Italian bassist opens up about new album featuring an all-star cast of bass heavyweights
Exclusive interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
April 26, 2021
Italian bassist and composer Alberto Rigoni has won the hearts of fans across the globe with his imaginative playing, which draws from many genres, including progressive rock, metal, and fusion. Over the years, he’s earned quite a reputation through his work with the prog rock group Twin Spirits, the pop electric duo Lady & the BASS (alongside singer Irene Ermolli), and his numerous solo releases. Rigoni has also been a member of BAD As, The Italians, Natural Born Machine, and the Bassists Alliance Project. He’s served as a co-producer with the Vivaldi Metal Project and collaborated with the Italian superstar Alexia and Canadian singer-songwriter Kim Bingham. His newest release For the Love of Bass, is a bass-centered album featuring an all-star roster of contributors, including Nathan East, Lee Sklar, Doug Wimbish, Michael Manring, Mohini Dey, and Adam Nitti.
FBPO: What inspired you to put this album together? Something tells me you’ve been wanting to do this for a long time.
AR: I think three, four months. I felt the need to compose something new. I wanted to do a new challenge. What about a full album just bass? But I felt that just me, by myself, could be a little bit boring. I wanted to invite top-notch guests.
FBPO: How did you go about picking the players?
AR: I started composing and I was thinking, “Who could be the right one for this song?” Then, step by step, I contacted all the guests. I tried to get people that I never thought would join, like Nathan East or Lee Sklar, because they are super busy. When they said, “Yes!” the goal was already reached for me. The real problem was finding the time when they were free, because they are very, very busy. So I had to wait a lot but it was worth to wait.
FBPO: That’s quite an amazing roster of bass players you managed to line up.
AR: Yeah, I’m still amazed as well. I still can’t believe I have Nathan East or Lee Sklar. It’s something I never thought would be possible. It’s like a dream coming true.
FBPO: Tell me about the recording process. Did you feel hindered at all creatively by not being able to be in the same room at the same time?
AR: Well, of course we did it all online, not just for Covid reasons, but also to save costs. I’m used to working online with musicians, so the process was quite easy. I recorded the main part, some solo parts and then, what I generally did was leave it up to the artists to add what they feel, except giving a few indications such as, “Okay, here we should put a solo, here we should put a bit of groove.” And since we were talking about professional and great bass players, it was not necessary to give more indication.
FBPO: How long did it take to do the whole project?
AR: Well, I started in October 2020 and I started contacting guests at the end of October. I think we had everything done by the end of February.
FBPO: That’s pretty fast.
FBPO: Tell me about your gear.
AR: Well, for this album, I used many basses. I used a Precision Pre-CBS from ’65, an Ibanez 6-string, a Schecter 5-string, a Cort B5 5-string, and a Fodera Emperor. That’s all, basically.
FBPO: Did you use any amplification, or did you go just straight into the board?
AR: Well I used EBS from Sweden. And it was the Classic 500. I just tried it because I like it. Basically, it was all recorded directly. I also used some effects, such as DarkGlass electronics pedals for distortion, and many other electronic pedals for some very unique tones. And then also a Whammy pedal. Many things.
FBPO: What kind of strings do you play?
AR: D’Addario, NYXL.
FBPO: You’ve been quite prolific with your solo releases. I’m just guessing that you are already working on your next project, at least conceptually. Yes?
AR: Let’s say that I definitely need a break now! It’s not just about composing; it’s about promoting, it’s about doing the interviews. I need lots of time and energy for this, but of course in my mind, there are always new ideas. When I sleep, when I’m under the shower, I think, “I could record this and this and this and this.” I don’t know exactly what to do now. What I’m missing basically is the live show. And here in Italy, at least, there is no way now. Maybe next year. I can produce more albums, but I feel this lack of the live shows. I have not just my solo project, but I was in some bands, basically rock or heavy metal, but there is no chance to play. So if you release an album, you can’t promote it. I mean, you can online, but it’s very hard.
FBPO: What advice do you have for someone who wants to learn bass?
AR: Well, for me, it was quite simple, in the sense that I started playing bass, playing what I loved. When I was around 16 years old—and now I’m almost 40—I was really attracted to Dream Theater, which was not really simple to play. But I was so stimulated that I said, “Okay, I want to play that Dream Theater cover.” So now I would practice every day until I got the results. I played maybe six, seven hours per day, playing Dream Theater because that was the band that I loved and I wanted to cover. Meanwhile, I had some lessons, classes, the basics. I have to be honest, I was a bit bored because I wanted to play that. I didn’t want to play other kinds of music. The advice is to listen to every kind of music possible and listen to bass, of course, and then try to get to your own style. Yes, I have many idols, even included the guests of my album, but I always try to have my style, not to emulate someone else. That’s my playing, that’s my way to compose, if you like it, cool, if you don’t like it, cool. [Laughs]
See Jon’s blog, with key takeaways from this interview here.
A Digital version of Alberto’s new release, For the Love of Bass, is available here:
The CD version is available here.