Interview – Robert Trujillo

Robert TrujilloRobert Trujillo

Exclusive interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
June 9, 2014

Metallica bassist tells all, from Infectious Grooves, Suicidal Tendencies and much more!

A native of Santa Monica, California, Robert Trujillo is best known for his role as the bassist in heavy metal super group Metallica. He has also played with Infectious Grooves, Suicidal Tendencies and the legendary Ozzy Osbourne. Trujillo is the executive producer of a documentary film, Jaco, scheduled for release in late 2014.  Robert’s interview is sponsored by Warwick.

FBPO: How would you describe your musical upbringing?

RT: When it comes to that, I had the good fortune of growing up with parents at an age where they were appreciating music. They were sort of at the height of their appreciation because my mother was 19 and my father was 21 when they had me. So, at an early age I was already hearing a lot of music, ranging from the Beatles to Motown, James Brown and the Rolling Stones, but also Beethoven and classical music. That’s kind of what was happening in the late ’60s and the early ’70s. My parents were like sponges when it came to music. They weren’t necessarily gravitating to one style. You could find jazz in the household and Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, but you’d also get Led Zeppelin in that mix, too. So that’s what I was surrounded by. And my Dad used to play flamenco guitar as a hobby and I remember him playing the fingering and the styles. I think that’s why when I first started playing guitar. I actually played in more of a flamenco style.


FBPO: Is that why you hold your bass the way you do?

RT: Yeah. I mean in terms of the fingerings, for sure. Originally, I wanted to play drums and then I wanted to play keyboards because I was a fan of some of the progressive stuff that was going on in the ’70s, you know, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Yes. And I thought that the keyboardists looked really cool up there. Usually they were kind of perched high up above the stage or in their own little zone.

My parents split up when I was 5 and my Dad lived in Venice Beach and my Mom and I lived in an area called Mar Vista, so I was always close to my Dad still. But we lived in apartments. In apartments, it was hard to get a piano up a couple flights of stairs and you couldn’t really play a drum set. So I basically inherited a bass guitar from my Dad’s good friend. It was a hollow body Harmony bass. The action was like an inch off of the fretboard and it didn’t work through an amp. The good thing is that it was a hollow body, so I could hear myself play. That’s when I started playing bass. At that time, I must have been about 15 years old.

FBPO: Who were your influences when you first started playing bass?

RT: When I first started playing, I always gravitated to the funk because one of my cousins was heavily into Parliament. Anything R&B or soul or funk she was really, really into it and she would let me borrow her 45 records. I was listening to Earth Wind & Fire and Kool & the Gang and the Ohio Players. Those were some of my early influences and that’s when I started realizing that the bass was a prominent instrument in that music. I was able to pick out the bass on its own, whether it was Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, because it was pretty high in the mix. That’s when it really started to connect with me.

I also started to really get into fusion music because the bass was also very prominent. Now, all of a sudden, there were bass solos and stuff and I was like “Whoa! This is cool!” Then I found out that some of the players who were playing the fusion stuff were also playing on recordings, like Anthony Jackson on “For the Love of Money” by The O’Jays. I bought that record. Anthony was a young player back then, but that was such a prominent moment, I felt, for bass. It’s used in this really funky, sort of advanced song. Then I heard him playing with Al DiMeola at like a million miles an hour. So, I started to gravitate towards the fusion players.

Robert Trujillo, Metallica

The first album I ever bought was Santana’s Abraxus. I saved my money so I could go purchase that record. I remember loving Carlos’ playing, but also being enthralled with the album covers. Just the women and everything on their album covers. They were like bombshells! And then there was a spiritual side to it, too. There was all this cosmic stuff going on and I remember that on Santana III, there was this guy flying through the sky and there was like a cobra and it was like a psychedelic trip. The beautiful thing about vinyl was that it was sort of this package that you would get that took you into another world. It wasn’t just the music, but the artwork. And when you opened up the jacket, it was like the treasure that was inside or getting a poster. So everything about vinyl and the packaging and the music was very exciting to me back then.

But anyway, back to what we were saying about the bass players, I started getting into fusion more for listening and I was at an age where my parents were able to take me to shows and stuff. I was able to see John McLaughlin and the One Truth Band and I was able to see Return to Forever. I saw Weather Report twice and the Word of Mouth Big Band twice. One of those times was actually with my father at UCLA’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. That’s when Jaco had the full all-star cast in his big band. I was not only listening to it, but I was going to check it out. I saw Ronnie Laws and Jean-Luc Ponty. I remember I had a friend who was the godmother or the aunt of Rayford Griffin, the drummer for Jean-Luc Ponty at the time. We went backstage and I got to kind of hang out with him. That was my first time backstage.

FBPO: How old were you?

RT: I was probably, at that time, 14 years old or something and I thought that was really cool. Randy Jackson was the bass player back then.

FBPO: I used to see Randy with Billy Cobham all the time, back in the ’70s!

RT: It’s amazing, the transformation of that guy! It was a special time to see these players at the prime of their chops and to see Jaco on stage. I’ll never forget when I saw him. It changed my life in a lot of ways because I saw that a bass player could step outside the box and not just be that guy in the background, just holding it down. He suddenly became more of a front man. And the same with Stanley Clarke.

I remember Jaco sliding into his bass. He had powder on stage, and he had his bass set up kind of like it was home plate. He would get a running start and he would slide into his instrument! I had never seen anyone do that, ever. Maybe these singers could do that, but Jaco just went there. It’s funny. I talked to Scott Thunes, who played in Frank Zappa’s band in the ’80s. He kind of said it best. He said that back then, you would have thought that Weather Report was like Jaco’s backup band almost. It was like Jaco and his band Weather Report! It was really exciting and there were no rules.

Robert Trujillo

AndrewStuartPhotos.com

I’d see the same people that I’d see at the Rush concerts and at Yes and at King Crimson. Then I’d see those same cats over at Weather Report or DiMeola. There were fewer rules and the shows were bigger. I remember I tried to go see Stanley Clarke and I told him this, too. “Man, I tried to see you at the Greek Theatre in LA and you had three nights sold out and I couldn’t get a ticket! I went outside and it was either way too much or I just couldn’t do it.” That’s what was going on back then with that music.

I was really kind of an instrumental guy for a while. When it came to Jaco, one thing I gotta say is when I was actively playing bass and I started writing a lot, like with the Infectious Grooves, I always wanted to write with the idea that Jaco’s style and technique was what I was feeding off of. I was never trying to cop his songs note for note. I wasn’t sitting there learning “Donna Lee” or “Teen Town.” I was more thinking of the idea of his style and presenting it in a songwriting format. That’s what I did.

FBPO: That’s refreshing because there are plenty of guys who have spent practically their whole lives trying to cop those licks and learning “Donna Lee” and “Teen Town” note for note.

RT: Yeah, and back then, instead of doing that, I took it in a creative way, which I really believe Jaco would have appreciated a lot more. The funny thing is, now, at age 49, I’m actually like half-way through “Donna Lee” and I’ve learned “Teen Town” and I’ve learned eighty percent of the intro to “Punk Jazz” and all these things that I never attacked when I was 24 or 23. I’m attacking them now! I guess it has more to do with being immersed in the film project and in the Omnivore release and all these cool things that are happening around Jaco in these last few years.

FBPO: How did your career get rolling? What kind of gigs were you doing at first?

RT: Well, it’s interesting with me because I started out in junior high. In eighth grade, my friend and I used to ditch school and his older brother had a bass guitar. There was a drum set at that house, too. We would ditch school and we would play music together. My friend played guitar and we would switch instruments. I’d start playing that bass really loud and he’d get on the drums. One time we blew his brother’s amp out. I blew the speaker. So, with odd jobs, I had to raise the fifty bucks to fix his speaker. But his brother was really cool. He was also into fusion music. I made payments and, over time, he started educating me on music and songwriting and stuff like that. He was also a fan of Jaco. That’s kind of where I first started making loud noises with an instrument and everything. I didn’t know what I was doing, of course. You know, I blew the guy’s speaker out!

In ninth grade, me and the same guy started a little band. I think our first song was “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton (sings the opening riff) because it was really easy. We had a couple of originals and then we might have played “My Sharona” or something. So we had around four songs in our repertoire. Then other friends of mine that were much better musicians than me started to play more Black Sabbath stuff and Van Halen and all that.

In about tenth grade, I started to play in a band from high school. We were called Oblivion and we played backyard parties. We played a lot of Black Sabbath and, later on, we started playing a lot of the Ozzy stuff, like “Crazy Train” and all of that. It was ironic because, years later, I would end up playing with Ozzy and touring with him. But my first playing experience really was in rock, even though I was listening to and obsessed with fusion and going to the fusion shows.

I was always going to a lot of shows. The first concert I ever went to, actually, was the Isley Brothers on the “Fight the Power” tour. You know, “Climbing up the Ladder,” “Fight the Power,” “A Voyage to Atlantis” and all that good stuff. That was the first show I ever went to, with Wild Cherry and “Play that Funky Music White Boy.” They were the opening band. That was my first show, at the LA Forum.

Robert Trujillo, MetallicaFBPO: So you would have been about how old then?

RT: Well, that was like 1976, I want to say, so I was probably like 11 or 12. It was just my Mom and I and she took me to that show. I’d always try to get her to take me to see bands like Led Zeppelin or Parliament. I could pull it off sometimes, but some of those bigger shows were a little bit scary. Like, “I don’t know if you should go to Parliament at the LA Coliseum with your friends or to go see Led Zeppelin.” Just like that kind of thing, within reason.

FBPO: I used to go to Cobo Arena in downtown Detroit when I was 14, 15, so I understand what you’re talking about.

RT: Yeah, it was great that we could actually do that back then and see all of these cool bands.

FBPO: How do you think growing up in LA influenced you musically? Do you think it gave you more opportunity to be exposed to more or would you have been able to get that music anyway, through records or radio or what have you?

RT: Well it was good for me because I was born in Santa Monica, California, and my father lived in Venice and it was happening back then. It was multi-cultural, like on the boardwalk of Venice Beach. Even now, you always get to see drum troops and drum circles and you’ll get cats playing. I see bass players on the boardwalk ripping and I see guitar players and there are different styles. You’ve got jazz cats over there. You were just exposed to a lot. There was a lot of great energy.

You know, obviously, in Hollywood, there were a lot of glam bands, but you also have a lot of punk going on, whether it was Black Flag or Suicidal Tendencies. There was the whole punk movement. And then there were the skateboarders. And the skateboarders, I’d always say, those wild guys from an area called “Dog Town,” which was basically just the west side of LA, those guys reminded me of Jaco. Those guys were daredevils. They were the ones who were trying different things. They weren’t afraid. They were doing it on a skateboard, but they were also kind of doing it with music, too. A lot of these cats started bands and they would play whatever they felt like playing.

Suicidal Tendencies was the band that really broke out of that scene. It was a multi-racial band and it was a band, you could say, in a lot of ways, that incorporated the kind of rap style, vocally and lyrically, with the heavy guitars. And also, there was cool bass stuff going on. It was interesting because the original bass player from Suicidal Tendencies, Louiche Mayorga, wrote all of the songs on the first album, called Institutionalized, which is punk classic. He also wrote most of the music for our second album, Join the Army. Louiche saw Jaco play. He was about 15 or 16 years old when he saw him at the Santa Monica Civic, probably the same show that I was at, and he even said that that changed his life. You know, this is the bass player for Suicidal in 1982 and he’s saying that, too!

But Jaco had an effect on punk rock musicians too. So LA gave me the opportunity to see all of these bands because they all came through. It wasn’t like they skipped LA. LA was the capitol of music in a lot of ways back then, so we had it all coming though here. You could see these guys play in the smallest clubs and you could go to the Roxy Theatre and see King Crimson and all these cool groups. You could go see these big bands, you know, Pink Floyd doing The Wall or whatever. It was happening. There was a vibrant energy and the people were all wild and it was all there.

Robert Trujillo, Infectious Grooves

Robert Trujillo, Infectious Grooves

FBPO: It’s cool that you were exposed to different kinds of music, but I sense that somewhere in there you’re somewhat of a jazz guy, too. I mean I certainly didn’t expect the bass player from Metallica to mention Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra! Didn’t you go to Dick Grove’s school?

RT: I went to Dick Grove’s School of Music. I started in ’84 and I was there for the year. It was really interesting because some of the musicians I met at Dick Grove’s I am still friends with. There’s a guy named Sagat and his last name is Guirey. Sagat is an exceptional jazz guitarist, still to this day. He’s a recluse kind of a madman, but the guy can play anything. Ask him to play David Gilmour, George Harrison, Jimmy Page, but then he’ll get down and play Wes Montgomery or Django Reinhardt. The guy’s obsessed with Django right now. He’s even got those special strange acoustic guitars that Django used to use. But that guy is still friends with me. Every time I go to London, I hang out with him. We have dinner, we get our kids together, because he has kids as well.

But Dick Grove’s was good for me in a lot of ways. I used to jam a lot at Dick Grove’s because there were so many different types of musicians, so we spent a lot of time jamming. I’m sure that pissed off our teachers some of the time because we’re supposed to be really studying the books and diving into our sight-reading.

FBPO: Was Joel DiBartolo there at the time?

RT: Joel DiBartolo was my teacher. He was the head of the bass department for that half of the year. We had a few different heads of the bass department, believe it or not. When I first came in, Max Bennett was my teacher. Max Bennett was really wild and he had this big, wide leather bass strap with pictures of weird sexual positions on it. He was kind of a wild guy, driving around in his silver Jaguar at the time, with his license that said “LA Express.” Joel DiBartolo was, I think, the third teacher that I had. And then Kevin Brandon was the head of the bass department.

FBPO: Brandino!

RT: Brandino was there. All these cats were really great in different ways. I see Brandino around now and it’s really cool to reconnect with him. I remember not only studying with him at school, but studying with him at his house and he was teaching me how to slap. So they were all great in their own ways. DiBartolo was really exceptional, though. He was the one who said things like, “You’ve gotta stretch out your tendons. You’re gonna get carpal tunnel. You have to stretch out those muscles. It’s vital, it’s important,” just little things like that that I still, to this day, am ritualistic about. So, it was a special time for me.

The interesting thing about that is the minute I graduated from Dick Grove’s, I was trying to make a living and all that. I was playing in Top 40 bands and that kind of thing. Then I started getting into writing because I realized that, as a bass player, you’re gonna go and get gigs and one-offs and studio work and all that, but you’ve gotta write as much as possible. Get into the songwriting. And that’s what I learned. I started developing my writing, which I still do now, so that helped me.

And, check this out! We would go to the Musician’s Institute.  A little gang of us would go there with our best guitar players. I don’t think I was good enough to participate at the time, but I would roll with the guys. Sagat was a part of that tribe. It was like the old school, like the Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story or something like that. We would roll over there and end up having to jam with the MI cats. Our best guys would get in there on their hollow body Gretsch guitars and kind of go toe-to-toe with their best guys. It was all in good fun, it wasn’t like a violent thing. But it was great, the little tribe that we had.

FBPO: Which school had the better players?

RT: I’ll tell you something. Our school, Dick Grove’s, had the best jazz guitarists at that time, absolutely. I’ll give us that. They had the better rock guitarists, but we had the better jazz guitarists, hands down. We had cats coming in from all over the world and all over the U.S. We had a really brilliant guitarist named Dario from Italy. I forgot his last name, but he was a part of that tribe. And Sagat from London, as I told you, and a couple other players from the South. And it was kind of like that, a little tribe going on.

Robert Trujillo, Infectious Grooves
Infectious Grooves at Whisky a Go Go AndrewStuartPhotos.com

FBPO: So how did the Metallica gig come about? I guess the guys knew you from Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves, Ozzy?

RT: Long story short, Jason Newsted had left the band and I was in Ozzy’s band. I was no longer with Infectious Grooves or Suicidal. But before that, Metallica and Suicidal Tendencies had toured together. It would have been 1993 and 1994. We were the opening band, Suicidal, and that’s when they would have taken notice of me. I had a mutual friend who worked for Metallica and he was a surfer. Kirk had just gotten in to surfing, Kirk Hammett, the guitar player. So they had called me because they were gonna take a trip down to Southern California from San Francisco and they wanted to know what cool surf spots there were. Maybe I could take them there. Kirk spent about a week and I took him to various spots around LA County. We really connected. And it wasn’t like we were connecting musically. We actually were connecting as surfers, first. With that connection, he said, “Hey, you should come jam with us some time.” Again, I was already working and was happy with my situation, but Metallica’s Metallica! An incredible opportunity.

So about a year goes by and I’m in Tahiti on this surf trip and I check my voicemail and it’s Lars and Kirk saying, “Hey man, come down! Come down and jam with us!” And I was like “Oh, man this is cool!” So I actually had gotten the call. The interesting thing is that was on a Thursday, I believe, and I was actually flying home the next day to go to San Francisco for a birthday party. Immediately, when I called them, Lars was like, “Hey, you’re coming up on Saturday for a birthday party, but why don’t you come hang out with us on Monday and jam a little bit?”  And I was like “Oh, man!” So it was on pretty quickly.

Robert Trujillo, MetallicaI hung out Monday and was sort of a fly on the wall while they were recording their Saint Anger album. Then I had to play on Tuesday. The scary thing is I was completely hung over because Lars, after the Monday session, at about 11:00 at night, said, “Hey, let’s go get a beer.” Lars is a Viking. I don’t know if you know this, but he’s been notorious for partying and doing everything that rockers did back then and he wanted to test me, I believe. So I ended up drinking with this guy. I remember waking up in his guesthouse and he’s already on the treadmill at 9:00 in the morning. I think we quit drinking at 5:00 in the morning and this guy’s on the treadmill at 9:00 a.m. And I gotta play music! This is the day I gotta play.

So, at 11:00 a.m., we roll into Metallica headquarters and we start this meeting. Back then, they were going through this sort of therapy with a performance coach and I was, like, in hell. My head was pounding and I’m like, “I can’t believe I drank.” And James is sober and there’s just this strange energy going on.

But I managed to kind of gravitate away from the meeting so I could work on my bass sound. I didn’t bring a bass. They had basses there for me, so I had to decide which bass I’m going to use and focus my energy there. We ended up playing and I played with a hangover. Every time I watch that scene in the movie Some Kind of Monster, the documentary, I always laugh because in the scene where I’m actually playing in my audition, I’m not even wearing my shirt. I’m wearing one of Lars’ Armani brown T-shirts, something I would never wear, and it’s only because I never went back to the place I was staying. I had to stay at his place and borrow a shirt for my audition! [Laughs]

So that’s sort of the short version of my audition process. I went back for a second audition a couple months later and then they officially offered me the gig and it just took off from there. The minute I joined up with them, it’s like I never left San Francisco, almost. My life changed and here I am now.

FBPO: How much freedom did you have as far as coming up with your own bass lines? Did they expect you to play Jason’s lines or Cliff (Burton)’s lines or did they let you be, you know, Robert Trujillo?

RT: They were in a very interesting head space when I first joined. Their whole thing was to be open and to embrace me as a player and for me to be comfortable. So the thing is, I went into a situation where an album had already been recorded and I had to learn the eleven songs off that album. They hadn’t even played those songs, themselves, live. So I already had the huge task of learning music off of the Saint Anger record, but at the same time, I would have had to learn, at the time, what would have been twenty-two years of catalog. So my plate was full. My first gig with Metallica was actually at the San Quentin State Penitentiary. I played at a prison, basically. That was my first gig.

FBPO: You and Johnny Cash!

RT: Yeah, me and Johnny! I didn’t know how the lay of the land was onstage. You know, I didn’t know that the guys in Metallica switched microphones during the songs and I was kind of in James’ way. Meanwhile, I’m looking out at the audience and there are all these inmates wearing either blue or orange jumpsuits with guys up in towers with shotguns pointed, just keeping an eye out. It was very surreal. Then I had to jump on a plane with the guys that night and we went to LA because we were being honored as MTV icons. They were filming this with millions of viewers around the world and we had to play a medley of Metallica songs. The problem was, we rehearsed that medley like five days before and I had to remember that medley and get filmed. It was just very surreal and it very was stressful at the time.

Robert Trujillo, MetallicaIn response to your question, it was kind of like, for me to be myself and to be comfortable playing my own stuff, that was almost going to be impossible because it was like, “Okay, you’ve gotta play this song, this song, this song, this song. Oh yeah, and here’s some obscure curveballs we’re gonna throw at you, too, from the first album that we haven’t played in fifteen years!” It was a lot of pressure and a lot of guys would have buckled. That’s the thing I gotta say to your readers: In the world of Metallica, it’s challenging in a different way. It’s physically challenging because there’s a lot of galloping and there’s some speed and technical stuff going on and some backup vocal stuff going on here and there. But the most challenging thing is the pressure. Whether you’re going into the studio with Rick Rubin and Greg Fidelman, the engineer, who’s got everything under a microscope, I mean literally, every note you play. That kind of pressure, or being on TV. “Okay, roll camera.” Bam! You’re there. It might be a song that you managed to learn a day or two before. A lot of short-notice opportunities come up with that band and you’re really put in a lot of pressure situations. The thing is, Lars can be the one who makes the most mistakes in the band, but I’ll tell you something: You can never be the one who makes the mistakes if you’re not those two guys! [Laughs] So that’s the pressure you deal with in that situation. And I always say Metallica’s like this band that’s in this bubble, you know, the protective bubble from the outside universe and the realities of what happen beyond that bubble. And when you get in that bubble, you gotta take care of business.

FBPO: What else is keeping you busy these days, Robert?

RT: Well, we’re working on new music for a new Metallica album. I’m starting to write. I just got back from South America, two weeks down there.

FBPO: I saw some videos with you and Andy Irvine. Very cool!

RT: Oh yeah. Andy was there and I went to say hi to him and he’s become a good friend of mine. That was just kind of a weird, random incident where we happened to be in the same city in South America at the very same time and there was actually a day off, which is kind of unheard of. But he’s a good guy.

Anyway, between writing, helping collaboratively to write the next Metallica record with James and Lars and Kirk. And then we’ve got European dates set up for the summer. And really helping to promote the Jaco film as best as I can with the family, with Johnny Pastorius and everything. That’s kind of where it’s at. I got a busy year ahead of me. It’s interesting because I’m actually going to meet Peter Erskine in about an hour for lunch! So I’ll be hanging with Peter.

FBPO: Peter’s a good guy. So is his nephew, Damian (Erskine).

RT: That guy’s great!

FBPO: What’s happening with Infectious Grooves? Any news to report there?

RT: Infectious Grooves? Yeah. We did a show a few months ago. They were having the 50th anniversary for the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood and I reconnected with my band mates from the Infectious Grooves and we had an incredible time. It was so much fun! The show sold out in like one day to where it’s like now we’re getting pressure to do a bigger show. The plan is that, yes, we will try and do more shows in the next year or so, as long as it doesn’t, obviously, interfere with my writing and recording schedule with Metallica, you know. I would love to do more with Infectious Grooves and celebrate that music. It’s a lot of fun to play. It’s a slightly different vibe and feel than what I do with Metallica, but I’ll tell ya, it’s super cool! The room sounds like it had a lot of magic in it. A lot of people appreciated that show at the Whiskey a Go Go and we’d like to do more in the future.

FBPO: Robert, what kind of equipment are you using?

RT: I’m using Ampeg, I’m using Mesa Boogie to get my mids and to get the crunch, to get that register, that cut. For basses, I use Warwick primarily. I like what Warwick has done for me. Their custom shop has gone above and beyond for me and it’s still always trying to make things better.

I also use a batch of Fenders. I’m not necessarily a cat that plays one or two instruments. We have a two-hour show and we have different tunings and the songs sometimes have different personalities, so it varies and differs, but I try to play the old-school stuff with a good old fashioned Fender four-string.

I like Bill Nash’s basses too. Nash makes great retro-style basses. One of my favorite basses is the “Flame Thrower.” This bass was actually in a fire and, I kid you not, it practically melted in that blaze! It’s so punk! And it pretty much play’s itself.  Totally thrashed!  It’s one of my favorites! Primarily, though, I use Warwicks.

FBPO: How about the future? What else would you like to do that you haven’t already accomplished?

RT: Well, I feel blessed, you know, honestly, between being in Metallica and having the opportunity to play and record with Ozzy Osbourne. When I grew up, that guy was my hero, you know. Just like Jaco, Ozzy was my hero. I feel blessed in a lot of ways on all fronts. So, the future? I don’t know. Sometimes I think to myself maybe I’ll try to start a farm in Santa Barbara and make preserves and live off the land and go surfing.

Then there’s another side of me. I was asked yesterday if there were any other film projects I’d like to dive into and there are a couple that are very interesting to me. But I think, most importantly, I just kinda want to get through the Jaco film and really promote it the right way and really work towards a great Metallica record and then kind of review where I’m at in my career and what I want to do for the future.

I’m going to be 50 this year and, it’s true, they say when you hit 50, you know, you start thinking about life a little differently. And I’m just having fun with my kids right now too. The scary thing is I feel more creative — or as creative — as I’ve ever been in my life. And then even reconnecting with Infectious Grooves. I guess you could say it’s second nature for me to write those kinds of songs. If you listen through my iPhone, you’ll find an immense amount of funk grooves, you know! [Laughs] And I don’t know that I want them to be dormant forever, so we’ll see how it goes. I know what I got planned for this next year and we’ll see what’s planned for the following year.

Robert Trujillo, Metallica

Steve Ryan Photography

There is one thing I wanted to say really quick, beyond just the Jaco film. I have a three-minute animated short, a cartoon, basically, that I’ve written. And James Hetfield collaborated with me. It’s called Tallica Parking Lot. And it’s really, really cool! There are some nice little cameos in the animated piece and it’s actually been nominated for Best TV Animated Short at the biggest animation festival in the world, which is called the Annecy Animation Festival. That’s in France. So I feel honored because I was very passionate about that little project and it’s nice to see it be recognized out there. Like I said, the creative juices are flowing in a big way, so we’ll see what happens in a couple of years. But right now, my plate is full!

FBPO: Last question, Robert: What would you be if you weren’t a bass player?

RT: If I wasn’t a bass player? I was doing construction work before I officially started playing music professionally. I was 25 years old the last time I hammered a nail. I don’t know if I would have ended up being a contractor and building houses. I would have probably still kept surfing, which I still do now when I’m able to, with my travels with the band, thank God. I love surfing. I’d probably be like, I don’t want to say a surf bum, but, I’d probably still be living in Venice, California, with my surfboard, raising kids. I don’t know. It’s hard to say because I’ve always felt like music had a vital connection to me in my heart. I mean I was playing “air saxophone” and “air guitar” on my mom’s dresser in the house at the earliest age I can remember. You know, back when she was in her hot pants and her elevator shoes, dancing to Marvin Gaye and James Brown! And I was right there with her, so music would have played an important role. If not, just as a listener, you know. It’d always be the fuel for my system.

[Editor’s note: Watch for our exclusive FBPO feature on Robert’s documentary, “Jaco,” in the coming months.]

Also see our exclusive FBPO interviews with the following bass players, all of whom are mentioned here:

Kevin Brando, Brandino

Kevin "Brandino" Brandon

Damian Erskine

Damian Erskine

Andy Irvine

Andy Irvine

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1 Comment


  • Way wicked interview! Thanks, for sharing it with all us bass players. I’ll share for all others that enjoy ‘keeping it low’!

    Reply

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