It's been amazing being off the road. I don't even know where to begin. A lot has happen and I have a lot to share:
First and most important, I think it's about time that I announced to the world that Wendy and I will be having our first baby this late July! The world will soon feel the force who is to be Rocco Mateo Mitchell-Rivera. I've already started reading to him, playing music for him (nothing too crazy yet - just a lot of Francois Rabbath and Debussy). While on this last tour, I got a lot of advice from musician dads, namely Alanis' drummer Victor Indrizzo (father of three, one of the best drummers around and a real gentle spirit), and he told me to "get some sleep because you're going to need it." I'm encouraged by all these guys to see that they are out there working and making their family life happen. It's no picnic sometimes, but overall, I get a lot of the same sayings:
"I know a lot dads who live and work at 'home' and they never see their kids.'"
"At least when I'm home, I'm home."
Only time will allow me the opportunity to work out a balance, and I'm up for the challenge and all the beauty that will come from it.
Second, I was recently in Bass Player Magazine. I must admit that I'm pretty stoked about that because I learned a lot from this mag and still check it from time to time. Below is the article (which is also on the web):
Mute Math's Roy Mitchell-Cardenas
By Brian Fox | March, 2008
Mute Math’s heady brew of rock, jazz, and pop has hit the spot among the musician set, and Roy Mitchell-Cardenas deserves some credit: His tuneful electric and upright chops are crisp as pilsner and ballsy as stout. Currently touring with Matchbox Twenty and Alanis Morissette, Roy and the boys create post-rock soundscapes that combine the raw intensity of the Police with Oingo Boingo’s brainy bounce.
How did you get your start in music?
I started out playing drums when I was a kid, and I thought of myself as a drummer for many years, playing in local punk bands and high school jazz band. After a friend gave me an old P-Bass for high-school graduation, I started playing whenever anyone needed a bass. Later, I had some formal training at University of North Texas and at Loyola University in New Orleans.
What carries over from your background as a drummer?
I think all bass players—all musicians, really—should learn drums. It helps you lock in, because you can better understand what a drummer is doing; you can speak the language and use those ideas on bass. All of us in Mute Math were drummers at one point, so we switch instruments onstage.
How did you start playing upright?
I’d always been into jazz and wanted an upright, but they were way too expensive. I grew up on the Texas border, and when I’d walk across to Mexico, I’d see these cheap old uprights. I bought one and took it to North Texas, but people wouldn’t stop laughing! I finally mustered up enough money and bought a ’50s Kay about ten years ago.
What’s your favorite amp for recording?
I’ve used Ampeg SVTs, but we got the best bass sounds using guitar amps. I used an old ’60s Maverick guitar amp, and for my own home recordings, I use a Fender Concert combo with four 10s. The grit and energy you can get from guitar amps seems to translate well on record. Live, I use a Mesa/Boogie 400+ head with a 4x12 cabinet. It’s somewhat like a guitar amp—I can turn up the gain to get some grit, and the 12s break up in a nice way.
What about basses?
I play mainly a ’78 P-Bass, and I also tour and record with the Kay. A New Orleans luthier named Sal helped me rig a P-Bass pickup at the end of the upright’s fingerboard, which really helps me get my live upright sound.
On the band’s live DVD, you play a fretless ’70s P-Bass with a maple fingerboard.
That’s a cool bass, but it was really just a substitute for the upright, which we couldn’t take on that tour. The Kay is the sound on the record, and live, it’s also more interesting visually.
You sometimes play with delay, which isn’t a very common effect for bass. How do you use it?
When you’re playing a kind of modal groove, the bass can start to sound chordal as notes start layering on top of one another. The trick is to not set the feedback too long.
What are you doing besides touring and recording?
On tour I get a lot of questions about bass, so I started my own blog [roymitchellcardenas.blogspot.com] with videos and lessons. That’s been fun, and it’s gotten a good response. Most of the posts come from fans asking questions. One guy asked me if our song “Obsolete” was in Dorian mode, so I made a video explaining how it was.
CAN BE HEARD ON
Mute Math, Mute Math [Teleprompt/Warner Bros., 2006]
Mute Math, Flesh & Bone Electric Fun (DVD), [Warner Bros., 2007]
Radiohead, In Rainbows [ATO, 2008]
“I love the tastefulness of Colin Greenwood’s bass playing—his note selection, and where he chooses to play. It’s very inventive.”
Basses ’78 Fender Precision Bass; ’50s Kay upright with D’Addario Helicore strings; fretless ’70s Fender Precision Bass
Rig Mesa/Boogie 400+ head with Mesa 4x12 cabinets; vintage Maverick and Fender Concert guitar amps
Effects Boss DD-5 Digital Delay pedal
“On the record I used a ’73 Fender Telecaster Bass, which is really woofy and boomy. The sound is so sub-y it’s almost synth-like. But it sounds too muddy to play live.”
Okay, there is a bit in here that may be construed as me having made a video for "Obsolete," which was not true until now. Check out the videos below:
Finally, I would like to pay my respects to the late, great Israel "Cachao" López (a monumental bassist/composer/musician/icon) who has greatly influenced me and countless others beyond comprehension.
Gracias Maestro Cachao por todas las inspiraciones que me haz dado. ¡Vivirás por siempre en mi corazón!