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IT With Marco Schoots: An Interview with Lorenzo Feliciati

Meet Marco Schoots –

Lorenzo Feliciati is probably one of the most well know Italian bass players outside Italy. He has played on all of the Bass Day’s in Europe and as Solo Artists for Workshops, as well as other projects. He is a guest every year at European BassDay in Germany.

In 2003 Schoots Records released his first CD as a leader, “Upon my Head”, followed in 2006 by “Live at European BassDay & More” recorded live at the 4th European BassDay in Viersen (Germany), and both CD’s received worldwide enthusiastic reviews.

Since 2005 he has been a clinician at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Tilburg and the Academy of Contemporary Music of London.

He is also an endorsee/clinician for Mark Bass amplifiers in the Disma Music show in Italy, and the Frankfurt Musik Messe in Germany.

[Marco] Hey Lorenzo, please tell us a little how you got started playing Bass?

[Lorenzo] As in many things in our life, the most important choices seem to be ruled by hazard. I was really interested in playing drums, but my elder brother was singing and playing guitar. A friend of ours owned some sort of a drum kit, which he built by himself with hard-paper cans. So playing the bass (which was a cheap acoustic guitar with only the first two strings left) was the only choice left for me in order to be part of the band. Then I saw Weather Report with Jaco in concert and the bass guitar (as well as good music) became sort of a fever for me… it still is.

[Marco] And then you bought your first Bass?

[Lorenzo] My Dad bought it for me. It was an Eko Fender copy. He also gave me and my brother a bass amp and an electric guitar and amp. So actually, this is all his fault.

[Marco] How did you continue, did you take lessons?

[Lorenzo] I started playing every minute I could, but I was starting my Architecture studies as well. Everything changed 5 years after that when I decided to stop my college studies and started to work at a music shop. I studied bass guitar seriously and tried to make a living playing the bass…that happened few years after. 😉

[Marco] Which bass players have been particularly influential on your playing?

[Lorenzo] Jaco was my first and foremost influence the first years of studying the bass. He was still alive and gigging in Italy. He was very Impressive to me as a young musician…the power he had on stage was amazing. The crowd went crazy even if he was only tuning his bass. Then when I grew up, I understood that all the craziness around him was the reason he had such a terrible and sad life in his last years.

Going deep into the Jaco style, I discovered great players like Rocco Prestia of the Tower of Power, James Jamerson, Willie Weeks, and Percy Jones, all the players that Jaco used to mention in his interviews.

[Marco] What kind of music did you play at that time?

[Lorenzo] My brother was deep into Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull, so that was what we used to play as a trio.

[Marco] What was your first gig?

[Lorenzo] My very first “paid” gig was in a jazz club (I am still playing there) with a singer that has a sort of Top40s song list, all kinds of songs that were very challenging for me, but a very, very good gig to learn how to play with singers and interact with the other musicians without overplaying and destroying the groove.

[Marco] You continued as a sideman for other singers and bands. Why did you start your own band?

[Lorenzo] As I started to compose little pieces of my own music, I needed to listen how it really sounded as opposed to the sounds on my Mac.

[Marco] As a sideman for others, how do you develop your bass parts?

[Lorenzo] Usually if they call me, they want my approach. So they leave me a lot of space…usually just some chord charts. Sometimes they have a precise, clean idea of what they want, so I start from their idea and maybe add something new and let them have the final decision.

[Marco] You are playing so many different projects…Pop, Alternative Rock, Fusion. What kind of style do you feel at home with the most?

[Lorenzo] I started as a rock/blues bass player, and that is my home. But now, everything is mixed. So if you love soul blues music you might listen to Medesky Martin & Wood, or John Scofield. And having started playing upright in the last 5 years I am really deep into modern Jazz like J.Redman and the W.Shorter quartet, etc, etc.

[Marco] You realized your first CD called “Upon My Head” in 2003. It was well received as it was very musical and had a great flair. You composed and arranged most of the tracks. Why did you want to make this CD?

[Lorenzo] As every musician that owns a Mac (or a PC) with a Digi01 and ProTools software, I was recording ideas every day, working with loops, synths, and all the toys. It was great to feel free to compose and play the bass, guitar, and keys, and program loops without the pressure of creating something that someone will listen to one day. I was doing it just for the fun of it. I wish I had the same approach now when I work on my music. But then I came to the first European Bass Day as a MarkBass endorse, and the leader of the event asked me if I had some music of my own because he was starting a “bass related” label. So I started to open all the sessions I had on my Mac and finished all the songs and, well, the rest is history!

[Marco] How do you write/compose your compositions? Do you play them on Bass?

[Lorenzo] I always put the bass track as the final one, to be sure that my music will be not a “bass virtuoso” orientated music, so I’ll start from a key sound and a drum loop that really captures me…something like that.

[Marco] Do you chart out every new idea, or do you record it immediately?

[Lorenzo] I am not a great music writer/reader, so I try to record them immediately and then maybe write them down for the guys in the band when it is time to perform the music in front of an audience.

[Marco] Do you have any recording recommendations for getting a great bass sound in your opinion?

[Lorenzo] I know it sounds easy to say, but the first thing to know about getting a good sound is to have a good sound. Nothing can save a bad sound, and it is very hard to destroy a good sound, even with the worst sound engineer. This is why it is so crucial to have the chance to record ourselves, and listen back. It takes work to get a good sound just plugging in the amp. Even without plugging in you can recognize a good sound from the player’s bass.

[Marco] How do you capture your bass tone in the studio?

[Lorenzo] Usually it is my fingers, then strings, bass, cable, and my MarkBass head direct in the board without compression or EQ…everything straight. When I do sessions sometimes I’ll have a mic on my MarkBass cabinet, but this approach is usually for sessions where everyone is playing live and they are searching for some “air” in the sound. It’s great that recording all together is becoming more and more popular everyday, as it was in the 70s.

[Marco] Tell us about your Basses.

[Lorenzo] I am an Ibanez endorser, and I use the Ibanez Soundgear 4&5 string prestige basses, Roadgear 4&5 string bolt on basses, and a semi acoustic AGB 200 with Dean Markley flatwounds. But I also have some other great basses at home such as old Fenders, and a Windmill and Mari.

[Marco] You are one of the first (maybe the first) MarkBass endorse’. You’ve changed your Basses over the last few years, but never your amplification.

[Lorenzo] MarkBass amps are the only ones I’ve ever tried that really let the sound of my bass come out from the speakers. It is not the sound of the amp; it is the sound of my bass. And then you have all the controls and features that a great modern bass amp has in terms of EQ, compression, and in & outs.

[Marco] What are your future musical projects?

[Lorenzo] I am working right now to finish my third album (after “Upon my Head” and “Live at European BassDay and More”), so I think that everything will be in the right place next spring. Plus, I am playing Upright more and more for sessions, and with the WASABI project with A.Gwis on piano and E.Smimmo on drums. We play mostly tunes composed by me with an acoustic flavor, which I love.

Visit online at www.lorenzofeliciati.com

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