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Richard Mollo (Bass Guitar, CHARETTA)
RM: My family has always been very musical. My grandfather was a very good singer and often performed in local dance halls and venues throughout Long Island and New York City. He was well known for his rendition of “Minny The Moocher” by Cab Calloway. My grandmother sang in the church choir and played piano. I have two very talented uncles who play guitar, sing and play keyboard. One uncle is focused on recording his own original music and plays all the instruments himself, and the other uncle performs classic rock cover tunes live with other musicians. I also have a very talented cousin who is a classically trained guitar player – he composes music for television and film for a living. Growing up I was always surrounded by music in my family. We never had to hire entertainment at family functions, we would just bring our instruments, everyone would sing and entertain each other
Do you remember the album that had the biggest impact on you?
RM: Black Sabbath – “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. I remember stumbling upon this record in my uncle’s collection & first being curious about it because of the album cover with the nudity and satanic references. I think that was the first really shocking album cover that I saw as a kid. Then when I listened to the music, I was blown away by the heaviness. It was like nothing I had ever heard before and I was immediately hooked on metal. Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) & Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) became my biggest influences as a bass player soon thereafter.
G: What is your primary bass guitar now? What effects/pedals do you use?
RM: My primary bass right now is a Modulus Quantum 5, five string bass. I also have a Fender Precision American Standard, 4 string bass – which I used for recording our album. Effect pedals I’m currently using are a Carl Martin Bass Chorus & Boss BF-2 Bass Flanger. I use Ampeg Amplifiers & Cabinets.
G: What one tip, each, would you give to beginners on a) practice b) songwriting c) recording and d) performing live.
a) The most important element of practice for me is training your ears. As a self-taught musician, I learned to play bass as a kid by listening to my favorite records and cassette tapes and trying to figure out what the bass players were doing by playing along with them over & over. I do not read music, so I have to follow my instincts and my ears will always dictate to me what fits or doesn’t fit in a song.
b) The most important part of songwriting for me is knowing when to be creative with your bass lines. As a bass player, you have to hold down the rhythm – so learn the root notes first, get comfortable with the rhythm of the song, let the vocals and guitar guide the way & then add your creativity where the song allows it. But don’t try and be overly flashy and detract from the melody. Be the backbone & add your own flavor where it fits.
c) When you record, really tune in on the click track & not so much on the other instruments. You already know your bass parts by the time you go in to record, so just concentrate on nailing down your finger or pick strokes on the beat & the rest will follow.
d) When performing live make sure you really feel the music you are playing (just don’t go through the motions), relax, enjoy the moment & connect with the audience in any way you can – eye contact, body language, etc. Make them feel a connection with you, don’t just be some guy on stage with a bass.
G: Recommend 3 essential albums all bass players should listen to.
Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath”: Geezer Butler is unleashed on their first album – he dominates this record. The intro to N.I.B…….need I say more.
Iron Maiden – “Powerslave”: Steve Harris is like a bass player’s wet dream. Some of his most memorable bass lines are on this one – check out “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.
Led Zeppelin – “Led Zeppelin 2”: John Paul Jones would definitely have to be in my top three every time. The bass playing on the Lemon Song is freakin incredible.
Pablo LaFrossia (Guitarist, CHARETTA)
PLF: I don’t come from a musical family, but my father was a professional Soccer player in Argentina and he has inspired me to always pursue my dreams. I’m always encouraged when I see newspaper clippings, trophies, and magazine articles of him. He taught me to never give up, no matter what!
PLF: Ozzy’s “Blizzard of Ozz”. When I first heard Randy Rhoads I knew what I wanted to do. He’s the reason why I only play Gibson guitars.
PLF: I use a Gibson Les Paul standard (left handed) with PRS Tremonti Treble pickups. For my main rhythm tone, I only use a TS9 Tubescreamer as a clean boost and an ISP noise gate to tame the MESA amp. For cleans I mainly use a TE Electronics G Major.
PLF: I grew up in the pre-computer era, so I always practiced to my records (and messed up quite a few of them!). I would always jam along to my vinyls, and it helped me to learn how songs are structured & arranged. Now when I sit down with my guitar it’s mainly to write music. I would launch either a click or a drum loop and jam along until I get a couple of cool riffs. Once I have something basic, I’ll begin to add some layers.
I would suggest that you first learn how to play rhythm. Listen to some of the great rock/metal rhythm guitarists, like Hetfield, Malcolm Young (from AC/DC), and Izzy Stradlin of GnR. Many beginners want to learn how to solo, and that’s cool, but a song is 90% rhythm, and nowadays, you don’t find too many solo’s in rock music. Play to a click, jam with other musicians, especially good drummers, and record everything!
As for performing live, it’s all about connecting with the audience and creating “moments” on stage. Never be afraid to get close to the fans, always make contact with them. And look at other famous artists (on YouTube!) and see what they do live.
PLF: I would suggest Ozzy’s “Blizzard of Ozz”, Dokken’s “Under Lock & Key” (George Lynch is an incredible guitarist!), and GnR’s “Appetite For Destruction”. Izzy is a very underrated guitarist, and his rhythm work on that album is amazing!