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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5 days ago

Bryan Beller

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2 weeks ago

Bryan Beller

G4 EXPERIENCE: G is for GOBBLE this weekend, but come early January it means Joe Satriani's The G4 Experience, featuring Steve Morse, Steve Lukather, Peter Frampton, Eric Gales, Cory Wong, Mateus Asato (I’m playing with everyone I just mentioned, along with Kenny Aronoff and Rai Thistlethwayte as house band - holy moly I’m learning a lot of material in December!) *and* also Alex Skolnick, John 5, Nili Brosh, Andy James, and more. Just a few slots left!

Here’s a wacky promo video to celebrate the occasion. Joe did this in one take backstage during intermission of the last gig (Dallas) of the North American EARTH Tour. Now that’s show business, people! *starts tap dancing*

Happy Gobble everyone.
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3 weeks ago

Bryan Beller

HEADING HOME: Sending gratitude to everyone who saw The Aristocrats or Joe Satriani live this year, from an airport lounge at DFW.

I might not dye the goatee for a little while. 😉
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3 weeks ago

Bryan Beller

GEAR APPRECIATION POST: Like the pic shows, we’ve got one last show tonight in Dallas. It’s been an amazing year and I’m grateful to play such amazing gear. Thank you to:

Mike Lull Custom Guitars & Guitarworks Basses: The power trio of the black/quilted top BBMF5, the sunburst P/J 5, and the red 1998 Modern 5 continue to slay everywhere and anywhere.

Gallien-Krueger Amplification: For the tone, punch and clarity to hit the mark on my fussy high gain monitoring requirements on stage, it’s gotta be GK All Day.

D'Addario and Co. Strings & Accessories: Since 1996, they’ve been on every bass I’ve ever used, and every time out I remember why all over again. Plus the XPND XL pedalboard just earned it’s first 100-shows stripe!

Jim Dunlop Guitar Products Pedals: My pedalboard has more and more Dunlop/MXR on it. The Volume (X), the original Bass Wah, and now two incredibly musical MXR 6-band EQ’s for two different purposes.

Xotic Guitars & Effects: The classic Bass BB Preamp and EP Booster remain absolute key elements of my signal chain for drive and level management.

And I also want to give honorable mention to:

Zon Guitars Basses: Having possession of one of the late Doug Lunn’s treasured two Zon Basses made me realize that I really wanted to try a Zon Fretless. Joe Zon made me a beautiful Legacy Elite 5 fretless that I’ve used live on the bass spotlight Satriani tune “E 104th St. NYC 1973”, and it’s the best sounding fretless I’ve ever played.

Bananas At Large: When I realized I needed a bright rocking Fender P bass with a maple fingerboard to get the classic Satriani rock bass tone on a few tracks, I knew I needed a MIM model with the hotter pickups. As with any mass production model, some are good, some are just ok, and a select few are great. The folks at Bananas At Large picked out an absolute banger, and having that strung with D’Addario Pro Steels is a whole new bright and chimey world for me. Thank you Bananas! (Of course, since I used that bass for the first three songs of the Satriani show, it ended up in a lot of pictures! But I played my Mike Lull BBMF5 for most of the show.)

I have tremendous appreciation for all of these folks. I am notoriously finicky about gear and tonal issues, and without all of this great equipment, I’d still be onstage thinking “well it sounds good but it really should sound like this other thing…” and I’d be distracted from being in the moment, which is the seed corn of a great live performance. Luckily for me, I get to play all of the gear I just described, which gives me the best possible shot at delivering something honest and true to what I’m trying to musically project. And like I said, I’m deeply grateful.

📸 Al Linkous / San Antonio
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3 weeks ago

Bryan Beller

TWO SATRIANI SHOWS LEFT: House Of Blues Houston tonight, Majestic Theater in Dallas tomorrow. My last two shows of the year after nearly 100 since July 1.

Let's sprint across the tape, Texas!

📸 Norrsken Photography and Design
Joe Satriani
Mike Lull Custom Guitars & Guitarworks
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Andor was amazing. Fave review kicker: "This rebellion is ready to kill fascists." (Sabina Graves for Gizmodo AUS). You're GD right.

Hotter take- This is what movie Ep. 9 *should* have been: A galaxy-wide rebellion. After TLJ, it was the only way forward that woulda worked.

SOON: Joe Satriani G4 Experience, featuring Steve More, Steve Lukather, Peter Frampton, Eric Gales, Cory Wong, Mateus Asato (me + Kenny + Rai = house band for all 6!) & also Alex Skolnick, John 5, Nili Brosh, Andy James & more. Wacky promo vid follows.

Happy Gobble everyone!

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