Leading by example with instrumental virtuosity and a visionary approach that has become an influential style of expression within the modern landscape of bass playing, Master Bassist, Fieldy, is an innovator of the instrument with a dynamic style of playing that is felt with revolutionary force. Fieldy has created a groundbreaking body of work within the upcoming release of his instrumental solo album, ‘Bassically’, which serves as the blueprint for a new generation of greats to be born. I caught up with the man to discuss bringing ‘Bassically’ to life, using a 15-string bass, giving listeners a musical journey, tattoos, and more.
Congrats on the upcoming release of your new solo album, ‘Bassically’. What inspired you to take this route to bring an instrumental solo album to life?
Yeah, this is completely different. Back in the day, I started as a guitar player and dabbled in it a little and didn’t get too far with that; obviously! Funny story is that Head, who is a really good guitar player, was looking for a bass player and I threw out the idea that I would do it and that is how I started playing bass. I kinda went back to my roots since I started as a guitar player and put out a couple solo albums with Stillwell (I am actually working on another one), but bass is my main instrument and with ‘Bassically’, I wanted to take the bass a little further.
Awesome. Do you feel as though you have found a new sense of clarity within your musicianship through this release?
Yeah! It was very challenging to pick up an instrument that I can play so easily when I am with Korn, yet through creating a solo bass album that has so many different styles of music throughout, it made me realize how similar music is, yet how different it is. It’s weird; it’s the same notes and the same music, but it opened my eyes to the fact that music is simple yet very complicated. I mean, there is Blues, Funk, Latin, Reggae, you name it, within this album.
Oh, it’s extremely complicated. I mean, let’s get real, you’ve got the skill and expertise, yet highlighting and dialing into your specific craft and creating a full album with one instrument comes off as a daunting task. You’ve got the guys to back you up with Korn, and with ‘Bassically’, it’s all on you.
Oh yeah, it was totally fun yet so challenging that when I was finished creating this album, I thought to myself, “I don’t think I am ever going to do this again.” But after some time passed, I’m already thinking about doing another one!
Incredible. Do you plan on touring solo to play the material?
I think that if something came up, and it worked out timing wise, it would be fun, but I don’t know. I am pretty busy with Korn, yet anything can happen!
You have your signature K5 basses with Ibanez, yet tell us about the variety of bass guitars that you have used over the years throughout this project.
Yeah, I played some different bass guitars throughout. The majority of what I played was the K5 bass, but I did play a Fender P Bass on one track which is a pretty cool track! I had Jonathan Davis beat boxing with no drums; it’s just me playing the bass and Jonathan beat boxing. That is a fun song because it is such a funky bass. I also had a special 15-string bass made for me in which every string is three-strings, so it’s really a five-string but there are 15 strings on it with a massive neck and massive headstock. I played the 15-string on a track called “15-String Exodus” on the album and you can really hear too; it sounds so different.
Wow! That is something else. As your son, Israel, makes his rounds with you on tour and is rapidly gaining exposure at a young age, has he peaked interest or began playing an instrument of his own?
Yeah, he is dabbling around on guitar and he has messed around here and there over the last couple of years! He is only ten years old so he is interested in a lot of stuff, you know, he is skateboarding, playing football, video games, playing guitar. He is at that age where honestly, I just want him to be a kid and to have fun right now because when you get a little older, even as a teenager, you end up diving into one thing and it sucks up all of your time. I just want him to have a good time right now!
Totally. Maintaining that state of mind tied to endless curiosity as a child is so important. How do you rejuvenate your creativity? Any other skills or activities that you engage in outside of music that contribute to your musicality?
You know, I always am open to a different approach. For example, creating this bass album and having all bass guitars on it from lead bass to rhythm bass and layering it all up on one song kept me open-minded. It’s the same thing with Korn, you know, we’ll get in the studio and if we’re willing to try new things and new ways, we’re way better off. You have to try so many things, I mean, weird things. Even if you are humming something with your mouth and putting that onto the fretboard or playing something on a keyboard and learning in out the bass. You know, it’s all of these different things that you’ve got to try because it comes out differently if you play it differently. For me, this is what brings out the creativity; always remaining open and trying things in a new way.
Totally. I once saw an artist bring a frying pan with an egg sizzling that they must have had pulled right off of a stove backstage onto the stage to utilize the sound of the sizzling as a piece of their live show, and it sounded so fluid and out of the ordinary. It was beautiful. On another note, let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the tattoo artists that you have worked with over the years to bring the pieces to life.
I travel so much that I’ve worked with so many different artists all around the world! I don’t really have a specific artist that I go to because it depends on the style that I want. I like so many styles; everything from realism pieces, cartoon pieces, ghetto/street tattoos, everything. I have it all.
My favorite piece is probably one that I got tattooed when I was a little older, I think that I got it tattooed around 2006. A friend of mine, Franco Vescovi, who is one of the top tattoo artists in the world wanted to do this piece on me that was Jesus and Mary, but I guess Michelangelo sculpted or carved the piece for The Pope? I don’t remember the full story, but he gave it to him and he cried and it was something that I really wanted to get tattooed. I remember showing my wife, Deena, when the tattoo was complete and she was so emotional when she saw it because it is such a beautiful piece. I got it tattooed when I accepted Jesus in my life and it means a lot to me. I am a better man because of it.
Isn’t that the time in which you wrote your book, ‘Got The Life’? It seems as though you went through a significant internal shift that has translated into your artistry.
Yeah, that was about the time. It was a big change in my life and I’m still changing today. I am pretty rough around the edges. I am not your uppity Christian guy; I’m the real deal. I can have a good day, I can have a bad day; I’m just like everyone else. I’m human. I can let everyone know now; don’t put me up there on a pedestal. I did put a book out about how great it was when I did make my change to accept Christ and that is how I felt at that moment. That was a moment of new, and ten years later, I realize that I am the same old me and I am always a work in progress.
Totally. As you are a seasoned vet who has extensively toured the world and played with a variety of fellow artists, do you have any words of wisdom to share with kids who are just picking up their first bass in hopes to follow down a path similar to yours?
I would tell anyone that wants to pick up the bass that they are picking up an instrument that they either are instantly going to love or it’s going to be similar to my experience where I did it because I wanted to be in a band. At first, I didn’t really like the bass. It took me many years to actually really like the bass, so I had to come across some different styles and ask myself how I was going to make the bass fun. You can make the bass fun. It’s almost like an instrument that you can bang on and slap on; you can get real aggressive with it. It’s something that I encourage others to do. Don’t be afraid of the bass, pick it up and get aggressive.
Photo Credit: Sebastien Paquet
Last but certainly not least, is there anything else that you’d like to bring to our attention about ‘Bassically’ and any closing messages for your fans?
‘Bassically’ is going to take you on a musical journey. It’s a really great album! I noticed that when you throw headphones on and listen to it, you can just escape into this musical journey that takes you out of this world. It’s nice to just step out of the world for the length of the 17 tracks and get right back to the world right when you’re done listening. I am hoping that this album can really give people an outlet and give people a break from life for a minute.