A British gentleman, he often wore tweed blazers and jeans; a self-taught, modest, class act. He had been given the nick name, "Mars," by Mike Mills from the Nighthawks, because with Eddie Levine and the Escorts band, Pete enjoyed consuming Mars candy bars. The name stuck.
Pete began his bass career with The Syndicate in 1962, then the Gnidrolog and the Flying Hat Band, and then with The Pat Travers Band in the mid 70’s as the original bass player. He plays major chops on hits like, “Boom, Boom (Out Go the Lights),” and “Snorting Whiskey,” and more. Pete's style was marked by double-stops, slaps, and harmonies galore – all created on his white Fender Precision, and then filtered through a flange / chorus / phaser effect. By the 80’s, “Mars” Cowling joined Gypsy Queen, and then returned to play with Pat Travers again. It was eight albums with Travers from 1976 to 1982, and from 1989 to 1993. Many feel that Peter “Mars” Cowling enhanced Blues/Rock music with his Fusion type of playing. Quiet Riot bass player, Chuck Wright, saying “[He was] underrated….When I was learning his bass parts in ‘Snortin Whiskey,’ it opened my eyes. On Go For What You Know, some cool tunes are: Gettin Betta, and Putting It Straight.
When I first met him at my rehearsal one night, I instantly loved how he played. Later, he said to me, “I don’t know how you are putting up with me, I can’t get it together.” Of course, I told him he was being crazy. I mean, the funk and soul that flew out of him was naturally in the pocket, in the zone. He made it look effortless.Yet, the last time I had seen Peter, he was at some covers gig I did. It was a tough night where, the one original of mine we threw in, some new guitarist didn't remember the form. On the break, I sheepishly talked to Peter, yet a few people had cornered him and were talking his ear off. “Mars” was in the house. Peter gave me a look like, “Get these buggers off of me,” and then did his standard, “I’m gonna go outside to get a smoke,” in his British accent. I wanted to follow him, yet my break was ending so I had to finish my weird gig. Later, my friend told me how Pete said he loved my vocals and couldn’t wait to hear my originals ahead. I felt honored.
I had only known Pete for three years, yet we connected easily to the point of talking about music, our families, etc. I remember the day he called me up to tell me how a pacemaker was installed in his heart, and my quick response to him was, “That sucks about your ticker, especially a bass player, the timing of it and all.” He lost it, cracking up for about two minutes, and adding in his own jokes. His laugh could make my entire day. No, really, it's true. In fact, if someone ever put a meter on me, to show my "joy level" when I was around Pete, it would read high. He was just that kind of guy. I loved his spirit, as did many who knew him.
Thus, when we all lost Mars, my post got a comment from a David Pastorius. “David Pastorius? Is this real? And, of course, he’s a bass player.”
Now, let’s get onto the second bass player in this. One day, as a student at University of Miami Music, there was a concert we students were allowed to attend for free. I’m sitting with fellow students in this auditorium, when the U of M Jazz band announces that they will do a song written by a Jaco Pastorius. They began playing Liberty City. My ears and senses were instantly shot into a multi-dimensional overdrive. A bass player wrote this? Oh yah, here is the bass line, whoa, what? How can he mix elements this way? I was floored. A cacophony of styles and sounds coming at us, yet it fit together. A jungle of sound that came to life. I wanted to jump up and do a groovy Chicago step down the aisle! It just felt that great to hear it. It was like ten movie soundtracks in one, you just have to experience it.
Jaco was an innovator who changed the way the bass had previously been played. He brought a liveliness to it, pushing the limits. Jaco played with Pat Metheny, Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, and more. His use of intricate solos, harmonics on electric bass, and fretless, the list goes on. He still is one of the most influential bassists of all times. As for his band, Weather Report, it was pure magic between Jaco, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Peter Erskine, and Robert Thomas, Jr.
Says Victor Wooten, bass player of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, “It was a new way of playing the bass, and I remember having to learn it…. [When I heard him first play Birdland, -the opening melody with harmonics], I had no idea it could be done like that….when Jaco first came out with his first solo record, I think that was the main thing that really captured all of us bass players…..He would tell you he was the greatest, and then he would go out there and prove it…. Jaco knew he had some flaws in his character and his playing, but he knew how to draw your attention away from that and have you focus on what he was great at… It made it exciting,” Wooten says.
Says Todd Smallie, bass player of JJ Grey & Mofro Band, and The Derek Trucks Band, Birdland… blew me away; the deep bass and the harmonics … I was probably 10 years old, and in a weird way, without even knowing who Jaco was at that point … it was one of the songs that really inspired me to play bass…. I realized that it was the spirit of the music more than just the notes or the technical side of it…. It was more than the sound of the instrument, especially when you finally saw a video of him play, and you realized, ‘Holy cow this guy is completely pouring his heart and soul into this. No wonder it is so bad ass’…. He played the piano line, the sax line, the bass line, the guitar lines, even doing the rhythmic stuff…it really opened up my mind to the possibilities of the bass being more of a lead instrument than just laying down the bass line.”
And now, in my Facebook comments, some guy named David Pastorius, was telling me how he wished he had met Peter “Mars’ Cowling. I replied to the comment and we friended each other. It took me days, trying not to get caught up in a name, yet soon enough, I went over to David's page. He had videos of his bass playing and he was great! A feel mongre in his own right. Beautiful solos and harmonics on ballads, yet major groove and feel for Funk/Rock/Hip Hop, and I was loving it. This guy has his own very cool style! Captivated again, by another Pastorius.
A Florida native, David Pastorius has made a name for himself touring with The Pat Travers Band, and his own band, Local 518; as well as Tech N9ne. His playing has been influenced by great bassists like Louis Johnson, Stu Hamm, Steve Harris, Flea, and Robert Trujillo of Metallica. However, he does see the greatness that was his uncle, as well.
On March 15, David’s new album release comes out with his band, Local 518, called Radio Gold. The album features various styles under the Funk, Hip-Hop, Rock blend. David has a love of every style, and especially likes Hip Hop and Metal. Read on:
AD: So, you just sent me your new tune coming off of your album coming out, off of your soon-to-be released, album. I love your solos and what you do with the Bass. Tell me, what other styles or types of songs are going to be on thew new album?
DP: There are a lot of other different styles on it. It’s definitely got a rock element to it. It’s funky, it’s just stuff I write. The Chase is a remake of Local 518 from our first album. There’s elements of jazz, funk, metal.
AD: When you know all of the styles, and you sit down to write, does it get confusing, or is it tricky to combine it? What goes on in your head when you’re writing?
DP: Sometimes it happens where I pick up my bass and I just start playing stuff, and something sounds good, and I come up with other parts. And sometimes I hear it in my head before I pick it up. I don’t really think about it like that. As far as the different elements, I feel like it is what naturally comes out. It is not a contrived plan to “Oh, I’m going to mix this.” It’s just what happens. And especially with the guys I play with. That’s just the sound we came up with.
AD: Tell me about the guys in your band, who are they?
DP: Al Brodeur, he and I were the beginning of the band. The Antique Bar, in about 2004 or earlier, it was a local jam night. I think he told me he broke up with his girlfriend, and he lived down in Vero, and and he just got in the car and started driving North and happened to pull over. That’s how I met him, he was there that night.
AD: (laughing) Cool, I mean, not about the breakup, but cool in how you met.
DP: Yah, sure. Alex Petrosky’s the drummer, and also the drummer on my new album for every track of drums. Alex is probably my favorite drummer to play with. We have a lot of history together. My first show, I played with Alex, I swear, he was like 16 or 17.
AD: Wow. How was that? He must’ve been in shock.
DP: No, it was cool. It was different, he was like, a young kid. When I was a young kid, I had chops, but it was not honed. You know, when you are that age, you tend to overplay. He was definitely overplaying, and I was overplaying at this gig, so whatever.
AD: I like your attitude about it though, you’re like, “You know what, just let it fly,” and that’s cool.
DP: There are people who overplay, but if you’re gonna overplay just be good at it. There are ways to overplay.
AD: Ha, yah. Like when I was at U of M, I remember if a guy overplayed on his drums, we would say “Oh, man, that guy’s a chef,” (meaning, his sticks are flying everywhere, like he’s making a salad).
DP: Oh, nice, yah.
DP: So, who else? is a three piece. And on my original album coming out I have some guests on it. I have on a tune, I’ve got the keyboard player, David K. Mathews from on a song. I’ve got some guest singers local guys, Brendan and Mike, they are my engineers. They sang on a song called, Supersonic, which, I swear, is a Pop hit.
AD: Here’s the thing, they are the engineers, but you said, “Hey, guys get over here, I wanna know if you can sing?” How did that work out?
DP: No, these two guys, back in the day, they had this songwriting group called , and it was acoustic, so I know they could sing and what they did was really killer.
AD: Let’s talk gear now, do you know Larry Hartke? I ask because my buddy knows him over the years, and Larry used to give him amps because he likes his playing. It was crazy!
DP: I’ve gotten a few from him.
AD: He’s still handing them out to players he likes, eh? ()
DP: It was a while ago, but yah, I haven’t talked to him much lately. Lately I’ve been playing bass amps.
AD: Ah, so tell me about what you like.
DP: With the Hartke I was never wild about the aluminum cone speakers, but the old school cabinets I like. are nice. It’s weird, I’m not too tech-savvy, which is really weird, I kind of plug in and go. I turn the knobs and I don’t even necessarily know what I’m doing’ but I can find my sound easily.
AD: Tell me what you like, what works for you?
DP: I like low action but not crazy low, like some of these guys. You lose tone or something, it sounds like they’re just dead strings if they’re too low
AD: Who works on your basses, how many do you have, what are you up to?
DP: I had one bass up until lately, I have two now.
AD: I love asking this cause, you have the guy who has a million, or the guy who just needs a few.
DP: My situation was always, it’s not good, I’m better now, but I was always like “If I’ve got too much equipment, I’m pawning it, I need money.”
AD: Well, you just sound like a musician to me (laughing). Living the life.
Are you hooked up with any companies for gear?
DP: I like Marleaux bass guitars and I play Phil Jones bass amps.
AD: Very cool. Let’s go back. You began at age 15 and heard the Stevie Wonder tune, Higher Ground, and man, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers did it, wow. I love Stevie, but this was, everybody’s ears perked up, a whole different animal, so the Flea bit you, is that what happened?
DP: Well, what really happened was, my buddy in Jr. High, his name was Sam Griffith, he happened to play bass. I didn’t even know that he did, and he started playing Flea’s version, and that’s what got me. My friend, Sam, playing his version of it.
AD: Wow, that’s cool. Moving forward a little, at 17, you started to get into Heavy Metal with the band, and I quote, "The Fleshy Headed Mutants?"
DP: Yah, that was my first band.
AD: (laughing) Who came up with that name?
DP: Probably the guitar player, Charlie Toro. It was funny because I was only like 17 and those guys were probably like, mid-20’s. And even by today’s standards, they were badass. I still wish I could find the demo, it was like Pantera meets Cypress Hill.
AD: Wow, serious hard core. Nice.
DP: Charlie still puts up videos of playing guitar and he’s absolutely incredible. He still plays and records, he’s doing things at home. He’s one of those guys, he’s just got it.
AD: Cool. Now, growing up, hearing all about your late-great uncle, Jaco Patorius, esteemed Jazz, Fusion, Funk bass player, how do you categorize him? I mean, how, as a family member, do you, if someone has never heard of him, what would you say about who he was?
DP: The first thing about Jaco, is that his songwriting was even better than his playing, as amazing as his playing was. That to me, is why Jaco is so relevant, really, because of what he wrote. I consider Jaco a Rock/R&B player that happened to be in a Jazz band.
AD: Funny you say that, I remember at U of M, hearing his song, Liberty City. I felt like I had never heard anything like it. When you listen to his recordings now, which songs hit home for you?
DP: Punk Jazz really gets me, also River People is another one. All of them, really. It’s like I’ve listened to a lot of Jaco, but I’m not an aficionado.
AD: You know, you’re put in this interesting situation. You’ve got the name that’s the same, you’re out there as a musician now playing Bass, yet, you’re doing your own thing. You’re your own entity, of course. His demise was so crazy, the way it went down. So many were shocked about how sudden it was and how young he was. Not to say that some people didn’t feel that something was bound to maybe happen. You were never drawn to the bass before age 14, because your uncle had played the bass? Back when you were a kid?
DP: No. I knew I had an uncle who was a famous musician, and that he played Bass, but with me back then, it was like, “Does the bass have four or six strings, which one is it?”
AD: (laughing) Ha, I love it.
DP: When your family sat around did anybody talk about it, or no?
AD: Oh, yah. Rory, Jaco’s brother, is my dad. I would say more than that, my mom and dad would sit around and play a lot of records, and there was always music on in the house. They listened to good stuff. It would be Frank Zappa or The Police on.
AD: Nice! Why were they into that style? Were they hippies?
DP: No, not at all. Ha, they were not hippies. I remember being in kindergarten, show and tell, bringing in my dad’s copy of the record, Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, was my favorite album when I was five. So, I got exposed to cool stuff, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, Oingo Boingo (a new wave, cool band).
AD: Wow, Oingo Boingo!? I never hear anyone mention them!
DP: Danny Elfman (lead singer and songwriter of Oingo Boingo) is one of my heroes. Anything that guy does, or anything Mike Patton (he has a huge vocal range and is the singer/songwriter/producer/instrumentalist of Faith No More) does.
AD: I hear you. When you helped to make Jaco Pastorius Big Band: Word of Mouth in 2003, how old were you?
DP: I was twenty-six.
AD: So, you’re twenty-six, and did you get the chance to meet Jimmy Haslip, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, who were also on this?
DP: No, I met Gerald Veasley (prominent studio musician/Jazz bass guitarist) because I went to Japan with him for a week. I was definitely out of my element, but it was cool, a good experience.
AD: What a cast of talent honoring your uncle on this album.
DP: It’s a two-edge sword because, when it’s brought to you like that, they are immediately folding their arms, like “Who’s this kid?” like “Who’s this guy?” So, what I tell people all of the time, the name Pastorius is rare enough, so it is way better for people to know, after I play. I’ve been introduced on stage as “Jaco’s nephew,” I hate that.
AD: But then why not use a different name?
DP: No, no, it’s fine, because it’s my name. What I’m saying is, will say my name, but he’ll say my name at the end of the night, and that’s after people have seen a whole show with me. Then, they’re like, “OMG, Pastorius, I wondered, is he related?” it brings up more interest, it works better that way.
AD: Absolutely, now they are seeing your chops and what you can do, and there is no preconceived judgment about it. Has anyone ever come up to you and done the nonsense of, “You’re not like your uncle?”
DP: Not in front of me, but I’ve seen that on line.
DP: (laughing) Most people aren’t like that.
AD: Hopefully not, but people get drunk in these places, so I wonder if you have been like, “Yah, this was bound to happen one day.”
DP: I don’t worry about it. I literally, when people say, “You’ve got some big shoes to fill,” I’m like, “I wanna fill my own shoes, I am not concerned about that, at all.”
AD: Exactly, I mean, I would think people are mature enough and can understand that you are a musician in your own right, you’ve done your work, you’re doing your writing, and it’s your baby.
DP: It’s funny because, the most negativity I get, is from Jaco fans. There are a lot of elitist musicians. That’s the thing about what my dad, and people tell me about Jaco, that the cool thing about Jaco was that, he was not an elitist. He would play with anybody.
AD: I have heard that about him, because he did such a variety of music with so many artists. . It didn’t seem to matter about the genre, as long as it was about making some great music, is that correct?
DP: Exactly. He would’ve hated some of these Jaco fans. It’s like they’re just crazy. I’m not saying that Jaco fans are like that, there are some awesome Jaco fans. Yet, usually when I see a negative comment or response from some Jaco page or Jaco fan, I usually LIKE their comment. That is how I respond to it.
AD: You’re gonna get that with people out there. Have you heard stories throughout the years about Jaco, or not so much?
DP: I hear stories sometimes.
AD: Does it make you feel like you understand his experiences, what he went through, or it is just a story about a relative? How does it strike you, when you hear about him?
DP: I hear a lot of sad Jaco stories. Like people wanna come up and tell me how they used to party with him. I’m like, “Great…” I’d rather hear…
AD: You’d rather hear their studio stuff probably.
DP: I’d rather hear the studio stories.
AD: Can you hit us with it?
DP: As far as a funny Jaco story? There are so many different ones, I’m trying to think of them off of the top of my head. I mean, the ones that I’m thinking of recently, it’s not something I’d wanna say here.
AD: It’s cool.
DP: I just know that I can relate to some things. Like, I quit drinking when I was 23 because, I’m a bad alcoholic. I’m 42 now, I haven’t had a drink since I was 23. But I mean, I was in a coma for 8 days. I used to live under the bridges, and I was going that same route.
AD: Tell me how did go on?
DP: I didn’t start drinking til I was 18, but it was off to the races when I started. It’s crazy.
AD: Let’s talk about it for a second here. So, once you start, there’s no stopping, and then the personality and everything just started to go wild?
DP: Oh, yah. When I drank, I was a douchebag. I deserved to have my teeth knocked down my throat, I’m just lucky I didn’t.
AD: When was the definitive moment, were you laying face down in an alley, when you told yourself, “This is bullshit.”
DP: You know, it’s really funny because, I ended up catching pneumonia really bad. I was like, 107 temperature. I was in a coma for eight days. I was 107 temperature for 45 minutes and they were doing the ice.
AD: How old were you then?
DP: I was 23 and I was kind of living here and there, couch surfing, and living under the bridge, or being kind of homeless, semi-homeless.
AD: Where were your parents in all of this? Where were they?
DP: They were around. It’s funny because, my dad, he was the one I was living with, but he told me, if I’m drinking don’t stay there. Actually, he did the right thing. It was super hard for him to do, but if it wasn’t for him, a big part of it, I’d probably be eh, who knows? He was the one that had to say, “No, you can’t be here if you’re gonna drink.”
AD: I believe in that tough love.
DP: I do now, too, I’ve got five kids.
AD: Oh, wow! Five! Look at you! What are their ages?
DP: I have a 16 year old daughter, a 12 year old daughter, a 10 year old son, a 7 year old daughter, and a 3 year old son.
AD: Very cool!
DP: Yah. You were asking about a defining moment. It’s funny, because even after that coma, I came out, and it was like viral pneumonia or something weird. But even after that, I probably drank for a year. But what’s funny is, I kept drinking like nothing had happened. I quit drinking the day after I met the mother of my first born. We’re not together anymore, but that’s a good thing that came out of meeting her.
AD: As a parent, if you saw your kid, years from now, acting like that, do you think you could do what your dad did?
DP: That’s the funny thing. I would hope I could, but now that I’m there, I know how hard it must have been, for my dad to have to do that.
AD: I know, because you wanna protect them. It’s a mixed bag.
DP: My dad’s always been there for me, but he did the right thing.
AD: I’ve heard so many stories about addiction, where the door has to be slammed, and then the person goes to rehab and gets the message.
DP: They go there, or they go to prison.
AD: True. Tell me about touring with Pat Travers. When did that start?
DP: I’ve been playing with Pat for close to three years now.
AD: How did you get in with Pat?
DP: Tommy Craig is the drummer for Pat Travers now. Me and Tommy Craig, have known each other since I started playing bass. I was 17 when I met him, so he was like 23. When Tommy was playing with Pat, I heard that the bass player Rodney O’ Quinn was leaving to join , so I called Tommy and was like, “I wanna try out.”
AD: Tell me about working with Pat.
DP: Pat’s incredible. He’s great to work for and is a down- to- earth, real person. He does things that a lot of artists won’t do. He’ll announce that I have CD’s of for sale at his gigs. That’s the kind of stuff the guy will do. I mean, he really likes my band, too. He’s come out and played at a few events for me, made a guest appearance. He’s got a sense of humor and he’s not stuck up. You can joke with the guy, he’s the real deal.
AD: I love it. I’ve heard he’s great.
DP: He’s also very kind to his fans. The other thing I really dig is, he always has the band’s back. When you’re dealing with shitty sounds guys, or people at certain venues (on occasion) that you run into, he’s always been really cool.
AD: Excellent. I’ve heard about his being great to work with.
DP: Pat’s cool cause when you learn a song, there are certain parts where you learn a main riff, but then there are sections where it’s kind of a free-for-all, and, you can kind of improv. Pat’s really open with my experimenting, and putting my own feel into it.
AD: That’s great. I’ve heard he is very supportive.
AD: Let’s get into Elephant Gun - the gigs with those guys. First of all, what style of music was that back in 2011 and 2012, to go back a little?
DP: I would call it Southern Rock Punk Funk. Trevor was the singer. He’s a great singer. He plays acoustic gigs still.
AD: Cool. Let’s talk about what happened here. You had a gig with Elephant Gun, and you had a heart attack at the gig?
DP: Yes, that was when I was 34.
AD: What were the signs, I mean, did you know ahead?
DP: I felt horrible heartburn really bad in the center of my chest. I should have known something was wrong when I asked them to carry my bass amp in that night, cause that’s just not like me.
AD: Ah, wow.
DP: But it was very minor. I never fell down or passed out. After my gig, I went to the hospital, and they basically said, “Yah, you’re having a heart attack,” and then I got two stents put in, and that was about it.
AD: I’m glad that you caught it.
DP: With me, I don’t think it’s a genetic thing. First off, I was in a horrible relationship, stressed out beyond belief. I was smoking probably three packs a day. I was also drinking this stuff called Kava, crazy addicted to it. I quit Kava about four or five years ago. I mean, I just have an addictive personality. I was probably spending like 60 to 70 bucks a day on Kava.
DP: Yah, but if you read things about Kava these days, they say Kava has shown signs of harming the heart.
AD: What is in it? Isn’t it a tea?
DP: It actually goes way back, as in three thousand years old. It was hip in Florida. It’s from Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
AD: What’s in it?
DP: It tastes like dirt water. Here’s the thing, I’m not saying Kava is bad. I’m saying for me it’s bad, because I have a very addictive personality. Most normal people can go out, and have two or three, and go home. Me, I wanted to hang out at the place all day and show up before the place opened. Kava makes you feel like you want to call up your worst enemy and apologize, you just feel great.
AD: That’s how I am with the coffee bean, so it’s a stimulant?
DP: Maybe. They call it “Liquid Xanax.” It’s really good for anxiety.
AD: There are so many things, St. John’s Wort, who knows?
DP: Like I tell people, I don’t drink alcohol, not because I’m anti-alcohol, I’m against myself drinking alcohol. As a musician, we’re all just alcohol salesmen.
AD: (laughing) It’s true, I know.
DP: It’s absolutely true. The bar makes money, you make money.
AD: While you are playing around in many places, who has made an impression when it comes to being able to play with where you get to be on stage with them and play?
DP: I’ve played with Stephen Perkins from Jane's Addiction, and Kirk Hammett from Metallica . Guitarist, Eric Gales - which was great. Pat Travers is like that. Also, playing with Tech N9ne since they are one of my heroes.
AD: Thanks for the sequeway, cause that was my next question. Tell me about how you posted their song?
DP: The first song I did of theirs was Questions.
AD: So, you posted Questions, and the next thing you know, they reached you in 2014?
DP: It was kind of like that. I had the idea to basically cover a song, being a fan, because he has a rapid, Midwest, machine-gun style of Rap. Vocal patterns of his have influenced the way I play my bass.
DP: So, I was like, I’m gonna cover it, but I’m gonna kind of follow his vocals, on the bass. I had that idea for a while. So, I remember one day being at the studio, and I was about to leave. Brendan is the engineer on my album at Studio 101, in Melbourne, Fl. If it wasn’t for Brendan, a lot of this wouldn’t be happening.
So, I was about to go to the Kava bar, and Brendan was like, “Well yah, you can go to the Kava bar, or you could change your life tonight.” And he said it like a total joke, but I was like, “Yah…” it kind of hit me, so I said, “Alright, let’s do it.” I recorded it, and I’m friends with Robert Trujillo from Metallica . And he didn’t know about Tech N9ne, (even though they are well-known), so I told him all about them. And at the time, was doing an album with Ross Robinson (the producer for Korn and Slipknot-top Metal bands).
So, I asked Robert, “How do I get in touch with Tech N9ne? They’re doing an album with Ross Robinson right now,” and Robert was like,
“Ross is my neighbor, don’t worry, I’m gonna get Tech N9ne to hear it.”
AD: You’re kidding! When did you meet Robert Trujillo?
DP: Robert Trujillo I met years ago.
AD: Isn’t that your idol, how do you meet your idol? These stories are sort of, when you’re not looking for it, correct?
DP: Well, it comes full circle because Jaco Pastorius was his idol. So, he was friends with John Pastorius and Mary Pastorius, Jaco’s son and daughter. So, John brought me along to meet Robert one night and I said to Robert, “No way, now this is funny because you’re my idol, even over Jaco.”
DP: We stayed in touch and would talk here and there. And it was cool because, a couple of years ago, he was going out of town and had a few shows to go do, so he told me I could stay at his beach house in Venice. I flew out there, even had a car to drive around, and made some connections.
AD: What a cool guy.
DP: Yah, Robert’s an awesome guy. It’s funny because a lot of the Jaco fans, the elitist dumb asses, had a problem with Robert having the Jaco bass. A lot of people don’t’ get it, because Robert saved it, for the family. Like Felix, he lets Felix take it out and tour with it. It’s for the family.
AD: Interesting. Tell me about that bass.
DP: I don’t play that bass because it probably doesn’t play too well.
AD: (laughing) Do you and Robert, as buddies, mutual respect for family and musicianship, talk about gear and playing?
DP: I don’t talk gear. I get why you’re asking. People ask me and I’m like, “Man, I don’t know.”
AD: In the past ten or fifteen years, it has become about people creating new things. Part of it to sell equipment, or to be a spokesperson for a company. I ask you with that scope in mind. Ever think of creating something innovative? That’s where I’m coming from.
DP: Yah, I don’t know. I wouldn’t know how to do it. I know which basses I like. It’s weird, I don’t really think about it that much. It would do me some good to be into that, honestly.
DP: To know more, understand more. Some people know it is this many DBs, I don’t know, I don’t understand it.
AD: Well, you’re getting results in your sound, so that is what matters. You wouldn’t be the first person to say to me, “It’s just a feel thing.” Not a huge deal.
DP: That’s the thing about music. There is opinion, there’s no such thing as better. When people compare bass players or guitarists, whatever your personal favorite is, is absolutely correct for you. I know what I like, you know what you like, neither one of us is right. The only thing about music that is not subjective is whether you’re in time, or whether you're in tune.
AD: So true. Robert Trujillo, Metallica, and the album,Jaco: A Tribute , how did all of that go on?
DP: I don’t’ know much about it, I know it was successful. I was on the soundtrack with Tech N9ne. It was cool.
AD: How was it to work with your heroes, Tech N9ne? Was it four months on tour or what?
DP: I did one tour that was 60 shows in 63 days.
AD: To me that’s exciting but, wow…
DP: It was cool.
AD Any details?
DP: My first show with Tech N9ne, it was crazyI was opening for at Slipknot at Knotfest.
AD: How was it to do that schedule, would you do it again?
DP: Absolutely, but I’d have to be paid better, ha.
AD: (laughing) I hear you. Does anyone get down time or write music, or it is just sleep and play?
DP: I thought there was plenty of down time for me, even though we were playing every day. The people that don’t have downtime is the crew. The merch guys, the sound crew setting up and tearing down every day. I mean, we soundcheck and get up on stage and play.
AD: What areas where you in?
DP: Throughout the U.S.
AD: What are the best places you have liked?
DP: With Tech N9ne , the wildest crowds seemed to be in New Mexico and Boston.
DP: But there were wild crowds everywhere, with Tech N9ne, yet, for some reasons, those places stand out.
DP: It was wild in a dangerous way, kind of sketchy. In New Mexico people were very, very drunk before the show, and with that can come problems.
AD: Ah, ok.
DP: Being with Pat Travers in Canada was great. California is great. Pat usually gets nice, loyal fans.
AD: They have been with him for so long.
AD: How about internationally?
DP: I’ve done Japan, Germany and France. I really wanna go back to Japan, I loved it when I was there with Local 518. They were receptive, I was shocked at how much they really dig it.
AD: It is like putting your feet to the water, yet, isn’t Japan receptive to our music, Rock and Funk?
DP: Oh, yah.
AD: How do you define the styles you are playing? Would you be on the same circuit as let’s say, ?
DP: Absolutely, I could definitely be on that circuit, yes.
AD: Some of your bass heroes are, Louis Johnson, Stu Hamm, Steve Harris, Flea, and, of course, Robert Trujillo, anyone I haven’t included?
DP: Ah, more recently, I would say, Cody Wright, funny, I’m gonna be doing a show with him May 10th, in Ohio. That kid is amazing.
AD: How old is he?
DP: I think in his late 20’s? He’s a scary good bass player, and he plays with a pick. He played for Eric Gales, he plays with a lot of people.
DP: I’m gonna be doing a show with him, called Family Roots Fest in Ohio. It sounds like a hippie festival.
AD: It does, that’s great.
DP: They are a receptive crowd.
AD: Yah, peace, love and music, right?
AD: Your CD coming out, tell me, how did you get the name, Radio Gold?
DP: It just flows. Honestly, man, I don’t think much about song titles. Brendan, the engineer,anytime I go in to record something, he has to save it as a file, and he’ll go, “What’s this called?” and I’ll say, “I don’t know,” so he’ll just type something in quick. Some of that turned into the actual names on the album. Some of them aren’t gonna stick, but some of them will. Radio Gold is something he came up with, and I was like, “I like the way that sounds.”
AD: Since you have eclectic taste in how you play and what you like, if I were to go look at your playlist, what are you listening to?
DP: A lot of Hip Hop. I listen to Outkast, even underground stuff like, Tech N9ne, Dead Presidents, I listen to a lot of Metal, too, like Meshuggah, and Twelve Foot Ninja, and I like Korn . And then other bands are 311 .
DP: When people ask me if I could pick one album, I can’t do that. But I can pick the most important album to me, Mr. Bungle's first album, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny.
AD: Oddly enough, I have heard about them. Some guy I knew years ago. I like Aquarium Rescue Unit. People who know that, maybe would know about them, it’s around the same time, sort of? So, why that album?
DP: Oh yah. Well, it was so many different styles done well, and the creepy circus-carnival vibe, which is really cool. The vocalist on that is Mike Patton, and he is the vocalist from Faith No More. Faith No More is another one of my all-time favorite bands.
AD: You also like Level 42, I hear?
DP: Oh yah.
AD: I love Level 42, so great.
DP: In about, ten years from now, besides your band, who would you wanna collaborate with?
DP: If he’s still recording, Mike Patton. There are so many people. Mike Patton would be someone I’d like to collaborate with.
AD: What do you dig, when you collaborate with other musicians?
DP: I’m pretty much open to collaborating with anyone, at least giving it a shot. And then when you hear what it sounds like, it’s either gonna work or not. Vocalists are always good to collaborate with.
AD: Yes, about that. Songwriters. Is it because of the melodic sense, that you enjoy working with vocalists?
DP: First off, I like vocals. I do a lot of instrumental music, but I don’t sing. A good vocalist adds a human element to it. People like breath, whether it be horn sections, or the voice. I can’t explain what it is.
AD: So, what do you think of scream-singing in Metal now?
DP: I love it!
AD: (laughing) Tell me why you like it?
DP: It’s emotion. Music is all kinds of emotions.
AD: I try to listen to many of them, and I want to understand it more. Some like it, some don’t, as you say, not right or wrong to like it. What do you like more about some of the scream singers?
DP: It’s all how they do it. There are some bands where that is all they do, that can get boring, but as far as Metal singers, Phil Anselmo, from Pantera was great, because he could sing. Even his screams were singing, melodic.
AD: Yah. It’s cool if they can scream sing and then go into actual singing. So, last question here, you can put together a band, dead or alive musicians, you can hang out and play with them. A legendary dream band. Who would it be?
DP: For each instrument? Man, I feel like I’ve got the guys around, believe it or not. Please say this in the interview. (ha, he’s funny making sure I let people know that he appreciates them, that’s just cool).
AD: Me? Of course, I’ll tell them. Your interview, your words.
DP: Man, I would love to do a project with Eric Gales on guitar, me on bass, Corey Henry from Snarky Puppy on keys, he’s amazing. Look up the song called, Lingus, from Snarky Puppy, one of the most amazing things ever.
AD: I will.
DP: Vocals, Mike Patton. I got bass, I got drums, wait. A drummer would be Stewart Copeland from The Police. I really love Stewart Copeland’s playing. He’s so human. Obviously, Neil Peart’s a great player, too.
AD: Copeland plays with a lot of feeling, it that what it is?
DP:Yes, I’m not into chops, they are great, but it is the overall feel. I like drummers with a confident snare, like Chad Sexton from , the drummer, and Stewart Copeland has a great feel, he’s not a robot.
AD: I hear you. Neil Peart is great, too, but (with Copeland’s playing), it’s like not being perfect all of the time. He loosens it up, right?
AD: What do you think about Carter Beauford?
DP: Great, he’s great.
AD: Yah, I could listen to him all day. I feel like I could just sit and talk music with you for a long time. Thanks for this.
DP: No problem.
AD: It’s been great talking to you.
DP: Likewise. Thank you.
Peter “Mars” Cowling
As a journalist, Abbe Davis has written for Fortune 500 companies in both NYC and Boston. She is a Singer/Songwriter who has performed Classical, Jazz, Blues and Rock. Her rock originals band is Sordid Fable. Goals: To promote Music, musicians and the arts.