Paul Bisbano Interview

Paul Bisbano Interview (photo by Honey McGarvie)
"Bass Master Paul Bisbano"

Interview by Roger-Z (07/05/15)

Roger-Z: What first piqued your interest in music?
Paul Bisbano: Like most kids growing up in the sixties and seventies, The Beatles initially inspired me. After their Ed Sullivan appearance, we all wanted to be a Beatle!

Roger-Z: How did you choose the bass?
Paul Bisbano: I don't know. I think it actually chose me! Really, my brother played bass in his garage band when I was a kid. I'm sure that had something to do with it.

Roger-Z: Do you learn the instrument on your own or did you study with private teachers and/or music school?
Paul Bisbano: I'm still learning! No formal lessons, but I've been very lucky to have many mentors throughout the years. Some of my best teachers were older cats bestowing little tidbits of musical wisdom on me. I really love playing the bass. That's an essential ingredient in learning any instrument! Back in the late Seventies, Crown Heights Affair bassist Muki Wilson taught me how to slap. When I lived in Boston, Stu Hamm studied at Berklee College and I got to hang with him and talk shop. He showed me how to pinch the strings and get harmonics. Guitarist Charlie Scott also proved very helpful. After many years of performing together, he explained to me what I do. He said, "Paul, I love your playing. You get on the bus and sit down. And every once in a while you stick your head out the window and before anyone realizes it, you sit back down." Very good analysis from a great man!

Roger-Z: Do you teach bass?
Paul Bisbano: Not on a regular basis. I don't have a strong theory background. But if someone wants to learn some of my technics, I teach them. I'm always willing to mentor young musicians. There's so much more to the music biz than playing your instrument! You have to learn to deal with things like egos, taking the good with the bad and not taking yourself too seriously.

Roger-Z: What other instruments do you play?
Paul Bisbano: Acoustic guitar is my second love. I grew up listening to artists like James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and love the simple sound of a guitar and vocal.

Roger-Z: I so admire your ability to make any rhythm section sound great. What's your secret?
Paul Bisbano: Wow, what a great compliment! I think you always have to make it fun and not over think it. I play bass in a percussive, melodic way. It's easier to find a groove when the bass is thumping. I always try to leave space so the drummer can hear what they're doing, especially on the two and four. I also try to create an obvious transition to the one. It's also very important to listen to the whole ensemble! I play with some great drummers and that's always fifty percent of a good rhythm section!

Roger-Z: Who do you work with these days?
Paul Bisbano: I've been very blessed to have performed with so many talented people over the years. Freelancing allows me the freedom to play with a wide array of artists and genres. Local greats include Joe Louis Walker, Johnny Feds, Geoff Hartwell, Petey Hop, Pat O'Shea, Dan Carillo, Will Van Sise, Mike Murphy plus my regular gigs with Patrick Murphy McDowell and the "Boss" -- Blues Buddha!

Roger-Z: How has the changing nature of the music business affected you?
Paul Bisbano: The problem is that it has not changed! The average of 100 dollars per man for club gigs has been around for thirty years! It's a tough biz to be in. You have to hustle every day just to stay in the game!

2015 Roger-Z