QRD - Current Issue   About QRD   QRD Archives
QRD #44 - Bass Player Special
about this issue
Bassist Interviews with:
CJ Boyd
Monte Allen of Rollerball
Nicholas Slaton of slicnaton
Trevor Dunn of Fantomas
Jeffrey Roden
Phillip Palmer of Port City Music
Nat Baldwin of Dirty Projectors
Frank Alexander of Triplicity
Brian Preston
Jason Ajemian
Darin DePaolo
Jill Palumbo of The Torches
Jon Case of Irata
James Newman of Plumerai
Matteo Bennici
Tim Dahl of Child Abuse
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
QRD - Advertise
Silber Records
Silber Button Factory
Cerebus TV
Silber Kickstarter

Bassist Interview with Matteo Bennici
October 2010

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. Ciao!