10 Questions answered by Tony Senatore!
(from BassPlaza.com a.k.a. BassLinks.nl)
1. As documented, you were a trumpet player up until 16. Your biography says, “I continued my trumpet studies until I was 16, when I fell in love with the bass guitar.” Can you explain this moment? Do you think that it just happened to be the bass at that point in time… and not say drums or guitar?
I actually played drums and guitar before bass. Tito Puente gave me a Slingerland drum set when i was eight. My father was in Puente's band from 1968 to 1972. I fell in love with the look and sound of the Fender Precision Bass. My sister's boyfriend at the time (1976) was a bassist, and he ended up giving me his 1974 P Bass in an effort to get in good with my sister. That is a day that i am sure he will regret forever.
2. When you were learning the bass, did you have any aspirations such as being in a band? Being a solo artist? Where did your road to professional music begin?
I never wanted to play music professionally. I was a straight A student, in all the honours classes
throughout my high school years. I planned on being a writer. My father was a professional musician, a trumpet player. He was always away when I was a kid, and I never wanted a life like that for myself. My Dad found me the finest teacher around(the late Mr Al Faraldi).
Dad drove me to all my lessons, paid for them, but discouraged me to embark on a life as a pro musician. You think after 50 years in the music business he knew something that I didn't?
3. Visionary Music (the recording studio you do session work for) offer classic and analog recording gear, as well as the state of the art equipment. What do you prefer to use? When you walk into a studio to see a multitude of flashing lights and a mad scientist behind the controls what do you think?
I am really old school- I prefer the Analog sound for most things, but my friend, engineer, co-producer (and mad scientist extraordinaire) Frank Fagnano convinced me to give digital a shot, I am so glad that I did. I couldn't be happier with the sound of my CD.I would say that my CD is a combination of things... Vintage basses and equipment recorded in a modern way.
4. Your site lists a number of influences. Was there any one particular song from an artist where you went, “yeah! I have to know how to play like that!”?
It wasn't one song in particular, but there were a few things that were critical. Paul McCartney was certainly my first influence. Hearing him made me want to play the bass. Mars Cowling blew me away when I heard him on Go For What You Know, Pat Travers Live. Stanley Clarke just shocked me when I heard him play on Romantic Warrior. It opened my eyes to just what could be done with the bass guitar, but hearing Jaco Pastorius on Heavy Weather changed my life- in particular his playing on A Remark You Made. Nothing has ever impacted me as much as that, even to this day. I learned from this that I wanted my music to move people in a deep, emotional way, not a "Gee, he plays so fast" kind of way...
5. Television media is full of shows making people famous. Being a session musician who would come across varied styles of newcomers, what are your thoughts on this new wave of manufactured music?
What's going on today is killing my soul and draining my spirit. I grew up on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and the Midnight Special. These shows were my music college, and the bands that I saw like Rush, the Dregs, Thin Lizzy and Kansas were my Professors. This environment made me the musician that I am today. Today's kids get to see William Hung on American Idol. That's just sinister, horrific, and frightening to me, but it really does explain a lot. For me, fame means nothing without respect from the great artists that I respect. Whether this happens or not, I have drawn my line in the sand. I am confident that people that are hungry for good music will find me...
6. As humans in general we are so critical of someone else’s tastes in music, we fear what other people may think of our personal tastes. Music is personal. What do you think the world would be like without music?
Music is my one and only love. It has given me everything, so in return i must give it everything I’ve got…
7. Being a musician has its high points and its low points. What’s
the most poignant thing you have learnt from the lows and what is one of the
most memorable highs in your life?
The low point of my music career was realizing that after over 20 years in the music business, I had not yet left my legacy - my mark on the universe… The one example of my playing that best represented who I am and what I am all about. The high point of my career was holding my finished CD in my hands after two years of effort.
8. Your CD Holyland has a diversity ranging from mellow to groovy and
funky. Many of the songs are “radio friendly” in terms of length
(many around 4 minutes in length). This leaves the listener wanting to hear
it again, hear more. Was this a conscience effort during the writing process?
Keep the songs short and sharp?
During the two years that it took to record Holyland, I only thought about one thing, “Does this CD pay tribute to the music and musicians that inspired me?” I feel that the answer to this question is yes. It's about me walking in the spirit of legends, giving thanks, and taking the inspiration that they gave me, and passing it along to a new generation.
9. The song “Shapla” has a dedication to Lennon, McCartney
and Harrison. You also covered another of their songs on the album. Why these
songs? What significance do they hold to you?
I have always thought that George Harrison did the best work of all the Beatles when they broke up. His music to me had a deep Middle Eastern vibe, and I wanted to explore that further by trying to play my electric 12 string bass like a Sitar.
10. What can a listener of your music hope to learn from Tony Senatore?
I want the listeners to hear all the joy and pain that I have experienced in my life. It's these life experiences that make the most powerful music, not sitting in your bedroom for 10 hours a day practicing with a metronome, or piercing your genitals and wearing a Mohawk. I have nothing against any of these things, only when they become the focus of the music… The best advice I can give someone just starting out is to just get out there and live your life. Get banged up, fall in love, get your heart broken, then get into the studio and make your statement, leave your own legacy, and do it with great humility and respect for those who came before you, and paved the way…