Bryan Beller is one of bass guitar’s most engaging, versatile talents. The 20-year bassist, composer, teacher and clinician has earned a reputation among listeners and collaborators alike as an immensely talented and tasteful bassist for some of music’s most daring and adventurous acts including Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Dweezil Zappa.
In recent years, Bryan has played the role of William Murderface in the live avatar of the virtual band Dethklok, from the popular animated Adult Swim show Metalocalypse. Dethklok featured the show’s creator and guitarist Brendon Small, drummer Gene Holgan, and guitarist Mike Keneally, another long time musical partner of Beller’s. In addition to serving as the live touring bassist, Bryan also recorded the bass parts for the band’s 2012 release, Dethalbum lll, and 2013’s The Doomstar Requiem, the complete recording of the music used in the episode of the same name.
Outside of session work and touring alongside some of progressive rock and metal’s biggest names, Bryan has a collection of solo albums and toured with his own project, The Aristocrats, a progressive rock supergroup alongside guitarist Guthie Govan and drummer Marco Minnemann.
Bryan is also a respected teacher, columnist and clinician, having made appearances at some of bass guitar’s biggest trade shows and conventions. Bryan has contributed to Bass Player Magazine, exploring proper pedal board arrangements and the flicking-muting technique. As a freelance writer, Bryan has penned cover stories and features on other prominent bass players including Cannibal Corpse’s Alex Webster, Tool’s Justin Chancellor, Christian McBride, Muse’s Chris Wolstenholme and even former Governor of Arkansas and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for Bass Player Magazine.
I had a chance to reach out to Bryan to see if he would like to participate in the ongoing How I Play series and he agreed.
Get to know bassist, writer, teacher and so much more Bryan Beller in this edition of How I Play:
Where Are You Currently Located?
North Los Angeles County
What is Your Current Gig?
The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Mike Keneally
What Is One Word That Describes Your Playing?
Supportive. I’ve never wanted or needed to be a “standout” player. I always just wanted to play great music in a great band with other great players, and hope I could make the whole band better.
Describe Your Current Setup and What Is Currently Your Favorite Piece of Gear.
No favorites, as the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Here’s my gear:
Mike Lull Modern 5 active 5-string jazz bass (1999)
Mike Lull P/J-5 passive 5-string bass (2011)
Spector Alex Webster Signature Euro 5LX (2015)
Gallien-Krueger MB Fusion Preamp
(2) Gallien-Krueger 2001RB Heads (power amps)
(4) Gallien-Krueger 410RBH cabs
Boss FV-50 Volume Pedal
Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
Boss OC-2 Octave Pedal
Xotic Effects Bass BB Preamp
Digitech X-Series Bass Driver
Darkglass Vintage Microtubes
Aphex Bass Exciter
Dunlop CryBaby Bass Wah
Providence Anadime Stereo Chorus
Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
tc electronic Hall Of Fame Reverb
tc electronic Flashback Delay
Xotic Effects EP Booster
Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus
G-Labs Power Box PB-1
What Is One Thing You Can’t Live Without?
Hiking in the mountains.
What Is Your Practice Space Like?
It’s completely mobile, by necessity since I’m always traveling. I use a Café Walter HA-1A Headphone Practice Amp, and the Transcribe music software program. That’s it. Every once in a while I will rent a large soundstage and bring my entire rig + pedalboard to soundtest for loud stages.
What Album Are You Currently Listening To?
Janet Feder, T H I S C L O S E. One of my favorite albums, ever, which just came out last year. She plays prepared baritone guitar, and creates sounds and soundscapes that, to me, are completely unique and incredibly moving.
What Book Are You Currently Reading?
I read political websites and blogs across the ideological spectrum. Somehow it helps me relax?
I’d Love To See ______ Answer These Questions.
Doug Johns, Pete Griffin.
What’s The Best Piece of Advice You Ever Received?
“Go for it.” From my father.
Follow Bryan on Twitter, visit his website and check out his latest band, The Aristocrats