Okay Joey, right out of the gate, who do you think makes a better sauce and meatballs, you or Jim?
- Jim for sure… that’s because I don’t know how to make meatballs, but if I put him head to head with my Nana, he will most likely not come out on top of that one.
Where were you born and raised?
- Bellmore, Long Island, New York
What makes the bass so special to you particularly, and how did you gravitate to it?
- I didn’t start wanting to play bass. I most definitely failed at drums and guitar when I was a kid, but when I was 15, I chose bass and fell in love. My dad has been playing since I was a baby, and it’s always been around me in my life. Once I picked up my first bass and felt that low end, I knew there was no turning back. I was a bassist for life.
How did you learn to play?
- I took lessons for many years with a private instructor, Jon Middleman, who played in a band called Greyscale. Not only did he teach me how to play my instrument, but he also used to sneak me into venues that I wasn’t old enough to be in and taught me what it takes to work hard to actually BE a working musician. Field experience is where I really learned the ins and outs.
Are there any other instruments you play?
- I dabble with keys and guitar.
How has your playing evolved over the years? Can you describe the changes you have made from your start until now?
- When I first started, I wanted to be a very flashy player (solo, tap, slap style), and as I learned more and more, I realized I am so much more interested in playing in the pocket and keeping the foundation of the song intact. I love to keep that low end pumping so you always feel the bass.
Where do you see the instrument 5, 10, or even 20 years from now?
- I think bass has really evolved from when the electric bass first came on the scene. From active electronics, multiscale, fanned frets, extended range (5/6/7/8/9 string) and everything in between, its much different now. With the popularity of digital modeling, I can see pickups and preamps capable of digital modeling being introduced.
Who would you say are the four players who would make the cut as your influencers and why?
- Jon Middleman, my teacher. He influenced everything I know about my instruments and how I approach songs.
- John Dammacco, my father. When I was young and impressionable, we would take a day every time I would visit him to jam together and listen to music. It kept me interested and kept me learning.
- Justin Chancellor from Tool. It’s almost cliché to mention Justin, but what rock player wasn’t influenced by Justin Chancellor? I am a very effects-driven player, and Justin showed how you can use effects with bass and still remain musical. He shaped a lot about how I approach creating fills and melody.
- Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails. He is my favorite artist in the world. Trent taught me so much about songwriting, layering, creating tension in songs, engineering and everything between.
We know your band the Neon Skyline has a new single “Golden Heart” that just released on June 25. Can you tell us more about this?
- Yes! The Neon Skyline was a quarantine project that became so much more in such a short time. Randy (drums) Dan, and I (guitar) played together previously for about 7 years, and Golden Heart was the first thing we wrote on the first day we jammed in years. After the music was written, we brought in the IMMENSELY talented Julia Lambert to provide vocals for the project. She completed the vision we had for our band. I cannot wait for everyone to hear what we cooked up for this one!
- “Golden Heart” was written about Dan’s stepdaughter changing his life forever and how much brighter she made his life. It’s a sappy father/daughter track for sure, but lyrically, I think it will resonate with people much more than that. It’s a powerful story of unconditional love.
What are you currently working on (studio, tour, side projects, etc.)?
- Currently, The Neon Skyline is writing music for our debut EP.
- My other band, I Ignite, is starting pre-production on our next releases, followed by entering the studio and releasing our 4th
- Additionally, I am in the process of writing my first solo album, which will be electronic dance music that I will be writing, performing, producing and engineering.
We know you searched high and low for a Bergantino 610 and found one! How’d you find out about Bergantino, and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?
- It’s a funny story. My friend Ryan, with whom I nerd out on gear all the time, had mentioned Bergantino about a million times. I had always stopped by the site and said, “Oh these are pretty cool,” and nothing more. When I was in the market to upgrade my cab, Ryan Mentioned the NV610T, and at this point, they were no longer made. So I spent about 12 months hunting one down and then impulse bought a Forte HP, sight unseen, because I was impatient. That was the greatest decision I’ve ever made on an amplifier. Eventually I found the 610T after scouring every Bergantino dealer on the website. It was New old stock, and I was A-OKAY with that! What a monstrous sounding cab! There are so many amps out there and so many that sound great. What’s important to me is when I plug in, I want my tone to inspire me. I want that permanent smile. I want that foundation. Bergantino checked every single box I had, and some I didn’t know I needed (see: HPF/LPF on the HP).
Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.
- I have been a Musicman artist for years, but Just recently acquired my two favorite basses I own. My #1 go to is my Musicman Stringray 5 Special HH with an ebony fretboard, stealth black hardware and a custom neon pink finish.
- My #2 is a mid-2010s Musicman Reflex 5 HSS with a maple neck and pacific blueburst finish. Something about the 2x jazz and 1x hum configuration just gives me any sound I could want.
What else do you like to do besides playing bass?
- I love to produce electronic music, spend time with my French Bulldog Oliver, watch TV with my wife, and I am a big gamer. I know I am very boring.
During the down time with COVID-19, what did you work on, and are you now out and playing again?
- Quarantine was a great time for music honestly. I did some YouTube covers with some friends and wrote a ton of new music. It was an awful time for humanity, but I was thankful to be fortunate enough to have an outlet to pass time and be constructive.
- We are not playing shows just yet, but as the world heals and opens back up, we will be right back in the grind again!
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
- Aren’t you sick of hearing me yet? Please make sure to check out my band, The Neon Skyline’s debut single “Golden Heart” available on all streaming platforms on June 25, 2021!
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