IVAN MUNGUIA (Brain Drill) – Learn the basics before you try to learn any songs

IVAN MUNGUIA (Brain Drill) – Learn the basics before you try to learn any songs

Ivan Munguia spiller bass i flinkismetalbandet Brain Drill. Stilarten til dette amerikanske bandet er egentlig ganske unik, der de herjer vilt på sine instrumenter i stort sett 99 % av tiden. Ultrateknisk brutal og kjapp death metal som garantert vil slite deg ut som lytter. Ivan begynte som gitarist og han spiller fremdeles gitar i Insanity og Vomit Through. Han er i tillegg bassist i Odious Mortem og Carnivorous. Han nevner Murray Fitzgerald fra Severed Savior som en av årsakene til at han begynte å spille bass. Les mer om dette bassvidunderet som også har Erlend Caspersen på lista over bassister han liker i The Down Below Series og Brain Drills Ivan Munguia.


When did you start playing bass? Who/what inspired you to pick up the bass?

I'm a guitarist turned bassist. I picked up the bass when my buddies in Odious Mortem were looking for a bassist, which was in late 2006/early 2007. Watching Murray from Severed Savior was always an inspiration, even back then when I only played guitar. We shared a practice spot way back when I was in Carnivorous and I always admired his playing.

What kind of role do you think the bass should have in a band; Primus, AC/DC, or a bit of both?

Eh….we'll for our type of music the bass plays a more important role than in other sub-genres of metal. We use the bass as a songwriting color,  adding fills and breaks here and there to break things up. Being buried in the mix is discouraging for anyone playing the bass. When you can actually make a contribution to a song other than just following the guitar line note for note, it makes playing bass more worth while. I do think however that the bass should hold down the low end (AC/DC). There's a few moments on our new album where I kinda wish I would have stuck to the low end and played something more simple, such as where we have riffs that are comprised of mostly sweeps and high register stuff. That's definitely an area I feel I can improve on for our future records.

What would you say characterizes your bass playing, technically and musically?  

Well as I said earlier, Murray from SS is a big influence on my bass playing. A big characteristic of my playing is the fact that I use the grind picking technique, which I picked up from Murray. I always liked the sound of picked grinds on bass. The second thing would be the large amount of tapping I use in our music. A lot of our riffs consist of musical sections that are comprised of guitar sweeping arpeggios, and I've found that the best way to play behind that is to use multiple finger tapping to outline the chords that are being implied by the guitar.


Do you have any formal music training?

I've been playing in jazz bands and concert bands since I was 10. Right now I'm working towards my degree in music. I understand the theory that goes behind making music, however in death metal a lot of that gets thrown out the window. In death metal we tend to use chromaticism and diminished scales to get that evil, brutal sound that our music calls for. Once bands start relying heavily on proper music theory in death metal, they tend to sound overly melodic and lose their brutal edge. I've played with many people who have no formal music training yet can come up with the nastiest, most brutal sounding riffs. Don't get me wrong, theory does play a role in metal to a certain degree but many times the most brutal riffs come from just fucking around.

Any tips for developing and maintaining technique and musical creativity? 

Take a formal guitar class. You can learn so much and get so much better from someone showing you the proper way to do the most basic of things on guitar/bass. It's hard to get better when your basic technique sucks balls. Practice to a metronome. Don't play anything fast that you can't play slow. As far as creativity……….we all have our creative blocks. When that happens I set my instrument down for a day and let my mind clear. That, or take a rip.

Tips on how to give a bass riff that extra cool sound or groove?

Play something that the guitar isn't, haha.

How do you prepare for a gig?

Lots of right and left hand warm-ups. Playing without warming up at least 30 minutes is hell and a recipe for disaster. After warming up I usually proceed to having 1 or 2 shots of tequila to loosen the nerves, any more than that and it becomes a slop fest.

How about touring, any tips on how to keep delivering through weeks on the road? 

Don't get drunk every night, don't eat fast food everyday.


Is the right musical gear important for you? What kind of gear do you use?

Yea, especially for Brain Drill. Jeff Hughell cursed me by using a 7 string bass before me, haha, so I do require an extend bass. That's the most important thing. I also use Mesa/Boogie cabs, SansAmp preamps, and Peavey poweramps.

How would your dream rig look like?

I'm pretty happy with my Soundgear basses, so I'd stick with that but maybe a more high end model. Maybe some newer mesa cabs and a rack mount Sansamp.

How many strings on the bass, and why?

I use an Ibanez SR506 6 string for Brain Drill. The reasoning is simple. Jeff, the former bass player, used a 7 string bass. Everything from the first album translates well onto a 6 string, that extra string on a 7 string is redundant. The tapping patterns I've come up with for Brain Drill really do require the 6 string.

Pick or fingers? Why?

I play with a special kind of pick made by Herco. It's a hybrid of a flat pick and a thumb pick. It's basically a flat pick with the thumb loop of a thumb pick. It allows me to quickly go from picking to tapping without having to fumble my pick. On some of the moshier parts in our songs I play with my fingers to get a fatter sound. I like to have different techniques at my disposal.

Any tips for aspiring bass players?

Learn the basics before you try to learn any songs. Once you pick up bad habits on your instrument they're a bitch to fix.


Mention three bass players within metal that has a style you like, and what you like about them.

Jeroen Paul Thesseling from Obscura/Pestilence. I love the sound of his fretless bass. He plays with incredibly good taste. I got to stand in front of him at an Obscura show here in San Francisco and was totally blown away. I kinda zoned out the rest of the band, which is unfortunate.

Murray Fitzpatrick – Severed Savior. His picking style is fast as hell. He also does some interesting arpeggio tapping stuff.

Erlend Caspersen – Spawn of Possession. This guy is the man. His technique is leaps and bound above most everyone.

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.

Les Claypool – I like how he makes the bass the lead instrument and has the guitar be the background rhythm

Victor Wooten – I could never play like this guy but it sure is fun to watch someone shred so hard on the bass. It's actually kind of uninspiring. You watch this guy play and then afterwards you're like, "Fuck I give up" haha.

Jeff Hughell – ex-Brain Drill. Gotta give props to the original. He definitely inspired some of the crazier multiple finger tapping stuff I try to do in Brain Drill.

Which bass player would you like to see in this series?

Have you guys already had Jeroen Paul Thesseling? That would be cool.