Better Keep Your Eyes Open at Fusion Bassist Victor Wooten's Show
Listening to your solo work, and then what you do with the Flecktones, the two strike me as being worlds apart. How do they complement each other?
The similarities and the common denominator is that you're hearing me on the bass in both projects. People that know me first and only from the Flecktones get a chance to know me better and really hear my own writing. It includes a lot more of my upbringing: the soul, R&B, the funky stuff. But at the same time, people can listen to my music and hear -- if they choose too -- the Flecktones' influences, some of the melodies, some of the time signatures. It can be fun figuring out where my music and the Flecktones meet and where they separate.
You come from a very musical family. The Wootens have put out an album together. Was it competitive in your household?
No, fortunately it wasn't. It was inspirational. It's competitive in the sense that any young child wants to be like his or her older sibling. I'm the youngest, and I remember them being so good it was inspirational. I wanted to be like that, too. They were my teachers and they would help me. When it came to music, I can't see how there was a way to compete because we were all playing different instruments. Instead of competing with each other, we had to work together to make the band sound its best. Inspiring? Oh, totally.
It's clear listening to your albums that the inspiration is still there. It's pretty amazing some of the things you've accomplished on the bass. Is there still new ground to be broken with the bass, making new discoveries?
Always. And hopefully that will never stop. One thing to realize is that the electric bass is only about 61 years old. As far as instruments, when we think of instruments that have been around -- violin, piano, saxophone -- these things are hundreds of years old. So, the electric bass is an infant, and infants develop really quickly. And with an infant, you have no idea what it's going to be when it grows up. The electric bass is really like that, which is why in the short 61 years it's been around, we've seen dramatic changes. I'm positive Leo Fender, the inventor of the electric bass, could not see -- had no idea -- it was going to be the way it is right now. We've haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg. I don't feel like I've come close to reaching the end of even my ability on the instrument. The short answer is, yes, I'm still growing.
How's your bass-slinging? Is it still a regular part of the show?
I don't do it every night, but it's still in my bag of tricks. It's so funny: I went to sling the bass the other night on impulse and my foot was on the chord and it didn't go around. I slung it and it just kind of stuck in one place. It doesn't always work.
You haven't been here for a while, and it looks like you've got a top band with you.
It will be great to get back; I haven't been there for some time. It will be exciting to be back there with my own band, too. We're all playing three or more instruments, which makes this tour so much fun. At one point, you'll hear and see a string section, and at another you'll hear and see a horn section. Everyone's singing, there's keyboards, guitars, and it's a lot of fun. The singer may or may not play drums. It keeps the audience on its toes.
Sounds like a circus atmosphere.
Yes, you've got to keep your eyes open.
Victor Wooten is scheduled to perform Saturday, February 23, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.