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Bass Musician Magazine Featuring Smashing Pumpkins Bass Player Nicole Fiorentino – October 2011 Issue

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Meet Nicole Fiorentino, who is the latest addition to the Grammy award winning band Smashing Pumpkins. Nicole is the fourth female bassist that joins this legendary band. D’Arcy, who was a member of the band since they formed in 1988, spent just over a decade with the band before departing in 1999. Auf der Maur joined the Pumpkins for the tour in support of Machina/the Machines of God, up until Billy Corgan broke up the band in 2000. When Corgan and former drummer Jimmy Chamberlin resurrected the Pumpkins in 2005, Billy was handling the bass duties for Zeitgeist, however later he recruited Pooley.

I had the privilege of interviewing Nicole.  At the beginning I was fooled by the soft as well as very polite character of bassist Nicole Fiorentino. I expected someone to be equally subtle on the bass guitar. However, Ms Fiorentino can really play the bass and shreds like a true “Smashing Pumpkin”!

Nicole gives some great insights on how she evolved as an artist, her influences, advice, as well as how she developed and found her voice on the bass!

Andreas: As with all good stories, its best to start from the beginning. When and what first drew you to music as well as the bass guitar?

Nicole:  Growing up, my Dad was a drummer in a variety of bands, mostly rock, but some country too. They would rehearse in our basement and I would always sneak down and hang out with the guys. I was really comfortable in the rock-n-roll atmosphere from a very young age! I would mess around with the instruments, but I wouldn’t say that I started taking music seriously until I was about 14. At that point I was really into grunge, punk, and riot girl, so I started a band with my best friend called Sweet 16. Between the two of us, she had more of the “front person” personality, so it was decided she would sing/play guitar. My parents bought me a bass for my birthday and I instantly connected with it in a way that I hadn’t with any other instrument. We found a drummer shortly after and formed our little band. We recorded a session on tape called “School Boy Glamour” and played locally around the Western, MA area. That was my first taste of what turned out to be many many more years of touring and being in bands!

A: New England has a very reputable live scene. How did the MA music scene in general, usually known for its unique musical culture, influence your music and your career?

N: It was interesting because my band was one of the only riot girl bands in the area at the time so we would get booked constantly. It was great because in a way helped me to figure out that this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I loved playing out, I loved the atmosphere of the clubs, and I loved meeting other musicians. My friends and I went out to shows or played shows. That’s what you did in New England. And, it was great because so many cool bands hailed from MA.—The Pixies, Belly, and Dinosaur Jr. to name a few. So there was a real sense of pride when it came to the local music scene. For my friends and me it was all we had. So yes, the fact that music became my livelihood had a great deal to do with where I grew up.

A: Let’s talk about more recent stuff – hence Smashing Pumpkins. How does Smashing Pumpkins usually work with the songwriting process?

N: Well, I can really only speak for the way that we worked on this record, Oceania, as this is the first album I’ve worked on with them. Generally, Billy will come in with either a song idea or a well-constructed skeleton of a song and we will all jam on it for a while. Once we have all established basic parts we will record what we had and Billy will tinker with that for a while. Usually he will re-work it and we sort of keep tweaking the arrangement and the parts until it is where it’s supposed to be. It’s really great to have those moments where you’ve been working on a song for awhile and it finally just all comes together. There’s nothing more rewarding than those moments to me, except of course playing those songs live for fans!

A: Do you and Mike (Byrne-drums) ever jam out and write as a rhythm section by yourselves? How do you view your relationship as part of the rhythm section?

N: As far as writing parts as the rhythm section, Mike and I are a powerhouse! Usually, we will write our own parts separately and then work through them together to find accent points. So I will re-work my part according to where his accent points are and vice versa. We work really well together on that level. I think we’ve gotten to the point in our relationship where we understand each other’s psychology of how we play. I think that’s super important for live purposes because as a rhythm section, you really have to memorize the other person’s pocket so that you can be totally locked in.

A: Can you describe the relationship between you and the other band members?

N: We all get along really well, and I think there is a mutual respect between the four of us. We are all here for the same reason and we have the same goal in mind. We work really well as a team, which I think can be a very difficult thing to find when it comes to musicians!

A: I totally agree with that! Do you have any advice to give to our readers as well as other musicians/bass players?

N: Practice a lot, stay focused, play music that you are emotionally invested in.

A: Do you have any advice to give to other girls/women that look up to you and want to learn music?

N: It can definitely be more difficult at times for girls/women to be taken seriously in the music industry. Be confident, know your instrument, know your gear and always remember the women before us who paved the path and let that inspire you!

A: Can you tell me more information about the upcoming album? When will it be released?

N: The new album Oceania will be released in Nov. There will be a physical release, that is the plan, but I’m not sure how that will manifest. Either way you will be able to listen to the new songs before the year’s end. Have no fear!

A: Apart from the new album, what will the near future hold for you and the smashing pumpkins? Any tours?

N: Yes, we are actually in rehearsals right now for the fall tour that will include 12 U.S. dates and European shows to follow. This tour is basically going to be the lead up for a long year of touring next year.

A: 1979 & Tonight Tonight were both a critical and commercial success. These tracks were the biggest Smashing Pumpkins hits so far. In addition they define the Smashing Pumpkins style and sound. Do you see the band delving into new territories creatively with the new album currently being written? Do you feel that the new album has something new to offer? Why?

N: I think because we are all working together on this record it is naturally going to have a different vibe than any of the other records on which Billy played most of the instruments himself. I think we delved into new territory for sure, but what I love about this record is that it has that familiar old-school Pumpkins feel to it, with a modern twist. The cool thing is he was able to capture the energy of the old material without ripping it off.  Billy’s definitely found his way back to whatever he was tapping into when writing Gish and SD. You can’t explain it, but as a listener, you just know that you connect with it when you hear it. That’s how I felt when I first heard those records and that’s how I feel about this one, albeit it’s a slightly different experience because I actually played on this record!

A; How did you approach learning to sing and play bass at the same time? I know many bass players have trouble dealing with this subject.

N: Honestly, I didn’t really start singing on stage until I played with Veruca Salt. I would sing the occasional background vocals in my other bands, but it was Louise Post who told me I was a singer trapped in a bass player’s body! She really challenged me and brought out my confidence in regards to singing and playing bass simultaneously. It can be difficult because in general, vocals and melodies are not written according to a bass melody. Playing and singing conflicting melodies can be a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time! It takes a lot of practice and can be very frustrating, but I think once you get used to it, it’s just like any other challenge you can overcome as a musician.

A: Are you involved in any other “side” projects?

N: Yes I actually have a band called The Cold and Lovely with the super talented Meghan Toohey. We have a record coming out in the fall as well. We actually had Patty Schemel from Hole drum on most of the record, I played bass and sang background vocals, and Meg did everything else. It’s got this really cool dark, sexy PJ Harvey/Arcade Fire vibe to it. We are really excited about its release. You can check it out on the single on www.thecoldandlovely.com.

A: How do you achieve your heavy Fat tone?

N:  Well, on stage I use a Mesa Boogie Big Block Titan head and an 8×10 Mesa cab. My primary bass is a 78 Fender Precision. For pedals, I mainly use my Line 6 M13 Stomp-box, which I love. It’s super user friendly and has really great effect options.

A: Do you feel that women are treated differently in the music industry?

N: I think women are treated different in every industry, so, yes, I do think we are treated differently in the music industry. It’s totally a boy’s world and I think it’s really easy to not be taken seriously as a woman. I get comments to this day, even as a professional musician, to the effect of “you are a really great female bass player”. I know people mean well, so I try not to take offense to it, but it’s kind of a backwards compliment and proves that we are still viewed as a separate entity. Moreover, I think the only thing we can do when we are put in that position is to force people to take us seriously by really knowing our craft. The majority of my experiences with my old band Radio Vago (all women), involved sounds guys or techs or engineers blowing us off, or treating as if we had no idea what we were talking about, until they heard us play. Suddenly the energy would shift because we demanded respect through our capabilities and our music. I can only speak from my experience, but when it comes to equality within the music industry it’s still an uphill battle. That’s why I love programs like Rock Camp for Girls/Ladies. It’s all about women inspiring other women/girls to be self-confident and trusting and supporting one another. Lastly, I will say that it gives me great pride to know that because of my hard work and conviction I am being taken seriously in this male-oriented industry. I encourage other women to just keep working hard and remaining true to their passion.

A: How does it feel to be touring with one of the most famous rock bands? Any interesting/funny tour stories?

N: It was strange at first, being that I grew up on the Pumpkins, but honestly, everything came together so quickly and felt so natural right through the gate that it doesn’t really occur to me anymore that it’s strange! What’s amazing to me is how the fans have embraced me as the new bass player. I mean, some are more opinionated than others as to who should/shouldn’t be in the band, but for the most part I have received positive feedback and an over all sense of being welcomed with open arms from the fans. What’s really fun for me about playing the old songs is not only that I get to play the songs that I grew up listening to, but that I get to give them my own twist.  Billy is very open to adaptation when it comes to the catalogue of old material. We have a lot of fun with it!

A: What are your favorite songs to perform, and why?

N: My Favorite songs to perform are Eye, Hummer, Geek U.S.A. (which we will play on the next tour), Stand inside your Love, Tristessa, Ava Adore, Astral Planes, and That’s the Way. I’m extremely excited to start playing songs from the new record on this tour because I will be playing my own parts! I feel really good about the work we’ve been doing these past 6 months—I’m like a proud mama.

A: Last question. I, as well as many fans are wondering if it is true that you are one of the girls on the cover of the Pumpkins’ 1993 album Siamese Dream? Or is it a twitter joke?

N: I will leave that for you to decide.

For more information, please check:

www.nicolefiorentino.net
www.thecoldandlovely.com
www.Smashingpumpkins.com

 

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Bass Videos

Ricky Phillips, STYX Bass And More – February 2024

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Ricky Phillips, STYX Bass And More, January 2024

Ricky Phillips, STYX Bass And More…

This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

I have always been a huge Styx fan. Their music kept me awake during countless nights studying and gave my imagination a place to escape when I had a moment to take a break. 

I had the immense opportunity to chat with STYX bassist Ricky Phillips for our August Cover in 2017 and follow his projects as time passed. Now, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to catch up with Ricky as he has been super-busy over the past six years. 

Join me as we take a deep dive into the band’s most recent album “Crash the Crown” and EP “The Same Stardust”. Ricky shares some insights into the herculean team effort behind the scenes and the musical process that keeps them ever so busy and how he has updated his sound. 

Without further ado… Here is Ricky Phillips!

Photo: Jason Powell

“Crash of the Crown” lyric video

“Reveries” lyric video

“Save Us From Ourselves” lyric video

“Sound the Alarm” lyric video

“Too Much Time On My Hands” Zoom video 2020

Visit online:

www.Styxworld.com
FB & IG @styxtheband

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Bass Videos

Jeff Pilson, Foreigner Low End – January 2024

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Jeff Pilson - Bass Musician Magazine - January 2024

Jeff Pilson, Foreigner Low End – January 2024…

Those of us who were around back in the 70’s remember how certain songs on the radio resonated with us. It turns out that many of these iconic melodies came from Foreigner and they were part of our personal soundtracks! 

After all these years, the band is going as strong as ever with Jeff Pilson firing away on bass midstream into a 2-year farewell tour. 

I am excited to be able to bring you all the details about Jeff’s musical Journey, the farewell tour in progress, how he gets his sound and his plans for the future.

Cover Photo: Krishta Abruzziini / Video Photos: Krishta Abruzzini, Karsten Staiger, Gina Hyams

For more news on FOREIGNER and upcoming Farewell Tour dates, fans can visit:
foreigneronline.com
facebook.com/Foreigner
twitter.com/ForeignerMusic
instagram.com/foreignerlive
youtube.com/user/FWebTeam
Also on FB @officialjeffpilson

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Bass Videos

Rodney O’Quinn, Rockin’ Hard Through the Years – December 2023

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Rodney O'Quinn, Rockin’ Hard Through the Years – December 2023

Interview With Foghat Bassist Rodney O’Quinn…

Rodney O'Quinn - Bass Musician Magazine - December 2023-v2

Many rock fans have enjoyed music by Foghat, who originally formed in London back in 1971.

Over the many decades of playing, the band members have changed, leaving behind only Roger Earl as the only original member. Bassist Rodney O’Quinn left the Pat Travers Band and joined the group in 2015 and has been laying down the low end for this iconic quartet keeping the Foghat legacy alive. With a new album titled “Sonic Mojo” which dropped on November 10th, the band is as busy as ever and there is lots of very tasty music to come.

Join me as we learn of Rodney O’Quinn’s musical journey, how he gets his sound, and his plans for the future.

Photos:
Cover,
Jake Coughlin
Video Thumbnail, Tom Apathy
Photos used in the video: Kerry Quinn, Chuck Lanza, Kim Granger, Kenneth Strohm, Jake Coughlin, Jay Jylika

1st Single from Sonic Mojo – Official “Drivin’ On” 

2nd Single from Sonic Mojo – “She’s a Little Bit of Everything Official Video

 “Road Fever”- California Mid State Fair – Paso Robles, CA – 7-27-22

“Stone Blue” – Rodney O’Quinn Bass/Lead Vocals – Don Odell’s Legends – Woonsocket, R.I – 10/15/22 – The Stadium Theater

The Earl’s Court – Season 2, Episode 7: Funny Guys 

“I Just Want to Make Love to You” – CasinoRama – 6-9-23 

FOGHAT “Somebody’s Been Sleepin’ in My Bed” – Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT – 1/28/22

“I Just Want to Make Love to You” – California Mid State Fair – Paso Robles, CA – 7-27-22

Visit Online:

www.foghat.com
www.facebook.com/Foghat
www.twitter.com/FOGHAT
www.instagram.com/foghat_official
www.youtube.com/user/FOGHATMUSIC

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Suzi Quatro, Eternal Powerhouse – November 2023

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Suzi Quatro, Eternal Powerhouse – November 2023

Interview With Bassist Suzi Quatro…

Suzie-Quatro-Bass-Musician-Magazine-November-2023

It is always exciting to have the opportunity to talk to an artist who has been prolific for decades.

Suzi Quatro has been rocking our world since the sixties and has been super-creative as a bassist, musician, actress, singer, songwriter, author, radio show host and so much more. Most recently, Suzi released a new album titled “Face to Face” where she joined forces with KT Tunstall and together they are a force of nature. (See our video with Suzi about the album release)

Join me as we hear about Suzi’s musical journey, her many projects, how she gets her sound and her plans for the future.

Here is Suzi Quatro…

Suzi Quatro & KT Tunstall – “Truth As My Weapon” (Official Music Video)

“Shine A Light” music video (from the upcoming album)

“Bad Moon Rising” music video (from 2022):

Bass-Solo / Live in Prah? 1979

Glyserine Queen / Bass solo – Tampere Finland

Follow Online:

suziquatro.com
IG @suziquatroreal
FB @Suziquatrorocks
TW @Suzi_Quatro

Photos: 
Video – Andrew Whitton
Cover and Header Photo – Courtesy of Suzi Quatro

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Bass Videos

Zach Fowler, Not Just Laying Down the Low End – October 2023

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Zach Fowler, Not Just Laying Down the Low End - October 2023

Zach Fowler, Not Just Laying Down the Low End – October 2023

I have been hearing about Zach Fowler’s bass playing since he was in New Mexico. Now, based out of Nashville, Zach is very busy laying down the low end, acting as musical director, writing songs and producing music. He has been very active doing studio work as well as touring with LoCash.

Join me as we hear about Zach’s journey, how he gets his sound, all the details about his new Lakland bass and his plans for the future.

Here is Zach Fowler!

Photos Credits  – Cover, Allee Visuals / In Video –  Matthew Allen, Max Muehlhausen

Typical, run-of-the-mill, slap happy bass solo taken during LOCASH’s performance at the Suwannee River Jam in Live Oak, Florida on May 4, 2018.  Video was shot by David Lehr.

This was part of a series of acoustic performances filmed at the famous Blackbird Studios in Nashville.

LOCASH performs a song from “The Fighters” album called “Shipwrecked.”  This was filmed not long after I joined LOCASH, and I’m using a Carvin PB5 plugged straight into the board via a Countryman DI.

LOCASH performs “One Big Country Song” at the Grand Ole Opry in May 2022.  

We performed the song along with Opry House Band, and the performance was in conjunction with The Beach Boys’ first performance at the Opry (which explains why we’re wearing leis around our necks). I used one of my two PRS Grainger 5-strings plugged directly into the Opry’s house rig, which is made by Aguilar.

One of only two times that I’ve recorded myself playing bass.  

I arranged John Legend’s “Ordinary People” for solo bass, and used my PRS Gary Grainger 5-string plugged into a Gallien-Krueger PLEX preamp.  I added a little reverb in Logic to give it a little ambience.  I recorded this right after the COVID shutdown happened.  I’m not too big on recording myself playing bass, so this was somewhat of a rarity, but considering my job had shut down, it felt like a good outlet to keep my name on the radar.  There’s a little gratuitous slapping in there, but mostly because I didn’t have an arrangement for the bridge section that I liked, so I just let loose.

During my time in Albuquerque, I was blessed to perform on two albums by a progressive rock trio by the name of Illustrated Man.  

This song is off of their second album, “Zebra Hotel,” and is coincidentally called “Zebra.”  I recorded this song using a Fender 5-string Precision Bass plugged into an Avalon U5 direct box.

I was with a band called The James Douglas Show for eleven years.  

We put out four studio albums, and this track is off the final album we put out called “9.”  The track, called “Can’t Stop,” was written by our guitar player, Jesse Martinez, and produced by Mike Cee.  As is typical with a lot of R&B tracks, I overdubbed a bass track over an already-existing synth bass line.  I used a Carvin JB5 run into an Avalon U5 direct box.

“Kissing a Girl” is a track off of LOCASH’s album, “Brothers.”  

We recorded a live version of the song at a venue in Minnesota during soundcheck.  The video was shot by David Lehr, and the sound was edited and mixed by our production manager at the time, Evan (“Turbo”) Owen.  It was negative 12 degrees outside in February, which explains why most of the people in the band are wearing beanies on their heads.  I used my main road bass on this track, my white PRS Gary Grainger 5-string, plugged into my Gallien-Krueger PLEX preamp, then into a Radial FireFly direct box.  I used a little bit of compression from my Origin Effects Cali76 compressor pedal, as well as a little bit of added chorus effect from an EBS UniChorus pedal to give it a little bit of a fretless sound.

Follow Online:

www.zachfowlerbass.com
IG @zachfowlerbass
FB @ groovemaster82

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