Germany’s Gitarre & Bass recently conducted an interview with METALLICA bassist Robert Trujillo. You can now watch the chat below.
Speaking about the connection between heavy metal and jazz, Trujillo said: “Tony Iommi [BLACK SABBATH] was really influenced by Barney Kessel, who was an incredible jazz guitarist, and loved jazz music. So the difference is, when you hear a BLACK SABBATH song and you hear chord voicing, it’s not just the generic bar chord; there’s actually flatted fifths and ninths. [Tony‘s] doing jazz voicings, but that flatted fifth is bringing that evil textures to it, and the distortion. And then you get the drummer, Bill Ward. Bill Ward, when you hear his beats, he’s not just playing a straight 4/4 beat; he’s doing almost a hip-hop beat. There’s a song called ‘Sweet Leaf’. The drum beat that he’s playing, he’s trying to kind of swing and funkify it. Now, is he doing a great job of it? Maybe not. Maybe. Yeah. I think what’s brilliant about it is the fact that these guys are trying to do something that they think they’re being jazzy, or bluesy, or whatever that is — Ozzy’s [Osbourne] trying to sing with a blues influence — but what comes of it is magic. It’s different. That’s the ingredient; that’s what makes it special.”
He continued: “Now, if you wanna apply that to METALLICA, you can, actually. Lars Ulrich is not a jazz drummer, but he grew up listening to jazz. Why? Because his father, Torben — an incredible tennis player — loved jazz. Jazz musicians used to stay at their house. In Copenhagen [Denmark], the jazz community was strong, and he was a prominent, iconic sort of figurehead in the world of art and music in Copenhagen, Denmark at that time. So Wayne Shorter would hang out with Torben. Lars’s godfather is actually [saxophonist] Dexter Gordon, you know what I mean? A lot of people don’t know that. So Lars grew up infatuated with the British wave of heavy metal, and DEEP PURPLE, and all that stuff, and that’s his first love, but as a child, he grew up with all this jazz around him. So you listen to a METALLICA song, and you listen to the drums, and they’re not necessarily swinging, but the arrangements are different. Why is that? Because it’s more in tune with jazz arrangements. It’s very different. It’s not a traditional rock and roll production, in terms of the drums. So it’s really interesting how there’s this fusion between styles. And those are the things that make it different. A lot of people — like you average heavy metal fan — may not understand it.”
“Jaco”, the new documentary Trujillo has produced about the brief life and career of legendary bass player Jaco Pastorius, is now set for release on November 27 through on-demand and streaming services, with the soundtrack scheduled to arrive on the same day.
Trujillo launched a PledgeMusic campaign earlier this year to raise funds for the film’s completion, with incentives for contributors including bass lessons, signed Blu-rays or DVDs of the film and other personalized mementos.
Trujillo told LA Weekly that “Jaco” has already cost him a lot of money out of his own pocket. He revealed: “When you are trying to do it right, it’s costly. I’ve been a part of this film for five years. I’ve spent a huge chunk of money. It’s great because I feel it needs to be done, but I have [other] responsibilities, too.”
Trujillo explained that just because he is a member of METALLICA, that doesn’t give him access to unlimited funds, saying, “People don’t understand. I didn’t write [METALLICA’s huge hit] ‘Enter Sandman’. It’s a little different for me.”
The film will include interviews with Jaco’s friends and fellow music legends, including Flea, Geddy Lee, Carlos Santana, Sting, Bootsy Collins and many more.
Pastorius was a pioneer who influenced the sound of modern jazz and rock by redefining the sound and the role of the electric bass guitar.