One Vision

Although it had been over a decade since New York hardcore metallers Vision Of Disorder issued a new studio album, last year’s The Cursed Remain Cursed proved that the hiatus didn’t dull the band’s aggression in the slightest. According to bassist Mike Fleischmann, the band – singer Tim Williams, guitarists Matt Baumbach and Mike Kennedy, and drummer Brendon Cohen – actually benefited from the break.

“We approached the writing process a lot slower this time around since we had no deadline,” he says. “But the way we collaborated remained the same. You bring some riffs to practice and everyone throws in their piece. Technology has evolved a lot since the last time we recorded an album, so not having to be on top of each other the whole time really made things easier. I would say our stress level was a lot lower this time.”

Vision of DisorderBacking up a bit, Fleischmann revisits his early days as a bass player, which began in the midst of rock’s last true musical revolution. “I started playing in the early 90s,” he recalls, “so the number one guy at that time for me was Les Claypool of Primus. The first time I saw him play I was blown away. But I also spent a lot of time listening to and playing along with Flea, Bill Gould, Geddy Lee, Mike Watt and Ben Shepherd.”

It didn’t hurt that Fleischmann came from a musical household. “Both of my older brothers played bass in bands as well. It was definitely advantageous for me growing up with them and hearing them play all the time. I absorbed a lot of different styles of music, from fusion to death metal.”

From the get-go, Fleischmann never entertained the notion of playing with a pick. “All of my favourite players used their fingers, so I always considered it a cop-out to grab a pick. You gotta respect guys like Steve Harris and Cliff Burton for playing fast and heavy with their fingers.”

Joining VOD in 1995, Fleischmann’s bass work can be heard on 1996’s self-titled debut, 1998’s Imprint – largely considered VOD’s finest hour – 1999’s For The Bleeders and 2001’s From Bliss To Devastation. As evidenced by the aforementioned albums and catching the band live, VOD’s rhythm section of Fleischmann and Cohen is hard to beat. “Brendon is the most talented musician I have ever had the pleasure to play with,” the bassist says. “When you bring a riff to the studio he is the one who brings it to life. He always surprises you with the feel he can give to any part you throw at him. We have practised together just him and I, but after 17 years of playing together, we pretty much effortlessly gel at this point.”

Fleischmann’s main bass is a five-string Ernie Ball Music Man Stringray, which he admits “weighs a ton, and was always a bit more difficult to play than other basses I have owned, but it sounds like a monster.” He plays through an Ampeg SVT Classic with an Ampeg 8×10 cabinet, and uses Dean Markley strings and a Tech 21 Sansamp pedal, for “a little more clarity and an extra growl.”

It’s with this set-up that Fleischmann tackles VOD’s material, which can often prove tricky. One tune in particular is especially problematic: “‘Landslide’ from Imprint – the riff is fast and all over the neck. It just tires both my hands and forearms out. When we play it live and it ends, it’s always a relief.”

From a bass-playing perspective, Fleischmann recommends the following albums. “Sailing The Seas Of Cheese by Primus. This was like the bass bible for me. Up to that point no one had done anything like he was doing on bass. Moving Pictures by Rush. One reason, three letters – ‘YYZ’ – and Angel Dust by Faith No More: Bill Gould really demonstrated his diversity on that album, and I love the sound he got.”

Lastly, Fleischmann offers these tips to fellow bassists. “Don’t be afraid to try new things or go out of your comfort zone. Try playing all different styles of music and listen to as much stuff as you can.”

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