Deftones' Sergio Vega Gets Gut-Punched by the Bass
The metal heavyweight weighs in on his inspirations and favorite instrument.
By Mike Duffy
Even before he joined metal heavyweights Deftones in 2009, Sergio Vega had made a name for himself as one of the top bassists on the scene with the seminal band Quicksand.
But his reasons for originally picking up the bass were much less edgy. Interestingly enough, Vega was spurred to pursue his bass dreams by the children’s cartoon Tom & Jerry and the musical sitcom The Partridge Family.
“When Tom plays the bass and he's singing ‘Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby,’ he gets himself a little girl from that. I was like, ‘That's how you do it,’” he admitted with a laugh. “I'm on it. And then after that shortly thereafter, The Partridge Family, because of, you know, Danny Partridge.”
That famous happy-go-lucky Partridge Family character – the family band bassist played by Danny Bonaduce – aside, Vega has decidedly leaned into a harder vibe as he’s grown with his instrument.
“I definitely play aggressive,” he said. “I play with a pick. I mostly play with some sort of effects chain, and I think of it as it's really an outlet for a lot of kind of just energy and rage … not anger so much, but just intensity. That’s a way to just let off a lot of that.”
On the heels of the release of his third album playing with Deftones, Gore, Vega checked in with Fender to discuss his style, his influences and his love for the bass.
”When I really decided I was trying to play and start writing songs, I did it all from the bass.”
“I was figuring out Black Sabbath records and then kind of morphing their riffs and then getting into what I later realized were pentatonic scales. It was visual to me. I started seeing patterns, and then I just started coming up with the riffs in parts. Then, I just started forming bands with my friends and going about it that way.”
”I came through the punk and hardcore scene in New York, and everything being almost holistic. It’s community-based.”
“You play a set with your band. You go out into the pit. It's all about the totality of it. It's just the way to connect with people in a way and get things moving and get things really sweaty and hot.”
”I used to think about how the drums will hit you in the heart, and that’s your heartbeat. The guitar is cerebral, up in your head. The bass is hitting you in your gut.”
“The bass just sounds mean and vicious. I like the frequencies, and then I like when it's distorted and ratty. I think the core sound is tight low-end with a real crisp high end for articulation. I'm really into articulating notes and I'm really into picking, I'm really into patterns and. The thing that I developed is my left hand running, playing a lot of notes.”
”The bass is just an instrument that is so satisfying to me. It's really fulfilling.”
“If somebody has any inkling, especially when they’re young, [to play the bass], I’ll give them a bass. I did that recently. We were on tour this summer, and I had a good friend of mine come by with his kids. His daughter was there, and she's like 10 and just starting to play drums. He said, ‘Oh, you know, she's interested in bass as well.’ I literally just gave her one.”
”I recently got an American Professional Jazz Bass, and I just felt connected to it. I didn't feel like I was fighting it; I didn't feel like I needed to figure it out. I didn't feel like I needed to acclimate. I was just go time.”
“The next thing I know when I'm hyped on something, I set up my laptop and set up a session. You're noodling around, and when you noodle around, there’s the potential for something cool [to happen]. I started playing it, and it just felt so good. I’m quick to be sure to capture all of that. Whether I pull out my phone and just start recording memos or I set up a session, that's to me the mark of something that I'm vibe-ing with.”
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