Interview with Matteo Bennici
Name: Matteo Bennici
Bands: Tsigoti, Squarcicatrici, Motociclica Tellacci, Nostratic.
Websites: myspace.com/matteobennici, http://afoforomusicclub.blogspot.com, espdisk.com, myspace.com/motociclicatellacci
QRD – What was your first bass & what happened to it?
Matteo – A red Vester (a sort of Jackson imitation I guess). I made a deal with a music shop to get a better one & one day I saw exactly that bass played by a young guy at a metal concert… he bought it!
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from bass to effects to amplifier?
Matteo – Cello &/or bass > pedal effects & processors > amp > cabinet
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – bass, amplifier, or effects?
Matteo – My brain & hands.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Matteo – I mainly use a small Ampeg B100 Rocket because it’s portable & versatile enough for both cello & bass.
QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass?
Matteo – Electric. But upright rooocks!
QRD – Do you prefer to use a pick, fingers, or a bow?
Matteo – I use all those techniques.
QRD – How many strings do you think a bass should have?
Matteo – Between 1 & 4.
QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?
Matteo – ‘Cause bass is better!!! Actually I’m more attracted by low-range instruments.
QRD – How is a bass different than a guitar other than being lower in pitch?
Matteo – Many things from the gesture to the role you have in a band.
QRD – What’s your main bass & what are the features that make it such?
Matteo – A Japanese Fender Jazz with no special features, but it feels perfect to me until I have enough money to get an old American one.
QRD – What do you think of the thumb rests on some basses?
Matteo – Cool, comfortable. I never had one. I like it better when it’s below the strings for playing with thumb. Very stingy!
QRD – If you had a signature bass, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Matteo – I love the old Gibson shape. I guess I would add some very good electronics & something bizarre like one fretless string.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Matteo – A four channel loop station with independent on/off switch & filters on each channel.
QRD – How many basses do you own?
Matteo – 2 electric, 1 upright.
QRD – How & where do you store your basses?
Matteo – Standing in a corner of my studio-room.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a bass?
Matteo – It’s hard to tell. Usually I already know what I’m buying... anyway must sound, feel, & look like it’s good for me.
QRD – How much do you think a good bass should cost?
Matteo – Well I don’t think there’s an absolute price a bass should cost. Industrial stuff should be very cheap & I understand that a 60s Gibson must have its price. The real problem is actually how much food & basic services cost, but that’s another topic.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your bass or just stick with what you get?
Matteo – I adjust it when it has some problem, mostly in action. I stick with a lot of stickers!
QRD – Are you after one particular bass tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Matteo – I have a reference one; but I often have to change according to different bands, spaces, or music.
QRD – What are some basses, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Matteo – As I said before, an old American Fender J & a 4channel pedal board.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first bass that aren’t always there?
Matteo – A decent sound even in a cheap instrument. Some are real shit, but if you’re a beginner you can’t know it & rarely sellers are honest about that.
QRD – What have been the best & worst bass related purchases you’ve made?
Matteo – Best: switching from Yamaha TRB to Fender. Worst: a lovely handmade fretless that once fell & seriously broke in half & now it’s there, still injured & unused.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & bass brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Matteo – I like Fender, Gibson, Tobias. Also Boss, Danelectro, Electroharmonix. I dis-like a lot of stuff!
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a bass?
Matteo – Nothing ritual, I just feel it.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing bass?
Matteo – I was 12.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best bass playing?
Matteo – All those moments when you intensively play with other people make you grow up a lot.
QRD – Do you feel bass lines should echo & emphasize guitar & drum parts or be their own distinct elements?
Matteo – It depends on what you want to do! For sure bass is a rule instrument, if making your music you refer to standards so you should follow some good rules, but my favourite musicians break these rules constantly.
QRD – Would you rather people hear or feel your bass?
Matteo – They have to smell it all over the place!
QRD – Why do you think a bass fits you more so than other instruments?
Matteo – Because it has more or less the same diapason of cell, which was & now is my first instrument again.
QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music?
Matteo – That’s a funny image! How one can make good music with an enemy on? :-)
QRD – Who are the bassists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Matteo – Talking about famous people, in my early years Les Claypool was my hero (& I still appreciate him). Now it’s Mike Watt.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their bass is natural or silly (e.g. naming their bass)?
Matteo – It’s not silly at all! I love people who give names to their favourite objects, I find it sensitive. But I never did it!
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a bass & how did you do it?
Matteo – My beloved handmade fretless fell on the floor & literally split in two. Sadly I wasn’t responsible of that.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Matteo – I look more for musical & improvisational solutions than technical. Sound & drive are more important to me.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play bass & how many hours would you like to?
Matteo – I work a lot with composition & production so I don’t practice a lot. I would like to simply practice cello & bass 3 hours a day, but I can’t.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Matteo – Both 0.40 & 0.45, depending on the bands I’m playing at the moment.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Matteo – Whenever they end up sucking too much.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Matteo – Not very often. I’m good at saving resources!
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming/bowing hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Matteo – I think in all string instruments the right hand is the one that gives the sound & the beat so it’s the most important to me. Left hand must be obedient & in-tune.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Matteo – Mostly standard tuning because that’s the range that instrument is at its best. Sometimes I detune the E string to reach the range of a five-strings bass.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Matteo – My favourite notation system is ‘by heart’. Mostly I record & listen to my sketches, sometimes I write root-notes. Rarely notes on pentagram.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Matteo – Too many notes.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s bass playing?
Matteo – Playing double bass is the hardest training you can do. It feels like flying when you get back to electric!
QRD – What’s a type of bass playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Matteo – Perhaps good solo skills.
QRD – What’s a bass goal you’ve never accomplished?
Matteo – A convincing slap technique. But I don’t care.
QRD – What’s the last bass trick you learned?
Matteo – I can’t tell. I’m more focused on musical solutions.
QRD – Did you ever take bass lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Matteo – I did several times in the past, but not recently. It’s always good to learn from someone more expert. Personally, that gave me basics.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a bass lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a bass teacher?
Matteo – To think of bass as a compositional instrument.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Matteo – My goofy faces!
QRD – If a band has good bass work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Matteo – Hahahaha, NO!
QRD – What famous musician’s bass would you like to own & why?
Matteo – Sid Vicious’s Fender. If I have to be a fetishist.…
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative bass player & why?
Matteo – I’m not very updated about bassists’ world, but Mike Watt is my favourite!
QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work?
Matteo – Live on stage. Also on Tsigoti & Traumfabrick’s albums.
QRD – Anything else?
Matteo – Thank you for this interview.