Ricky Bonazza has been living the dream, growing up in Italy and now living in Los Angeles. A bassist, producer and songwriter, he’s the embodiment of the hard working, never-say-die rock and roll spirit. He has an interesting story that goes well beyond his bling.
Where were you born and raised, Ricky, and how did you end up in Los Angeles, California?
I am from Italy. I relocated to LA when I decided to pursue my dream in music to become a professional musician and artist. I knew it had to be a city like Los Angeles where there’s a scene. For the person I am, LA just seemed to give me the best chances to succeed.
What makes the bass so special to you particularly, and how did you gravitate to it?
To me, it’s just the rhythm and the groove, the low end, the vibration, the backbone of every band, but enough to still be able to shred, if you will. I always wanted to be a drummer, but we lived in an apartment, so it wasn’t very convenient, so I picked the instrument that was closest to the drums.
How did you learn to play?
Pretty much by playing Iron Maiden songs all day. I took lessons and played in high school bands. I remember sitting down with just a metronome and practicing.
Are there any other instruments you play?
Yes, I play drums. I didn’t give up on them! With my first paycheck and some help from my parents, I bought a kit and put it in my friend‘s room. I play guitar as well and a little bit of piano.
Can you share some of the highlights of your career that you are most proud of?
There are a few, actually. The biggest one for sure is joining the Butcher Babies and playing Dimebash 2020 with them, one of the biggest events during NAMM. Then there’s my first US tour, which had always been a dream. I toured with a band called Dead by Wednesday, and we opened up for metal legends Flotsam and Jetsam. My second US tour with the band Zero Theorem was a highlight as well. We opened for Nonpoint and Hyro the Hero, one of my favorite artists. Performing at the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame during NAMM with former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland and Phil Demmel was huge. I was playing with David Ellefson’s solo band Sleeping Giants.
How has your playing evolved over the years, and have you made changes from your start until now? If so, can you describe the changes?
Yes, it has. I started by just hitting the root note to incorporate fills, then I started to incorporate slap and tapping techniques. The biggest evolution happened here in LA, playing all kinds of different genres and styles at these jam nights every week has definitely made me a better player.
What are you working on now during the pandemic?
On many things. I am writing a lot of music for my own stuff. Obviously, I’m always trying to create interesting content for my social platforms; the videos I’m doing right now seem to have a good reaction on people. We have been jamming/writing with the Butcher Babies, and next to that, I am mixing/producing different artists.
I am also working hard on my bass skills and videos and on improving my mixing and studio skills. I also started to write songs for a solo project, which I plan to submit for licensing in film and TV with a producer I work with.
What advice do you offer to the bass community at this time?
I would say just keep working hard if not harder; create something of you own. If you always relied on playing shows, it might be the time to learn something new or to improve a skill. To me, it really helps to see all the great reactions to my videos and my playing. It seems to resonate with a lot of people, and this gives me faith.
Can you share with us a little bit about the bands you are working with, including Butcher Babies?
We have a busy year of touring with the Butcher Babies, including some huge festivals. We just shot a new video for the upcoming single. As mentioned before, we have been jamming and putting together some ideas for new material. I am working with an incredible artist, an award-winning guitarist from Berkley, AM Dandy. I just completed mixing his upcoming EP, and I co-produced and played on the lead single that just came out. I am working with another killer guitar player from Switzerland called Clode Savage. I co produced, mixed and played bass on his last two singles.
Unfortunately, like pretty much for everybody, our tours and shows have been postponed because of COVID-19. We are still confirmed for a couple of festivals later this year in Europe and in the US, but who knows if it’s going to happen at this point really.
How did you find Bergantino, and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?
My friend Matt Denis, who also uses Bergantino gear, introduced me to it. It was right before NAMM. I was just blown away by the forté HP: the sound, the features, everything. It has pretty much everything I want from a bass amp. It is very versatile and powerful.
Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.
Fender and Fender. I have been playing Fender all my life! At the moment, there’s really nothing else for me. I have tried all kinds of basses. I dig the Dingwall stuff a lot, but at the end of the day, Fender just does it for me.
Who are your influencers?
Steve Harris is definitely my biggest. Also Jason Newsted, Geezer Butler, Frank Bello, Geddy Lee and Duff McKagan.
Can you share more about your studio work and experience here?
My studio work, as mentioned before, includes a lot of mixing and recording. I am constantly writing music as well for Music Libraries for film and TV licensing. I completed sound school and then freelanced in studios in the LA area as an assistant engineer. I was a Pro Tools operator, etc. That’s why I came to Los Angeles, because bass is not my only skill, and I feel this is the town where I can put all my musical skills to action, from playing to writing to mixing and producing. That was the goal.
The experience has been great but extremely hard. It’s been a grind ever since. I literally came to this town with a suitcase and a bass. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know the U.S system, how everything works, and on top of that, dealing with all the immigration stuff was challenging. I have no family here. It hasn’t been easy. It still isn’t, but I am very grateful for this time and to be able to be here.
Favorite thing to do besides play bass?
I’m an audio nerd! Everything from mixing, recording, engineering, and sound designing. Other than that, I just love to travel. For real, touring is my favorite thing in the world.
Band Link: https://www.facebook.com/butcherbabies/
Bergantino Audio Systems
Bergantino Audio Systems has been dedicated to developing and building the highest quality audio products and bass guitar amplification systems since 2001. Founder Jim Bergantino has worked in a number of fields in his career – from hi-tech electrical engineering to high-end hi-fi and the professional audio world. After designing custom bass cab-inets for many other leading brands, he went out on his own to start Bergantino Audio Systems. We have received numerous accolades within the musical instrument industry and continue to look forward with our designs and our unique approach to developing products.