BRYAN BELLER


Bryan Beller has maintained a multi-faceted career as a bassist, composer, solo artist and clinician for over 25 years, earning his reputation as a uniquely talented yet supremely tasteful team player for instrumentally-minded artists. In the power super-trio The Aristocrats (with uber-players Guthrie Govan on guitar and Marco Minnemann on drums) he’s a part of one of the hottest acts in rock/fusion today; their newest release You Know What…? is slated to drop in the summer of 2019. He’s been Joe Satriani’s touring bassist since 2013, marking three trips around the world and counting. He was Steve Vai’s choice for the 2009 live CD/DVD Where The Wild Things Are, and he also toured and recorded in the “band” Dethklok, a tongue-in-cheek extreme metal band borne of the hit Cartoon Network “Adult Swim” show Metalocalypse. He’s been a musical partner of freak/genius guitarist Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa) for over 20 years and 10 albums. On his own, Beller’s released three solo albums (2003’s View, 2008’s Thanks In Advance, and 2011’s Wednesday Night Live) and an Alfred instructional DVD to widespread acclaim. His first new solo studio work in over 10 years – an epic-scale progressive concept double album, entitled Scenes From The Flood – is set for a Fall 2019 release. As a pure player, a composer, a masterclass clinician, a former Contributing Editor for Bass Player Magazine, and a former VP of SWR bass amps, Bryan Beller brings a holistic perspective to the world of bass, and music.

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LONGER BIO

Bryan Beller has maintained a frenetic, multi-faceted career as a bassist, composer, solo artist, writer and clinician for over twenty-five years.

Beller’s reputation as a uniquely talented yet supremely tasteful team player for adventurous instrumentally-minded artists is clearly evidenced in his work for some of the industry’s top names. He’s been Joe Satriani’s touring bassist since 2013, notching three world tours and several cuts on Satch’s 2015 release Shockwave Supernova. Beller’s also the bassist of the rock/fusion super-trio The Aristocrats (with uber-players Guthrie Govan on guitar and Marco Minnemann on drums), one of the hottest acts in the genre today. The Aristocrats released six critically acclaimed albums in five short years, with their sixth (You Know What…?) on the way in 2019. Their three successful world tours even included joining Satriani and Steve Vai for a G3 run in Europe. This high profile work has landed Beller on the pages of numerous music magazines, including cover features in Bass Player and Bass Musician magazines.

As a solo artist, Beller’s most current effort is the epic-scale modern progressive double concept album Scenes From The Flood. Set for a 2019 release, the massive 2CD/2LP work employs an all-star cast of 26 musicians to explore themes of ambition and loss, intentionality and reality, hope and disillusionment, and uses every second of its 18-song, 88-minute running order to tell an emotionally consuming and unforgettable musical story. Before then, Beller released his debut solo album View in late 2003 to widespread acclaim, earning the monthly feature in Bass Player Magazine (“…it’s a thrill to witness an artist like Beller find his voice with such a self-assured debut…”). His second album Thanks In Advance (2008) garnered even more critical praise (“…a bonafide entry for bass album of the year” – Chris Jisi, Bass Player Magazine). Beller’s first live album Wednesday Night Live – a raw, powerful, intimate document of his 2010 touring lineup playing the world-famous Baked Potato in Los Angeles – was released in 2011 on both CD and DVD. His first instructional DVD, Mastering Tone And Versatility, was released by Alfred Publishing in early 2012, and he’s a featured artist on the instructional website Jamplay.com.

Beller’s additional sideman gig experience includes being Steve Vai’s choice for the 2009 live CD/DVD Where The Wild Things Are, a tour-de-force document of the six-piece Vai live band Beller anchored on bass in 2007. He’s also toured with the “band” Dethklok, a tongue-in-cheek extreme metal band borne of the hit Cartoon Network “Adult Swim” show Metalocalypse; Beller’s tracked on the last two Dethklok releases (Dethalbum III; The Doomstar Requiem) and has joined the band for three nationwide tours to date, alongside metal monsters Mastodon and Machine Head, among others. And he’s been a musical partner of freak/genius guitarist Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa) for over 17 years and 10 albums.

Beller’s 16-year span as a freelance writer includes cover stories on bass luminaries such as Justin Chancellor (Tool), Christian McBride, Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) and Chris Wolstenholme (Muse), as well as a landmark cover feature on the state of heavy metal bass involving ten different interviews. In 2010, Beller interviewed former Governor of Arkansas and 2008 Republican Presidential candidate (and part-time bassist) Mike Huckabee for Bass Player Magazine. He’s also interviewed a veritable who’s who of the modern bass world: Jonas Hellborg, Victor Wooten, John Patitucci, Lee Sklar, Neil Stubenhaus, Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts), Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Nine Inch Nails), Bill Laswell, Jimmy Haslip, Stefan Lessard (Dave Matthews Band), Matt Garrison, Adam Nitti, Oteil Burbridge, Dave LaRue, Miroslav Vitous, Billy Sheehan, Emmy-award winning television scorer W.G. “Snuffy” Walden (The West Wing), and myriad others.

Beller’s earliest days on bass were as a Westfield, New Jersey pre-teen on upright in the school orchestra. It was short-lived, as he switched to electric at 13 to better play Rush, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Metallica tunes. Concurrently, a couple of years of classical piano lessons morphed into his own self-taught ear training regimen, as he learned to play those same classic rock and metal songs on the piano completely by ear. Once he landed at Berklee College Of Music, Beller focused solely on bass, and eventually joined a blues-rock band called 100 Proof, which played originals mixed with blues and Allman Brothers covers in Boston’s dirtiest bars. Beller’s rootsy, earthy, groove-oriented approach (as opposed to some of the more shred-oriented players of the time) had found a welcome home – and the original lineup of the band went on to do interesting things: One (Dylan Altman) wrote a #1 hit song for Tim McGraw; another (Jon Skibic) served as the touring guitarist for The Eels and the Gigolo Aunts; and the other (Ben Sesar) ended up as Brad Paisley’s touring drummer for ten years and counting.

But it was when Beller met drummer (and Frank Zappa fanatic) Joe Travers at Berklee that his career first ventured onto its current path. Joe knew Mike Keneally, who was in Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa’s band Z. Eventually Joe moved to Los Angeles, joined that band, and got Beller an audition in 1993, which Beller won, thereby entering the world of Zappa-influenced and independently-minded musicians he still calls fellow travelers to this day.

As a pure player, a composer, a masterclass clinician (sponsored by Mike Lull Custom Basses, Gallien-Krueger Amplification and D’Addario Strings), a former Contributing Editor for Bass Player Magazine, and a former Vice-President of SWR Sound Corporation, Beller brings a holistic perspective to the world of bass, and music.

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11 hours ago

Bryan Beller

BEHIND THE SCENES FROM THE FLOOD - STEINER IN ELLIPSES: Every story needs conflict, and here we introduce a new element in the narrative, one that possesses extremely powerful energy. Benevolent? Malevolent? Both? Yet to be determined. But it’s going to have an impact either way. We’ve all encountered something like that, right?

To represent this sonically, I knew I wanted it to be (ahem) fast and furious. I also always wanted to wrote a true thrash/extreme metal tune. And I knew this was the conclusion of the first of four parts of the album, so it needed a grandeur in its climax. For me, this all pointed towards Devin Townsend/Dethklok world, and that’s when I realized I needed Gene Hoglan slaying everywhere in order to make this track’s brutal sprint to the end of Part 1 come to life.

Making the demo was a blast, except for the guitar solo. There was no way I could approximate the metal shredding it needed, and I believe in Complete Demos. So I called for…the soulful, funky stylings of Rick Musallam?! Somehow I just thought it would be fun to give him a whack at it. Sure enough, he came in and shredded it with a slightly bluesy edge (a bit of Hammett/Mustaine, perhaps), and the demo solo ended up being the album’s most unlikely keeper.

I also wanted the riffing to feel more “dangerous” and slightly loose as opposed to “modern/tight”. More 1986 thrash than 2018 djent. So I called…Mike Keneally? Yes! The riffs were actually quite difficult *mentally*, and the odd-time intro/outro was a bitch and a half, as was the ascending climb riff leading up to the ending (my nod to Strapping Young Lad’s “Shitstorm”). MK ate those tough runs for breakfast, and gave the track a whole different feel than “Awesome Metal Guitarist X” would have been able to provide.

Overall, even though “Steiner In Ellipses” was only 2:23 in duration, it was one of the hardest pieces of the album to bring into a finality that really worked. There are 17 mixes of the demo and 22 mixes of the final studio version. (No joke!) Mixing extreme metal has “rules” in order to avoid low frequency muddle problems generated by super fast kick drums and low-tuned guitars in unison with bass. “…And Justice For All” aside, there *are* real benefits to reducing low end and increasing compression in metal mixes. And yet, this song had to fit on an album where the low end was, in general, fat AF. Balancing the needs of the song with the needs of the album was something that Forrester Savell and I were working on right up until the very, very end. It was the second to last mix to come home - only “World Class” took longer.

Finally, the song - and Part 1 - ends with a nod to the coming Storm. A few people caught that. Did you?
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1 day ago

Bryan Beller

JANET FEDER SPEAKS: I’ve said plenty about her - now it’s time to hear from her in her own words. Let’s Rock catches up to guitarist/composer Janet Feder (author of “Angles & Exits”) in her first interview since the release of “Scenes From The Flood”. How did a classically trained (and degree'd) acoustic guitarist end up using roach clips, split rings and plastic “superballs” to create unique sounds on a baritone? Janet explains it all in this 30-minute interview. ... See MoreSee Less

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3 days ago

Bryan Beller

TWO BRAZILIAN GIRLS TALK PROG: I thought that might get your attention. I know I’ve posted a lot of interviews lately but this one is absolutely unique, thanks to the clever editing and the 65-SONG PROG PLAYLIST (in 16 minutes?!) curated by Lorena Coelho and Nina Goulart of Desordem Progressiva. Come for the lo-fi hipster fashion, stay for the Deep Prog Questions. And make sure to watch to the end to see how to debase yourself with a writing utensil after playing “Marry Fuck Kill” with Emerson Lake & Palmer. ... See MoreSee Less

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3 days ago

Bryan Beller

BEHIND THE SCENES FROM THE FLOOD - "A QUICKENING": As I set out to build "Scenes From The Flood", I really studied Pink Floyd's "The Wall" from a sequential standpoint, and how it flowed and why I thought it worked. Some of what kept it interesting for me were the (pardon the pun) numerous sudden scene changes. From the helicopter end of "Another Brick In The Wall Part One" to the thudding opening chord of "The Happiest Days of Our Lives"; the buzzing end fall of "Empty Spaces" into the funk groove of "Young Lust"; that sort of thing.

This is what inspired the thinking behind the two-minute "story time jump" that comprised SFTF's fourth track, "A Quickening". A couple of expositional elements have been established - an optimistic start, a query on reality - and now events happen quickly. More important than what those events are is the idea that they *can* happen quickly, more so than ever (insert value judgment on that here), thanks to...well, we're going to go meta here, but what platform are you reading this on?

Musically, I'd never before tried to do anything remotely "drum and bass"-y, so this was a plunge. The Korg Kronos' onboard drum loops and patterns provided a near limitless palette of chop-sy bit-sy grooves, and I just went for it. I looked for a better bass synth sound than the SWR Mo' Bass but I just couldn't find one, so I went with that...which gave it a bit of a Mike Keneally "Physics" vibe. It's an homage, right? After that, I just piled on the layers, and always knew that the purpose of this song was to jangle the nerves, move the story forward, and get to the blistering climactic song of Part One, "Steiner In Ellipses". The crazed double-time ending is another homage (non MK) - anyone able to ID it?

Speaking of Keneally, I ended up doing everything on this track except these two really high guitar arpeggios which my clubby bass fingers just could not make sound good. So Keneally was kind enough to cut those for me. As always, thank you MK!
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BEHIND THE SCENES FROM THE FLOOD: Here's a deep dive into the climactic song of Part 1, the extreme/thrash metal fireball that is "Steiner In Ellipses", featuring @GeneHoglan, @MikeKeneally & Rick Musallam. 22 mixes until it was final. 22! Read (top post): https://t.co/W0IOfDV3q6

JANET FEDER SPEAKS: I’ve said plenty about her - now it’s time to hear from her in her own words. Let’s Rock catches up to guitarist/composer @JanetFeder (author of “Angles & Exits”) in her first interview since the release of “Scenes From The Flood”. https://t.co/VpY1qqRqlt

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