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    Articles Home » Music Talk » Interview With Testament And ex-Death Bassist Steve Di Giorgio By Thomas Amoriello Jr.
    Interview With Testament And ex-Death Bassist Steve Di Giorgio By Thomas Amoriello Jr.

    Lower And Fretless

    Interview With Testament And ex-Death Bassist Steve Di Giorgio

    By Thomas Amoriello Jr.

    Boston Rock Radio

     

    https://scontent-lga3-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/s960x960/12371248_791444814292978_6458164135499204616_o.jpg?_nc_cat=107&_nc_sid=05277f&_nc_ohc=Vv20pVuEr3wAX-8LfRF&_nc_ht=scontent-lga3-2.xx&tp=7&oh=1089956f3c0e1252213be9cdde003ecc&oe=5F97E591

     

    Here at Boston Rock Radio we have featured many vocalists and guitarists in interviews but here is one for the rhythm section.   Steve Di Giorgio has broadened the horizons of various metal sub genres with a unique style that employs fretless as well as basses with additional strings on the low side of the spectrum.  He was also doing this three decades ago in a world that was not as open to breaking from heavy metal tradition.  As a trailblazer who incorporated elements of jazz fusion into a death metal genre Steve was and is one of a kind.  Though he has appeared on countless projects to date, his current "main gig" is with bay area legends Testament but the Florida based and Chuck Schuldiner led band Death is where he has reached listeners on a larger scale since the late 1980's .  Boston Rock Radio would like to thank Mr. Di Giorgio for this exclusive Boston Rock Radio interview.

     

     

    Please tell Boston Rock Radio about your "Bass Strikes Back" series that you post on your YouTube page?

    We had just played the 4th show of the Bay Strikes Back tour (2020 concert tour featuring Bay Area thrash metal bands) in Helsinki and were driving during the wee hours towards Tampere. I was laying in my bunk in the tour bus, unable to sleep, thinking about this completely insane sea journey we had just survived during a hurricane level storm coming into Finland from Sweden. During our show backstage in Helsinki someone had mentioned that if the ship had sunk that the loss of three major California Bay Area bands would have been a huge deal… Well, that got me thinking. Us three bass players are a pretty big deal, not only in the bay area, but in the low end of thrash metal worldwide. I had that lightbulb moment of an idea burst into my overactive brain. I texted my bass tech, Carlos – bunk to bunk haha, and pitched him the idea to make a video series with all my ideas to highlight and shine light on the inner-world of a bassist of a major trash metal tour. Of course, letting him know that he would be my cameraman, interviewer, and editor in post production! And, of course he agreed, which was crucial in the show happening for the same reason as I, the bassist, only have to play the notes on stage…but it is this guy who makes it possible. Same for the video series, just my ideas, but his tech savvy that made it all possible. So we set out to interview the three bassists of the tour, including myself, on the four topics I had thought of: each one of our basses we brought for the tour; the amp and any effects we use on stage; our unique techniques of playing the basslines in these thrash metal bands; and some glimpse into the personal daily routine of what each of us do on tour, whether it is a show day or an off day. I also interviewed and picked the brain of each of the three sound engineers to bring out tips for a bassist to utilize for playing live. And finally interviews with each of the bass techs for the real inside and behind the scenes look at how our low end world is kept going for us to kick ass each concert and all tour long. Cameo interviews with all the other band members and road crew provides a lot of candid surprises and levity for a bit of comedy to mix in with the nerdy aspect of the show.We did the editing together, from the stage-right tech station, to the tour bus rolling along in the nights to hotel rooms and midnight room service. Everything was done mid-tech I’ll say, being a bit just above low-tech. But it was intentionally done with just aniPhone, iPad, and Macbook in this tuck & roll situation to have that: done on the road, about being on the road look & feel.

     

    You have been a guest bassist on many diverse project sessions.  What advice can you give aspiring bassists in the session world related to professionalism, recording gear, and working with players from different genres?  

    Flexibility. In all three aspects. Being a session bassist in someone’s music means they chose to hear you in their vision, whether it’s from your personality as a player or just because they want you to help complete their vision. Always play in the middle of those styles with the flexibility to lean easily more one way or the other. Recording gear should be just as versatile; use whatever means you possess to get the optimum sound wave to work with, and always provide a clean, unprocessed direct signal. Some musicians are used to working with a broad range of players and some are new to it. Having the ability to change your colors to the immediate local surroundings like a chameleon is how I found the best way to get that chemistry flowing towards a successful session job.

     

    Can we expect any future Spirits of Fire or is that on the backburner?  That was a departure from your work with thrash and death metal acts?

    Chris Caffery has been a riff writing factory most of this year. He sends the rough song ideas to Mark Zonder and myself to bounce ideas, record our parts, and discuss vocal ideas. This whole pandemic thing has obviously thrown everyone’s plans a curveball. But our plan is to move ahead and work towards completing a second album. Frontiers is fully behind the project…I mean it was their idea and hand-picked players in the first place. So yeah, backburner-ish, but we’re not that far away from going into recording production.

     

    Spirits Of Fire - Light Speed Marching (Official Music Video)

     

    You have been in multiple groups with drummer extraordinaire Gene Hoglan.  What can you describe as being different about him today than in the early 1990's as a drummer?  Did you change your approach to that?

    I thought about this and the only thing I can really see as different about how he is or his drumming is a natural evolution and maturity. To me there is an even stronger sense of familiarity, really a lot of the same that I knew about him back then. He’s always been the most aware drummer I’ve ever played with, and the lighter side of that is that it’s easy for me to get him in trouble by starting a riff or improvisation that he will always take the bait and follow me down the dark path! We have been known to bend some of the songs on stage to the point of almost breaking the necks of the guitarists looking back to see what the hell is going on. We’ll just find a different spot to experiment no one is suspecting the next night. We’ve also been known to have a reputation of being incredibly solid and tight as mortar.

     

    TESTAMENT - Children Of The Next Level (Official Music Video)

     

    How long in your playing was the shift to start using 5 and 6 string basses as well as fretless?  Who were a few of your influences in those specific areas?

    I played a fretless very young. I think I made my first one in the late 80s. Actually if you count orchestra class in high school, I think it was 10th or 11th grade that I was on the upright or stand up bass and then made a switch to fretted with the purchase of my first electric bass. Way back in the early part of my career, late 80s/early 90s 5-strings didn’t sound that great. No one knew how  to make the big string sound good. The first 5er I got was a Carvin in 96, you couldn’t go wrong…their catalog was custom option order only and every instrument came with a 30 day money back guarantee. I still have that bass! 6-string came later on down the line, obviously they make all multi-string bass guitars sound great and even across all the strings now. I even have a unique 7-string Thor Freyja. I like to move around and play everything from 7 to 6 to 5 to 4 and have even been seen around with a 3-string!


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    You are an integral part of Felipe Belalcazar's Death By Metal documentary which has been making the rounds on the major streaming networks.  What surprised you about the final edit of the film as well as the interviews of the other musicians that were a part of DEATH?

    I think it came out really cool, it was actually a huge honor to tell my story of one of the most iconic death metal bands. It had nice accounts from the guys who were there along for the ride, as well as some others that were just hitchhiking. Just like everyone, I would have liked to see what guys like Scott Burns, as well as a few missing musicians would have added to the story. I know all the guys, the musicians, so it was cool to have a little laugh to remember our buddy who has turned out to be quite the visionary. I guess I’m a bit in a unique position to those who just came in for their “chapter” and exited soon after. Where I was around just after the Mutilation demo was recorded with Chuck & Chris in our teenage years and popped in & out and jammed with Chuck in different situations for 6 out of his 8 albums and finally part of his final lineup that tried unsuccessfully to complete his 9th album after his death.

     

    Thankfully you have gained your strength back from earlier in the year, how have you stayed creative during the pandemic?

    Yes, very slowly, gradually, maybe still not even all the way back, hard to tell being out of the routine. But yes, I do appreciate that you take that into account, thank you. It’s been a difficult journey with no road map drawn out of what happens and what to expect. Seriously though, everyone is in a massive state of confusion and various forms of denial and fear. So having gained my health & strength back, I am pretty content to be at home for a length that I have never experienced. I’ve watched a season change into another, usually away on tour I only get to come home to a wildly changed environment. So as I was climbing out of the hole, it was nice to get some yard projects completed. Music has been a constant in this time, I think also from a result of everyone being home in the same constraints. I got an offer right at the end of my illness from a cool band from Denmark that I was extremely grateful for, to have a full album of technical organic metal to force my focus onto. And then came the avalanche! From video quarantine collaborations, to bass playthroughs, to product promos to more & more session work. Yeah, easily the busiest I’ve ever been in my studio. Pretty sure most musicians can say the same thing. But yeah, after battling the virus and knowing there would be no employment in the live music touring sector for possibly a year’s time…sure, I’m very thankful for a long list of projects to be contributing to and remaining creative, relevant, and distracted from clearly the most bizarre year anyone has ever lived through!  

     

    http://www.stevedigiorgio.com/

    https://www.facebook.com/stevedigiorgioofficial/

    https://www.facebook.com/Deathtoallofficial/

    https://www.facebook.com/testamentlegions/

     

    Boston Rock Radio Music Journalist Thomas Amoriello Jr. is a heavy metal guitarist, children's picture book author, educator and recording artist who resides in Lambertville, New Jersey, USA. You can learn more about Tom at https://thomasamoriello.com

     

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