THANKS IN ADVANCE (2008)

 


Five years after his acclaimed debut album View, renowned bassist Bryan Beller (Steve Vai, Mike Keneally, Dethklok) creates an emotionally charged, personally definitive jazz/rock compositional statement about breaking through anger and finding gratitude. Drawing on disparate influences from jazzer John Scofield to Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, and even Rage Against The Machine, Beller cranks up the instrumental intensity with fellow heavyweights Mike Keneally (solo artist, Frank Zappa); drummers Marco Minnemann (world-famous clinician), Toss Panos (Larry Carlton, Robben Ford), Joe Travers (Zappa Plays Zappa), and Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard, Tears For Fears); and special guests violinist Ann Marie Calhoun (Jethro Tull; 2008 YouTube “My Grammy Moment” winner) and saxophonist Scheila Gonzalez (Zappa Plays Zappa).

“Beller engaged in some sonic soul-searching for his sophomore effort ‘Thanks In Advance’, and the welcome result is a bona fide entry for bass album of the year.” – Chris Jisi, Bass Player Magazine 

“I love Bryan’s playing! He’s solid, supportive and creative with tone for days. ‘Thanks in Advance’ is full of cool ideas, inspired performances and deep grooves. I definitely recommend it.” – Michael Manring

“Every tune sounds unique and compelling.” – Walter Kolosky, Jazz.com 

“As well-written as it is well-played.” – Nick Zaino, Skope 

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The Story Behind Thanks In Advance

Bassist Bryan Beller seemed to have it all: a storied sideman career (Mike Keneally, Steve Vai), regularly published articles in Bass Player Magazine, an acclaimed debut solo album (“View”, 2003 Onion Boy), and an executive corporate position running SWR bass amplification for Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. But the untimely death of a close friend in early 2005 exposed deep fissures in his own identity, and instigated a period of intense and sometimes painful self-examination. One year later, Beller had quit his day job, returned to life as a freelance musician, moved from L.A. to Nashville, found love, and experienced an epiphany that forever shifted his view of life, and his role in it.

Thanks In Advance is the musical manifestation of that journey. Set to Beller’s highly detailed, rock-infused, jazz/fusion compositional voice, it’s an intense trip through the heart of personal darkness – from the lushly dissonant orchestral arrangement of “Casual Lie Day,” to the searing, grinding dirge of “Cave Dweller,” and culminating with the frenzied “Love Terror Adrenaline/Break Through” featuring renowned virtuoso guitarist/composer Mike Keneally (solo artist/Frank Zappa) and recent Modern Drummer cover subject Marco Minnemann – before finally reaching a state of personal and musical peace in the title track and the album’s unexpected close.

“I was constantly unhappy, even angry, about my everyday life, wondering why this or that was all ‘happening to me,'” says Beller. “Only after a shock to my system did I get that, ultimately, I was the source of it all. Where I am now is infinitely more satisfying. So Thanks In Advance really completes View, which I now realize was a well-crafted complaint about things, and tries to convey how I got to being grateful for life’s everyday content, whatever it brings, as opposed to being angry with it. It sure wasn’t a painless process, but it’s been deeply, profoundly rewarding, and it’s a message I’d like to share with others. That’s what I’m up to with this record.”

More comfortable than ever in his own playing skin, Beller worked fretless, fretted, acoustic/electric, boutique and vintage basses into the mix, and contributed piano and guitar tracks as well. But he left plenty of spotlight for a stylistically diverse all-star cast: the aforementioned Keneally and Minnemann; drummer Joe Travers and saxophonist Scheila Gonzalez (Zappa Plays Zappa); violinist Ann Marie Calhoun (Steve Vai); View veteran guitarists Rick Musallam (Mike Keneally, Ben Taylor) and Griff Peters; keyboardist Jeff Babko (James Taylor, Robben Ford); and drummers Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard, Tears For Fears) and Toss Panos (Michael Landau, Larry Carlton). And that’s just the L.A. contingent; Beller tracked a whole separate group of Nashville musicians, including some veteran R&B grease in guitarist Bruce Dees (James Brown, Ronnie Milsap) and keyboardist Clayton Ivey (Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin) to complement the virtuosic firepower. There was also a personal touch, as Dees and Ivey previously recorded with the woman Beller moved to Nashville for: R&B singer/songwriter/keyboardist Kira Small, who also played Rhodes on the album’s title track.

While recording occurred in eleven different studios (primarily in Nashville, Los Angeles and San Diego), Beller bucked the remote-album file-swapping trend and personally attended nearly every session, bringing cohesion to the production and personally preserving the album’s narrative. “After a year of seclusion writing the material, I was more than ready to get out of the house and interact with the people I trusted to bring this music to life. Driving back and forth from Nashville to SoCal, with a van full of gear and basses and hard drives, going from studio to studio…it was really exhilarating to feel it all come together. That’s an easy one to be grateful for.”

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Thanks In Advance features performances by:

Guitarists

Mike Keneally (solo artist, Frank Zappa)
Rick Musallam (Mike Keneally Band, Ben Taylor)
Griff Peters (featured guitarist on Beller’s first album “View”)
Chris Cottros (Nashville session cat)
Bruce Dees (James Brown, Ronnie Milsap)

Keyboardists

Jeff Babko (James Taylor, Robben Ford, Jimmy Kimmel Live)
Jody Nardone (Crimson Jazz Trio)
Kira Small (solo artist, Martina McBride, Wynonna Judd)
Clayton Ivey (Wilson Pickett, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin)

Drummers

Joe Travers (Zappa Plays Zappa, Lisa Loeb)
Toss Panos (Michael Landau, Larry Carlton)
Marco Minnemann (solo artist/clinician)
Nick D\’Virgilio (Tears For Fears, Spock\’s Beard)
Marcus Finnie (Diana Ross)

Special Guests

Saxphonist Scheila Gonzalez (Zappa Plays Zappa)
Violinist Ann Marie Calhoun (Steve Vai)

released September 30, 2008 

Produced by Bryan Beller

Mixed by Mark Niemiec at Muggytone Studio, Nashville, TN
Key editing by Mark Niemiec on all tracks except “Cave Dweller” key editing by Erich Gobel
Mastered by John and J.J. Golden at John Golden Mastering, Ventura, CA

All songs written by Bryan Beller © 2008 Panorama Ataraxia Music BMI
*except “Thanks In Advance” by Bryan Beller © 2008 Panorama Ataraxia Music BMI/Mike Keneally © 2008 Spen Music BMI/Griff Peters © 2008 Pointy Peak Music BMI/Joe Travers © 2008 Travers Tunes ASCAP.

CD booklet design and layout by Mike Mesker

Photography by Griff Peters (all except noted), Wes Wehmiller (tray card) and Leigh Ann Villanueva (booklet back page)

Infinite and profound thanks to Wes Wehmiller, to whom this record is dedicated.

(c) 2008 Onion Boy Records, All Rights Reserved.

all rights reserved

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4 weeks ago

Bryan Beller

THE SHREDDINGEST STORY EVER TOLD: The amazing extreme-progressive-muzo album "Story" by guitarist/composer Terry Syrek has entered the wild as of today. Featuring impossible feats of daring by Terry, Marco Minnemann on drums, Mohini dey and myself on bass (she's on six band tracks; I'm on three), Lalle Larson on keys, and more. Check out the first single in the YouTube video on this post, and get the whole record at Terry's Bandcamp page at syrek.bandcamp.com/album/story. All I can say is: Modern guitar instrumental rock fans - prepare to be amazed. ... See MoreSee Less

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4 weeks ago

Bryan Beller

FINAL DAMAGE: Here’s the last minute of the Metallica “Damage, Inc.” play-through video I posted last week. (full 4K vid on YouTube: youtu.be/287k5-V38A8) It’s been a blast going so deep on Metallica this month. And honestly I had no idea they were doing the whole 40th Anniversary Concert thing when I started working on this, so the timing of the drop was either a coincidence, or true metal alchemy, whichever you prefer. \m/

Thanks for all the comments and love, and once again, happy holidays!

(P.S. About the 40th Anniversary concerts - they played “The Shortest Straw” which is my second favorite track on AJFA behind “The Frayed Ends Of Sanity”, so that was pretty great…but not as great as them finally playing “Fixxxer”! I never thought I’d have any reason to mention publicly that that’s one of my favorite songs on “Reload” - along with “Better Than You” and “Bad Seed” - but the universe truly provides. 😉 )
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1 month ago

Bryan Beller

DAMAGE INCORPORATED… GO!: In case you missed it, here's a short clip of my play-through cover of Metallica’s “Damage, Inc”, a tune that shaped my early playing (especially the flicking technique). To check out the full 4K version on YouTube, just go here: youtu.be/287k5-V38A8. I had a blast working on this, and nerding out with fans on it has been pretty cool too. 🤘 Happy holidays! (Insert your "the holidays are so brutal" joke here.) ... See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Bryan Beller

METALLICA’S “DAMAGE, INC.” BASS PLAY-THROUGH VIDEO: I know - I did *what*? Yes, I really did, just for kicks. Click here to see and believe it for yourself: linktr.ee/bryanbeller. Wanna know why I did it? Read more below…

(Note: To see the full 4K hi-res glory on a desktop, be sure to watch it on my YouTube channel directly.)

I’ve always loved this song, ever since it came out in 1986 and I was 15 years old. For that time, it was lightning fast. In order to play it fingerstyle and have half a chance at keeping up with it, the tune forced me to come up with a “flicking” technique - something I still use to this day for other purposes.

Now, many many years later, I thought it would be fun to capture my interpretation of this classic tune…and then have it professionally mixed into the track and “re-imagined” by audio engineer wizard Forrester Savell. Classic Metallica…now with loud bass! 😉

I really did this simply as a passion project, and as a tribute to Metallica. Hope you like it. Hell, I hope *they* like it. 🙂

Below is the press release (thank you Adrenaline PR!) in case you want to read about me in the third person for any reason.

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***Bassist BRYAN BELLER (Dethklok, The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani) Releases Play-Through Tribute Video of the Metallica Classic, “Damage, Inc.”***

***A new prominently-mixed bass track from huge Metallica fan Bryan Beller and a mastering reimagination from engineer Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Twelve Foot Ninja) brings a whole new depth and brutality to the original cut. ***

BRYAN BELLER (bassist for Dethklok, The Aristocrats, and Joe Satriani) has released a bass play-through video for “Damage, Inc.”, the classic final track from Metallica’s landmark album Master Of Puppets. A Metallica fan since his teens, BELLER decided to pay tribute to a song so fast and brutal that it forced him to develop new techniques at the age of 16 just to be able to play it – techniques he still employs today in other genres.

“It’s just such a fast riff,” says BELLER, “and the song floored me. It also intrigued me because I wasn’t a pick player, and I couldn’t imagine how any fingerstyle bassist could keep up with it. So I started doing this flicking thing with my fingers, and a three-finger triplet thing, and after some work I could hang with it. Then no one asked me to play metal professionally for 20 years, until Brendon Small asked me to join Dethklok. Suddenly I was like, ‘Wait, I have this little bag of tricks I totally forgot about!’ Then earlier this year I started thinking about getting back to this tune and really doing something with it that I could share, just as a passion project.”

As a 15-year old growing up in Westfield, NJ, BELLER saw the Metallica Master Of Puppets tour show in New York City on December 1, 1986, at a 5000-seat capacity venue which was then called The Felt Forum. Metallica closed their main set with “Damage, Inc.”, and BELLER knew he was witnessing something special, even then.

“I could tell these guys were going to take over the world – the energy in the room was just electric. But as a young bassist, I was also watching Jason Newsted hammering everything out with a pick, and I knew I couldn’t do that,” BELLER says. “And I never got to see Cliff Burton live, which means I never saw what he was doing with his fingers…and it wasn’t like the bass was mixed super loud on Master Of Puppets either, even though everyone talks about the lack of bass on And Justice For All to this day. So I figured, why not play what I would have played on it if I’d had the chance, as a tribute to the song that pushed my playing along all those years ago? Or put another way: If someone sent me this song for a remote recording today, what would I do with it?”

BELLER meticulously worked through each one of the song’s blazing riffs, brought them back up to speed, and laid down the track over the summer. Then he sent it to audio wizard Forrester Savell, who integrated the new bass part with a reimagined mastering of the original album track. The result is a Metallica Master Of Puppets track as you’ve never heard it before – with the bass featured prominently, on equal footing with the guitars and drums, and then some.

“Serious Metallica fans have heard the ‘And Justice For Jason’ stuff, but there’s no version of that for ‘Damage, Inc.’ And this isn’t really ‘And Justice For Cliff’ anyway, because Master of Puppets has a vibe on the bass mix, low as it is. This is just something we tried to make new and exciting. Forrester did an amazing job bringing out the guitars a little more, getting the new bass part in the right space, and just making the whole track heavier.”

Finally, BELLER went to Portland, OR in October for a video shoot led by Forest Gallien, who creates marketing content for the company that bears his name – bass amplifier manufacturer Gallien-Krueger, whose gear BELLER plays and endorses. “We had a huge rig set up for some other stuff we were capturing, and it just made sense to shoot it in front of something that big. It couldn’t be just another shot-at-home video. Not for this. Not for such an epic song.”

BELLER sums up his thoughts with some sentimentality for the band that inspired him as a young player and metalhead. “Really, this whole thing is a love letter to Metallica. They don’t know I did this or that I was working on it. I just did it because the impact this song and this album had on me as a kid was just massive. Also, I hope it gives more people some appreciation for this song in particular, especially from a bass perspective. This tune is not easy to play, even 35 years later! But it’s loads of fun when you get your hands around it. And the song itself really stands the test of time – the true mark of a classic track.”

* * * * * * * *
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OMG, Miss Minutes from #Loki just followed me on twitter dot com? This can't possibly be the "sacred timeline", can it? (I can hear her response: "Good luck with that.")

I'm a big fan of the show. Did I ever mention that publicly, or did she just...know? **theramin noises**

THE SHREDDINGEST STORY EVER TOLD: Terry Syrek's monster extreme-prog-muzo album "Story" drops today. Ft. @mrkempinski @mohinidey661 #LalleLarson & me on 3 tracks. Watch the YT vid, then run to Terry's Bandcamp at https://t.co/YCXGwsGlBE. Astounding work!

https://t.co/svzDKCpnDW

FINAL DAMAGE: Here’s the last min of the @Metallica “Damage, Inc” play-thru vid I posted last week. (Full 4K: https://t.co/Xtar0ILdAv) So much brutal fun.🤟 Thx for all the love around it. Happy holidays! (Also, they finally played "FIXXXER" in the big show this weekend?!)

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