From James Brown to Jaco, to Slayer and beyond – the rhythm of life – with Robert Trujillo

Robert Trujillo

Robert Trujillo

Robert Trujillo is the current bassist of heavy metal band Metallica.

Robert Trujillo is an American musician known for his role as the current bassist of heavy metal band Metallica. He also was a member of crossover thrash metal band Suicidal Tendencies, funk metal supergroup Infectious Grooves, heavy metal band Black Label Society, and he has worked with Jerry Cantrell from the grunge band Alice in Chains, and Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne.

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It’s important to have a vision, think about the future, and work towards your goal, things will eventually start to fall into place.

Andy – Hi Robert,  Thanks so much for taking some time from your very busy schedule to chat with me and the readers here at The Daily Funk. It’s a real honor for us to visit with you. You have been a hugely influential player to so many bassists world wide, certainly Funk is in your DNA. Will you please share just a little of how that element of your style worked it’s way into your life and on to the stages and ground breaking recordings you’ve done?


Robert – Funk is the best! That’s the Groove, the rhythm of life, it make’s your head bop, no matter what style. My mom used to dance to James Brown records in the living room in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I’d jump on the coffee table and play air sax etc… I think it was around 1975

I saw the Isley Brothers at the Los Angeles Forum for my birthday, It was the Go For Your Guns Tour, with Wild Cherry opening! Wild Cherry had the big hit single “Play That Funky Music White Boy”. After that, a year or two later my Dad took me to see Earth Wind & Fire (Spirit Tour). I even saw the band ‘War’ live back then, so many great funk driven shows. My older cousin Anna was totally into Parliament Funkadelic, Ohio Players as well as Cameo, she let me borrow her 45’s, some which I still have…lol (sorry Anna). I even tried to pop & lock, with dance routines etc…

I still loved hard rock, to me Black Sabbath is a Funk band! with hard rock metal edge. (Geezer Butler Rules!!!)

Anyway, that’s when I realized that it was all about the rhythm section to me, that’s what was really moving me and making me feel great. As a song writer till this day I try to infuse all styles, even with Mass Mental or Infectious Grooves there were NO Rules, anything goes, I really dig that form of creativity. Jaco Pastorius and Slayer were 2 of my biggest influences while writing music for my band The Infectious Grooves.


Andy – It was such an amazing treat to hang with you in Buenos Aries and see you play with Metallica there. I bought Kill’ Em All when it came out and have been a huge fan ever since. Your band literally defined my teen years from 1982 when I first saw them guys. It has to just blow your mind every time to see the people 40,000 strong out there singing along. I know it would be hard, but is there a few choice memories of shows that exceeded your comprehension of how amazing fans can be?


Robert – Almost every show has a special quality to it. On a side note: I just have to say, sometimes I close my eyes and envision myself recording or performing with certain musicians before I ever know them. It’s important to have a vision, think about the future, and work towards your goal, things will eventually start to fall into place. With that said, Mexico or South America will always guarantee a full blown crazed passionate audience, and in Europe our last show at Stade de France in Paris was super special, so many times we’ve driven past this massive beast of a stadium, so much history, especially with the World Cup etc.. I never would imagine playing a concert there, we did, we sold it out with 85,000 enclosed in that venue! (maybe I imagined that years ago??)


Andy – When you came by my clinic at the Cavern Club in Buenos Aries I was very excited to see you and so was the large group of kids that came out. You spent time with them all, showed so much kindness and even jammed a little! Hanging with you I always see such a humble force, and a caring person to others. What advice would you give to players who might be starting off on a music career? what values would you put in them to maintain kindness, tolerance and appreciation?


Robert – Always stay grounded with or without success, besides success is what you make of it, my wife and I don’t drive fancy cars, I drive an old Subaru Baja (my surf ride), and she drives a Jeep…ha! that’s where were it’s at for us right now. People should not measure success by money or fame. Always appreciate your fans, try to give them attention, it can be difficult, we’re all human, bad days happen, but I try to make the effort.


Andy – The Jaco Film has been an intense labor of love for you and is now finally being presented world wide to rave reviews. I’m so happy for you and for the legacy you have helped to further. Your son Tye is kicking ass on the bass, it must make you proud. I’m curious what he had to say about the film? I hope young players will be drawn to the film, and then explore the amazing contributions Jaco gave us all. Do kids these days dig Jaco as much as we did, and still do?


Robert – Yes, JACO (the film) has been the most intense creative journey I’ve taken in my life! There wasn’t a moment in those 6 years that I did not take a break from thinking about Jaco Pastorius, obviously this was fueled by passion, but you wake up in the middle of the night and you start thinking and writing, you don’t wanna know how many scrap pieces of paper I have around the house with JACO notes, even on tour, even in a Costa Rican jungle I’m on the cell phone working something out, always JACO, it drove my wife Chloe crazy…lol! I’m glad she didn’t leave me. Anyway, I definitely feel like Jaco was guiding this journey, but that’s another story. I hope that JACO will continue to be seen by people young and old from all walks of life, it’s just a really great story, it needed to be shared as a visual documentary film experience. I was hoping someone would make it, then I realized, well, I’ve got to move forward with this, full on, help the Pastorius familly, and help my friend Johnny out with this project (btw: Johnny is Jaco’s eldest son, I’ve known him since 96′).

My son Tye love’s Jaco, I’m currently teaching him the intro to Punk Jazz, and he’s NAILING IT!!! (at age 11) I’ve been teaching it to him on fretted bass first, and the other day he walk’s in with a fretless, and start’s playing it.

btw: We actually have a bass in every room in the house, so Tye’s always playing, most of the basses in these rooms have really bad action, and don’t even work, it’s good for you to play on these bass beasts, it make’s you have to work harder.

Hopefully our youth will embrace JACO as an inspiration for life, and learn for their own challenges, and discover the music and art of Joni Mitchell, one of my favorite gals.

Cheers!

R. Trujillo

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About The Author

andyirvine

Andy Irvine is musician, author, and educator who has achieved world wide recognition. His devotion to his craft of the bass guitar, and sharing that love with others, has established him as a leading musicianship coach and respected source of encouragement to countless players around the entire globe.

4 Comments

  1. josephmilstein

    Great interview. I love how honest and open he was! Well Done!

    Reply
  2. Fwilkws1

    Such a cool guy, the coolest thing about Metallica or any other band he’s been in. I heard Robert before I heard Flea so to me, Robert is my pioneering force in funk/punk/metal whatever you call it crazy and just a beast on bass. The kind of player that makes a band just sound better. Great stuff!

    Reply
  3. PaulD

    Damn serious win for the funk club. It’s like 2 weeks in and its the shit

    Reply
  4. abcpro

    when Jaco’s record came out, the bass sound Jaco recorded changed the game for electric bass…

    Reply

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