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Feature Interview: Marty O'Brien

Discussion in 'Features' started by paul, Jul 8, 2005.


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  1. paul

    paul Staff Member Founder Administrator

    Jul 20, 2000
    Texas
    <table width="200" border="0" align="left" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="5"> <tr> <th scope="col"><img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/obrien/photo1.jpg" width="250" height="324" align="left"></th> </tr> <tr> <td><div align="center"><font size="1">Photo by Annamaria DiSanto</font></div></td> </tr> </table> <p align="center"><strong>FEATURE INTERVIEW:</strong></p> <p align="center"><font size="+3"><strong>Marty O'Brien</strong></font></p> <p align="center"><strong><font size="+1">Interview for TalkBass.com by TB Member &quot;SMASH&quot; </font></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bassist <strong>Marty O'Brien</strong> has played for Kilgore, Methods of Mayhem, Static-X, Disturbed, and Tommy Lee's live band, and has recorded with such artists as Brian McKnight, Kelly Clarkson, MYA, and Nate Dogg. I've invited Marty to host an "Ask a Pro" forum on the TalkBass Forums, to share his experience and offer advice to those who seek a similar career path, or just want to be a better bassist. He has graciously agreed, and I look forward to having Marty on board. TB member and moderator &quot;SMASH&quot; has put together this feature interview &amp; introduction. </p>
     
  2. paul

    paul Staff Member Founder Administrator

    Jul 20, 2000
    Texas
    Interview by TalkBass Member "SMASH"
    <p><strong>Please introduce yourself. What are your current projects and what are the highlights that led you to this point in your career? </strong> </p> <p>I'm Marty O'Brien. I live in Los Angeles, and am always balancing a handful of gigs. My main gig for the last 5 years has been with Tommy Lee (both his solo band, and his Methods of Mayhem band). The full list of artists I have either toured with or recorded for are: Tommy Lee, Disturbed, Kelly Clarkson, Static-X, Methods of Mayhem, MYA, Impellitteri, Prong, Brian McKnight, Nate Dogg, Ben Moody, etc..</p> <p>Tommy Lee is doing his Motley Crue tour, so I'm in LA concentrating on my own band here called in LA called 3-Faced (http://www.3-Faced.com) or (http://www.myspace.com/3faced). The band is very new and we are shopping for a record deal right now. I absolutely love doing session work as well and try to record with anyone and everyone I can. I've been getting more and more involved with that lately, which I'm really happy about. I'm on around 4 or 5 albums this year, some of which have already gone gold and platinum, and I couldn't be happier. For more info, see my bio at http://www.marty-obrien.com.</p> <p><strong>What is the extent of your formal music training (any teachers of note?), and how much does this come into play in your work ... is it necessary to have a formal background to land gigs?</strong><br> I studied theory in high school, but unfortunately, I never really applied it to the bass. I only had a few bass lessons as a kid, and just decided to go at it on my own.. I am self taught. I don't recommend that path though. It is not necessary to have a formal background in music to be in a rock band, I still wish I had studied more and applied more theory to my playing.<br> </p> <p><strong>How did you break into the business, and how to you get most gigs now - word of mouth, who you know, a manager ... ?</strong></p> <table width="200" border="0" align="right" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="5"> <tr> <th scope="col"><strong><img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/obrien/photo2.jpg" width="250" height="343" align="right"></strong></th> </tr> <tr> <td><div align="center"><font size="1">Photo by Robert Hollingsworth</font></div></td> </tr> </table> <p>Every pro gig I've done has been mainly from my networking and word of mouth through friends. I've been playing professionally since 1998. I was living in Rhode Island at the time and there was a local band called Kilgore who was chosen to play on the Ozzfest tour in 1998. This was a huge deal in R.I. that a local band had a record deal and were about to do the Ozzfest. Just 3 weeks before they started the tour, they asked me to audition for the band, based on seeing me play in another local band.</p> <p>During that tour I made a lot of great friends. Nothing is better for your career than making new friends with other band members, crew guys, and industry people in general. By the end of 1998, Kilgore's singer had quit, so at the request of our management and record label we moved to Los Angeles to find a new singer. Three weeks after arriving in LA, I was offered a chance to audition for Tommy Lee's new band, &quot;Methods of Mayhem&quot;. I landed that gig, and found myself on another world tour, including another Ozzfest tour. I could go on for hours about how each gig led to the next, but I won't put everyone to sleep here. The long boring story can be found on my website. haha</p> <p><strong>Union or non-union, or both? What's the reality of it from your point of view?</strong></p> <p>I am non-union. There have been very few times when I was involved with a project that was union related, so I don't really have much experience with that end of the business.</p> <p><strong>What cities currently have a good scene in which a pro bassist can earn a living?</strong></p> <p>All of the towns I have passed through has merely been for a day or two on tour. I'm just assuming that as far as recording work goes, there is mainly just LA, Nashville, and NYC. I'm an LA guy, and thats pretty much where all my work comes from.</p> <p><strong>How do you find out about and avoid working for disreputable persons? Any 'lowlights' in that regard?</strong></p> <p>It's a well known fact that there are so many people in this business that can't be trusted, but you just hope you're dealing with someone who is honest. The best advice I have is once you reach a certain level, have someone represent you that you trust, and watches your back.</p> <p><strong>What are some pros and cons you discovered about 1.) studio work, 2.) gigging, and 3.) touring as a hired gun?</strong></p> <p>As far as studio work and gigging, I have nothing but great things to say. Those are two of my favorite things. Nothing makes me happier than travelling and playing my bass, so touring is just a lot of fun for me. Studio work is also something that I love and I try to record with anyone who will have me.</p> <p>I certainly can't complain about being a hired-gun on a tour, but it's just not really the same as being an official member of a band. There are definitely pros and cons to that. I can remember many times on a tour when the band members were being shuffled away by the tour manager to do interviews with local magazines or radio stations all day. Being the hired gun, I was free to just spend the day sightseeing around the town, and didn't have to be back to the venue until soundcheck. There is a lot less responsibility when you're the hired gun. You just make sure you're there for soundcheck, and the gig, and the rest of the day is yours.</p> <p><strong>Your work is mostly in what many would view as opposite genres such as &quot;nu-metal&quot; and &quot;pop/hop&quot;. Do you approach the styles differently?</strong></p> <p>I think it's important to be open to all styles of music. I grew up listening to a lot of different bands, and I'm really a fan of a lot of different genres of music. My approach isn't very different when I jump from one genre to the other. Obviously you'll adapt to the style of music that you're playing, but it all feels the same to me.</p> <table width="200" border="0" align="left" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="5"> <tr> <th scope="col"><strong><img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/obrien/photo3.jpg" width="250" height="322" align="left"></strong></th> </tr> <tr> <td><div align="center"><font size="1">Photo by Frank Cavanaugh</font></div></td> </tr> </table> <p><strong>In his book &quot;Beyond The Bass Clef&quot;, Tony Levin tells an amusing anecdote of missing a chance to join Mahavishnu Orchestra due to being out of the house when the call came and Tony's parents mistakenly relayed the message from John McLaughlin as being from &quot;Murray Vishnu and his orchestra&quot;. Any notable gigs you missed due to poor communication, bad luck, by being on tour, etc,?</strong></p> <p> I think I've been very fortunate as far as timing goes. Every big gig I was offered, I was lucky enough to have been at home and not on tour. I sure hope that Murray Vishnu calls me though! haha.</p> <p><strong>What gear are you using live or in studio, and why the differences (if any)?</strong></p> <p>When doing large tours, I use Eden WT-800 amps, powering four Eden 4X10 cabs. For my local LA gigs, I usually use one Eden amp to power my reliable old beat-up Ampeg SVT 8X10 cab. The cab has no case, and it shows! It's been dragged around all of North America, and has the scars to prove it! It still sounds great though. I use Schecter basses while on the road. Schcecter makes a great variety of basses in different body styles.</p> <p>For session / recording work I take a bunch of different basses with me to accomodate the artist with whatever sound they may want. A Spector 5-string, 5-string MusicMan Stingray (fretless), a few of my Schecters, and of course my vintage 61' Fender Pbass.</p> <p>I love collecting basses. I've been eyeing some of the amazing basses that everyone is showing off here on the TalkBass forum.. I'll have to start posting some of my pics on here too!</p> <p><strong>What are the most important gear considerations for a pro, and do you go with tried and true old-school gear or check out all the latest basses, amps, and gizmos?</strong></p> <p>For a pro chosing gear, I really think that there are two important things to think about. You obviously need to find the gear that you like, but whats also important to me is finding a company that will be supportive. When something breaks down, or you need a piece of gear in a certain city, they are right there to help you out. Having a good working relationship with the companies that make the gear you endorse is a very helpful thing. As far as gizmos, I never use alot of effects or pedals. I'm a &quot;plug-in and go&quot; kind of guy.</p> <p><strong>Any good tips on the business end that come to mind offhand (insurance, negotiating, political tact, etc.)?</strong></p> <p>The best advice I can give to everyone is to always have someone else do your negotiating for you it always goes smoother that way. Insurance is always a must-have. The sad thing though is that insurance just can't replace an instrument you love.</p> <p><strong>What might amateur players be most surprised to learn about the life/business of a pro?</strong></p> <p>I think the biggest misconception is the money. Just because you're playing onstage in front of 50,000 people, doesn't mean you're driving a Ferarri.</p> <table width="200" border="0" align="right" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="5"> <tr> <td><strong><img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/obrien/photo4.jpg" width="250" height="356" align="right"></strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><div align="center"><font size="1">Photo by Samantha Rapp</font></div></td> </tr> </table> <p>One thing that suprised me most about doing session work on some of these big-budget albums, is the lack of preparation you're given. Years ago, I would have never thought that I would lay bass tracks on a pop album with such little preparation. Some of the biggest sessions I've done were after only hearing the song once in the control room. Very weird, but they somehow make it work. I'll just tell them to loop a verse a couple times, and I'll just give it a shot.</p> <p><strong>Any advice for those that are starting out in bands, maybe starting to play their first gigs? ie : what should they be most concerned about - gear, lessons, ... ?</strong></p> <p>For beginners, my advice is Practice, Practice, Practice! If you want to stay on top of the game and be the guy that always gets the gig, don't play Xbox all day. Play your bass. As a kid, when the rest of my friends were off playing video games for hours, I was playing my bass. Being an expert at Xbox isn't going to get you very far in life. Never stop learning. No matter what level you think you're at, there is always someone else out there one step ahead of you. </p> <p>My advice for those just starting to gig is just to lock in with that drummer, and it will all fall into place. Creating that solid backbone of drums and bass should be your main priority. Don't be afraid to ask that monitor guy to turn your bass up in the wedge in front of you !<br> <br> That's all for now.. over and out.<br> </p>
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    Related Links:

    Marty O'Brien Website

    Marty O'Brien's Ask a Pro Forum on TalkBass.com
     



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