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Bassist Ben Zwerin – Bass Musician Magazine Q&A

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Bassist Ben Zwerin – Bass Musician Magazine Interview… Get to know Bassist Ben Zwerin in this Bass Musician Magazine Q&A!

Name:
Ben Zwerin 

Born In What City:
Nimes, France but grew up in Paris. I moved to the states when I was 19 and then went to Boston first to go to the Berklee College of Music then NY to really learn about life and music!

Current Band(s) I Play With:
I’m very blessed to be and have been involved with incredible musicians/bands!

  • The Commuters: great pop rock!
  • LIONZ: features the amazing Lionel Loueke (Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard…) and Yuval Lion (Chrissie Hynde, Me’Shell Ndegeocello…). If you don’t know who they are, look them up!
  • The Revelations Feat. Tre Williams: old school Soul. Great band, amazing singer! Tre is very old school (think Al Green), which I love!
  • Green Lotus Project: all improvised instrumental, groove based funk madness. Incredible collective of musicians! The band was started by drummer Anthony Pinciotti (John Abercrombie…) and guitarist John Caban (Richard Bona, Dispatch…)
  • Juancho Herrera: a very NY mix of Latin music, funk, rock and more
  • Daisy Jopling: British violinist whose first record with a band I’m producing right now! And what a band: Doug Yowell (Suzanne Vega, Ari Hest…) on drums, Daniel Mintseris (St Vincent, Marianne Faithfull…) on piano and keys, myself on bass and the one and only Bashiri Johnson (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Miles Davis, Donald Fagen…) on percussion
  • Eleanor Dubinsky

And a few others…

Former Bands I Have Played With: 

  • Lila Downs: Oscar winning Mexican songstress; Her voice has an incredible range!
  • Claudia Acuna: I love her voice and her music! She is on Marsalis Music and working on a new record right now.
  • Nouvelle Vague: very fun French band with beautiful singers. Think New Wave with a Bossa Nova flavor!
  • Brendan James: such a great singer and songwriter. Now lives in LA and is signed to Decca Records
  • Milly Beau: indie soul. Debut record “Milly Beau'” came out this year!
  • Running Still: pop/rock. We were signed to East/West (Atlantic)
  • Eric Wainaina: great “Kora” award winning singer from Kenya.

And quite a few more…

CD’s I’ve Released/ Been a Part Of:
I’ve been on many albums, most of which are from up and coming artists! I just really like being part of something new! Check my website for more info www.benzwerin.com

Describe The Way You Play Bass:
I’m old school. I have chops but choose not to show them. I’m all about sound, groove and lines in the studio I often find myself thinking: “What would Paul McCartney or James Jamerson do?” I was never really interested in the guys that can play really fast and all that. Loved Jaco Pastorius but never tried to play like him!

The most important thing for me is to have my own sound and for people to be able to recognize my playing right away. Whether I’m playing pop/rock, Latin music or jazz, I want to sound like me, bring my feel to the music.

What Made Me Decide to Play Bass:
Well, my dad, Mike Zwerin (writer and musician who played with Miles Davis, Eric Dolphy and many more) told me when I was 13 and wanted to play drums (I’d been playing piano for a little while already) that, “Every band needs a bass player.”  How right he was! I think he just didn’t want me to play drums at home to be honest! (And didn’t want me to deal with carrying so much stuff around…)

Musical Influences:
Thanks to my dad, I grew up listening to so many different kinds of music… And as Duke Ellington said: “There are 2 kinds of music, good and bad”

I love Bob Marley (and all Reggae bass lines), love classic soul (Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin…), classic rock (specially 60s rock like Hendrix, Zeppelin, Janis…), Jazz (Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Paul Chambers…).

I also love pop! From David Bowie to the Neptunes, Brazilian music (Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Djavan, Joao Gilberto, Tom Jobim…), Latin music (Ruben Blades, Hector Lavoe…), African music (Oliver Mtukudzi, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare…), Electronic music (Brazilian Girls, The Knife, Air, Goldfrapp…), Hip Hop (Run DMC, De La Soul, Jay Z, Snoop Dog…)

The bottom line is that great songs (great melodies, real lyrics) are what get me! Doesn’t matter the style… Of course a good groove is the first thing I feel too!

My Bass(es):
A 1966 black 4005 model Rickenbacker. Very rare bass and I love the low end it has! Ricks usually don’t have that… A 1973 Presicion Bass as well as a Thunderbird I got a few years ago from Gibson at a gig I did for them.

I have a few others but these are the ones I use the most!

My Amps and Other Gear:
I got an Ashdown head a few years back and love it!! I’m usually an Ampeg guy but I totally fell in love with Ashdown. Great vintage fat sound that’s very versatile!

I use a few pedals like a Boss Octaver, a Line 6 delay and an MXR distortion (called Bass DI +)

Endorsed By:
Gibson guitars
Godin guitars
Mono cases
Spectraflex cables

Best Bass Advice You’ve Ever Received:
Just be yourself and don’t get caught up in other people’s bullshit!

One Piece Of Advice For Other Bassists:
Make sure you sound like yourself! It’s great to study other players and lots of styles but don’t lose site of who you are and what you want to sound like. Oh, and remember your role as a bass player and lay the groove down!

Favorite Quote or Life Philosophy:
“The holes in your Swiss cheese are somebody else’s Swiss cheese”

Most Amazing Gig so Far:
Touring with Claudia Acuna was up there musically; I really love her singing!

But there was this gig I did a few years back with a Brazilian artist called Karina Zeviani. It was at a place called Babylon, in Cesme, Turkey. Such a beautiful place, right on the ocean! The stage was literally on the beach and we had such a great show! We then partied by the water and ended up naked in the ocean at 5AM with a bunch of great people! Quite unforgettable! 😉

Dream Gig:
David Bowie, Bjork, Radiohead, Tom Waits or Peter Gabriel! Of more recent artists: Alice Smith, Bon Iver or St Vincent.

Best NAMM Moment:
Only been once for a day so no stories there… I’m actually not much of a techie… I barely know what kind of strings I use…

Most Embarrassing Moment on Stage:
I once did a gig, a long time ago, where I had to tune my E string down to D during the intro of a song and I’d just gotten a new tuner… Of course I ended up a half step up and didn’t notice it… Thought the singer was off… Very embarrassing and pretty funny! Especially when we listened back to the show!

Favorite Tip to Share on Traveling With Your Bass:
I now always check my bass when traveling by plane… Don’t want to deal with trying to convince the airline people it’s okay for me to take it on with me… Was too much of a hassle!

I own a few different hard cases… I don’t travel with the Rick though… It’s too valuable!

In buses, vans or trains I always use a hard case too. There’s just no need to stress about anything happening to your instrument! There are usually enough other things to worry about…

What Would You Be Doing If You Weren’t A Musician:
I might be an acoustical engineer. I was actually a very good student and always more on the math and physics side… I’d be working with architects or building sound absorbing structures for urban areas.

What You Can Look Forward to From Me this Year: 

  • A lot more songwriting and producing! I’ve been writing songs like crazy the past couple of years. Collaborating with all the amazing singer/songwriters friends I’m blessed to have! And Producing is just something I love to do and am very good at. I love taking good music and making it the best it can be; it’s all about the artist and the songs.
  • LIONZ’s first album! I think it’s going to be killing!
  • Maybe with this interview, one of my “Dream gigs” will come true too 😉

Find Me Online: 

Website:   www.benzwerin.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benzwerin

Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Travis Book

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Interview With Bassist Travis Book

Interview With Bassist Travis Book…

Bluegrass music has had a very solid following over many years and I am always happy to hear from one of the pioneers in that genre.

Travis Book plays bass for the Grammy award-winning band “The Infamous Stringdusters” and has recently released his first solo album “Love and Other Strange Emotions”. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Travis also hosts a podcast, Plays a Jerry Garcia music show with Guitarist Andy Falco, and is constantly gigging locally in his neck of the woods.

Photo, Seyl Park

Visit Online:

www.thetravisbook.com
www.thestringdusters.com
FB @ TheTravisBook
IG @ travisbook

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Bass Videos

Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Malcolm-Jamal Warner…

I am pretty sure that everyone is aware of Malcom-Jamal Warner’s work as an actor. What may be less known is his work as a director, poet, musician, and most importantly for us, a bass player. With four albums of his own, Grammy nominations and wins, as well as a sizable amount of ongoing live gigs, Malcolm is dedicating a serious amount of his attention to his music.

Join me as we hear about Malcom’s musical journey, projects, his gear choices, and plans for the future.

Here is Malcom-Jamal Warner!

Photos: Dwain Govan @dwain_go / Conrad Montgomery Mckethan @eyeconimages

Visit Online:

malcolmjamalwarner.com
IG @malcolmjamalwar
Twitter @malcolmjamalwar 
Facebook: Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Bass Videos

Interview With The Labex Funk Project

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Interview With The Labex Funk Project

Interview With The Labex Funk Project…

Time really flies when you are having fun! Just over a decade ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michel “Labex” Labaki for our July 2013 cover.

At that time, much of our conversation concerned his personal approach to bass playing and his techniques. Fast forward to now and I am pleased to discover Michel’s new endeavor, the Labex Funk Project.

Join me as we meet the band:
Kynion Lanier on vocals
Pablo Batista on percussion
Jake Brightman on Guitar
Daniel Gonzalez on Drums
And Michel “Labex”Labaki on bass

As a bonus, we have the band’s producer Phillippe Dib in on this video chat as well.

Here is the Labex Funk Project!

Visit online:

michellabaki.com
www.facebook.com/MichelLabexLabaki/
www.instagram.com/michellabaki
www.youtube.com/c/MichelLabaki
FB @LabexFunkProject
IG @ Labex Funk Project

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

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Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

Bassist Tony Newton…

I am always learning new details about Bass history when I get the opportunity to talk with seasoned players like Tony Newton. Tony, a Detroit native, came up in the golden years of Motown and laid down the low end for countless performers and studio sessions; he has performed on over 25 gold and platinum hit recordings.

As time went by, and the whole Detroit scene dwindled, Tony relocated to LA where he worked a busy schedule, even going back to school to learn about music theory and composition.

Over the years he performed on many historic hit recordings and tours with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson(music Director), the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, The Funk Brothers and more, as well as working with veteran rock guitarist, Gary Moore in the British group G-Force.

Presently, Tony is super busy and on the verge of releasing a movie titled “Mars Quest” among his numerous other projects.

Join me as we get to enjoy all the history and knowledge that Tony has to share along with the details about his new Signature bass from BITE Guitars named “The  Punchtown Bass”.

Here is Tony Newton…

Photos: Mary K. Brand, Mitch Snyder, Haneefa Karrim, Hans Adamsen

Visit Online:

tonynewtonmusic.com/
FB @ TonyNewtonMusic Artist
YTB @ antoniotonynewtonmusic

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