Meet Armando Flores, a bassist from California and our player in the spotlight for January 25, 2011.
My earliest memories of music with my parents listening to 8 track tapes of Disco and Motown while driving along in our Mercury Montego. In the 5th grade I got the crazy notion that I could play the trumpet. This lasted about 2 months. Fast forward: I’m 18, have a girlfriend who has a bass, so I start to play. I played in the garage a few years, jammed with various people and joined a band that I played with for about 10 years, Lung Cookie.
I played on the Vans Warped Tour in ’99, broke up with the band, and played in a cover band for about a year. This taught me a lot about playing for a song and not for myself. I later started a new band, opened a recording studio, began to gig like crazy. The rest, as they say, you can read below.
Palm Desert, CA, U.S.A.
A/V Technician for Swank Audio Visuals.
About 20 years.
Bands & Gigs:
I’ve played in several bands in recent years, one of which actually got play on the ’99 Vans Warped tour for a couple of weeks. Currently I play with a punk rock outfit called Half-Astro, which is great fun, because I cut my teeth on punk rock tunes as a kid. I perform with Rebecca Caldwell, a Scottish singer-songwriter who plays mostly acoustic folk-type tunes (great voice, check her out). Also, Pedestrians vs War Party is a nine-piece act that’s rooted in funk, reggae, and all around wackiness. Lastly, I drum for a band called Blasting Echo. This three-piece band is close to my heart because each of us has a son with Autism, so it’s a common bond we all share. Plus, playing the drums has improved my meter and phrasing as a bass player.
Like I mentioned, the first bass I had was a knockoff Fender Jazz. By the time I was 20 I had saved up enough to buy a Bass Collection bass at the local music shop. I eventually removed the stock electronics and bridge and outfitted it with EMG’s and a Kahler tremolo. Recently I converted it into a tenor bass-tuned B-E-A-D, up and octave from a 5-string.
My main instrument is a Read Custom 4 string, and I love her to death. Wish I had a nice Fender Jazz though.
As for amps, I play out of a Read Custom tube pre, followed by a Stewart World Audio Power amp into MXR’s Octave, Bass DI Overdrive, Envelope Filter and Phaser. All this feeding a Mesa Boogie Road Ready Power House 1000 and this thing is built like a tank!!! 4-10’s and a 15 all in one really heavy road case. It’s older than my kids, and it does what I tell it to do. Can’t beat that.
Why I play the bass:
Well, my old man raised me as an athlete and it was good… Then came puberty, and everyone I used to compete with suddenly outgrew me. My kid brother was developing an interest in music and begged my parents for a Sears Catalog electric bass, and he got it. Fortunately for me, a girlfriend at the time had a Fender Jazz Bass knock-off, which I promptly ‘borrowed’ and found I enjoyed tremendously. So i spent about a year ‘shedding’ with my little brother and having him play gave me someone to compete with again without having to worry about physical stature.
My bass superpower/claim to fame
I’m a bit of a chameleon, so I guess it would be my ability to conform and play what’s appropriate at the appropriate time. I’ve literally gone from a coffee shop acoustic gig, packed up, and played a punk rock show all in the span of 3 hours… and I love it.
Well, Flea and Les Claypool were a big influence on me when I first started playing. But the more I played the more I began to enjoy a wider variety of styles. James Jamerson comes to mind, Paul McCartney, Charles Mingus, Mike Watt, John Stanier, Dave Brubeck, Igor Stravinsky, Page Hamilton (they don’t all have to be bass players, right???).