JOEY VERA: FATES WARNING's 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray' Is 'One Of My Proudest Recordings'

Heavycore founder Pete Altieri recently conducted an interview with bassist Joey Vera (FATES WARNING, ARMORED SAINT, ANTHRAX). A few excerpts from the question-and-answer session follow:

Heavycore: What bass players got you interested in playing bass and why?

Joey: First it was Geezer Butler, John Paul Jones, John Entwistle. Then in 1979 came Jaco Pastorius. I was turned on to his first solo record by a friend and I never returned it! Jaco showed me (and many others) that you could groove with the drummer but also be melodic with the vocalist. Not to mention the use of 16th note grace notes. Jaco changed the way I looked at the bass guitar. I owe it all to him. I use things he influenced me with all of the time.

Heavycore: I know you knew Cliff Burton [METALLICA] well and have read about some of things you've said about him. He seemed like such an interesting person. What did he use to get that infamous bass tone?

Joey: He used those big 2x15 Mesa Boogie cabs! His sound was part his basses, his fingers and his setup. I think he used to have all Mesa stuff. In fact he was the reason why I went over to Mesa for a while. But I could not get enough of that SVT "distortion" that they are famous for. Cliff used some kind of box to get that out of his rig. Mostly, though, it was Cliff's hands that made his sound like him.

Heavycore: I've been a FATES WARNING fan since they started. One of my favorites is "A Pleasant Shade of Gray". I happened to see the Champaign, IL date of that tour. What was that like being a part of such an epic project like that — live and in the studio?

Joey: It was pretty amazing. That was my first record with them and the way they made it was unusual for me at the time. They wrote and recorded demos bi-coastally as the members live on the East and West Coasts. So, I'd get a demo with bass parts and without, along with a sort of road map with the parts, some written in notation some not. Then Mark Zonder and I would get together and we'd come up with our own interpretation of the parts but not always deviating from the demos much. We'd record our parts with a slave demo mix and send it back to Jim Matheos for a listen. He'd make comments and we'd keep doing this until we were all happy. For the most part Jim told me to go for it and write my own parts but some of the parts he had written for the song would end up winning because it's what the song or part wanted. It was obvious what was right and what wasn't. By the time we were ready, we all got together and had live rehearsals for about a week and right after that we went in to record. By the time I got to my parts I was pretty well rehearsed which made the recording go pretty quick for me, about four (five-hour) days. I always leave some parts open for improvisation though and I don't really know what I'm playing until the record light is on. I've done this with every record I've ever made. Makes it more exciting for me.

Playing "A Pleasant Shade of Gray" live was one of the best live experiences for me in my career. When we had those nights when everything was just right, it was truly magical. "A Pleasant Shade of Gray" is one of my proudest recordings.

Read the entire interview at this location.

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