Geno Arce, this legendary rock bassist has been on the scene for many amazing years!
It was a real pleasure to interview Geno and learn what has transpired over his many years in the music industry.
What first influenced you to play bass and bring you to where you are today, career wise?
You know, I was very lucky. In 1978 I saw my first concert, it was Van Halen, and just like everyone else I wanted to be a guitar player. As fate would have it, the first band that I was in already had two of those. Thank God for Dave Owens, he talked me into taking up the bass and it did not take me long to understand that bass players were in demand. I can truly say that I have had very little downtime as a bass player.
Funny story… The bottom had just fallen out of the heavy metal scene. I knew that I had to keep working, so I decided to go country. I was living in Phoenix, Arizona at the time and was going through the local rag to see what bands were playing when I came across Ronnie Lee Keel and Western Heart. You know, I thought to myself, there is no way that this could be the Ron Keel! I grabbed my sister and headed out to the show. Sure enough, it was Ron Keel! He stepped down on break and walked right up to me and said , “You play bass?” I replied “Yes I do.” Ron then said, “We need to talk!” That was 21 years ago. Oh, what a ride it has been as a member of Ironhorse, KEEL and The Ron Keel Band.
There was a recent release with the Ron Keel Band that you are a member of, can you give us some insight on the writing and recording process that took place with the new album?
I have to say that “Fight Like A Band” is by far my favorite album that I have ever done. I am so happy with how this CD turned out. Thanks to David Ellefson, Tom Hazaert and everyone at EMP LABEL GROUP for giving us this opportunity. The CD is now available at Itunes, Googleplay, Target, Walmart and Amazon.
I have recorded several CD’s with Ron over the years. He has always been a very hands-on guy when it comes to writing the music. He knows what he wants to hear and it is usually a finished product in his head before we even get started. Not that we don’t write our own parts, but the song is pretty much complete.
With the newly released RKB “Fight Like a Band” CD, we took a different approach. It was much more of a group effort. We all got in the same room and no idea went unheard. By the time that we entered Cat House Studio in Sioux Falls, there was very little pre-production that needed to be done.
First, we recorded the drums with some scratch guitar. Then, I went in and laid down the bass parts. As a bass player, when you do it this way, it really gives you the chance to listen to the drums and tweak your part for optimum results. I say this because it is very important that the bass is in sync with the kick drum and any drum rolls that your drummer may have added when recording. Drums and bass have to work together to get that tight bottom end and song structure.
How about a game of chess? Playing chess while recording has become somewhat of a ritual between Ron and I. I am not sure who has won more games, but I’m going to say that it’s me. I’m also pretty sure, that I will be getting a phone call as soon as he reads this to dispute that last statement.
Now time for the guitar parts, keyboards, lead vocals, backups and percussion to finish the recording aspect. After this, we pass it to the engineer for mix down and send it out for mastering.
Can you tell us about some of the other artists you have worked with?
About three years ago, I got to participate in an event called “The Invitational“. It was with the band that is now the Ron Keel Band. We were backing six singers, Mark Slaughter, Steven Pearcy, Don Dokken, Jack Blades, Kip Winger and Ron Keel. I know what you are thinking, dealing with one lead singer is hard enough let alone five, right? This event was so great, it was like the ultimate rock reunion on stage. I have nothing but great things to say about all of these guys. They were all very professional and their performances were top notch.
Another highlight of my career was playing with Paul Stanley at The District in Sioux Falls. Not everyone gets to play their favorite KISS songs with Paul Stanley actually singing them. You want to talk critical audience? I had guys that were dressed in full KISS makeup watching me like a hawk for mistakes. They would nod their heads in approval after each song. Talk about pressure.
Back in 2009, I became a full time member of KEEL. I have toured in the U.S. and Europe, playing mostly large festivals with Queensryche, Stryper, Great White, Saxon and the list goes on.
Out of all of the shows that I have played with KEEL, playing the “Monsters of Rock Cruise” definitely ranks at the top of my list . It’s like the best paid vacation you could ever have. If you have never been on one and you are a fan of 80’s hard rock, I highly recommend it. You get to mingle with your favorite bands and the entertainment is off the hook. Let’s just say, you spend very little time in your cabin.
KEEL and The Ron Keel Band will be in Columbus, Ohio on May 10th for KEELFEST! This is a concert that will feature The Ron Keel Band, KEEL and Steeler. It is also a show that I get to pull double-duty in as a member of KEEL and The Ron Keel Band. What an undertaking! Just imagine 10 musicians that are all original members of Ron’s bands over the years. If you are a fan, you don’t want to miss this show. For more information, go to RonKeel.com or RonKeelBand.com.
What gear do you use on the road and in the studio?
I like to keep it simple. On stage I like the old Ampeg SVT III power amp and I go through two Paevey Michael Anthony Signature MA-410 cabs. One on either side of the stage to make sure that I am heard by the rest of the guys. I play Jackson 5-string basses and Dean Hardtail 5’s. I always have my GOGO tuner and my Pic-Stick, although I never use a pic, they are just to throw.
In the studio I go direct and use a number of plug-ins. It depends on what’s right for the song. You have to learn to trust your producer and engineer so it’s different every time.
Any advice for aspiring bassists?
Never forget that it is always about the song. I like to stay employed and I like to record. When approaching a song I always think, “Is what I am playing right for the song?” As a bass player, you are the backbone of the band and the glue that holds it all together. Never stop reaching for that dream, whether it is studio work or on stage. Music is the one universal language that touches everyone.
Visit Geno Arce online at:
Cover Photo, RonKeel.com