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Session & Touring Bassist Quintin Berry by Vuyani Wakaba

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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.

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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.

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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.

Quintin's 1st Spector

Quintin’s 1st Spector

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 BassesGallien-KruegerKorgPresonusAurora StringsSource AudioEssential Sound ProductsEMGAccess Bags.

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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 FacebookYouTube or through his website.

 

Bass Videos

Artist Update With Bassist Derek Frank

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Artist Update With Bassist Derek Frank

Bassist Derek Frank…

Many of you will remember the last time I chatted with Derek Frank was back in 2017. The main thing that impressed me was how busy Derek was and how he juggled playing with many huge acts.

Now, I am happy to hear that Derek launched a new album last March titled “Origin Story” where he digs deep into his roots and pays homage to Pittsburg.

Join me as we get caught up after all these years and hear the details about the new album, how Derek gets his sound, and his plans for the future.

Photo, Stephen Bradley

Visit Online:

www.derekfrank.com
www.instagram.com/derekfrankbass
www.youtube.com/derekfrankbass
www.facebook.com/derekfrankbass

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Graham Stanush

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Interview With Bassist Graham Stanush

Bassist Graham Stanush…

Return to Dust is keeping Grunge alive and well! They have a new self-titled album that went out on May 3rd, 2024 and will be super busy promoting this project in the near future.

Graham Stanush is the bass powerhouse driving their sound and adding vocals to the mix. Join me as we hear all about Graham’s musical journey, details about the new album, how he gets his sound and their plans for the future.

Visit Online:

linktr.ee/returntodust
instagram.com/returntodustband/
twitter.com/Returntodustbnd
youtube.com/@returntodustband
tiktok.com/@returntodustband

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes

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Interview With Bassist Erick Jesus Coomes

Bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes…

It is always great to meet a super busy bassist who simply exudes a love for music and his instrument. Erick “Jesus” Coomes fits this description exactly. Hailing from Southern California, “Jesus” co-founded and plays bass for Lettuce and has found his groove playing with numerous other musicians.

Join us as we hear of his musical journey, how he gets his sound, his ongoing projects, and his plans for the future.

Photo, Bob Forte

Visit Online

www.lettucefunk.com
IG @jesuscsuperstar
FB@jesuscoomes
FB @lettucefunk

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Bass Videos

Tour Touch Base (Bass) with Ian Allison

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Tour Touch Base (Bass) with Ian Allison

Ian Allison Bassist extreme

Most recently Ian has spent the last seven years touring nationally as part of Eric Hutchinson and The Believers, sharing stages with acts like Kelly Clarkson, Pentatonix, Rachel Platten, Matt Nathanson, Phillip Phillips, and Cory Wong playing venues such as Radio City Music Hall, The Staples Center and The Xcel Center in St. Paul, MN.

I had a chance to meet up with him at the Sellersville Theater in Eastern Pennsylvania to catch up on everything bass. Visit online at ianmartinallison.com/

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Features

Interview With Audic Empire Bassist James Tobias

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Interview With Audic Empire Bassist James Tobias

Checking in with Bergantino Artist James Tobias

James Tobias, Bassist for psychedelic, Reggae-Rock titans Audic Empire shares his history as a musician and how he came to find Bergantino…

Interview by Holly Bergantino

James Tobias, a multi-talented musician and jack-of-all-trades shares his story of coming up as a musician in Texas, his journey with his band Audic Empire, and his approach to life and music. With a busy tour schedule each year, we were fortunate to catch up with him while he was out and about touring the US. 

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Dallas, Texas and lived in the Dallas area most of my life with the exception of 1 year in Colorado. I moved to the Austin area at age 18. 

What makes the bass so special to you particularly, and how did you gravitate to it?

I honestly started playing bass because we needed a bass player and I was the one with access to a bass amp and bass. I played rhythm guitar and sang up until I met Ronnie, who I would later start “Audic Empire” with. He also played rhythm guitar and sang and we didn’t know any bass players, so we had to figure something out. I still write most of my songs on guitar, but I’ve grown to love playing the bass. 

How did you learn to play, James?

I took guitar lessons growing up and spent a lot of time just learning tabs or playing by ear and kicked around as a frontman in a handful of bands playing at the local coffee shops or rec centers. Once I transitioned to bass, I really just tried to apply what I knew about guitar and stumbled through it till it sounded right. I’m still learning every time I pick it up, honestly. 

You are also a songwriter, recording engineer, and a fantastic singer, did you get formal training for this? 

Thank you, that means a lot!  I had a couple of voice lessons when I was in my early teens, but didn’t really like the instructor. I did however take a few lessons recently through ACC that I enjoyed and think really helped my technique (Shout out to Adam Roberts!) I was not a naturally gifted singer, which is a nice way of saying I was pretty awful, but I just kept at it. 

As far as recording and producing, I just watched a lot of YouTube videos and asked people who know more than me when I had a question. Whenever I feel like I’m not progressing, I just pull up tracks from a couple of years ago, cringe, and feel better about where I’m at but I’ve got a long way to go. Fortunately, we’ve got some amazing producers I can pass everything over to once I get the songs as close to finalized as I can. 

Describe your playing style(s), tone, strengths and/or areas that can be improved on the bass.

I honestly don’t know what my style would be considered. We’ve got so many styles that we play and fuse together that I just try to do what works song by song.  I don’t have too many tricks in the bag and just keep it simple and focus on what’s going to sound good in the overall mix. I think my strength lies in thinking about the song as a whole and what each instrument is doing, so I can compliment everything else that’s going on. What could be improved is absolutely everything, but that’s the great thing about music (and kind of anything really). 

Who were your influencers in terms of other musicians earlier on or now that have made a difference and inspired you?

My dad exposed me to a lot of music early. I was playing a toy guitar while watching a VHS of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble live at SXSW on repeat at 4 years old saying I wanted to “do that” when I grew up. I was the only kid in daycare that had his own CDs that weren’t kid’s songs. I was listening to Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and The Doors when I could barely talk. I would make up songs and sing them into my Panasonic slimline tape recorder and take it to my preschool to show my friends. As I got older went through a bunch of music phases. Metal, grunge, rock, punk, hip hop, reggae, ska, etc. Whatever I heard that I connected to I’d dive in and learn as much as I could about it. I was always in bands and I think I kept picking up different styles along the way and kept combining my different elements and I think that’s evident in Audic’s diverse sound. 

Tell me about Audic Empire and your new release Take Over! Can you share some of the highlights you and the band are most proud of?

Takeover was an interesting one. I basically built that song on keyboard and drum loops and wrote and tracked all my vocals in one long session in my bedroom studio kind of in a stream-of-consciousness type of approach. I kind of thought nothing would come of it and I’d toss it out, but we slowly went back and tracked over everything with instruments and made it our own sound. I got it as far as I could with production and handed it off to Chad Wrong to work his magic and really bring it to life. Once I got Snow Owl Media involved and we started brainstorming about a music video, it quickly turned into a considerably larger production than anything we’ve done before and it was such a cool experience. I’m really excited about the final product, especially considering I initially thought it was a throwaway track.

Describe the music style of Audic Empire for us. 

It’s all over the place… we advertise it as “blues, rock, reggae.” Blues because of our lead guitarist, Travis Brown’s playing style, rock because I think at the heart we’re a rock band, and reggae because we flavor everything with a little (or a lot) of reggae or ska. 

How did you find Bergantino Audio Systems?

Well, my Ampeg SVT7 caught fire at a show… We were playing Stubbs in Austin and everyone kept saying they smelled something burning, and I looked back in time to see my head, perched on top of its 8×10 cab, begin billowing smoke. We had a tour coming up, so I started researching and pricing everything to try and find a new amp. I was also fronting a metal band at the time, and my bass player’s dad was a big-time country bass player and said he had this really high-end bass amp just sitting in a closet he’d sell me. I was apprehensive since I really didn’t know much about it and “just a little 4×10” probably wasn’t going to cut it compared to my previous setup. He said I could come over and give it a test drive, but he said he knew I was going to buy it. He was right. I immediately fell in love. I couldn’t believe the power it put out compared to this heavy head and cumbersome cab I had been breaking my back hauling all over the country and up countless staircases.  

Tell us about your experience with the forte D amp and the AE 410 Speaker cabinet. 

It’s been a game-changer in every sense. It’s lightweight and compact. Amazing tone. And LOUD. It’s just a fantastic amp. Not to mention the customer service being top-notch! You’ll be hard-pressed to find another product that, if you have an issue, you can get in touch with the owner, himself. How cool is that? 

Tell us about some of your favorite basses.

I was always broke and usually working part-time delivering pizzas, so I just played what I could get my hands on. I went through a few pawn shop basses, swapped in new pickups, and fought with the action on them constantly. I played them through an Ampeg be115 combo amp. All the electronics in it had fried at some point, so I gutted it out and turned it into a cab that I powered with a rusted-up little head I bought off someone for a hundred bucks. My gear was often DIY’d and held together by electrical tape and usually had a few coats of spray paint to attempt to hide the wear and tear. I never really fell in love with any piece of gear I had till I had a supporter of our band give me an Ibanez Premium Series SDGR. I absolutely love that bass and still travel with it. I’ve since gotten another Ibanez Premium Series, but went with the 5-string BTB.  It’s a fantastic-sounding bass, my only complaint is it’s pretty heavy. 

Love your new video Take Over! Let us know what you’re currently working on (studio, tour, side projects, etc.)

Thank you!! We’ve got a LOT of stuff we’re working on right now actually. Having 2 writers in the band means we never have a shortage of material. It’s more about getting everything tracked and ready for release and all that goes into that. We just got through filming videos for 2 new unreleased tracks with Snow Owl Media, who did the videos for both Love Hate and Pain and Takeover. Both of these songs have surprise features which I’m really excited about since these will be the first singles since our last album we have other artists on. We’ve also got a lot of shows coming up and I’ve also just launched my solo project as well. The debut single, “Raisin’ Hell” is available now everywhere. You can go here to find all the links distrokid.com/hyperfollow/jamestobias/raisin-hell

What else do you do besides music?

For work, I own a handyman service here in Austin doing a lot of drywall, painting, etc. I have a lot of hobbies and side hustles as well. I make custom guitar straps and other leather work. I do a lot of artwork and have done most of our merch designs and a lot of our cover art. I’m really into (and borderline obsessed) with health, fitness, and sober living.  I have a hard time sitting still, but fortunately, there’s always a lot to do when you’re self-employed and running a band!

Follow James Tobias:

jamestobiasmusic.com
Facebook.com/james.tobias1
Instagram.com/ru4badfish2
TikTok.com/@jamestobiasmusic
audicempire.com 

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