Interview: Robert Mercurio, Galactic

robert mercurio

I am a fan of lean, mean, funky bass-lines. I am a big fan of playing for the song, not for other musicians. I have played some five-strings and I think they do have their place in music, but I tend to gravitate towards the tonal range of a four-string bass. I rarely feel like a low E isn’t enough and I never find that I need to go high on a high C. I use slap technique as needed here and there, but not very much: just to accent a specific note or fill. I play with a lot of New Orleans drummers, who play a lot of rhythms, so I tend to leave the slapping percussive element to the drummer. Keep it simple. Less is more: this is even more true for playing bass. My first bass was a1970 Harmony Marquis EB-3 short-scale four-string. My bass heroes are George Porter Jr, James Jamerson, and Pino Palladino. The greatest person who balanced technique and feel would be Jaco Pastorius. If I could get the bass tone of any album ever released, I would choose George Porter, Jr’s tone on the Meters’ Rejuvenation album. It has just the right amount of distortion, attack, and frequency range to give his lean bass-lines some girth. It’s all about the space in the cracks. Most funky lines have some sort of space and syncopation that help create that hump in the groove. We’re releasing a new album, Into the Deep, which I produced; I’ve just finished composing and producing the soundtrack for the upcoming movie Car Dogs with Galactic; and I played bass on Joe Jackson’s new album.
Basses Fender P-Bass, Lakland Skyline Hollowbody
Effects Ibanez Tube Screamer, EHX Big Muff Pi Bass, EHX Bass Micro Synth, MXR Phase 90
Amps Ampeg SVT CL Heritage, 8×10 cabinet

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