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Rev Jones

Interview with Rev Jones from Rev Jones
by Mike Bourgeois at 17 March 2019, 8:57 AM

As a bass player at heart (an accident in the early 90's prevents me from playing now, but I try to keep up with the bottom) a lot 0f these questions might be a bit more technical in nature, but I feel it is my duty to show the possibilities of the bass and just how much friggin' fun it can be. That's the sensation I got when I heard REV JONES' first solo release, "Backwash."

Metal Temple Writer Mike Bourgeois

"Bakwash" sounds like 3 guys having a shit ton of fun. Was the writing/recording process as enjoyable as it seems?

REV: It's not at all how you picture it. We actually all recorded at different times, in different states, and in different orders. I recorded all my bass parts & vocals first, as well as scratch guitars and scratch drums. Then it went to Dofka for guitars. And last it went to Jeff to play drums. Actually Jeff did 2 drum sessions a couple of months apart, and I was there during his 2nd session coaching a little bit. I know that it was weird to him being last to record instead of first to record. But I think it was best for the songs. A lot of times people go into the studio to record and something gets played on drums slightly different and you don't notice until later that the original groove is not there, then it is too late to rerecord it so you try and fix it other ways. Doing it the way we did it, the songs kept the same groove & vibe as when I wrote them. Plus having everything done showed Jeff exactly where empty spots were that he could oddball fills. I think that everyone did have fun recording this album, and the outcome was very enjoyable.

As a power trio, your music is larger than the sum of your parts, never really leaving any "holes" in your songs, even during solos, which is difficult even for four piece bands. Are you conscious of this during the recording or is your music just filled out naturally due to your bands ability to read the moment?

REV: Probably Subconscious, I don't really follow any structured recipe formula of song writing or bass playing, it's all second nature. I know when a song needs space, and when it needs to be full, so I'm sure that subconsciously I'm paying attention, if that makes sense. Now I will add this, in my opinion the Power Trio is the best configuration. It's really the only configuration where each guy can do a fill or solo over top of each part without it sounding muddy. The second you add another guitar or keys or pretty much any instrument, that freedom is taken out of the equation and you have to play very simple.

I can hear many different influences in your playing, most I imagine are just my prejudices, but is there one musician, bassist or not who really was a major influence when you began?

REV: I think I'm pretty much influenced by all music, even if the music is terrible I'm influenced NOT to play anything that sounds like it. Even though my favorite bassist is Tony Levin, he's not my biggest influence. Actually there is no 1 single bassist that influenced me, and I think it would impossible to try and name all the bassist that did influence me or inspire me, so I'll just say "ALL OF THEM". I used to pick a bassist and study his style for 2 weeks. The way I would do this is by learning every song on every album he played on, and then I would play along with the albums everyday for the rest of the 2 week period, by the end I would be able to mimic his playing style. Now when I say mimic his playing style, I'm not talking about playing his bass lines note for note from memory, I'm talking about playing the same kind of bass line that he would play with the same feel and dynamics, to where most people would believe it was him. By going through this learning process you build up your chops, you strengthen your ear for music, but the most important thing you gain is knowledge, you start to understand bass lines, which ones work, why they work, how they work, and how they blend & shape & mold & transform the song, and then you start to understand how that bassist thinks musically. So to make a long story short, I describe my playing style as "Rev Jones on Bass", when asked who do I sound like? my answer would be - "Everyone I grew up listening to".

Not only is Jim Dofka an amazing guitar player, his mix of this album is fantastic. Was he easy to work with in the booth?

REV: Well we never worked on it together, I recorded all my parts (bass, vocals, keys, extra guitars) by myself in my home studio, and he recorded his parts and mixed it alone in his studio. To answer the question, yes Dofka is great to work with, and I agree with you about the mix.

The interaction between the band, adding fills at the right moments, anticipating what others are about to do with what seems like ease, usually takes bands awhile to develop what you have on your first album as The Rev Jones Band. Have you played together before or just grouped together for this project?

REV: I've recorded with Dofka a couple of times in the past, but we've never played together. There were 2 times we were supposed to perform together at NAMM and something happened each time. I have played in several projects with Jeff Martin, and I think we both know each others playing styles inside & out. But I think the interaction between all us comes from each guys ability to musically add something to the song. For example if I'm playing some cool bass run underneath the guitar solo, Dofka will almost always play something (counter point, harmony) that makes what I'm playing sound even more musical. And Jeff Martin has this great gift of oddly accenting his kik drum & or snare at certain times that either make the guitar & bass parts jump out at you or it gives the illusion that the riff has changed. All I know is we sound like we were meant to play together, like 3 of a perfect pair!

Is Mr. Paulie Ester related to Ms. Eva Negown?

REV: Not sure. He could be, all I know is he is Gods Gift To Women!

Are there any plans to tour The Rev Jones Band in the works?

REV: Well I have a different lineup that play shows with me around Oklahoma and we've been doing at least 4 each month since the album was released. I have talked to some people about getting on some festivals and doing support shows, either with my Oklahoma lineup or the album lineup, but nothing is planned out yet. I go back on tour starting the end of march, and do 1 month 1 month off pretty much all year, so hopefully the stars will align and I can get some dates during the months I'm not on tour.

Geddy Lee started playing bass when Alex Lifesons bassist failed to show up to practice, Les Claypoole says it was the first crayon he picked from the box, and Lemmy said is was because Jimmy Hendrix said he was a shitty guitar player. I ask you, why the bass?

REV: Always loved the bass even before I decided to start playing. I was always really into music, and starting from a really really young age I started going to concerts. During the time when I was 12yrs - 15yrs, me and my friends went to every concert that came through town, it didn't matter who it was we went, even when some one like Dan Fogelberg played we still went. Well when I was in 9th grade this band at my school, they were called FX, they played all the cool stuff of that time Crue, Fastway, Alice Cooper, ect.. After they played I hung out with them on their purple school bus drinking beers and talking, and that night I decided I wanted to be in a band. Well I had a little head start advantage, because my dad and grandpa and uncle all played guitar, and all through my childhood they would try to teach me to play, I would learn a chord or 2, but I would quickly lose interested. But now I'm 15yrs old and I've decided to start playing, and bass is what I wanted to play, but I figured if I play guitar I kind of already knows some chords and I have people to help me. So I bought a guitar. About 2 months later I met these older guys at my school who had a band, and I went and jammed with them, it was pretty awesome, and then I joined the band. Well fortunately the bassplayer had a night job and couldn't rehearse or play these shows we had, so I took over playing bass and I've been doing it ever since. Whats cool is that I'm still real good friends with the guys that were in the band FX, in fact the singer Kerry Staton plays drums with me when I do local shows here in Oklahoma.

Was multitasking (sing while playing among other things) something that came naturally or did you have to work at it over time?

REV: Yes I think so, no different from the way I can play upside down over the top of the neck, or the way I would jump around onstage spinning my head in a circle, or even tapping notes with both hands, I started doing all of those things almost immediately. Now as for singing until this I had never really been the lead singer so the first few times I played & sang these songs it was a little weird, but that only lasted a few times before it became second nature to sing & play these songs. And I do all of them live.

Your list of people you've worked with over the years is intimidating to say the least. Was there ever someone you played with where you found yourself asking "How did I end up here?"

REV: Well I usually don't think about it because I've been doing it so long it's just normal to me, but theres been a few of those surreal kind of moments where I'm onstage and I look over and realize I'm playing with a couple of my music idols, and I feel blessed. A funny story comes to mind. I was at the NAMM one year, and on friday night I was at the Washburn/Eden party and I met Adrian Belew (king crimson) and we hung out for like 4 hours talking which is cool because I'm a huge fan. So the next day I'm at the convention hanging out with some musician friends just walking around, and I hear this voice saying "Rev, Rev, hey Rev, Rev, it's me Adrian, Rev, ext…" almost like a stalker, and every one around me was looking at me with huge smiles on faces asking "is that Adrian Belew yelling your name?", and I just kind of laughed and sarcastically said "yeah he won't leave me alone", but in my mind all I was thinking was Wow Adrian Belew knows my name.

Is there a musician you would like to collaborate with (living or dead)?

REV: All of them! But if I had to pick a couple Stevie Wonder or Frank Zappa.

I noticed you mainly play 4 string basses at the moment. Have you ever though of going 5 or 6 string, or do they not fit into your approach to the bass?

REV: I have a custom DEAN 6 string that was my main bass for a while, then I took a break from it because I was having issues with my wrist (carpal tunnel) and the neck is pretty wide so it put a lot of extra strain on my hand and wrist, then after a few months I realized that I play a little better and feel a little more at home on a 4 string. I had a couple of 5 string basses that were my main basses for like 3 years before I had the 6 string made. I still use the 6 string when I need it, but really prefer a 4 string bass. I also used to use a couple of tapping instruments, I had a Chapman Stick 10 string, I had a Warrguitar 8 string, and I still have a custom 1 of a kind Warrguitar 12 string that is 1/2 fretted 1/2 fretless. I used them on several songs, when I was playing in Black Symphony, and I really loved playing the 12 string Warrguitar, (what an incredible instrument it is), but I haven't used it in the last 10 years because it really doesn't fit in with the bands that I've been recording and touring with. I've actually been trying to sell it, I never use it and I would much rather someone else get to enjoy it instead of it living in a case.

When you write music, what is your preferred instrument to flesh out the song?

REV: I have a classical guitar with nylon strings that I use most of the time when I'm writing. I find it more convenient to use since I'm writing vocal, guitar, and bass parts. Its a lot easier than changing back and forth. Plus I don't plug it in an amp, I like to hear it acoustically so you can tell whats going on, even if it's a heavy song.

And finally, there is a kid right now standing before a wall of basses for the first time in a guitar shop somewhere. What would you say to him so he picks up a bass and goes home with it?

REV: Well I'd probably just grab a bass off the wall & plug it into an amp and start playing a bunch of cool bass lines for a few of minutes, then I'd say "hey man, you dig what your hearing? you wanna give it a try? well grab a bass & plug it in, and I'll show you a couple of cool bass lines to get you started". Thanks so Much for the great review and for this interview very good questions. I'm glad you dig what I do.


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