Days before hitting the road on tour with the Adrian Belew Trio, bassist Julie Slick was able to take the time to give us some insight into how she handles playing with a powerhouse like Belew. A graduate from the Paul Green School of Rock (yes, it existed before the movie), Julie is pretty busy these days with performing and producing.
The Adrian Belew Power Trio put out the Side Four Live album, full of fast funky grooves and bass lines featuring every technique from slap tap to pick mixed with Adrian’s innovate guitar. If you didn’t get the chance to see them live, be sure to check out the album!
On top of playing with the Power Trio, Julie also co-produces and engineers Cheers Elephant, Sweatheart, and other artists. In this No Treble exclusive, Julie gives us a glance at how she gets that growl tone, her influences, and where the music is taking her next.
Q: Everyone who sent a question (and we mean everyone) wants to know how you get your tone.
A: Well I’d have to say I attribute a lot of my tone to my rig: I use a Lakland Bob Glaub into a Keeley C-4 Compressor, with the occasional effect: either a West Siberian distortion pedal (i bought with Tony Levin in Moscow) or a Korg AX3000B. This all goes into an Ampeg SVT (8×10 fridge of a cab), which is widely popular for a reason: it makes pushes the air and makes for great sounds!
Q: A few of our readers remarked about the many different ways you approach the bass and would love to know why and when you decide to use a pick, slap, tap, etc., to get your unique sounds.
A: Well I’m a huge fan of dynamics and getting different sounds throughout the shows, but I must admit I usually am just a pick player. Many other bassists often ask why I use a pick and to them I say: It generates punchy, aggressive sounds, which compliment a lot of Adrian’s music. (Although I should also note that I was 11 when I first picked up the instrument, and I learned to play it from Paul Green, a guitar player).
Q: Tell us about your gear, especially how you get that awesome growl out of your Lakland (see? we told you)
A: I think I answered this mostly in [the first] question, but I’ll reiterate: I use a Lakland with a Keeley into an Ampeg SVT 8×10. In my opinion you can’t get a “growlier” chain.
Q: We loved when your mom told us she’s the mother of two-thirds of the Adrian Belew Power Trio. How is it playing with your brother?
A: Playing with Eric is the best! We’re related, and we’ve been playing together all of our lives – it’s just easier to perform when you’re locked in (mentally and literally) with the drummer. And we’ve always gotten along, so it’s really like being on tour with best friends.
Q: Who are your major influences?
A: Oh man, I started playing bass because of Jack Bruce> and John Entwistle. After that, I idolized Paul McCartney, Chris Squire, Patrick O’Hearn, Les Claypool, and of course, Tony Levin!
Q: Do you have a fan page on Facebook (or a Facebook profile?) Where else can we find you on the web?
A: Gah – I had a Facebook profile, but haven’t been able to log in of late… I’m making a new one, but until then there’s always Myspace. Look for julieslick.com soon.
Q: Tell us about your experience playing with Adrian Belew. What is it like playing with one of the heavyweights in progressive rock? I mean, you are living the dream of countless people :)
A: Adrian is a true icon – I realized that the first time I (consciously) heard his playing when I was 14. To this day, there are moments on stage that I gaze over Adrian, to Eric, with this look of awe and disbelief. I realize I am extremely lucky to be performing with him, and even luckier to be making new music with him.
Q: Where can we hear more of you?
A: Um, I don’t currently play in any other groups (aside from sitting in with California Guitar Trio), though Eric and I are planning something for the future. I also produce a local Philly band called Cheers Elephant. Check out myspace.com/cheerselephant.
Q: What’s next for you, after the tour?
A: Hopefully our new album “e” will be released by then, and we can start promoting and touring more for that. On the home front, I plan on finishing Cheers Elephant’s second CD and starting up that project with Eric!
Special thanks to our Twitter friends for sending in questions for Julie:
Russ Sargeant, Flemming Dørken and Sigurdór Guðmundsson. No Treble contributors Nathan Vencil and Corey Brown contributed to this interview.