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Interview with Bassist Pablo González Sarre

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Interview with Bassist Pablo González Sarre

Interview with Bassist Pablo González Sarre

Pablo González Sarre

You may think that playing bass in one of Mexico’s most successful pop-rock bands was enough to be getting on with, but Pablo González Sarre also leads his own jazz ensemble and has an impressive session career – including recently playing on a Grammy-nominated album.

Since Pablo joined pop-rock band Los Claxons in 2005, they have been nominated twice for Latin Grammy awards, and have a developed strong following in their home country as well as across the region and into South America. They are also popular in the Latino community in the USA and have played twice at the SXSW festival.

Tim Fletcher caught up with Pablo in between sessions for Los Claxons’ eighth album.

Opening Photo, Alejandro Seyffert

Hi Pablo – How are things in Mexico?

I think like in almost every place in the world, music industry is unfortunately on hold. But we are using these times to write new music, make this new album and trying to be creative.

Have Los Claxons lost many live shows due to the pandemic?

Yes, we had our full year booked, our last live show being in March. But during this pandemic, we’ve had a couple of livestreams and drive-in shows.

Los Claxons are currently recording their eighth album. Has that been made more difficult by the Covid-19 pandemic?

On a normal album cycle, we have to put touring on hold to get into the studio and make new music, but the lack of live shows was kind of a blessing in disguise because we got the chance to focus on doing just that.

Los Claxons – Solo de Pablo (En Vivo)

Has the pandemic been reflected in any of the songwriting for the album?

Yes, there is a song which was influenced by this worldwide situation, but you have to read between the lines to grasp that part of it.

Los Claxons released a live album (El Origen) last year – you have a solo spot on the album. Was that very exciting to play live?

Usually, I’m used to playing bass solos in small jazz bars, so getting the opportunity to play one in a big arena was exciting and challenging, because I had to get creative and played something that would keep a pop audience’s attention.

Were parts of the solo based on ‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles?

Totally, I made an original intro and an outro around an arrangement I made for it.

How has the band developed its sound over the years? Has it become more sophisticated?

When the band started, we were college students. Nowadays, most of the band have become family men, and this, in one way or another, pours into our writing. I wouldn’t call our sound sophisticated; throughout the years, and thanks to experience, we’ve been able to develop a sound true to our songwriting.

How has your own sound developed since you started?

My sound began to change when I began as a session musician about 25 years ago, and that craving for recording different styles of music – Cumbia [Latin American folk music], Hip-Hop, Jazz, etc. and this makes you work harder to look for a versatile sound that can work for different artists, but still have your own signature.

Who would you say were your biggest bass-playing influences when you were starting out?

Alannah Myles’s ‘Black Velvet’ – from her 80’s self-titled album – was the first bass line that blew my mind and got me interested in bass. From there, Cliff Burton was one of my first influences, and I played metal for a couple of years.

Who else have you been influenced by over the years and who are your current favorites?

Obviously, Jaco, Stanley and Marcus. I also look up to upright bass players like Paul Chambers, Jimmy Garrison, Ron Carter, Christian McBride, to name a few. Nowadays, my biggest influences, which would take up the whole interview, but to mention some: Lonnie Plaxico, Mike Pope, Anthony Jackson, and Pino Palladino.

Like Anthony Jackson, you play a very nice six string Fodera bass – can you tell us a little about it?

That bass was custom made for me back in ’04 by my dear family at Fodera. Actually, it was my first six string bass – it has a mahogany body with a maple center block, a peacock maple top, a maple neck with birds-eye maple fingerboard, aero pickups, Mike Pope pre-amp and is a 35” scale. Up until now, it’s my main and most versatile instrument; I really love Fodera.

Did you have a hand in designing it?

Not in its shape, which is the Beez Elite, now known as Imperial II. I had a say in the electronics, on the wood and, as a special request, I asked for a narrower neck.

What other basses do you play?

I play a ’74 P-bass, a ’77 Jazz Bass, a 5 string Fodera Emperor, a Fretless TRB Yamaha with a Mike Pope pre-amp and Aero pickups, and an August Gemunder upright bass. Right now, I’m eagerly waiting for my new signature model by Swan Custom Basses to arrive from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Do you have a favored amplifier?

I’ve been endorsed by Aguilar for about eight years, and I’ve got nothing but praise for my family at Aguilar Amps.

Apart from working with Los Claxons, you have done quite a few recordings with other artists – what have been the highlights of your session work?

I’ve played on sessions for a range of Mexican artists including Celso Piña, Fer Casillas, Juan Gabriel, and the legendary Boleros singer Armando Manzanero. I’ve also played on sessions for Columbian vocalists Santiago Cruz, Juan Pablo Vega, and Manuel Madrano. I also have to mention Debi Nova’s 2020 album ‘3:33’ which won a Latin Grammy and has been nominated for the 63rd Grammy Awards.

You recorded a solo album a few years ago – did you compose all the tracks yourself?

The album´s called ‘Soliloquio’, and has six tracks, consisting of one by Tammy Scheffer, one by Adrián Cota (the album’s drummer), and the rest are by me. Other than ‘Soliloquio’, which was written for the album, the tracks I contributed are ones I’ve written over the years.

Some of the tracks have a sound reminiscent of Return to Forever. Is that something you were aiming at?

Well, that’s really flattering, but I didn’t have that intention while making the album. The band hadn’t played together, ever, and we got together to record that day for the first time, which resulted in a purer sound.

Have you any plans to do another solo album?

Right now, I’m working on an all-bass album, and writing for a full band one – both of these should be out by the first half of 2021.

There are some great videos on YouTube of you playing with a jazz quartet, and of you doing solo versions of jazz tunes – is jazz your main love?

I think that music is my main love, Jazz is as important in my life as any other type of music.

Have you played many concerts with your quartet?

Due to the pandemic, we haven’t had any gigs, but usually we do play a lot in jazz clubs and music festivals. The last festival we played was Jazz a la Calle in Mercedes, Uruguay.

Do you plan to record any material with the quartet?

Totally, we have to release our next album this year.

What’s next on the agenda for Los Claxons, assuming that at some point live shows will resume?

First, we have to finish our new album, and then go on tour to play it everywhere, reaching further places than we’ve reached before. We want to play more cities in South America and Europe.

Many thanks for the interview!

Follow Pablo González Sarre on Facebook @PabloGzzSarre

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