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 world touring acts in rock/fusion today; their 2019 release You Know What…? debuted at #2 on the Billboard Jazz Chart. He’s been Joe Satriani’s touring bassist since 2013, marking three trips around the world with a fourth to come once touring resumes​. 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 solo album catalog includes 2003’s View, 2008’s Thanks In Advance, and 2011’s Wednesday Night Live, as well as an Alfred instructional DVD, all released to widespread acclaim. His 2019 solo release – the progressive concept double album Scenes From The Flood featuring Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan, Mike Keneally, Gene Hoglan (Dethklok), Ray Hearne (Haken) and many more was hailed by multiple outlets as an instant classic: “A colossal artistic statement and a career triumph…one of the year’s most intriguing and staggering albums, it will for sure end in our 2019 best of lists.” (Scott Medina, Sonic Perspectives)

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 (including a G3 with John Petrucci and Phil Collen of Def Leppard), several cuts on Satch’s 2015 release Shockwave Supernova, and a feature appearance in Satriani’s tour documentary film Beyond The Supernova. Beller will be joining Satch on another global jaunt once touring resumes. He’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 (2019’s You Know What…?) debuting at #2 on the Billboard Jazz Chart. Their four 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 release (2019) is the epic-scale modern progressive double concept album Scenes From The Flood. The massive 2CD/2LP work gathered an all-star cast of 26 musicians (including Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan, Mike Keneally, Gene Hoglan (Dethklok), Ray Hearne (Haken), Joe Travers, Nili Brosh, Mike Dawes, Janet Feder, and many more) to explore themes of ambition and loss, intentionality and reality, hope and disillusionment. It uses every second of its 18-song, 88-minute running order to tell an emotionally consuming and unforgettable musical story. Scenes From The Flood was hailed by multiple outlets as an instant classic: “A colossal artistic statement and a career triumph…one of the year’s most intriguing and staggering albums, it will for sure end in our 2019 best of lists.” (Scott Medina, Sonic Perspectives)

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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1 week ago

Bryan Beller

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW: 10 YEARS OF THE ARISTOCRATS

Today, exactly 10 years ago, I played a gig at the Anaheim Bass Bash with Guthrie Govan and Marco Minnemann. It ended up being The Aristocrats’ very first live gig. 10 years later, we’re celebrating appropriately by announcing the upcoming release of our live album “FREEZE! Live In Europe 2020”. I think (and hope!) it shows we’ve come a long way, while at the same time staying true to what made our “rowdy musical democracy” work in the first place.

And yet, that first gig almost didn’t happen in about 6 different ways. Some of you know this story, some of you may not. I thought today was a good time to (re)tell it as any.

The annual Bass Bash event was designed as a bassist feature (kind of obvious, I know) and I was kindly asked by the event’s organizer, Pete Decuir, if I wanted to participate. Slightly uncomfortable, as always, with the idea of me being featured as anything other than the bassist in (hopefully) a really good band playing good music, I thought, “Hey, I just played a gig with Marco Minnemann and Greg Howe in Russia, we’ve got a set ready to go, how about that?” Marco had organized it, and we all had a lot of fun. So we talked it through and booked it for January 14, 2011. The bill was:

* Steve Lawson (solo)
* Norm Stockton (with band)
* Brian Bromberg (solo)
* “Nameless Pre-Aristocrats Trio”
* Scott Ambush (of Spyro Gyra, with band)

I’m pretty sure we had it confirmed by late September 2010. But then, in early December, something came up for Greg and he could no longer do the gig. Marco and I went back and forth a bit on what to do.

Then I remembered that, on October 15, a guy from Texas I’d met at a show named Colin Green had been messaging me on Facebook about a guitarist named Guthrie Govan, who I’d never heard of. Colin reminded me on November 3 to watch the Guthrie videos because I hadn’t yet responded. On November 8, I finally watched them, and wrote back to Colin about how amazing Guthrie was. I hadn’t thought much of it beyond that.

And now Marco and I needed a guitarist.

Marco had also been hearing good things on his own about Guthrie, and liked the videos, but he didn’t know him either. So I went looking online. Guthrie had no social media presence *at all*. There was an old MySpace page, no longer monitored. He had a personal website that consisted of a front page with a picture of him…and *no links* on it. I mean, who did that, even in 2010?! I ended up going back to Greg Howe himself, who happened to have Guthrie’s e-mail address.

The original e-mail exchange between Guthrie and me/Marco is on an old computer somewhere, but I remember that it took a few days for Guthrie to respond. When he did, it was in prose befitting of an English professor from the mid-20th century. I felt like I was reading a letter from a Cold War-era head of state or something. I can only imagine what Marco thought of it, with English being his second language. Anyway, we were able to nail down the particulars inside of a week. We would do a six-song set consisting of two songs from each of our solo catalogs.

I remember when we announced the gig that there was an unusual amount of online buzz about it. It’s hard to describe, but I remember it. Then the holidays came, and everything seemed pretty much on track for a fun NAMM gig.

And then it all went crazy.

A little over a week before the gig, the event’s longtime organizer, Pete Decuir, called me and told me that he had just been diagnosed with leukemia. An emergency surgery was scheduled for just days later. He wanted to cancel the whole show. We went through a couple of different scenarios, but he was pretty clear about not wanting the gig to go forward without him. Of course, I understood - it was his production, and with that kind of health issue, I didn’t want to question his wishes. I gave him my best vibes for the difficult journey ahead, and thought the gig was probably gone.

But I get stubborn about things sometimes. People were buzzing pretty hard about it, and I just…I can’t describe it, but I had a feeling it should go forward somehow. Guthrie and Marco agreed to let me take a shot at it. So I scrambled to find another venue in Anaheim that wasn’t booked, one week ahead of the NAMM show. Not an easy task, but I did find one. The owner was skeptical we could pull off a successful show on only 3-4 days’ notice. I insisted it was possible. We figured it out, Guthrie and Marco signed on, and I announced it through my e-mail newsletter, BellerBytes. I also announced *why* the venue was changing.

As it turns out, there was a miscommunication of some kind, and I was the only one outside of Pete Decuir’s very close circle who knew the whole Anaheim Bass Bash show was being cancelled - and more importantly, about Pete’s health emergency. That was, until I sent that mailing list e-mail.

My phone and e-mail inbox instantly erupted with “WTF?!” responses, including longtime friends of Pete and fellow organizers of the show. I explained the conversation I’d had with Pete as best I could, and how he’d wanted the show cancelled. But his friends weren’t taking no for an answer. Within *hours*, they had re-booked the show at the same venue (JT Schmid’s) and wanted to turn it into a benefit concert for Pete. By the next day, it was official. It was Monday of NAMM week and lots of industry folk were already on the scene. Word travelled quickly.

And there we were, booked to play at a different venue.

The organizers of the benefit concert then reached back out to me, and invited our group to rejoin the lineup. Actually, they implored us to do so, for the cause. I told them of our dilemma - we’d already rebooked and I had twisted someone’s arm to make it happen at all - but I quickly realized it was an untenable position, both practically and morally. Poor Guthrie and Marco were now receiving e-mails from me once an hour, keeping them posted.

I called the owner of the venue I’d rebooked and told him we needed to cancel and move back to the original venue. He was absolutely livid, screaming into the phone. Frankly, I couldn’t blame him. I asked him what I could do to make it right. He gave me a number. I agreed. And that was that.

If you were subscribing to BellerBytes back then, you saw all of this play out in real time. I had to send three or four messages within a couple of days explaining everything and apologizing for blowing up everyone’s inboxes. I’m sure some people missed the show due to all of the conflicting information.

By the time Guthrie, Marco and I met in a rehearsal space in Anaheim the night before the show, there was already a general feeling of, “Wow, interesting gig we got ourselves here.”

Then Guthrie turned on his amp and played a single power chord. VERY loudly. Marco and I were jolted. Our necks snapped and we caught each other’s wide eyes for a half a second before snapping back in place. We were going to be a rock band, and an impolitely volumed one at that.

A little small talk ensued, and then…we played Guthrie’s song “Waves”.

I don’t know what else to say about it, other than, we all knew right away that it felt really, really good.

That’s how the story began. From that point forward, the unique musical chemistry of the three of us carried us forward and told the story better than any longwinded essay could ever hope to do. Yes, the gig happened. (I could do another 1000 words on the night of the gig, which was its own hot batch of crazy, but this is long enough.) Yes, people kind of freaked out. And yes, we decided to keep doing it, and keep doing it, and keep doing it.

Now here we are, ten years later, and we have a new collection of musical evidence of that same chemistry - refined, but hopefully not too refined - that flowed through the room of that very first rehearsal. And I dig that it’s an actual live recording from 2020, which memorializes the fact that we were playing live literally right up until the very first COVID-related shutdowns.

All I can say is, thank you to everyone on our amazing indie-powered team that made it happen behind the scenes all these years; thank you to the incredible fans who have supported our musical mayhem over and over again; and thanks to Guthrie and Marco, for the musical ride of a lifetime. I’m grateful for it all.

And to you, dear reader, I’ll say this: Even in the craziest of times, you just never know what good a day will bring.

You just never know.

-BB

P.S. Pete Decuir went on to a complete recovery! Also, Colin Green still comes to shows, and I’m careful to watch the videos he sends me in a timely fashion. 🙂

P.P.S. The picture is a never-before-released outtake from the photo shoot for the very first Aristocrats studio album, taken by Alex Solca.
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2 weeks ago

Bryan Beller

AND NOW A WORD FROM ARCHIBALD TWATTY BOLLOX: I have next to no experience in dealing with being included in a “Top 10 Bassists Of The Year!” magazine poll, and I didn’t even know it was a thing that was going on. So when this was first brought to my attention I was like, “Oh, that’s pretty cool, but I can’t post that, that’s just way too self-serving and weird.” But then I realized that ignoring it wasn’t really the best way to thank both the Prog Magazine and the people who voted for me, now, was it? So even though I have no hope in topping the reaction of perennial poll winner Nick “Archibald Twatty Bollox” Beggs (be sure to read his caption; you won’t regret it), I would simply like to say thank you to the kind people who thought to associate me with these other great musicians.

P.S. Where’s Tony Levin on this list? I mean…?

P.P.S. Yes, I know, there’s an elephant in the room on social media right now. I expressed my thoughts about The Current Situation months ago in great detail, and I still stand behind every word. It’s there if you want to find it, and I don’t blame you if you don’t. Just saying, yeah, it’s weird out there, and hopefully music still has a place in all of this somehow once the dust settles.

Nick Beggs Prog
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1 month ago

Bryan Beller

ARISTO-TEASE: This might or might not have been the view from my desk over the past couple of months. 😎 🤐What in the Dickens is going on here? Santa’s Elves may look a little different this year, but they’re working on a very Aristocratic post-holiday surprise. For now, let’s kiss 2020 a well deserved goodbye and look forward to a considerably more excellent 2021!

Bryan Beller Marco Minnemann Guthrie Govan (Official)
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SUNDAY READING: Thanks to Metalpit from Italy for this interview, which touches on the topic of The Aristocrats doing a G3 Tour with Vai and Satriani back in 2016, which was a totally surreal experience, as well as more current events. https://t.co/5gQm1LdrTy

Congratulations, America. That was, indeed, some weird shit. But we got this far. Not a given.

Hey Europe and Asia and South America and Australia: We'll figure this out and get back to playing live and loud as soon as possible.

Also: Gotta take the laughs where you can.

✨🏴‍☠️Immaculate🕯Loo😈🏴‍☠️✨@ImmaculateLoo

I think it’s really nice of Bill Barr keeping everyone safe by wiping down the podium.

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW - 10 YEARS OF THE ARISTOCRATS: A decade ago today, the band that would be come @acratsband played its first ever show. We're celebrating by announcing a new live album. I wrote an essay on the months leading up to that crazy first gig: https://t.co/IH0rQ74XJN

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