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Tribal Tech Bassist Gary Wills Interview

Bassist Gary Willis who co-founded Tribal Tech is undoubtedly one of the most prolific bass players of this generation. For his upcoming record Retro, Gary Willis returns to his jazz roots.His new trio features the incredible Gergo Borlai on drums and the acclaimed Catalan pianist Albert Bover on eyboards. ! mi" of #intage $azz with the energetic twist that Willis always brings as well as a melodic side that has been seen in smaller doses throughout his career. %nown for his solo records and coleading the legendary group &ribal &ech' Willis( jazz roots can be traced bac to the days of playing with Wayne )horter' Hubert *aws' $oe +iorio and more. , got to inter#iew Willis from his home in Barcelona Neal Shaw: -etro is #ery different from Actual Fiction. What were your feelings wal ing away from Actual Fiction' and what inspired the change in musical direction. Gary Willis: , thin going for a change in direction is a natural instinct in order to feel creati#e. ,t just ma es sense that if you continue doing the same thing or using the same process' you can/t e"pect it to feel as creati#e - or at least it/s going to re0uire a lot more effort to e"plore a#enues of creati#ity within a specific direction. Compared to Actual Fiction' yeah' it/s definitely different' but the reality is that this is something ,/#e had in mind to do for a long time. ,t/s just that the timing and opportunity to do it happened to follow a #ery different project. NS1 How did you come to begin playing with !lbert Bo#er and Gergo Borlai. GW: , played some concerts with !lbert not long after , mo#ing to Barcelona. )o , had it in mind to do something with him but , wasn/t sold on the sonics of acoustic piano and fretless electric. !ctually he was the one who suggested that we try adding rhodes to the mi". &hen a few years ago' my promoter friend 2i los 2ester organized a concert with )cott %insey' myself and Gergo in Budapest and the musical hoo -up there was immediately ob#ious. &hen' to mine and Barcelona/s good fortune' Gergo mo#ed here late 3455 and , immediately scheduled some studio time to get this thing started. NS1 Were the songs on -etro well-rehearsed before heading into the studio. GW1 Well rehearsed' , suppose' is a relati#e term. !lbert and , got together a couple of times and then the three of us rehearsed a few times so we were able to get familiar enough with the material. We were still ind of e"ploring it when we recorded' but e"ploring is the nature of impro#isation so hopefully we struc a balance between nowing what/s going to happen and finding surprises here and there. NS: What is your composition process li e. +o you write on your bass or use any ind of computer software. GW: By any means necessary - that/s my process. , pretty much ne#er use the bass to write - it/s always software' *ogic. Composing using software let/s me do the dirty

wor of chasing down and eliminating e#ery dead-end idea instead of subjecting good musicians to the half-coo ed ones that occur to me. ,t won/t guarantee success but at least allows me to eep my compositional failures pri#ate. NS1 6ou/#e studied impro#isation at &he 7ni#ersity of 8orth &e"as' and wor ed beside greats including +ennis Chambers' !llan Holdsworth' and Wayne )horter. !re there any in#aluable techni0ues or strategies you/#e ac0uired and incorporate in your own arranging and playing. GW: ,f , had to reduce it to a strategy or techni0ue would be this1 always ma e sure that you are the worst musician in whate#er musical situation you find yourself. &hen' if you ha#e any interest in learning or impro#ing' it will happen. , was #ery fortunate to be tolerated by the people at those schools and the artists you mentioned. NS1 &here are se#eral standards on the album. What was the selection process for these songs. !re any of them special to you. GW: 6eah' it/s the first time ,/#e recorded other people/s music. &he selection process was about choosing themes that , felt , could bring something personal to the way they/re interpreted. 9f course' they/re all special but allow me put it this way1 one way or another' if they don/t sound li e they/re special to me after you listen to them' then ,/#e failed. )o it/s one thing to sit here and say yes' this one or that one is special to me but if it/s something you don/t recognize when you hear it' then it really doesn/t matter at all what , ha#e to say about them. NS: What e0uipment did you use on the album. GW: For e"ample' normally Gergo can be found playing a huge : floor-tom it' but for this recording he played ;and got a lot out of< a simple jazz it - 5= bass drum - 5 floor tom - one rac tom. 2e' it was just the bass. !lbert had to e"pand his responsibilities a little by handling the left-hand bass whene#er , was soloing. NS: &he album has a #ery li#e feel to it. 6ou can hear interaction between the musicians. What was the recording process li e. Were you all set up in the same room. GW: Gergo was set up in the studio while !lbert and , were in the control room' but we made sure we all had eye-contact for na#igating the arrangements. But yeah' that was our intention' to feature the interaction the best we could - to just go in and play li e it was a gig. ;although we hadn/t done any gigs at that point< NS: 2any articles compare you to $aco >astorius' claiming you pic ed up where he left off. How do you feel about the comparison. GW: Where is this article. Can , get my hands on it. 9%' sorry - couldn/t resist. 9f course' it/s a huge honor and always will be. But ,/m often reminded that articles are written by human beings and sometimes it/s human nature to reduce commentary to the path of least resistance' pointing out the most glaring similarities. ,t ta es a little more effort and curiosity to go beyond the surface to e"plore differences' e#en big ones. ,f , ha#en/t done enough to inspire that ind of effort' then all , can do is eep trying. *i e ,/#e said before' $aco/s well-deser#ed legacy casts a huge shadow. Howe#er' it is nice to get some sun e#ery once in a while. NS: 6ou currently li#e in Barcelona. What is the music scene li e there. +o you play

regularly there' or teach when you/re not on the road. GW: , pretty much thin of the whole world as a scene - , mean' we/re all so much more connected now - ,t/s not so geographic anymore. For myself' about twenty years ago , came to stop loo ing at where , li#ed as the sole outlet for what , wanted to do musically so ,/m not sure , could tell you what the scene is li e. , do teach at a couple of conser#atories here and do online masterclasses and lessons when , can. , now it/s a #ibrant city with a lot more going on than , ta e ad#antage of - but nobody/s in#ented the :? hour day' yet' right. NS: )ongs on the album li e +isconnecti#ity and 2o#e boast incredible bass solos. How much of these solos were impro#ised. GW: &han s - e#erything/s impro#ised. 9f course' , reser#e the right to use any a#ailable technology to correct or eliminate things would bother me ;fore#er< or distract from the recording but' for an e"ample' if you compare the 6ou&ube #ersion of Change !gent to the studio #ersion' you/ll find it/s pretty much how , play. *i e , always say' it/s li e a language and in a language you/ll find yourself using the same words e#ery day' e#ery hour. Hopefully' the conte"t of the con#ersation or in this case the en#ironment of a concert or recording inspires you to combine those words and phrases into something that fits and feels uni0ue for that situation. NS: 6ou are a musician that is constantly growing and learning' and your music #aries in styles and influences. What inspires you to e#ol#e musically. GW: &han s' that/s a #ery generous thing to say about anyone - hopefully we/re all a wor in progress. ,n a way' it/s human nature to resist change - we find an e"perience we li e and tend to go to great lengths in order to repeat that e"perience. For me' that e"perience is the sense of disco#ery' the sense of finding something new in how to e"press myself. )ometimes' that comes from the technological side which ,/m still #ery much interested in. 9ther times' it/s just me and the instrument and trying to find new ways to o#ercome the limitations of e"pression that we all encounter. &his setting' playing in an electric-jazz trio was something , was doing o#er :4 years ago. )o that part isn/t new' but instead of loo ing at it as nostalgia' , thin what gi#es me this sense of disco#ery is that now' so many years later' there/s a life of e"periences that , hope find their way into the music and gi#e it a depth of e"pression that , wasn/t able to bring to it bac then. NS1 What(s ne"t musically for you. ,s this trio going to hit the road. GW: 9f course' we/re wor ing hard ma e that happen. &he immediate future for me is a &ribal &ech tour of !sia and possibly @urope this summer. But we/re loo ing at getting my trio out there this summer in @urope and hopefully the 7) this fall. %eeping my fingers crossed. &han s a lot for your time and music Gary' We wish you best of luc with your new project. - )ee more at1 http1AAwww.abstractlogi".comAinter#iewB#iew.php. idnoC5DEFsthash.&4l6?nin.dpuf