Touching a classic is no easy task. Touching a Tech N9ne classic? You better nail it. Bass-extraordinaire David Pastorius tackled this less-than-easy task not once, but twice, when he added his funky riffs and rhythms to Tech N9ne’s “Questions” and “This Ring”.
Recently we put up the video on our YouTube channel of David Pastorius touching on “This Ring” (watch below). The brilliant rendition of the song has garnered mixed reviews, but regardless of your opinion on the re-done classic, there’s no denying the talent on the four-string.
We talked to David Pastorius and asked him about his musical background, how being related to one of the most legendary bassists of all time has (or hasn’t) affected his musicianship, and how one of the biggest influences on his playing has been from someone who doesn’t play the bass at all.
The question every musician gets asked is “How did you get into music?” But with your familial ties I would think that’s very obvious.
Actually the funny thing is that it’s not. When I was younger I knew I had a relative that played music but I didn’t pay much attention man. I was one of the guys that was like “The bass? Is that the one with four strings or six strings?” So actually it was when I was in junior high, I had a buddy that happened to play bass. I was at his house after school one day and he was playing the bassline to the Chili Peppers version of “Higher Ground”. I was like “Oh my God! That’s awesome. What instrument is that?” He’s like “It’s a bass dumbass. Your uncle played one.” My buddy’s name is Sam Griffith. He passed away some years ago but he’s literally the reason I even started playing bass.
So your uncle really didn’t even play that role in your development?
I met Jaco before he died. He died when I was ten. I knew he was a musician and he played bass but I didn’t necessarily know what the bass was. I didn’t pay much attention. My buddy Sam is the one that got me into bass. It’s funny because I was like “That’s awesome! I’m going to start doing that too.” My background was metal and punk with cats like Flea, Robert Trujillo from Metallica, Infectious Grooves and Suicidal Tendencies. Then it gradually got into hip hop but mostly of what I listen to is a lot of metal and a lot of hip hop, but I’m open to everything.
Do you ever think that there’s something in the genes that gives you good playing abilities? It’s kind of hard to overlook the correlation.
Yeah. I agree with you. The name is a two edged sword for me man because a lot of people want to cross their arms right away, like “Oh yeah sure, he plays bass. Yeah right.” They automatically want to hate right of the bat but then there’s also people that are interested to hear you. A lot of those times people are wondering if you’re going to play like Jaco. I actually get more comparisons to other players than Jaco, which I think is a good thing. No disrespect to Jaco though because he’s the man.
But yeah you’re your own dude basically.
Yeah. I’m not worried about filling his shoes. I want to fill my own, you know?
So how old were you when you first started playing bass?
After you first picked it up did it become an obsession? To be that good you have to put in a lot of work.
It’s crazy. The first two and a half years that’s basically all I did – play, practice, practice. For the first two years I practiced five to six hours a day because that’s all I wanted to do. It’s funny too because my first year of playing bass I didn’t own an amp. To me it was kind of a good thing because it forced me to dig deeper to hear myself. That’s probably what got me into slapping more too because you could hear yourself better without an amp. I just dug it. But yeah I definitely put in a lot of time at the beginning. After awhile I started playing in bands and it got to a point where you’re playing out enough and you’re playing and gigging to where you don’t need to practice as much. Now I’m mostly gigging or recording. I’m not one of those guys that is constantly practicing but I do play a lot.
Totally. Playing is good too obviously because you have to lock in with a band and that’s the only way you can do that.
Sometimes for me the best practice is not practicing.. You can get frustrated playing the same thing over and over. Just getting away from the bass and going out and doing other things and then coming back and playing or practicing. You can put yourself in a rut big time if you just practice nonstop.
How did you get into Tech N9ne? What inspired you to do the initial cover for “Questions”?
When I first heard Tech N9ne I think it was a cassette tape and it was the one with the car on the front…Celsius. My buddy showed it to me and right then and there I was blown away by his style. Over the years I was always listening to Tech and I started to notice that the way I played bass and my rhythmic patterns were influenced by his cadences. I like to do a lot of double-time or half-time beats, like in the Midwest Chop style, Bone Thugs, Tech N9ne. Shit like that.
Anyway I noticed that I would use some of Tech N9ne’s cadences and they would influence my rhythmic pattern, playing wise. I had that idea for “Questions” because I always loved “Questions”. I had that idea like three years ago but I just didn’t act on it then, but one night at Studio 101, where I record, I was there with Brendon the owner. He was like “Hey you want to record that ‘Questions’ thing?” and I was like “Yeah, I don’t know about tonight.” He was just like “Yeah we could go out and do something else…or you could stay here and possibly change your life.” (Laughs) That’s exactly what he said to me. That’s just who Brendon is and by saying that he kind of sparked me and so that’s what I did. So that was really cool. That one seemed to do pretty well. It’s definitely changed things as far as people knowing my name and what I’m trying to do.
Has it gained you some notoriety amongst the bands in your scene?
It gained me some notoriety. A lot of people seem to be checking me out more, which is good because it’s all about exposure. What I need to do is somehow translate that into a career, which is what I’m working on. I’m stoked though. I’ve even talked to Tech and he was talking about having me possibly play on his next album. I’m all about it. I told anybody I’ll leave tonight and fly anywhere and play. It would be worth it.
What are you hoping to do with your career?
I do original music of my own. I have a band called Local 518. That’s like instrumental stuff. We’re finishing up our third album. It’s like jazz/metal/punk/funk/reggae. Just a blend of stuff. Eventually what I need to do – for me, it just seems that money is made in live performances. I just want to get on tour. I’d love to get on tour with anybody that I could tour with that’s good. I’d love to do a hip hop tour. I noticed a lot of rappers do live bands now. I’d love to get a gig like that. If Tech ever put together a live band I would love to. It’s funny because my musical heroes happen to be two vocalists. Tech being one of them. The other one being Mike Patton. Guys like that man. I just want to work with people and get on tour. Whatever man just play music and have fun. Make a living.
It’s interesting that you say your musical heroes are vocalists. I know you talked about Tech N9ne’s cadences before. What is it about his vocals that influence your playing?
Just some of the ways I’ve heard him rap. Basically he rides over a beat like a solo, like when you hear a bass solo or a bass groove. That kind of goes back to Jaco because I remember he was once quoted that he follows horn lines. It’s kind of like Tech N9ne. Wasn’t it Quincy Jones that called Tech N9ne the Charlie Parker of hip hop? I’ve heard that before. His vocal influence is just rhythmically. His understanding of rhythm and cadences are so crazy that it’s definitely influenced mine as a bass player. I’m part of the rhythm section myself and I’ve actually copped some of his rhythms, not stealing but everybody bites (laughs). He’s definitely been an influence. It’s a reason I wanted to do “Questions”. It was kind of a nod to him.
Wow that’s awesome. What’s the response been like on your end from the “This Ring” cover?
It’s been good. The one thing I noticed is the views: 30-something thousand which is awesome for me for two days. I’ve never had anything like that. That’s amazing to me. I noticed that it has over a thousand likes but it’s funny because “Questions” has 900 but it has 58 thousand views now. It’s got less dislikes at the same time.
It’s also getting a response out of people. Positive or negative, if it’s remembered that’s good. I don’t want to be in the middle. Loved or hated, you’re remembered. Frank Zappa actually said that, something like that. If they remember your name they can hate all day long and tell everybody how much I suck. For the most part though, it’s been positive. I think it’s great. What do you guys think?
We love it. It’s also really cool how they mixed up old performance footage of Tech.
I was so happy with it. Here’s how I look at it: Dave Weiner said he likes it, Tech says he likes it and Icy Roc even contacted me and he said it’s Icy Roc approved. Look at his page. He said “I love what this kid did with me and Tech’s song.” If I got those guys saying they like it then I’m happy.
Anything you want to say as we wrap this up?
I would just say that I appreciate everything you guys have done and all the love y’all have shown. I appreciate the work you guys put in to make that video and I’m super excited about it.
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