by Alessandro Arrigo
Damian Coccio is a very talented bass player from Norristown in Pennsylvania. This is a “PEPPERTOOL” chat we had after I worked with him for the art direction of his new solo album which will be released next year.
PT: Hi Damian, welcome to PEPPERTOOL!
DC: Thank You Alessandro for the opportunity to chat together and for the wonderful work you did for the solo album.
PT: When did you meet jazz?
DC: I started playing Rock and Jazz Fusion at around 12 or 13 years of age (about 29 years ago). I always gravitated toward music that had a lot of room for improvisation which is what drove my interests toward Jazz. I grew up in a musical family and had many opportunities to explore.
PT: Why did you choose bass?
DC: I tried guitar at probably age 7 or 8, and saxophone at around 9, but neither stuck for whatever reason. The bass was different. The frequencies are low and you can feel them and it’s soothing. I didn’t really choose bass; bass sort of chose me. I played around with it for almost a year and then an opportunity arose for me to play in my father’s band. The existing bass player was a baker and kept some tough hours making it hard to attend practices. I was asked to play, so that’s what I did. It was fun and rewarding getting paid to play at such a young age.
PT: Which artists have influenced you and why?
DC: I have a lot of normal bass influences like Stanley Clark, Chris Squire, Mark Egan, Jaco Pastorious, etc, but the most influential person was Michael Manring. I went to a live show of his in the late 90’s and he blew my mind. Michael was using the bass guitar in a unique compositional and solo role. His compositions were beautiful and transcendental. From that point on I never looked at the bass the same way and it changed my life.
PT: Is there any artist you would like to collaborate in the future?
DC: I am really interested in composing more trio works that use saxophone, bass and drums, I really like that sound. Tom Tallitsh played saxophone on Something New Again. I really enjoyed working with him and look forward to doing more together.
PT: Do you like to play covers and which kind of music would you choose to make your own version of it?
DC: I like to play Jazz standards with other musicians, not for performance or recording, just for fun and practice. It’s challenging and it is a nice common ground to meet on musically.
PT: In your new album “Something new again” you play with other musicians. What is the difference between playing solo and with the band?
DC: Great question and this has been the source of many conversations in our home. Everything I write starts as a solo piece in some form. Some turn into multi-piece arrangements with other players and some do not. It just depends on how it feels. Sometimes it needs more and sometimes less is more. In solo works you can really have a lot of space. I believe that space triggers feelings in the listener that cannot be achieved any other way. I am grateful to have the opportunity to do both solo and collaborative projects.
PT: Where did you get the inspiration for the new album?
DC: It’s a collection of smaller inspirations, that’s all. The title Waves of Spring is the title track and relates to some experiences I shared with my wonderful and supportive wife Madeline at the ocean. The ocean seems to heal and refresh.
PT: Apart from the bass is there any other instrument you would like to play?
DC: I am really committed to the bass, I just love the sound of the instrument. Now I have a six string bass and it is more than enough for me.
PT: Your family name sounds Italian…
DC: Yes! My wife and I are both from Italian families. I really hope to travel to Italy and experience all of the wonderful and beautiful things I have heard about first hand.
PT: Which are your plans for the future?
DC: Good question, mainly just try to stay inspired. Continue writing and playing and listening.
PT: Last question, will there be a vinyl version of the new album?
DC: I hadn’t considered it until recently. I am beginning to experience the down side of digital music. Digital recordings seem to be more harsh than analog and produce more listening fatigue. I miss the smooth and natural richness of vinyl records. So the answer is that maybe there will be.
You can listen to Damian Coccio online at www.electrifiedbass.com
Check the website for show dates.