Throwback Thursday Interview- Marty O’Brien 2003

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Throwback Thursday. The. Following is an interview conducted by Ocean View Press writer Rob Watts back in 2003. The subject was professional bassist Marty O’Brien, who at the time was coming off a tour with Tommy Lee. Fast-forward to 2013, Marty has been busy in the studio, writing and performing with hit makers Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion and Chris Cornell. He is also a member of the band We Are The Fallen on the Universal Republic label and is currently on tour with Lita Ford. 7-11-13

OCEAN VIEW PRESS- WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

MARTY O’BRIEN- BORN AND RAISED IN RHODE ISLAND–PROVIDENCE AREA.

WHAT LEAD YOU TO WANTING TO LEARN BASS GUITAR?

THE SOUND OF THE BASS JUST APPEALED TO ME SO MUCH MORE THAN ANY OTHER INSTRUMENT. TO ME, THE GUITAR WAS THE ANNOYING TWANGY THING,,AND THE BASS WAS JUST SO SMOOTH AND ROUND. I LOVE THE WAY YOU COULD “FEEL” THE BASS THROUGH YOUR BODY AT A CONCERT.

DID YOU TAKE LESSONS OR ARE YOU SELF TAUGHT?

MY DAD BOUGHT ME A BASS WHEN I WAS 12. I TOOK A COUPLE MONTHS OF LESSONS, BUT NOTHING REALLY SEEMED TO SINK IN..I GUESS LEARNING OLD SONGS LIKE “BUFFALO GALS” JUST WAS’NT THAT APPEALING TO ME, SO I ACTUALLY LOST INTEREST AND THE BASS WENT UNDER THE BED, SO MY DAD SOLD IT BACK TO THE GUY HE BOUGHT IT FROM. AROUND THE AGE OF 14 OR 15 I SAVED UP MY OWN MONEY AND BOUGHT ANOTHER BASS AND STARTED OVER, BUT THIS TIME JUST TAUGHT MYSELF, AND THE REST IS HISTORY.

DID YOU EVER HAVE CAREER AMBITIONS OTHER THAN PLAYING MUSIC WHILE GROWING UP?

NOT REALLY, I’VE HAD MY MIND SET ON MUSIC FROM THE BEGINNING.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST BAND YOU PLAYED WITH AND WHERE WERE THEY FROM?

I PLAYED WITH MANY MANY LOCAL BANDS GROWING UP IN RHODE ISLAND. THE BAND NAMES WERE ALWAYS CHANGING AS WE WERE ALWAYS ROTATING DIFFERENT BAND MEMBERS.

YOU EMBARKED ON A MAJOR U.S. AND EUROPEAN TOUR WITH RHODE ISLAND’S OWN KILGORE IN 1998 AS WELL AS PLAYING OZZFEST 98 THAT SUMMER. YOU PLAYED ALONGSIDE BANDS LIKE GODSMACK, STAIND, PM5K AND SYSTEM OF A DOWN. DID YOU EVER THINK GROWING UP IN A SMALL STATE LIKE RHODE ISLAND, THAT YOU WOULD ONE DAY BE SHARING THE SAME STAGE WITH POWERHOUSE BANDS LIKE THAT?

NO, I NEVER THOUGHT THAT DAY WOULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN. YOU MENTIONED STAIND AND GODSMACK. THE FUNNY THING ABOUT THAT IS, MY FIRST TWO SHOWS WITH KILGORE HAD STAIND AND GODSMACK OPENING FOR US! THEY WERE BOTH UNSIGNED LOCAL NEW ENGLAND BANDS AT THE TIME. TOURING ON THE OZZFEST WAS JUST AMAZING. I LATER TOURED ON THE OZZFEST 2000 ,AND OZZFEST 2002, ALL 3 TIMES PLAYING IN A DIFFERENT BAND.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOUR BIGGEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE ON THAT TOUR WAS?

I LEARNED A LOT FROM THAT TOUR. THAT WAS MY FIRST MAJOR TOUR, SO YOU PICK UP ON EVERY LITTLE THING BY WATCHING HOW ALL THE BIG BANDS OPERATE AS A TOURING UNIT BEHIND THE SCENES. FOR ME PERSONALLY, THAT WAS PRETTY MUCH THE TRAINING CAMP FOR WHAT ELSE WAS TO COME.

NOW YOU MOVED TO L.A. IN 2000 AND ALMOST IMMEDIATELY YOU GOT A CALL FROM TOMMY LEE TO JOIN HIS METHODS OF MAYHEM BAND. DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA THAT HE WAS LOOKING FOR YOU TO JOIN OR WAS IT A COMPLETE SURPRIZE?

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED WAS, I GOT A CALL FROM A FRIEND OF MINE, ( PRINCE’S GUITAR TECH )THAT KNEW PEOPLE ON THEIR CREW. I HAD JUST MOVED TO L.A. THREE WEEKS BEFORE AND MY FRIEND CALLED AND SAID TOMMY LEE WAS HOLDING AUDITIONS. MY FRIEND HAD SUGGESTED TO THEIR CREW THAT THEY GIVE ME A SHOT AT IT. I WENT DOWN THERE AND HAD TO AUDITION AGAINST ABOUT 20-25 OTHER GUYS. THE ” SURPRIZE ” CAME TWO HOURS LATER WHEN I GOT A PHONE CALL FROM THEM TELLING ME I GOT THE JOB.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF TOMMY WHEN YOU FIRST MET HIM?

HE’S A WELL MANNERED GUY SO MY FIRST IMPRESSION WAS THAT HE’S A NICE, POLITE GUY. WE’RE FRIENDS NOW…HE’S GREAT. I CAN’T SAY ENOUGH GOOD THINGS ABOUT HIM. DON’T BELIEVE THE BULLSHIT YOU READ OR SEE ON TV.

IN 2001, AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT ( FOR YOU AT LEASE, HA ) YOU GOT THE CHANCE TO TOUR WITH TWO MORE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL BANDS DUE TO INJURIES WITH THE BASS PLAYERS. EARLY IN THAT YEAR YOU GOT TO FILL IN ON BASS FOR DISTURBED AND IN THE SUMMER YOU GOT TO PLAY WITH STATIC-X. WHAT IS YOUR BEST MEMORY ABOUT PLAYING WITH BOTH OF THEM THAT COMES TO MIND RIGHT NOW?

PLAYING IN DISTURBED WAS GREAT BECAUSE AT THAT TIME, THEY WERE EMBARKING ON A LONG ONE AND A HALF MONTH TOUR OF EUROPE, OPENING FOR MARILYN MANSON. MANSON IS QUITE HUGE OUT THERE, SO WE WERE PLAYING VERY LARGE ARENAS. I HAD TOURED IN EUROPE BEFORE, BUT THIS TIME AROUND IT WAS A LITTLE EXTENSIVE. I GOT TO SEE SOME AMAZING PLACES. ALL THE WAY FROM SOUTHERN ITALY, TO THE FROZEN RIVERS OF HELSINKI FINLAND.THAT ALSO MARKED MY FIRST TIME IN ROME, WHICH IS A MUST SEE FOR EVERYONE. BOTH STATIC-X AND DISTURBED ARE TWO OF MY FAVORITE BANDS, SO AS AGINE, SUDDENLY BEING ASKED TO PLAY IN YOUR FAVORITE BAND IS AN AMAZING THING.

IN 2002, YOU WERE BACK WORKING WITH TOMMY LEE FOR HIS “NEVER A DULL MOMENT” ALBUM. YOU GOT THE CHANCE TO CO-WRITE A SONG WITH TOMMY CALLED “HIGHER”. HAVE YOU WRITTEN YOUR OWN SONGS IN THE PAST, OR WAS THIS A NEW EXPERIENCE FOR YOU?

I’VE ALWAYS WRITTEN MUSIC, EVER SINCE I STARTED PLAYING. THAT “HIGHER” SONG THAT ENDED UP ON TOMMY’S ALBUM WAS ACTUALLY A SONG IDEA THAT I WROTE BACK IN RHODE ISLAND WHILE STILL LIVING THERE. YEARS LATER, I PLAYED IT FOR TOMMY AND HE AND I COLLABORATED TOGETHER AND FINISHED IT.

WILL YOU BE WORKING WITH TOMMY ON HIS NEXT PROJECT? DO YOU GUYS HANG OUT WHEN YOUR NOT TOURING OR RECORDING?

I’M NOT SURE WHAT TOMMY HAS UP HIS SLEEVE NEXT, BUT WHENEVER MY SCHEDULE PERMITS, I WILL ALWAYS BE THERE TO LAY SOME BASS FOR HIM.

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN WHEN YOUR NOT PLAYING MUSIC?

WHEN I’M NOT PLAYING MUSIC, I USUALLY GO SEE LIVE MUSIC. L.A./HOLLYWOOD HAS AMAZING SHOWS JUST ABOUT EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK.

WHERE’S THE BEST CLUB IN RHODE ISLAND TO SEE A LIVE SHOW?

I ONLY GO BACK THERE FOR THE HOLIDAYS,,SO I’M A LITTLE OUT OF THE LOOP ON THAT SUBJECT. BUT THE MET CAFE, LUPO’S AND THE LIVING ROOM WERE ALWAYS THE PLACES TO BE.

WHERE’S THE BEST CLUB IN BOSTON TO PLAY OR SEE A LIVE SHOW?

THERE ARE SO MANY! I LOVED MAMA KIN…I PLAYED THERE WITH KILGORE NOT LONG BEFORE IT CLOSED. AVALON IS GREAT, BUT I’VE NEVER PLAYED THERE. (I DON’T THINK? ) AND I MISS THE CHANNEL. I SAW MANY SHOWS THERE AS A KID.

WHAT TYPE OF BASS GUITARS ARE YOU PLAYING THESE DAYS?

I USE SCHECTER BASS GUITARS EXCLUSIVELY WHEN I’M NO TOUR. Schecterguitars.com . I HAVE A LOT OF OTHER THOUGH. SOMETIMES I USE MY OLD 61′ FENDER P BASS TO RECORD ON RANDOM RECORDING SESSIONS I DO AROUND L.A.

WHAT ADVISE WOULD YOU GIVE TO AN UP AND COMING MUSICIAN LOOKING TO MAKE IT IN THE BUISNESS?

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!! THE REASON I AM HERE NOW IS BECAUSE WHILE ALL MY OTHER FRIENDS WERE OFF PLAYING VIDEO GAMES AT HOME, I WAS PRACTICING MY BASS. IF YOU WASTE YOUR YEARS PLAYING VIDEO GAMES, IN THE END, WHAT HAVE YOU ACHEIVED? BEING GOOD AT “NINTENDO”? ALSO, A MAJOR PART OF GETTING GIGS IS NETWORKING. “IT’S ALL IN WHO YOU KNOW” IS VERY TRUE TO SOME DEGREE. GET TO KNOW EVERY SINGLE DAMN PERSON YOU CAN! SWAP E-MAIL ADDRESSES AND KEEP IN TOUCH. SOME SAY IT’S ALL “LUCK”. MY DEFINITION OF LUCK IS WHEN PREPARATION MEETS OPPORTUNITY.

YOU CERTAINLY ARE A WELL ROUNDED AND TALENTED MUSICIAN. WITH YOUR RESUME’ SO FAR, YOU SEEM DESTINED FOR SUCCESS SO GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING IN THE FUTURE. DO YOU HAVE ANY PARTING WORDS FOR THE READERS BEFORE WE WRAP UP?

THANK YOU VERY MUCH! IT’S BEEN FUN. I’D LIKE EVERYONE TO VISIT MY WEBSITE AT Marty-obrien.com
Interview by
Rob Watts

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