Session & Touring Bassist Quintin Berry by Vuyani Wakaba
Among the upper echelon of working bassists in the United States is an amazing bassist who approaches the bass from a singularly unique playing perspective. His name is Quintin Berry. I urge each one of you to look him up on YouTube, download his solo CD’s, and follow him on social media. Aside from being a monster player, Quintin is a genuinely nice person who exudes a positive attitude – and he’s as funky as he wants to be!
I’ve known and been friends with Quintin Berry for a decade and a half. In that time, I have been a fan of his playing and his music, and I am always in awe of his incredible ability and talent developed through a very strong work ethic.
Although Berry’s style of playing the bass is what most often catches the attention of those watching him play, don’t get it twisted, Quintin is a very seasoned player. The lines he plays are sophisticated. His sense of time is truly amazing. For the bands that he supports as a sideman, he offers great tone, fantastic pocket, and mind-blowing solos when they are called for.
I am immensely honored to have this wonderful opportunity to talk to my good friend and learn more about him and his career in music.
Bass Musician Magazine (BMM): Thank you for taking the time to talk about your music career with our readers. I’ve been especially looking forward to this interview because I’ve been a fan of yours for more than 15 years. This is a great opportunity for our readers to get to know more about who you are as a bassist, and where you come from.
Quintin Berry (QB): I got introduced to the bass guitar at the age of twelve in a band called Brown Sugar in Greenville, South Carolina. The guitarist asked me if I wanted to play guitar or bass. I chose the bass because I didn’t know what it was. I took a guitar and used four heavy guitar strings and made that my bass. As the years went by, I bought my first bass, a brown Gibson SG I think, then I moved on to a Fender Precision. Eventually I got an Alembic Series One that got stolen from me. I replaced it with two Alembic Spoiler basses. I still have them. Thats how it all started.
BMM: Wow, you played some great basses! Going from a guitar to Alembic basses is quite a leap. I’m sure your ability as a bass player grew along with your improving quality of basses.
You have a famously unique playing style. Can you talk about how you got introduced to the bass guitar? Word on the street is that you first started on the violin as a youngster – is that true?
QB: This is true, but I must say I cannot play a violin to save my life! Hahaha! I put it down when the bass came into play but I always looked at the curve on my alembic and things started flowing on how I would hold it. I would often joke around playing country music with my bass then everything changed from there.
Mrs Krawl was my music teacher when I was twelve. She taught us how to play many instruments during chours and acting classes. I play my bass knowing where every note is without looking down. That came from her – she would blind fold us to play parts on the piano.
There are many musicians that I came in contact with, but one fellow stands out. His name is Marty Harrison. I’ve known him since age 13. He always gave me good advice on things I would have to do to be successful Today you can find him at Access Bags, whose bags I endorse.
Another big influence for me is the one and only Jerry “Wiz” Seay, bassist from the band Mother’s Finest. I saw them at fifteen years old at the Electric Warehouse in Greenville, SC. I’ve been hooked every since, til this day. We stay in touch or I see him at the Winter Namm shows in Anaheim, California. His style is Rock, Funk & Blues – thats what I am and love. I use a lot of his licks today it never gets old.
Roy Graham, manager of Brown Sugar, the band I was in early in my career, had a big influence on me. Musician Leo Adams also had a big impact on me as a musician. Of course, Larry Graham, Louis Johnson, Jaco Pastorius, Verdine White influenced me as well.
BMM: You’ve come a very long way from your days as a new player in Greenville, SC. Looking back on your development, what would you say are some of the most important lessons that have contributed to your success as a musician?
QB: I must say practice – we got together at least three times a week to rehearse after school. At a young age we were writing our on music as well. Having a good look on stage was key then as it is now. All of these things I use today. One more thing, try not to burn bridges – you might see the same people in the future, and that can help you.
BMM: In my opinion, you are a member of the Virginia bass crew, which includes other legendary bassists like Victor Wooten, James Genus, etc. How did you end up in Virginia?
QB: I had been on the road since the age 15. I eventually landed in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1987, and stayed there until 2006. At that time, it was a great music scene and I made a good living playing music.
BMM: You and I met through Victor Wooten at his Bass/Nature Camp before it relocated to the beautiful Wooten Woods (officially known as Victor Wooten’s Center for Music and Nature). Did you meet Victor Wooten once you moved to Virginia, or was it before?
QB: I met Victor before I moved to Virginia. He was still living there at the time. When I moved to Virginia Beach, he went to Nashville. I got to know Reggie Wooten, Joseph Wooten and Roy “Futureman” Wooten in Virginia. I would see them often out playing.
BMM: With players like you, the Wooten brothers, and all the other players working, Virginia had to be really hopping! You were a member of a very popular band, The Ugli Stick. Can you tell us how you came to be in this band? I know you guys hit the road hard, and were even in Afghanistan. How did the Afghanistan trip happen?
QB: I was living in Virginia Beach, VA and a friend gave me a call from Nashville about this band. At the time I was going to move anyway, so it made sense for me to go south and I would be closer to my family. I was digging what they were doing so I packed up met them in Nashville. I spoke with the manger of the band then sat down with everyone. We never played a note and I made my decision on a feeling, and everyone was blown away on how quick I wanted to start. The Ugli Stick had a good following anyway. I could not believe what I was seeing with this band. By late 2006 we wanted to do the USO tours (United Service Organization offers entertainment to U.S. troops overseas). It so happened that a military officer lived next door to our manger and she got the hook up. The rest was history. Playing Winter Namm show was another great highlight and career move for the band. To this day they want The Ugli Stick back to perform during Winter Namm.
BMM: I was fortunate enough to be in the audience for some of the shows the Ugli Stick played during some of the Winter Namm shows. You guys completely packed the lobby of the Anaheim Hilton. I’ve never seen a band put an audience into a trance as much as you guys did! Your shows were epic! I hope you will bring another band back to perform during Winter Namm in the near future.
You have been a Spector endorser for quite a few years. Can you tell us about your incredible playing and sounding Quintin Berry signature bass (Spector Ns4 Q) made by Spector?
QB: Stuart Spector, I love that guy! He is so family to me. I have been with the company for 17 years and I love it! I have a black Spector Ns4 made for me with the controls at the top of the bass for my playing style. It is a one-off, so no one has this bass but me. So one Namm show I asked Stuart if I could have a signature bass. He said “sure, do you have any idea for a design?” I wanted a bass that I could play and anyone else could play also. So I had the controls stacked and moved to the back towards the bridge. The controls are simple – two stacked volume controls and a bass, treble stack. Its called the Ns4 Q.
BMM: Whatever you and Stuart Spector did to design and build your signature bass, you ended up with a truly amazing playing and sounding instrument! It is nothing short of impressive! It is definitely my favorite Spector bass. While we’re talking gear, what other endorsements do you have?
QB: My endorsements are Spector Basses, Gallien-Krueger, Korg, Presonus, Aurora Strings, Source Audio, Essential Sound Products, EMG, Access Bags.
BMM: You have recorded a number of fantastic solo CD’s. Can you list them and let us know where we can order them? Also, are you working on any other recordings now?
QB: I have at least 6 solo cd’s, but you can only get four of them on Tunecore – “Reaching Out”, “Mother, Father, Preacher, Teacher”, “Hot Hands” and “Fieldcrest”. I recently released “Fieldcrest” on Tunecore. I have have another one I’m going to put up – “Bass In Your Face”. I’m always working on something. I’m focused on video at the moment because I need more cool social media content.
BMM: Yeah, social media content is a requirement for players these days. You are always one of the busiest bassists working today. What other projects are you working on?
QB: For the last two years I’ve been playing in a band called “The Red Field“. As of now I’m still in that band, but I’m working with a new project with Skate MountainRecords here in Fair Hope, Alabama with Jimmy Lumpkin and the Revival.
Not only is Skate Mountain Records about music, it is part of a major movie production company operated by movie producer Scott and Kate Lumpkin – not related to the artist Jimmy Lumpkin. This is a great opportunity for me to work in the international music level and in movies without moving from home. You will have to stay posted to see when the band tour starts.
BMM: That sounds very interesting. I hope you will come back and talk to us once Stake Mountain Records releases a project to the public. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your career with our readers. We wish you continued success, and we will be following you on social media.
You can follow Quintin Berry online on Facebook, YouTube or through his website.