Bass Remix: An Interview with David Pastorius
David Pastorius has been smashing expectations for as long as he’s been playing bass. The last time we talked with him, Pastorius told us about the impact of being the nephew of legendary electric bassist Jaco Pastorius, notably that his influences and style come from another place with an edgier rock sound.
Now he is wowing everyone with a set of videos riffing on his favorite rapper, Tech N9ne. Starting last year – with a fiery playthrough of “Questions,” – Pastorius has been shining a new light on possibilities with the bass. His focus on the rhythmic patterns of the rapper create a fresh take on the bass’s role and its phrasing.
We reached out to Pastorius to get the scoop on his collaboration with Tech N9ne, what’s new with his band, Local 518, and his approach on giving lessons.
Tell us the story about your latest Tech N9ne video and your collaboration with him.
Basically I covered another one of [Tech N9ne’s] tunes and shot some footage with Brendan from Studio 101, where I record my Local 518 albums. He shot the footage and we sent it to Strange Music’s headquarters. They loved the footage and put the lyric video together. It’s a classic Tech N9ne song called “This Ring.”
I’m [also] going to be playing on his next album. There’s a [collaboration] track for a Jaco tune we’re going to be doing. Ross Robinson produced this beat, and it’s for the Record Store Day release. They’re getting bands to put out collabs of Jaco’s music. One of them is going to be of me and Tech N9ne and a singer from France named Soko. I haven’t heard the track yet, but it’s basically going to be over “Kuru.” It should be pretty crazy.
How did you get started doing these videos?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time, because I’ve been a Tech N9ne fan since the ’90s. I had the idea for a while, I just never went and did it.
I did the first one and it went over well, so I made the next one and it went on from there. It’s cool because he’s one of the two main artists I’ve always wanted to work with, so I’m stoked about that. Mike Patton is the other one.
What was your approach to deciding what to play on the songs?
I figured I would follow his vocal cadence a little and kind of riff around, you know what I mean? Stylistically, that’s why I’ve always gravitated towards him. He does a lot of double-time over half-time kind of stuff like I do [which is] very machine gun like. That was just my idea. He raps like I play bass, and I play bass like he raps. It’s funny because I’ve listened to a lot of him and he’s a vocalist that’s actually influenced some of my rhythmic phrasing. I don’t sing or rap, but I just mean technique-wise.
“This Ring” has me playing a lot more typical bass lines. I follow him in parts but it’s a slower groove piece. I tried adding things like little chords that I thought were neat. What’s funny is I just recorded one more tune that I wanted to do, which is the last one I’ll be doing, unless I’m working with him. It’s a song off his Ross Robinson album, The Therapy Sessions, called “Stop the Sailor.” It’s almost like a Pink Floyd tune. It’s cool because I wanted to record that and not follow anything – no solo bass.
A lot of people get the idea that I’m just a “flash” guy, but dude – I’ll play bass just like anybody else, too. This will be a showcase of what I might be like in a session just playing the bass line. Not really soloing, but not playing anything too fancy.
What’s coming next for your band, Local 518?
We’re finishing up our third album. The new stuff sounds really good. It’s a lot more stripped down [than the previous albums]. It’s almost set up for a vocalist, which is one of the ideas. We’re possibly getting a few vocalists on some of the tracks. It’s also a lot more of stuff I wrote. There’s some bass stuff on it, but it’s a lot more focused on the writing, which I’m happy about. It’s funky and definitely has some cool stuff going on.
I know you’ve been giving a lot of lessons lately, online and in person. What’s biggest thing that you typically have to correct for people?
I have my opinions, but often I don’t think of things as correct or incorrect. It’s more like “whatever works for you is what works for you”. It’s not right or wrong, but for me I notice a lot about slap technique. A lot of guys use the thumb-down, Flea-style way, where I’m more of a thumb-up kind of guy like Victor [Wooten], Stu Hamm and Louis Johnson. I just notice stuff like that, but who’s to say what’s right or wrong like that.
The only things that aren’t subjective to me are whether you’re in time or in tune. After that it’s kind of a free-for-all as to what you like [laughs].
For more, check out Pastorius’ Facebook page.