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Bryan Beller - November 2003


Bryan Beller
Biography: I just finished a solo album called View. It was released on October 28, 2003. If someone told me in my youth that I'd be releasing a solo album, as a bassist, with the kinds of players on it playing the kind of music that's on it, I wouldn't have believed them.

This is all really confusing to me. I had to stay after school in the 3rd and 4th grade to learn how to cut with scissors because I had issues with fine motor coordination. So, naturally I became a bassist, first on upright at age 10 and then on electric at 13. I really loved the piano. Bass was a hobby, an easy way to get into playing along with records. You couldn't play piano along with most Led Zeppelin tunes.

After a mis-spent youth of substance-altered delinquency, I finally woke up and realized that being a concert pianist wasn't in my future and I'd better get cracking on bass. I showed up at Berklee College Of Music in 1989. Matt Garrison was a fellow student in one of my first bass classes. I was scared straight, if you will.

Somehow I got my act together, made it through Berklee, and got the gig with Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa's band Z in 1993, moving to Los Angeles in the process. Right away we hit the studio and began working on a bunch of material, some of which got released, some of which didn't. That was where I met Mike Keneally, the former Frank Zappa "stunt guitarist" (1988 tour) and budding solo artist. Keneally and I eventually became musical brothers-in-arms and here's why. He writes dense, complex, challenging music without losing a sense of maturity and musicality. (That's fancy-talk for saying I don't need blazing chops every second of every tune to keep the gig.) Since 1994, Keneally and I have toured over ten times, recorded five albums, done clinic tours as an acoustic duo for Taylor Guitars, and made a lot of friends along the way. I'm a huge believer in his music.

I've also served as a studio "hired gun" for Steve Vai. There's nothing like getting a call from him at four in the afternoon and hearing, "I've got this seven-minute piece I'm working on right now... you think you can come up here and learn it and track it? Say, around nine?" Vai was great to work with, very easygoing and laid-back and totally musical. Other projects I've done include Dream Theater lead singer James LaBrie's Mullmuzzler (two full albums), and some work (mainly a European tour) with ex-MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, which is nice because his vibe is completely different than anyone else I work with. He's got a blues/punk mentality, if you can imagine that.

I had a column in Bass Player Magazine for three years, in which they let me write just about anything I felt like writing so long as it had the word "bass" in it every once in a while. I've also done a little freelance writing, profiling artists like Billy Sheehan, film scorer W.G. "Snuffy" Walden (Thirtysomething, The West Wing), and bassist Mark Meadows (Edgar Winter). Writing is a great creative outlet that doesn't involve hauling around gear, a big plus.

Somehow, after ten years of backing up other artists and not a wisp of original music between my ears, a solo album appeared in my head. It's called View, and if I had to, I'd classify it as rock-fusion, with an edge to it. Sure, there's some bass playing on it - three solo tracks on the Taylor AB-4 acoustic/electric, plus a couple of spots where I give in and actually solo on electric. But, the last thing I wanted to do was make a "bass chops" album. I couldn't even if I wanted to. View is more about an album as a whole with a wide variety of styles from fusion to pop to world beat to industrial rock. It's a musical statement about being a bassist in Los Angeles and dealing with some of the strange emotional baggage you acquire while doing such a thing. There's a lot of through-composed material on it but with enough room for the high-caliber players (Mike Keneally, drummers Toss Panos and Joe Travers, guitarist Rick Musallam, and keyboardist Jeff Babko) to stretch out on it.

Finally, my main influences on the bass are, in the order they affected me: John Paul Jones, Flea, Jaco Pastorius, John Patitucci, and Scott Thunes.

Gigs: As mentioned above, I mainly play, tour, and record in the Mike Keneally Band. We've got a new record coming out next year called Dog that we're finishing up right now. That, and focusing on getting the word out about my solo album, View, is what I'm up to right now.

Recordings:
Bryan Beller - View
Mike Keneally - Boil That Dust Speck
Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins - Half Alive In Hollywood
Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins - Sluggo!
Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins - Dancing
Mike Keneally - Wooden Smoke
Steve Vai - The Ultra Zone
Steve Vai - The 7th Song
Steve Vai - The Elusive Sound & Light, Volume 1
James LaBrie's Mullmuzzler - Keep It To Yourself
James LaBrie's Mullmuzzler - 2
Dweezil Zappa - Automatic
Z (with Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa) - Shampoohorn
Z (with Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa) - Music For Pets
Neil Sadler - Theory of Forms
Yogi - Any Raw Flesh?
Yogi - Salve
Janet Robin - Open The Door
Janet Robin - Out From Under
Various Artists - A Fair Forgery Of Pink Floyd (with the Mike Keneally Band)
Various Artists - Tales From Yesterday (a Yes tribute album, with Stanley Snail)

Gear:
Instruments & Strings:
Mike Lull Custom "Modern 5" (main)
MTD Swamp Ash American 535
Taylor AB-4 Acoustic/Electric Bass Guitar
Fender Jazz Deluxe V
Fender '51 Precision re-issue (modified to include J-pickup)
D'Addario Prism PSS60-5 Long Scale Stainless Steel Strings (.45, .65, .80, .100, .130)

Amps, EFX & Speaker Cabs - Live:
SWR Mo' Bass Amplifier
(2) SWR Goliath II 4x10's
SWR Bass Monitor 12"
Peavey DPC1000 Power Amplifier
Raven Labs True Blue EQ
T.C. Electronics Chorus/Flanger

Amps, EFX & Speaker Cabs - Studio:
SWR Super Redhead Combo Amplifier
SWR Interstellar Overdrive Preamp
SWR SM-400 Amplifier
SWR Mo' Bass Amplifier
SWR Mini-Mo' Preamp
SWR Mr. Tone Controls EQ
Raven Labs True Blue EQ
SWR Goliath Junior III
SWR 12-Stack 4x12
SansAmp PSA-1 Programmable Preamp
Raven Labs PHA-1 Headphone Amp
T.C. Electronics Chorus/Flanger
Sunn 300T Amplifier

Contact Information: Visit me online at BryanBeller.com.

Onion Boy Records
19425-B Soledad Canyon Road #330
Canyon Country, CA 91351
Phone/Fax: (800) 878-5728
www.onionboyrecords.com