I grew up in Mexico, in Tijuana – a border town – so my influences were pretty vast. I grew up listening to classical from my grandmother’s side and big bands from my father’s side. He was a clarinet player and my mum was a singer, so bass style-wise, as I got older I started playing different styles as required. So I’m pretty versatile, but along the way I developed a signature tone and sound. I’ve done 50-something albums now, so I’ll leave it up to the fans to decide what my style is. I’m pretty all over the place, I think. I play five-, six- and four-string basses – different styles of music require different tools. There’s a trio where I play Latin jazz-funk and my bass of choice is a six-string fretless, so I play that exclusively for the extra octave
We don’t have a guitar player so I get to solo and stretch out a lot and I’m a big fan of the fretless tone. It comes with maturity, knowing what tools to bring to a gig. The secret of playing bass well is practising, and knowing your instrument, applying yourself to the song, the format, whether it’s a trio, quartet or quintet. Working with Whitesnake for the longest time, we had two guitars and a keyboard, so a lot of the songs were big, big, big hits, almost on the pop side, so I come, play minimally and make the notes count at the right place with the right harmony and all that.
My bass heroes? Number one, Paul McCartney. People say he’s underrated, but not in my book. Melodically, what he was doing on the bass, way back when I started getting into music – I got the Abbey Road album, they really understood songwriting, and he supported that because he was singing. It’s very challenging. It’s something you’ll either struggle with or it’ll happen naturally. These guys found a way to support the songs melodically. Later on, as I got into heavier music, Chris Squire, Greg Lake, Geddy Lee, just all these cool cats who I started playing with. There’s so many – Victor Wooten, Billy Sheehan – they all just blow you away. A lot of these guys are virtuosos. They found their voice. Right now there’s a lot of new cats that are just mind-blowing.