A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Posts tagged “Metal

Wifey’s extreme metal thesis and drum blog are here!

This isn’t totally bass-related, but it might be intriguing for some of you who are interested in extreme metal and in drumming (even separately).


My wife finished her 2nd masters degree this year. Apart from her MLS, she now has a masters in anthropology. Her thesis topic was centered on women’s participation in New York’s extreme metal scene – from musicians and fans to others in the industry like photographers, writers, women who run magazines and websites, women who host radio shows and more. We attended shows (quite a few were around the baby’s schedule), she met and interviewed women in the scene, conducted an online survey with dozens of respondents, and met and presented with incredible metal music scholars – a discipline that I didn’t even know existed until she started doing her thing. Many of them have written books and papers in academic journals and some have released video documentaries as well. Its a thriving and fascinating international community.

Anyway – for those interested, her thesis is finally available for public consumption via CUNY Academic Works. Here’s a link to the PDF (you can click the “download” button on CUNY’s site or read it online):

Here’s a link to her blog where she announced the release of the thesis as well:


Black Friday / Cyber Monday 2016

Consumerism – ahem – the holiday shopping season is upon us. I don’t usually go all-in, but this year, I grabbed two things that I plan to use with my bass, even if not in a direct manner.


On Black Friday, I grabbed a digital camcorder. I’ve wanted one for a while, and since attending the Metal in Strange Places conference this year with the wife, I decided to pull the trigger.

The problem I was looking to solve is this: the panelists and presenters are smart. They share interesting and enlightening information about metal that would never occur to me. Once they’ve had their say, that info is gone. Its resides somewhere between them and the memories of their audience. I hate that. I hate that once its been said, its done, and no one will be able to hear and learn from those moments again.

I videoed my wife‘s panel this year. She was part of “Looking for Metal: Rethinking Methodologies in Metal Studies” and spoke about netnographies in metal research, a new concept which are essentially online ethnographies. The quality from my little recorder wasn’t very good though, and the battery only lasts for an hour and 15 mins before needing a recharge – its not removable. I did a separate video for Maisie Kaiser, who presented “The Myth of ‘Genderblindness’ in Metal Culture“. I used her phone and it does seem to have come out better. She shared it online, and it looks and sounds good.

I wanted to record all of it though. I spent a while looking at different ways to do this and spoke with Nelson Varas-Diaz, a metal video documentarian who produced “The Distorted Island: Heavy Metal and Community in Puerto Rico” and “The Metal Islands: Culture, History and Politics in Caribbean Heavy Metal Music“. He suggested a DSLR camera, which we have, but research led me to rule it out. DSLRs can record video, but in order to avoid paying some kind of increase for their sales due to reclassification, they’re limited to 10-minute videos, which simply won’t work for panels that last more than an hour, and audience questions.


I met Henkka Seppala!

So, last week, wifey & I flew out to Ohio for 3 days to attend the Metal in Strange Places conference at University of Dayton. She spoke on a panel about research in metal studies. Her particular presentation was about using social media for ethnographic research – its a fairly new concept called netnography.

Anyway, on the last day, the final keynote speaker was Henkka Seppala, the bassist for Finland’s Children of Bodom. Apparently he’s an academic too, with a master’s in political history from University of Helsinki that he earned while touring the world – he spoke about studying on the road, writing his thesis during downtime between performances, and a lot more.

Here’s the sole picture I took with Henkka. It was at Oddbody’s in Dayton, for the conference aftershow. He played bass with Forces of Nature, one of the local Dayton acts – doubling with their bassist. As per the blog’s name, I’m the ugly one on the right. 😉



Jo Bench (Bolt Thrower) – Collected interview snippets

In my previous post about Jo Bench, I spoke about a dearth of information regarding her bass background. Since then, I’ve scoured the internet to find relevant interviews and articles about her that have some of that info. Here’s what I found:

  1. Jo Bench interview by Chazz and Lork K Philipson for Global Domination (from Bolt Thrower website)
  2. Bolt Thrower Interview – Leviatan Metal Magazine
  3. Cvlt Nation Interviews Bolt Thrower
  4. Eternal Terror: Jo Bench (Bolt Thrower) – I’m self-taught (fantastic bass info!)
  5. Tartarean Desire: Bolt Thrower interview

A website from the Netherlands called Kmachine had the following snippet about Jo:

She plays bass on all albums but not on the demos. She was asked to join Bolt Thrower when her then long-time boyfriend Gavin Ward had switched from bass guitar to guitar. She is one of the few women playing in a ultra-heavy death metal band, besides bands as Delirium, Mystic Charm, Achrosticon (all three Dutch), Runemagick (Swedish). And she is at least one of the first. She is from Leamington Spa. Jo has been a vegetarian since 1984.

The following sections summarize snippets of information about Jo related to music, bass and social politics. At the end of each piece of information, I’ve included a number in parenthesis that denotes which of the five interviews/articles (listed above) that it was taken from.



Lemmy passed yesterday. He turned 70 on Christmas Eve and was diagnosed with cancer the day after Christmas. Two days later, he had succumbed. I read a statement from Motorhead earlier this AM. They’re not going to continue without him, which makes sense, because Lemmy was Motorhead. My Facebook feed was absolutely flooded with news, because I’m on a bunch of bass groups as well as metal groups, so it was a double-whammy. I really love that he was universally appreciated. No one had anything negative to say about him. All acknowledged that he wasn’t the most technical bassist, but he was a genuine human being. He had a dependence on chemicals and alcohol – which I think might have been more of a personality dependence and lifestyle choice than actual substance addiction, but he still spoke clearly about people and really didn’t condescend or slander. He really was the living embodiment of rock & roll.


Alex Webster & Steve DiGiorgio

Had to fan-gasm. This showed up on my FB. Alex Webster just posted a pic of himself with Steve DiGiorgio. That’s 2 of my favorite bassists in one shot.


Also – am I the only person not on Instagram yet?

Ride the Lightning (1984)

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01:  Photo of Cliff BURTON and METALLICA; Cliff Burton, posed, studio,  (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)

CLIFF BURTON and METALLICA (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)

31 years ago yesterday, Metallica released their 2nd album, Ride the Lightning. All of you thrash fans will probably know most of these details already, but here’s an article from Loudwire that one of my friends posted on FB. I like that they delved into some of Cliff‘s songwriting and teaching contributions early in the text.

Here’s the part about Cliff:

Guitarist James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich had written most of Metallica’s first album with Dave Mustaine. Since Mustaine was no longer in the group when the sessions for Ride the Lightning began, bassist Cliff Burton stepped to the forefront, contributing to six of the eight songs and encouraging his bandmates to experiment with different tempos and structures on songs like “Fight Fire With Fire” and the cinematic instrumental “The Call of Ktulu.”

Like Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, who was one of Metallica’s musical heroes, Burton played with his fingers, imbuing the songs with fluidity. Since he had some knowledge of music theory, he showed Hetfield and Hammett how to augment core notes with complementary counter-melodies and how basic guitar harmony worked. He also enhanced the music with effect pedals, including the Morley wah-wah, which provided a sweeping, cutting sound under the metallic crunch.

“I think Cliff was the one who really taught them about melody,” adds Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian. “Cliff was the maestro. He was really accomplished and was thinking beyond thrash and metal. He always wore an R.E.M. t-shirt and a Lynyrd Skynyrd pin on his jean jacket and I think that gives you an idea of where his head was at.”

“Ride the Lightning gave Cliff a platform to shine as a songwriter and a player,” said Metal Mania fanzine founder and KUSF Ramgate Radio DJ Ron Quintana. “He could do it all. He gave Metallica many more options than just playing fast. He loved complex music. He listened to classical, Frank Zappa and it showed in his bass playing.”

I remember reading that wherever they went, Cliff would find a bass teacher and take lessons. He was always learning and exploring. I’m glad that he was able to impart some of what he learned to the rest of the team. R.I.P.