Reader Spotlight: Liza Carbe
Meet Liza Carbe, who started on classical guitar before discovering – and falling in love with – the bass.
Liza is this week’s No Treble reader in the spotlight. She’s has had an incredible journey so far. Here’s her story…
I come from a musical and artistic family. My Sicilian-born father made his living as a cartoonist and illustrator, and my parents met singing in a choir. I started singing when I was very young and was in my first musical production at the age of five. When we moved from Connecticut to Los Angeles, I started studying the classical guitar as well as accompanying myself singing pop songs. While getting my music degree at California State University Northridge, I started playing bass in rock bands. I immediately loved the instrument! I performed at all the rock clubs in LA, like The Troubadour, The Whiskey, Madame Wong’s, and all the rest. When I graduated, I started touring and recording with the female metal band Vixen. I recorded an EP with them that was used in the 80’s movie Hard Bodies. That was my entrance into ASCAP and understanding the importance of royalties. I had also recorded with The Neoteric Orchestra on the album The Pillory by Jasun Martz, singing and playing an instrument that I had invented called the Zil – so the studio wasn’t foreign to me. I continued playing in clubs and studied bass with Bunny Brunel and Jeff Berlin. Then I started touring with Leon Patillo from Santana on his “Love Around the World” tour. He had an all-female band and we toured throughout the US, Canada, and Australia. It was very fun and funky music where we were all featured on our instruments and vocals.
I went on to put out an album with my own eclectic folk/jazz trio, Red Van Go, doing two tours of Japan. In 1992, I was hired by Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac to be one of his guitarists and sing background on his “Out of the Cradle” tour. The second leg of that tour we opened for Tina Turner in Stadiums around the US which concluded at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. We then went on to Maui spending two-and-a-half weeks recording new music ideas with Lindsey, which years later ended up on the new Fleetwood Mac album.
I’d always been steering myself towards production and writing, so when that tour ended, my husband Jean-Pierre Durand and I started writing music for “Entertainment Tonight”. We continued writing for music libraries like Sonoton and Frameworks and scoring music for The History Channel and others. In 2000 we joined forces with our partner Jim Stubblefield and formed our world music group Incendio. Since then we’ve put out 11 albums of original music and toured all over the US and beyond averaging about 130 shows annually.
I also record and tour with the Carbe and Durand duo. In July, I released a book I wrote called “Thrive and Survive in the Music Business”. I broke down in detail how to successfully book your band and everything you need to know about royalties, complete with links and names. After coaching many clients and colleagues on these topics, I decided to put it all down in an easy-to-read-and-understand book to help my fellow musicians.
When I’m not touring, I am still writing music for production libraries, TV and film and producing other artists. I am currently writing music in collaboration with Ballet Fantastique out of Eugene Oregon, with whom we have worked with before, on their upcoming modern ballet performance of the story of Robin Hood. I endorse MTD basses, AMPEG amps and Savarez strings.
Why I play the bass:
I was a classical guitarist and someone asked me to play bass for them. I started playing for their band and immediately fell in love with the instrument and have been playing ever since.
I have two MTD 5 string basses that I generally use for live shows and touring. One is made from empress wood which is very light but has a well-defined, punchy sound. Michael recently made me a 30″ scale 5 string that I’m loving. I was using SWR for years but switched to AMPEG when SWR went down. When touring, I use the AMPEG PF800 with either a 2×10 or 4×10 SWR cabinet but also use the SVT-4 and even SVT classic when touring. I also like to record with a couple of Hanewinckel basses that I have. They have a great sound, record well, and always sit nicely in the mix. Both the MTD and Hanewinckel use Bartolini pickups. I have other basses and amps but these are the ones I use the most.
I’ve been inspired and influenced by many bassists over the years including Percy Jones, John Paul Jones, James Jamerson, and Mark King. Although there are so many great players who I love, Abraham Laboriel is the one bassist that I admire not only for his musicality and incredible groove but his energy lights up the stage and everything he does.
My bass superpower/claim to fame:
I play with great enthusiasm and I’m told I have a unique style. I’m small but mighty!
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