JO BENCH (Bolt Thrower) – I’m self taught
Jo Bench er noe så sjeldent som en kvinnelig bassist i et stort, kjent og populært death metal band. Hun begynte som bassist ved en tilfeldighet. Drev å lekte seg med bassen til sin daværende kjæreste og lærte seg mange av bassgangene til Bolt Thrower låtene og da det dukket opp en mulighet i bandet, grep hun den og har siden 1986 vært bassist i Bolt Thrower. Hun er inspirert av gamlingene Cronos (Venom), Blacky (Voivod) og Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) og er helt klart av den gamle skolen. Selv mener hun at hun er en helt ordinær bassist, men med over 20 års erfaring fra Bolt Thrower, forteller vel det noe annet. Her er Jo Bench og hennes bidrag til The Down Below Series.
When did you start playing bass? Who/what inspired you to pick up the bass?
Well, it was way back in 1986, basically I just used to pick up Gav's bass now and again and work out some of the Bolt Thrower riffs, just messing around. So when Gav decided to move onto guitar and they were talking about whom to get on bass I put myself forward as I knew I could at least play some of the stuff. So, I wasn't really inspired to play bass, it was just an opportunity that came up that I grabbed..
What kind of role do you think the bass should have in a band; Primus, AC/DC, or a bit of both?
I think it really depends on the band and the style of music. The Primus and AC/DC bass style works perfectly in both bands, but swapping the styles over probably wouldn't.
What would you say characterizes your bass playing, technically and musically?
To be perfectly honest I feel a bit like a fraud being in this interview, because my bass playing is as basic as it comes. I am not a technical bass player, I mainly just follow the guitar, ‘heavy-ing' it up, so to speak. I think anyone can play the bass lines I play, but I've never professed to be the greatest bass player around, and it's not something I particularly aspire to be either.
I play with a pick and my sound is heavy and distorted. I'm good enough for Bolt Thrower and that's about it..
Do you have any formal music training?
No, I'm self taught. Hence the poor technique!
Any tips for developing and maintaining technique and musical creativity?
I just think you should just play to your strengths. I know that I'm never gonna be Flea, so I just concentrate on the style I play and make the most of that. Bolt Thrower is a riff band, the music doesn't lend itself to having some crazy bass stuff going on, we're really not that type of band. I just try to be as consistent as I can be, and make sure that the rhythm section is tight and heavy.
Tips on how to give a bass riff that extra cool sound or groove?
To me it's more about the actual sound of the bass than the playing technique and it took a long time for me to get a sound that I was 100% happy with, and it finally happened when I recorded the last album. But to play tight is also very important to me, so I just make sure I practise as much as I can, then the groove comes pretty naturally.
How do you prepare for a gig?
The same as everyone else I guess. I just make sure I'm well rehearsed. And try to stay healthy. There's no ritual I go through before a gig, but I must admit, for quite a few years I used to be so scared that I'd throw up before the shows. Luckily I don't do that anymore, I guess you kinda get used to it after 20 years..
How about touring, any tips on how to keep delivering through weeks on the road?
I haven't done any hard touring for a while now, but when I did I just used to make sure I was really well rehearsed, that way there's no real surprises. Of course there are the usual dodgy monitors and hot venues to deal with, but if you eliminate the problems that are in your hands then you can deal better with the ones you can't.
Is the right musical gear important for you? What kind of gear do you use?
Yes and no. I haven't got a signature series bass and I don't have any fancy sponsorship, so everything I use I've literally gone out and bought from a music shop. My bass is just a NJ series BC Rich Ironbird. My cabs are 2×15 Laneys, and my amp is a Peavey T-Max. The pedal is an Ibanez Phat Hed. Nothing state of the art, but together it makes a killer sound, so that's all that matters to me.
How would your dream rig look like?
I'm pretty happy with what I've got. I don't need any frills.
How many strings on the bass, and why?
4. That's more than enough!!
Pick or fingers? Why?
Pick. It's just the way I've always played, and to me it sounds better for the style of music we play.
Any tips for aspiring bass players?
Do as I say, not as I do.
Mention three bass players within metal that has a style you like, and what you like about them.
Blacky – Voivod. A difficult style of music to fit into, but Blacky does it so well with an amazing sound and crazy bass lines and intros.
Cronos – Venom. Another great sound, plays kind of bass solos throughout the songs. Fills out the 3 piece perfectly.
Geezer Butler – Do I need to say more?
If you were to choose three bass players (not necessarily within metal) who's inspired you, who would that be? Tell a little on how they've inspired you.
Rainy – Discharge.
Jean-Jacques Burnel – Stranglers.
Can only think of two. But they both have amazing bass tones, i'd like either of them myself. Very early on I would work out the Stranglers bass lines, still great to play along to. But I can't even work out the Discharge stuff, i'm just not that good. Very different styles, but both really great bass players.
Which bass player would you like to see in this series?
Rainy from Discharge, I don't think people know how amazing he is, and I think that's a damn shame..