Posted on March 14th. 2019
Questionnaire by Jason Houston on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
Jason: Hello Rev and welcome to Metal To Infinity webzine from Belgium – Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us…it’s very much appreciated. I understand Rev that you’ve been playing the Bass since 1985. I was curious why did you choose the bass as your instrument of choice?
Rev: I Always loved the bass even before I decided to start playing. I was always really into music, and from a really really young age I started going to concerts. So I developed this great knowledge of bands & music. Well when I was in 9th grade this band alled FX played at my school, they played cool stuff like Priest, Crue, Fastway, Alice Cooper, ect..
After the show 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.
Jason: Do you remember what was the very first song you learned to play on the bass?
Rev: You know I have an amazing memory of events throughout my life and the wonderful ability to remember songs, but I have no idea what the first song I learned on bass was. I could tell you what the first songs were that I ever played with a band “Crazy Train”, “Living After Midnight”, “Paranoid” but I can’t remember the first song I learned. I think it’s because I started learning so many songs right away.
Jason: Did you take lessons or would you consider yourself to be more of a self-taught player?
Rev: Well I learned some stuff from my dad, my uncle, my grandpa, and I took a couple of lessons, but all in all I pretty much learned on my own. One advantage I had was that I was an athlete all my life, so I had developed the skill of leaning. That frame of mind carried over from sports to music, and it’s still here today. Back when I first started I played every free moment I had, and would set with albums and learn every song I could.
My ear had developed so quickly that I was learning guitar solos for people, I couldn’t even play that good yet but I could figure out any Randy Rhoads solos. Having that ability to learn any song by ear just sped up the process of becoming really advanced as a bass player. I still to this day try and learn every song I can. I’ve never stopped learning. Even when I give lessons to people, I still manage to learn something new.
Jason: What do you remember most about your very first Bass Guitar?
Rev: Well my very first bass was a Peavey, I’m not sure what model, it was Woodgrain. I only has it for a few months, it was stolen from me after a show. Here’s what happened. I played a show with a band called Metal Haven (I was 15), after the show we loaded all of our equipment into like 6 different cars and headed to my step grandpa’s boxing gym where we had been rehearsing all week, we got there and loaded everything in to the storage room, then we left and drank beers.
Then about 4 days later we went to the boxing gym to get the gear and I realized my bass wasn’t there. I was so upset & mad that I started accusing the people at the boxing gym, but eventually I realized that it never made it in to that storage room that night. I never figured out who stole it, hell I didn’t even know the people driving the cars with the gear, I was 15 years old and never thought this kind of thing would happen. But I definitely learned a valuable lesson from it. So for the next 6 months I borrowed an old SG style bass from a friend that didn’t play anymore, it was terrible bass real hard to play, the neck was warped, and it had intonation problems, but somehow I managed to play it so good you would never know it was a bad bass.
After that I got a used Fender Squire P-Bass, which I always think of as my first bass, I added a Kahler tremolo and converted it to a 5 string, I really loved that bass. I used it on every recording I did from 1987 – 2004, including my first demo I ever recorded, all the Black Symphony albums, all the Forte albums, and the MSG “be aware of scorpions” album. It was one of my main basses until 2005 when changed to a different company & style of bass. I ended up selling it to one of my students a couple of years later.
Jason: Who were the bands/Bass players who had the greatest influence on you?
Rev: 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. Now as for bass players that had the greatest influence on me, that’s a hard one. 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”.
Jason: Do you remember what was the very first album you purchased that you can point to and say that album really had a major impact on me, and really played a major role in me becoming the musician I am today?
Rev: I can’t pick one album, but I can narrow it down to 3 albums that probably impacted me the most. Queen “night at the opera”, Judas Priest “sad wings of destiny”, King Crimson “discipline”.
Jason: What do you remember most about your very, first professional gig?
Rev: Well the first gig in a club was at the Purple Palace, on a Thursday night it was a battle of the bands and the winner got to play Friday & Saturday the week after. We didn’t win but the band that did had us open for them, so did the next 3 bands. So counting the first gig, we played that club 5 weeks in a row.
But the first gig that was like a concert was a few months later, we played at the Diamond Ballroom in Oklahoma City, my band Legioned Marcher played first, then Ibex, then Powerlord. There was like 300 people there, it was great. It was actually the very first heavy metal show they ever did, which is cool because I can say that I played in the first heavy metal band that ever played the Diamond Ballroom.
Jason: On your debut album: Bakwash you play with Drummer: Jeff Martin who has previously played Drums for Badlands, Kevin Dubrow and was also the Lead Singer for Racer X. How did you hook up with Jeff and what was it like playing with him?
Rev: In 1998 I joined a band called Black Symphony, and Jeff was the drummer. I had the pleasure of playing with him for about a year before he left the band. Then he went on to play with UFO on the last tour that Michael Schenker did with them, and that was followed by Jeff joining Michael Schenker Group. In 2001 they started working on the “Be Aware Of Scorpions” album and I was hired to be the bassist, so I had the pleasure of recording the album with Jeff before he left the band.
So over the next 5 years I was busy playing in both Black Symphony and Michael Schenker Group. Then in 2005 Jeff called me to come play on his solo album Jeff Martin “The Fool”, which was great. Then I got him singing on a couple of recordings I did, a Jack Frost album, a STP tribute album, and a heavy version of “Little Drummer Boy” that we did with Jim Dofka & Steve “Mad Drummer” Moore. I also recruited him to play drums with Leslie West and Myself on a couple of shows.
Then he called me to join a project he was doing with these guys from Australia called “Blasted To Static”, we did an album and played a few shows, it was great. So then when I decided to record this solo album it was pretty easy to decide who to call to play drums, JEFF MARTIN!
Jason: Who is the Guitar Player on the album? How did you hook up with him?
Rev: Jim Dofka is the amazing guitarist featured on the album. I was turned on to Jim’s playing and his band Dofka by some friends on the east coast that were in a band called Mystic Force. I don’t remember exact details but I know we had talked on the phone and through letters and emails during the 90’s & early 200’s, and we had spoke a few times about playing together but it never panned out.
Then Jim contacted me to play on “Little Drummer Boy” with him & Steve “Mad Drummer” Moore, and also to play on a version of “Gates Of Babylon” that we released in 2012. So then I sent him a 3 song demo to play solos on that I was just gonna give away on my website, and he talked me out of that and convinced me to do a full album and release it. So I had him do the guitars and I also had him do the mix. Both of his duties were performed with complete excellents, I don’t know of anyone who could’ve done better.
Jason: I have to tell you Rev that after listening to your album I must describe it as Thinking man’s music. I say this because typically I listen to a song and can pretty much know what the song is about. That wasn’t so easy to do with your music. I mean I just liked all the songs on the album, they really are all very unique, each song really stands out on its own and I can honestly say I just loved these songs and after listening to song and wasn’t all that important to me if I knew what the songs were about or not. This was a case where I find myself just listening to some good music and nothing else really mattered. I mean what’s more important to you? Does it matter to you more if someone is able to know right away what your songs are about or would you just rather know that they enjoyed your music?
Rev: Well first off thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the songs. Yes all the songs do have a story line as well as a underlying humor in the lyrics, and I definitely didn’t mean to make the lyrics hard to follow. Now with that being said I would like to point out that when I listen to music I don’t care about the story line as much as I do the sound of the words together, and half the time each person gets a different meaning from the song. But I don’t do that to my songs, for some reason if there is no real story line or if my lyrics don’t make sense it bothers me.
Jason: Talk a little bit about your choice to title the album: Bakwash? Great song by the way, great choice to open the album with. Kind of had a Ramones/Motorhead vibe to me in that the song was over pretty fast. were you influenced by either of those bands?
Rev: In the USA when someone says “Backwash” they are referring to the last nasty tasting drink from a beer bottle or can, or a mixed drink you’ve had for a while. People usually throw it away instead of drinking it because they think it’s bad, but that is where most alcohol sets is at the bottom so really they are throwing away the best part. So when I started writing the song, the story that came to mind that I used is about a band that never got lucky enough to get signed, that is full of great players that can play and sing any song, that are out playing every night in a bar or a concert hall, sometimes making good mostly making no money, but they entertain everybody that sees them play no matter what.
So in my mind I related that to throwing the last drink of the beer away and getting a new one not realizing you threw away the best part. Here is this amazing band but they have been around too long, so instead of signing them the record company instead goes and signs a new band that isn’t as good. Once I started writing the lyrics I decided to change the spelling to “Bakwash”.
As for the Ramones & Motörhead, I respect what both bands did, I like a couple songs from each band, and I seen both of them live several times. But I wouldn’t say that I was influenced by either.
Jason: What was the songwriting process like for the Bakwash album? I mean did you write all the material yourself?
Rev: I wrote all the music and I wrote all the lyrics except for 3 songs, “Candy” “One Track Mind” “Bette Blue”.
The song “Candy” was originally written when I was in Black Symphony and the lyrics were written by the singer at the time Wade Williams, it was only recorded on a demo and never released, so when I was putting this album together I decided to include it. The music stayed the same but I rewrote a few of the lyrics.
On the song “One Track Mind”, I had written the music but had no lyrics, and I was doing some FORTE reunion shows at the time, so I asked the drummer Greg Scott if he had any cool lyrics he wasn’t using, and he gave me these. I went through and changed a few lyrics and recorded it.
The song “Bette Blue” I actually wrote in 1994, most of the lyrics were written by me, but 2 lines were written by my current drummer Kerry Staton.
As for the other 7 songs, 2 were written along with “Bette Blue” in 1994 “Bakwash” & “Long Legged Lady”, it was a project that didn’t happen and I never felt like the fit with any of the bands I was in after, so I when I was putting this together I knew they had to be included. The other 5 songs were written some time within the year I recorded the album.
I have 6 or 7 new songs & 3 old songs that didn’t make it on this album, that I will be recording later this year for my next album.
Jason: One thing I noticed on most of the tracks is the fact that the Bass was really front and center and because of that a lot of the songs have a real nice groove to them. Is that something that you set out to do when you went in to record this album?
Rev: Actually everything is mixed even. I’m not sure why it is that most hard rock and heavy metal albums are mixed so unbalanced, the guitar, bass drums, and snare drum are always way too loud, the bass is always way too low in the mix and it’s EQ’d real badly, and the vocals are usually not as loud as they should be. I’ve always hated those mixes, so I made sure everything was evenly mixed.
Jason: In addition to playing Bass you also do the Lead vocals on the album. I was curious if you’ve been singing as long as you’ve been playing? I mean did you learn to play the Bass first and become a Singer because you felt you had trouble finding someone who you felt could sing your songs the same way you sing them?
Rev: I learned to sing by singing backup vocals with all the bands I’ve played with. Fortunately all the singers I’ve been in bands with were really good or really great, so that meant I had to build a strong singing voice just to be able to sing backups.
Jason: I love all the song titles, I have to ask did you come up with song titles first, and then write the lyrics around the song titles? i mean for example MR. Paulie Ester?
Rev: It happens both ways, if I come up with a cool title I’ll write lyrics to match, or if I’m writing some lyrics and I come up with a great line I’ll make it the title. As for “Mr Paulie Ester”, I came up with story line, then the title, then lyrics.
Jason: Could you talk a little bit about the song “Paulie Ester”? What’s the song about and what do you remember about the recording of that song?
Rev: Mr Paulie Ester is this guy that looks funny and dresses funny and acts funny and dances funny and walks funny, but he does not realize that, instead he thinks he is the coolest guy in the world, gods gift to women. This is a made up person. I decided I wanted to write a song about this kind of person, so I started envisioning what he would look like and how he would act, and those lyrics just flowed right out. All I remember about recording it was trying to get into the frame of mind of this character when I did the vocals. It was fun, a lot of laughing. Same thing happens when I sing it live.
Jason: I read where someone described your playing as Unique 2 handed tapping style, Over the neck fingering technique. Is this a playing style you developed by watching other players or did you come up with your own style of Bass playing?
Rev: Well of course I picked up things from watching & listening to all kinds of players, but most of what I do is from my own experimenting over the years. If you analyzed my playing along with my favorite bass players, it would hard to find that many similarities. There would probably be a few similarities, without a doubt, but not very many.
Jason: What plans do you have to Tour behind Bakwash.
Rev: I have been doing shows in the Oklahoma area since its release using a different lineup, and I plan to do more areas throughout the year when I’m not touring with my other bands. Also I have talked to a few agents about doing some support gigs and some festivals using my current lineup, as well as doing some shows with the lineup from the album. The problem with the album lineup is I’m in Oklahoma, Jeff Martin is in Lake Tahoe, and Jim Dofka is in West Virginia, so unless a tour was offered or some money appeared out of nowhere, it would be very hard to come together for shows. Now I will say my current lineup with Kerry Staton on drums and Will Galbraith on guitar, definitely play these songs very well, so if you catch a show it won’t matter which lineup you see, you’ll enjoy it.
Jason: The best thing I can say about your Bakwash album Rev is that you really do have a fresh unique/original sound that is all your own. I can’t even name another band/musician that you sound like. Is that something you set out to do when you recorded this album?
Rev: Well first off thank you for that observation and for sharing it. I didn’t set out or plan to sound any certain way, this is just the way I sound. I don’t write songs to fit any category or to try and please any specific group of people. When I write I’m only thinking of that particular song and how to make it sound complete. I think that one advantage I have over lots of other bands, is that I didn’t try to make an album that sounded a certain way, or fit into a specific category, or have a lyrical theme (political, religious, current, etc…). I just wrote 10 songs that I thought were good and put them together on this album, the only connection or similarity they have to each other is that they all sound like Rev Jones.
Jason: I wanted to ask you if there’s anything left you’d like to say to all your fans out there?
Rev: Pick up my album “Bakwash” and send me a email letting me know what you think, good or bad. firstname.lastname@example.org subject:bakwash
And for all the bass players out there, Every month I post a free video bass lesson on my website, showing how to play my songs. I also do Skype bass lessons, and I have an instructional DVD available. here is the link www.revjones.com/bass_lessons.html
For the News, Tour dates, and all other Rev Jones related stuff:
*Official Rev Jones website: http://www.revjones.com
*Rev Jones Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RevJonesBass
*Rev Jones You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/revjones
*To purchase a copy of Rev Jones “Bakwash” , click on a vendor below.
*Available on CD (USA and CAN): http://revjones.bigcartel.com/
*Digital Download (world wide) = https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bakwash/1438599660
*Digital and CD (world wide) = https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/revjones
Jason: THANKS AGAIN REV!
Rev: Thanks for having me!!!!!