20 Questions w/ Black Sheep’s Willie Basse!
The classic line up of Black Sheep.
Well we’re always down for a surprise or two. Here is one to start off December as Metal Sludge has reconnected with an old friend from WAY back. Ladies & Gentleman, let us give you 20 Questions with Black Sheep bassist and founding member Willie Basse.
For those of you not familiar with Willie Basse or Black Sheep let us tell you there are ties to Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath and even SIXX AM axe slinger & ink boy DJ Ashba! Read on and enjoy.
1. Who is Willie Basse. Where are you from and what have you done?
WILLIE B – - from Ft Worth Texas, was a choirboy from 10-15 yrs old. I had extensive classical music training and worked with E. Power Biggs (famous Pipe Organ player, my interpretation of real heavy metal! When you’ve got 30-40 foot pipes doing the bass lines, man THAT’s Heavy!) When you hear the end of "LOVE WARRIOR" on my Black Sheep "Sacrifice" EP, there is a pipe organ interlude by E. Power Biggs!
I didn’t realize it at the time, but we premiered Igor Stravinsky’s Mass in C-Minor with the man himself directing us. I went to New York and sang at Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Carnegie Hall… We taped a TV Special that aired on ABC with Jim Henson & The Muppets.. a special to benefit UNICEF. We were recipient of two Grammy Awards… Recorded and toured all over the USA. I also did a summer season with The Santa Fe Opera, all before 15 years old! To me, all that was "Normal" just another gig…
2. Black Sheep. Give the Sludge faithful a quick background on this project?
KEG PARTY KINGS of the infamous "Sunset Strip Era" known for launching some of the best musicians in ROCK MUSIC. Motto was 3-bands, 3-kegs and 1000 metalheads!
3. Getting right to the nuts here. Being a black man in the predominantly ‘white’ hard rock industry how has it affected you, good bad or indifferent?
WHAT? I’m 50% Native American! My Grandfather was Oklahoma Choctaw and further, I don’t see color in human beings. Do You?
Editors note: Do we see color, sure we do. People have blue eyes, brown eyes, people have black hair or red hair, and some people have black, brown or white skin. The question right back at you Willie, do you see color? We’d say you do as well. See your answer to question number 8 third section."…was THAT a "Black Thing?"Willie Basse
Black Sheep at the Country Club. Slash on the drum riser with his red BC Rich.
4. You worked with Slash in Black Sheep project in the early days. Tell us about that, and why didn’t it go further?
I change musicians like other people change socks! To me, it all worked out just fine, I made him play Les Paul’s & Marshall’s… I think it went exactly the way it was suppose to! I have no regrets about any of it. Slash & Marc Canter told the truth about me in their New York Times "Best Seller" books. It’s great to be included, rather than discarded… It was a great privilege and honor to be part of one of the greatest era’s in music!
5. Your bio reads pretty deep working with musicians from Black Sabbath, Crosby, Stills & Nash, (Stephan Stills) to N.W.A. (Dr. Dre) and even SIXX AM’s DJ Ashba. The Sludgeaholics will be disappointed to see no association with Pretty Boy Floyd, Warrant or Kik Tracee, but of course Slash makes the list from Gn’R. Please do tell, who is the most obscure glam band member, or musician that Willie Basse has worked with but DIDN’T make the bio?
I worked with Hunt Sales from Iggy Pop, or REVLON RED ! ! ! I engineered & produced one of their early recordings AND it Kkraanked loud & hard! Wilpower Studios was right next door to DB Sound & Whoa Nelly Productions, matter of fact, I was there first and turned them on to the old Lankershim location. Warrant rehearsed right next door to me, for years! I consider them comrades!
6. Ok, time to Rate Bass players 1-10. 1 being someone who sucks balls and 10 being a bass God?
I love and appreciate them all, BUT LEMMY K. is the "End All, Be All" for me… His bass sound wipes out everything else, period! Infinitum ! ! Case Closed ! ! !
Gene Simmons = 10
Jerry Dixon = 6
Jeff Pilson = 8
Bobby Dall = 2
Billy Sheenan = 7
Nikki Sixx = 8
Lemmy Kilmeister = 11
Doug Pinnick = 9
Geddy Lee = 7
Duff McKagan = 10
7. Black Sheep formed in 1981, released your debut "Trouble in the Streets" in 1985 (On Poison’s original label Enigma) and then it wasn’t until 1999 that you released the "Sacrifice" disc which was only a 4 song E.P. Now almost a decade after that you put out the 3rd disc "The Money Grind". Why only 3 releases in nearly 3 full decades. Are you trying to pull an Axl on the fans?
WELL, I think maybe sex, drugs and real estate could have had something to do with it… I had a couple of kids, I went to rehab, got sober (now I have 20-years clean!) I built studios, became a recording engineer… Went into Real Estate, now I’m back to the basics… but the point of "The Money Grind" album is,,,, I was recording the whole time! the album is a compilation… 14 of 42-songs I have in the can from over the years in between. My guitarist MARK HARDEN who played on "Guitargasm" was killed in a car wreck! He was nephew to AL McKAY, guitarist/producer, genious – - Earth Wind & Fire. If Mark was still around, I’m sure everyone would know about him. We played his high school when Paul Gilbert was in the band. He used to hang around our rehearsal studio and beg us to jam and let him play. We were like, "Go away Kid" then one day, I let him on stage and he blew us all away! It was unbelievable… but his idol was Prince. BTW have you heard Prince play Hendrix? It’s pretty serious, the man can really play!
8. What 3 rock stars deserve a big smack in the mouth and why?
Kurt Cobain, for not appreciating what he had in the moment.
Jay – Z for even attempting to strap on a guitar, then trying to call himself a rockstar in a TV commercial… That was complete BS! and I won’t endorse, or put up with Bull Shit ! ! ! I mean, are you guys buying this SHIT? I’m NOT… Who hired this idiot? Most important, who does he think he’s fooling? I think Rihanna was a good signing, but Gym Class Heroes? He doesn’t know a damn thing about ROCK MUSIC! And shouldn’t even be in charge of the garbage! He inherited Fall Out Boy, and then had them redo a Michael Jackson song? "BEAT IT" WHAT the F**K??? Does he own part of the Publishing or something? It just couldn’t have been anything honorable to do with ROCK! I’m sick of that kind’a SHIT! That’s why the music business sales numbers are down and things are so fucked up right now ! ! ! You’ve got rich, higher up idiots who know nothing about what they’re doing, certainly don’t have the background and experience to call shots to get us out of the rut. It’s just BAD, BAD, BAD… I’m glad I’m not a part of it. Everything I do is from my heart. Real and sincere. And I think everyone knows that about me. I have always been a rebel and an independent and I will always be that way. I don’t give a fuck if you like it… It’s real. It’s live, we really played each note of it and it’s the magic of the moment in my recordings…. I lived next door to Darby Crash (The Germs) and he used to bang on my wall and tell me I was too loud!
Ted Nugent & Joe Perry for being stone-cold John McCain supporters. . was THAT a "Black Thing?" I guess we never really know who people really are.
9. Of all the bands you’ve shared the stage with over your career, who was the coolest, and would be labeled the biggest dicks ever?
One night we played a gig with DOKKEN at FLIPPER’S (a roller rink on LaCienega in West Hollywood) The bands were, Monarch (w/Michael Monarch – Steppenwolf), Camouflage (w/George Lynch), Us and Dokken w/Greg Leon on guitar. Great show, great lineup… Dokken comes in after no sound check and demands to go on stage in our time slot. Cranked up everything so damn loud that people walked out early and we ended up playing to only 50 people. That night really sucked!
Bobby Rondinelli & Willie Basse – the rythym section from hell.
10. Word Association. We mention a name, and you mention 1 word that comes to mind!
Paul Gilbert = MetalShredder
Bill Gazzarri = "Good Times!" – Miss Gazzarri Contest (Oh, that’s 5-words)
Geoff Nicholls = TEXTURES
CC DeVille = SHOWMAN
Andy Johns = BLACKDOG
Riki Rachtman = CATHOUSE
Mitch Perry = GUITAR
Howie Hubberman = GODFATHER
DJ Ashba = ASHBALAND
Bobby Rondinelli = METERMAN
11. Pick your Poison.
Slaughter or Vinnie Vincent Invasion = SLAUGHTER
The Viper Room or The Coconut Teaser = THE SLEAZER
Disturbed or Slipknot = DISTURBED
Ronnie James Dio or Ian Gillan = BOTH
Vinny Appice or Carmine Appice = BOTH
Slash or Bucket Head = SLASH
Rock of Love or Flava of Love = ROCK Of LOVE
Ruby Slippers or Creature =? ? ?
Sharon Osbourne or Wendy Dio = BOTH
Sunset Strip or Hollywood Blvd = SUNSET STRIP
12. You were doing music years before the CD was even considered much less the internet or dvds. How have you adapted to promoting yourself online, thru myspace, and beyond. What do you think the pros and the cons are of the "newest" age of music and e-promotion?
I love it! It puts me immediately and directly in touch with my fans and business contacts!
Willie slept on this bus stop bench during the lowest point of his life.
Today his latest release is advertised on that same corner.
13. Name the 3 highs and the 3 lows of your musical career to date?
(1-Low) When I asked the staff at ENIGMA RECORDS "What Happened?" They all looked at the floor, shrugged and said nothing…
(2-Low) Promoting my own concert at Perkins Palace on a JAN 1st holiday, (TOTALLY WROoonnnggG!) having everyone get stuck in Rose Bowl traffic and taking a $10,000 loss on that show!
(3-Low) SLEEPING on the Bus Stop at Hollywood Blvd & Western. Homeless, but I vacuumed the floors at Buddy Miles’ studio in trade for a storage locker for my Amps!
(1-High) Then Having Buddy Miles call me and fly me in to finish his tour and I ended up playing with him for three years!
(2-High) NOW, Today, Having my advert for my current album on that same Bus Bench I slept on!
(#3 – High) Playing with the Heaviest line up in the world…BOBBY RONDINELLI, GEOFF NICHOLLS, MITCH PERRY and having ANDY JOHNS engineer my next album! I had Thanksgiving dinner with Andy Johns and he says HELLO!!!
14. Club days! Give us a Willie Basse memory of the following So. Cal. Clubs.
The Roxy =MOTORHEAD & BLACK SHEEP (w/Randy Castillo) at The Roxy
Cathouse = Mayhem at it’s finest!
Country Club = Played there with SLASH… also had LA Guns open for me there (1st gig with AXL)
Madame Wongs = Played Chinatown every Sunday night… was there when The Police pulled up in a UHAUL ! ! !
Whisky-A-Go-Go = Played there with SAXON
Troubadour =We played there so much, they used our lighting system…Doug Weston personally booked me on my first gig and break in Hollywood.
Waters Club = Played there with Kurt James in my band. The "dancing waters" still worked and got our gear wet!
Gazzarri’s = saw Van Halen when they were a Top-40 cover band there.
Jezabels = I was so high, I don’t remember much… I think we played there with Leatherwolf
The Palace =My Grandmother’s Hero, LAWERENCE WELK ! ! ! (and the Bubble Machine)
Dude, cool bass but a killer chick!
15. Everyone loves a good Jani Lane of Warrant story from the old Sunset Strip legends like yourself. Got one for the fans?
I don’t have a Jani story, I never encountered him.
Editors Note: That shows you how old skool Willie Basse is. In question #5 he’s referring to the "original Warrant" with Adam, Josh and Max (pre Jani Lane) circa 1984.
16. What do you remember of these fallen industry friends and piers.
Robin Crosby of Ratt = a great human & friend, RIP
Dimebag Darrell of Pantera = one of the best ever… I was there when they pulled up to the Troubadour in a station wagon & U-Haul with "L.A.Or Bust" spray painted on it! No one knew who they were, but I did because we were in Metal Forces magazine together. We went to my studio after their gig, got shit-faced and jammed all night long… They had this new song they were working on… "Pussy Tight!" back then they were a Glam Band! Dimebag was called Diamond and he wore make-up… (I HAVE A PHOTO!)
Randy Castillo = A Purely Awesome Human Being, totally positive & unselfish.. NEVER displayed an "Attitude" towards me, ever! Played on my recordings for free, because he liked the music.
Ray Gillen or Badlands = Awesome Voice and phrasing ! ! ! RIP
Cliff Burton of Metallica =BAD ASS! RIP
Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot =No Comment, RIP
Rick James =No Comment, RIP
Randy Rhoads of the Ozzy Osbourne Band = He set the Bar! RIP
Tim Kelly of Slaughter =What a great guitar tone, RIP (He used the MORIN Amps too)
Dave Pritchard of Armored Saint = He believed in his band and their music, RIP
Willie can’t live without his bass. A true and through die hard for sure.
17. What 3 things can’t Willie Basse live without?
My Faith, my dog, my bass guitar… I’m ambitious, optimistic, and a Believer! My cup is definitely half full, rather than half empty.
18. Yester year with Willie Basse. What took place with your life in.
1972 = played Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and performed with The Santa Fe Opera
1976 = met and worked with Gary Kellgren, Hendrix engineer and studio builder / founder of The Record Plant Studios… Gary invented STEREO Phasing!
1980 =Lived at the Record Plant and worked with Andy Johns
1984 = Recorded 1st half of "Trouble In The Streets"
1988 = Checked myself into REHAB, I got SOBER! after relapsing four times!
1992 = Recorded with Judas Priest producer, DENNIS MACKAY
1996 = became a recording engineer
2000 = Toured off my single "Someone Like U" (did 18-shows in 30-days – I booked myself !)
2004 = built several recording studios, bought houses, Ferrari’s and a Bentley-GT
2008 = Putting my current lineup together and getting the commitment to record with my friend, ANDY JOHNS in 2009
Willie w/ friends at the Rainbow, including KNAC’s Junkman!
19. You’ve seen the inside of the industry for years, what 3 bands had no business getting a record deal off the Sunset Strip and what 3 bands should’ve gotten a shot?
No Comment, I know too much ! ! ! always liked Pretty Boy Floyd and thought they should have went way far, but I think "the suits" were fucking around with their money, budgets, how the promotion was done and where the money was actually spent. I know a band call Skunk Ananse, They were great and platinum in Europe, they were signed to get to another band on their label and when released here in USA, the new label picked all the wrong singles and it didn’t take off… careers ruined. Unbelievable!
20. The last of Willie Basse?
Last bowl of cereal you ate was = Cheerio’s
Last concert you saw live from the crowd = Heaven & Hell, Meggadeath
Last song you sang along to on the radio = "NIB"
Last time you played live yourself = Last Week
Last time you used gerry curl = In a Nightmare
Last time you broke a bass string = If I ain’t breakin somethin, I ain’t playin!
Last rock star you talked on the phone with = RONDINELLI
Last time you cried = a few days ago, When I bought our brand new gear Truck (a road-ready F-550 Diesel w/Liftgate! ! !) Ahh, the simple basics of Band Life still excite me.
Last famous person you shook hands with = ELENA GRINENKO (Champion Dancer from "Dancing with the Stars" TV show)
Last time you visited Metal Sludge = Every few days! CHEERS ! ! !
We give a big thanks to Willie for joining the Sludge family.
Look for Black Sheep & Willie Basse to be doing some shows in December featuring former members of Black Sabbath.
* Friday Dec. 5th 2008 "Gators" Farmington, New Mexico
* Saturday Dec. 6th 2008 "Whisky-A-Go-Go" West Hollywood, California
Information on Willie Basse & the release "The Money Grind" visit MySpace >HERE<