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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17 hours ago

Bryan Beller

SELF-EXPRESSION SUPERNOVA: Joe Satriani just dropped three albums' worth of music-minus-guitar backing tracks. And then he called some friends to see how they'd play over some of them, with predictably awesome results.

Playing "Rate My Skype Room: Home Studio Edition" for a moment, I give the "most gear" award to Steve Vai, and the "most elegant atmosphere" award to Lari Basilio. Some excellent hatwear as well going on here.
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4 days ago

Bryan Beller

LESSONS, SESSIONS & CONFESSIONS: This is a good a time as any to restate for the record that I - a primarily touring musician spending lots of time at home these days - am available for Skype private lessons and remote bass tracking sessions. Look at all those shiny basses - now including a certain special instrument I recently reacquired. 😉

Looking further on the bright side, it’s been quite rewarding revisiting some of the denser material in my bassist repertoire (Aristocrats, Mike Keneally, Steve Vai, etc) from an educational perspective. Sometimes I forget everything I went through to learn this stuff in the first place! For the brave souls who want to enter that process, many treasures and surprises await. Regarding sessions, it’s always exciting to bring new instruments to the table, as well as revisiting some old ones. As I’ve said many times, the song will always tell you what to do.

I admit that the “confessions” bit was just to complete a clever headline. (Wait, that *was* a confession, wasn’t it?) I don’t have anything to confess, other than, like so many of you, I have no idea when life will return to normal. It’s a crazy world out there right now. Stay safe, and if you’re a musician, somehow, keep playing.
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5 days ago

Bryan Beller

SCENES FROM THE FLOOD, ONE YEAR LATER: Hard to believe, but “Scenes From The Flood” dropped exactly one year ago today. (What a year, right?) I’ve said plenty about it, so I’ll turn it over to the folks who’ve heard it: How does it sit for you one year on? And if somehow you haven’t heard any of it yet (always possible!), I’m re-posting this one-minute promo clip for the album as a little birthday celebration. (Protip: If you’re thinking of purchasing this fine musical product, my website webstore is the best place to do it - vinyl, CD, or hi-res digital. There, I said it.)

For my part, I remain grateful it exists, grateful to everyone on the massive team that helped make it happen, and even more grateful for the incredibly generous reaction from so many folks who took the time to check it out. I know I have a tendency to be a bit wordy in text, so in an effort to avoid that, I’ll just say this: Aside from the video I’m working on right now (and hope to release in the coming month), “Scenes From The Flood” says everything I could possibly want to say about our Very Strange Year. It’s all there in the music, and one year on, I wouldn’t change a single atom of it.

(Want to know more? Read more about it here: bryanbeller.com/index.php/scenes-from-the-flood)
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1 week ago

Bryan Beller

TOBIAS UPDATE - THE INTERNET DESERVES A BETTER CLASS OF STORY: But, in this case, I can’t really give it to you. Or, to keep going with The Dark Knight meme language, the tale of my stolen-and-returned Tobias Lacewood Tobias #1402 isn’t the story we need in 2020, but it’s the story that 2020 deserves. And now I’m going to have to break My One Rule: Never tell a boring story. But I’m going to, right here, with as little drama as possible. In a timeline:

1991: The bass is built in Michael Tobias’ shop in Los Angeles. Luthier/finisher/musician Paul Slagle becomes the original owner.
May 1992: I reach out to Tobias via phone during my senior year at Berklee College Of Music . Somehow (I can’t remember this part) I am connected with Paul Slagle, who has one for sale (probably because there was a long backorder on new Tobias basses). I fly from Boston to Los Angeles to meet Paul, watch him play it at The Robin Hood Pub in Sherman Oaks, and buy it from him the next day.
May 1992-December 1994: It becomes my #1 instrument. I play it in a Metallica tribute show at Berklee, my Berklee Senior Recital, gigs with the blues-rock band 100 Proof, the Dweezil/Ahmet Zappa band Z (two tracks from 1993’s “Shampoohorn”, plus a 3-week tour of the USA), and Mike Keneally (a few gigs in San Diego, and the recording session for 1994’s “Boil That Dust Speck”).
December 31, 1994: The instrument is stolen (with no forced entry) from my North Hollywood apartment by a recently fired maintenance worker at the complex, who kept his uniform and made key copies. He had been in my apartment a week before to fix something (while still employed by the complex), and the instrument had been left out on display. Several eyewitnesses saw him entering and leaving my apartment minutes before I got home, dressed in uniform, carrying white garbage bags filled with “something”.
Early 1995: He was arrested, tried, and found “not guilty”.
August 2017: I posted this message in the Talkbass.com forum, along with a picture of the bass:

“This beautiful 1986 Tobias Basic with a lacewood maple top was stolen out of my apartment by a building maintenance worker in 1994. I bought it three years before and it was my #1 at the time I first moved to Los Angeles in 1993. The serial number is #1402. Somehow it never turned up at the local pawnshops, and since this was the pre-internet era, it's hard to know what happened to it.

23 years later, it's entirely possible that this instrument has ended up in the hands of someone who has no knowledge of its troubled provenance. If that person happens to be you - I will gladly pay a fair price for it. It's more than likely that the instrument stayed in California somewhere, but you never know.

What say you, TalkBass community? Any chance this shot in the dark hits light?”

September 1, 2020: A person e-mails me to say “I do actually own that bass”. He is located just blocks from where the bass was stolen and bought it from someone locally in 1997.
September 5, 2020: I buy the Tobias back from this person, for the fair price I said I would in the TalkBass post.

And there it is. Or as Paul Harvey would say…now you know the rest of the story.

The only post-script is that I have just learned - literally as I was writing this post - is that Paul Slagle passed away in March 2020 after a long battle with leukemia. I had no idea as I hadn’t been in touch with Paul since 1992, and I was planning on reaching out to him today. Rest in peace, Paul, and thanks again for being the first person to sell me this amazing instrument.

(Picture from March 9, 1994, at A.L. Gators in Baltimore MD, live from the Z “K.A.O.S.” tour)
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LESSONS, SESSIONS & CONFESSIONS: Now = good time to restate that I'm home at lot these days, and available for Skype private lessons and remote bass tracking sessions. Look at all those shiny basses - now including a certain special instrument I recently reacquired. 😉

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