“Steve Di Giorgio” by Dillon Collins
Take me through your signing with Alpha Omega Management. What prompted the move and where do you see the signing taking you as an artist moving forward?
Alex, the king there at AOM, and I have been friends for many years. We met about 10 years ago when I was over there in Italy recording the Faust album in his studio. We kept in good contact throughout the years and noticing that he was pretty wise and experienced in many aspects of the music business, I often consulted him for advice. I ran the question by him a few times, “when are you just going to be my manager..?”. And it seemed recently, that he and his team have been building and growing, that it was a good time. Consequently Testament, the band that’s been keeping me the busiest lately, has a very full schedule – which is a good thing! But, as a result of this, I needed help with balancing my own schedule as a session musician. AOM has expanded its realm as I’ve said, so the exposure and representation should help bring in some new contacts and new music to partake in!
You are largely credited as being one of the most influential bassists in the heavy metal genre, especially due to your use of the fretless bass. What were your early influences that shaped your sound as a bassist and how did you see those influences translating into heavy metal?
The hard rock / early metal giants are clearly a big influence on me. Geezer Butler, Geddy Lee, Chris Squire, Steve Harris, Dave Pegg; as well as the jazz/fusion greats that enlightened me at an early age. But once I heard guys like Timmy Grabber on the early Mercyful Fate, Billy Sheehan in Talas and Les Claypool on Blind Illusion and seeing Cliff Burton dominate the live stage…I just knew that there was hope to place metal bass playing out of the shadows. Playing fretless in metal to me was just an extension of having played it outside of the metal world. I might be recognized as the first in extreme music, but guys like Mick Karn and Tony Franklin were already playing it outside of jazz.
Before yourself and artists of your caliber, the bass, arguably, could be seen as a more background role, whereas your technical style really brought it to the foreground. Do you think you in part changed the way the bassist was perceived in metal? How do you see yourself as it concerns contributing to the shaping of heavy metal?
Arguably is right. I grew up and developed my playing listening to music where there was not one background instrument. Can you imagine Crazy Train not hearing the bass? Ramble On by Led Zeppelin without that bassline? Run To The Hills no bass attack? Roundabout no bass? Freewill by Rush with just guitar?? You get the picture, I hope. It was natural to me with this music shaping how I played. Unfortunately I don’t really perceive bass coming to the foreground in metal because of the “new standard” set from guitarists greedy for low frequencies, myopic drummers, engineers that lack ability and mostly bassists that accept the oppressed role.
To continue along you were a bassist with the band Death whom have been by most credited with cultivating and pioneering the Death Metal Genre, did your time with Death help perfect your style as a bassist? How does it feel to be credited with the invention of a Metal Genre and considered one of the most influential Metal bands of all time?
Totally helped me not only work on my style, but that band put me on the map. I was already playing technical style in Sadus and kinda groovy/techy on the Autopsy. And with Sadus that’s where Chuck found me and liked what I was playing. He invited me to jam with him and it was one of those doors that opened that was probably the most important for me. I didn’t have to learn a new style playing in Death, but in fact was really just pushed to keep being me, and even reach further. It was this support and encouragement to find ways to be more interesting and basically make it fun to play that helped me set my course for the way I always play bass. Unselfish musicians are hard to find, and not only did I find a good one, but he turned out to be quite the visionary as well. Being one to not rest on my laurels I am still, many years & many albums later, still trying to refine my style & approach to playing bass. So I don’t really think about what has already been completed, that’s not the direction I can go anymore.
Some of your projects have ranged from death metal to jazz fusion. Do you think being diverse musically is important for an artist?
For some yes, for some no. Depends on one’s capacity to enjoy and extract inspiration from what they hear. I’ve seen some shun different sounds in fear of them not staying “true” to what they’re also trying to wear into the ground. I’ve found for me, that just being excited and inspired about what I like to hear awakens the creative part of my brain, no matter how different or similar it is to what I end up playing.
You returned as bassist for Testament in 2014 and were a part of the crushing album Brotherhood of the Snake. How has this current run with one of the iconic thrash bands of all time been? How is the dynamic and current crop of touring?
It’s been really great, everything about the band from my first tenure with them has gone up a few levels. That’s really good news for a band that’s been playing thrash metal for 30 years. I feel fortunate to be part of the group again, and seems we spit out a kickass album last year. As a result, the chart positions are higher, the shows are bigger and the workload/travel schedule is a lot heavier. We all know it won’t last forever, so we’re enjoying the fans enthusiasm in these times. Of course you see Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth & Anthrax all still doing awesomely well, it’s all part of a bigger wave that hasn’t subsided for the genre in general.
Obviously you’re notorious for always having multiple irons in the fire with different projects. Take me through some of your other projects and how you see yourself with them moving forward such as Charred Walls of The Damned, Futures End and Sadus?
Not much to report on those three projects. Charred Walls is Richard’s baby, and when he feels like writing and getting us together to record I suppose he will. But we just released the 3rd album last year and with this not ever touring or really having much of a budget…it’s just a fun project we do without the pressure of expectations. The other 2 bands you mentioned haven’t done anything in years & years, and probably won’t. As far as anything else that is like those, as a kind of “return to” project… An album I did with a greek guitarist/composer in a band called Mythodea are finally planning on doing another album. Besides all the one-off recording projects and random irons that pop up from time to time.
What do you have currently in development and what can the Metalheads Forever community look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
There will be an album coming out later in the year from a band we formed, mainly of Norwegians, plus me and an amazing orchestrator from England. The band is called Terra Odium and has Øyvind Hægeland who sang in Spiral Architect and on the Scariot album I played on; Asgeir Mickelson who played drums in Spiral Architect and on the same Scariot album I played on; on guitar is Bollie Fredriksen who played with Øyvind in Manitou; and then there’s Jon Phipps handling the orchestrations who hails from the UK and has just recently worked on Moonspell’s latest album. The music isn’t the “next Spiral Architect”, but I would say it’s not a thousand miles from it either. It’s very progressive, technical but has a nice catch & groove that makes it fun to listen to. I’m really looking forward to this music coming out. I have a couple minute clip of one of the songs as a bass play through on my YouTube channel (just bass, drums & rhythm guitar audible, vocals & solos mixed out).
In closing we would like to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to speak with us, do you have a message or words of advice for your fans around the World and the readers of our publication? Good luck with all future endeavors.
Thanks for reaching out and for your interest in my music stuffs…! For the video mentioned, as well as all latest news and tour date info, everything is conveniently located on my own website www.stevedigiorgio.com. Thanks to everyone for reading, and stay Metalheads…Forever!!
Dillon Collins/MHF Magazine