In the mid 90’s my friend, Robert Carranza recommended me for an audition with a band he was working with. The band was called Pet, and they were signed on to Tori Amos’s label, Igloo/Atlantic. The very talented Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Nine Inch Nails, Beck) was the original bassist and recorded the album with them, but had a prior commitment to play with Beck. The band was looking for a replacement and eventually word got around that they had tried out several bassists, but couldn’t find success with any of them. This bit of news was pretty intimidating to me, considering some of the big name bassists that had tried and failed. I wasn’t sure if I could get the gig, but I loved what they were doing, so I figured I’d give it my best shot.
Tyler Bates, the guitarist in Pet, was a shredder guitarist who had also started doing a lot of film scoring. He had (and still has) a deep understanding of composition which was reflected in very technical aspects of Pet’s music, much of which he wrote. A few of their songs had time signatures that were in odd meter, including one that was in 15/8, which I had never came across before.
One of the theories I used to prepare for the audition is this: when it comes to playing someone else’s music,it’s crucial to play as close to the recording as possible, even if they say, “we want you to play what you feel.” It was and is my opinion that ultimately, many composers and musicians want the music to be as close to what was originally created and recorded. I assumed that the other bassists who had come and gone may have slipped up by taking the music too far from where it originally began, making it their “own,” so to speak, which sometimes doesn’t cut when working with as inventive a composer as Tyler Bates. Keeping that theory in mind, I made sure learn how to play as close to the recordings as possible and even did my best to get the same tone Justin got on the record.
I went in the first day and the entire band was there, including Pet lead singer and my (then unbeknownst to me) future musical partner (of Big Sir) Lisa Papineau. We went into the first song on the record, 360, and within seconds, I could feel that everyone was gelling. I could tell drummer Alex Locasio and I were locking in together and Tyler was beginning to feel our groove, too. Lisa blew me away with her voice and it was then I realized how badly I wanted to be in this band. They soon asked me to play with them, and we toured the US for over a year. The added bonus? I only got better as a bassist from being around and having the opportunity to work with such incredibly gifted musicians. As is often the case, talent doesn’t equal fame; I still feel Pet should have gained more notoriety but I came away with great memories and a musical kindred spirit in Lisa. I do hope you will take time to check out the record they made.