dUg Pinnick is the front man for the Prog/Rock/Groove/Metal band Kings-X. dUg is a bass player’s Bass player. His smooth yet aggressive approach to playing has made him one of the most celebrated players in the world. We sat down with the always smiling dUg to talk shop, music and life.
1. Let’s start from the beginning. At what age did you pick up the bass?
I was actually 23 years old when I first payed a bass guitar. I noticed the bass on the song "why do fools fall in love" when I was around 5 or 6 I think. But I remember after that day I was obsessed with the sound of the bass. I used to take my grandmothers broom and play air guitar all the time. When I was 23 a friend loaned me his bass, and I wouldn’t give it back to him.
2. Who do you consider your heroes?
My bass heroes are Chris Squire, John Entwistle, Jamir Jamerson, Donald Duck Dunn, Chuck Raney,
3. Even before King’s X you were a pretty busy musician, what can you tell us about your history?
I’ve always sung in front of people as long as I can remember. It’s just something I do. They saw and heard something that made them want to hear me do it again. All through grade school and By the time I got to high school I was asked to sing in local garage bands until I was 23 and got my first bass, then I practiced all day and night always thinking I was ready to play in a band, but people wanted me to sing because there was always a bass player and I probably sucked, I had no internal suck gauge back then, HaHaHa!! Back in the 70's the bass was a big deal like guitar, so there were a lot of bass players back then. The bass was in the mix instead of in the background unlike todays producers. They were passionate bass players who understood how to create dynamics, something that drives the band but doesn’t drown the band out, they are becoming a dying breed. After a while I started my own bands from my singing reputation, so they had no choice but to let me play bass and I’ve been doing it ever since. I do love playing bass more than I love to sing.
4. You have become one of the most respected bass players and singers in the industry yet you seem to also be such an underrated musician as well. Why do you think that is?
I have no clue, and at my age the point is mute. LOL!! But doing what I want all my life and getting payed for it is the greatest reward. And the respect is an added bonus.
5. You are such a workaholic, I see you working on so many projects at once. KXM, King’s X, Solo tribute to Jimi Hendrix, special guest appearances. You are like a Machine. What keeps you going?
I’ve always been driven but the music process has gotten so easy to do that I’m finding there’s less passion in music these days, no one’s really listening to nuance anymore. That’s where the magic is.
But I’ve decided to stop doing more projects for a while and let what I have done and what’s coming out in the future has a second to breathe. I need a break and I think people who love what I do can have a chance to catch up on everything.
6. Besides KXM and King’s X is there any other projects you are excited about that we can look forward to?
Yes, new Grinder Blues album. No release date yet, but its ready to go. Bruce Franklin and I are about to finish up our second Supershine album, the Hendrix tribute album is being released as we speak.
7. When you came to Schecter guitars you started on a Model-T, you later moved over to the Baron-H which was modified to become your signature model. Tell us about your Schecter basses?
I loved the Model-T! It has such a vintage feel, and I loved the color. Yellow with a black pick guard!? That’s the bomb! And when I tried out the Baron, I instantly fell in love with it. Easy to play yet still enough feel to make me struggle a bit to create emotion. You can still set it up perfect for those perfectionists though. I love the f hole. It looks cool. I love black anything so it called out my name. It’s light in weight so it’s great for your back. It sounds like whatever you plug it into, that’s amazing! I asked them to put “dUg” on the inlay and make me sum!
8. Being a left handed player must have had its draw backs in the beginning of your career. But being part of a company like Schecter that is praised for its selection of left handed guitars, is that a godsend for you?
The main reason I wanted to work with Schecter was because of all the left handed guitars in the brochure! I think I have them all now… I’m a lucky guy!!
9. I would like to delve a little deeper with you. When you started out you played religious music which seems to be unpopular in rock music, as well as you being a black man in a heavy rock band and coming out some years ago as being gay. Where there many doors closed to you and how where you able to kick them open and regain the respect you have rightfully earned in this business?
We set out to be a regular rock band. But because the media and people couldn’t put is in a rock category they had to find words to describe us. So to the world we became the Christian, metal, gospel, funk, groove rock Beatle-sque’, classic rock, led by a gay black singer/bass player etc... I could go on. HA HA HA!!
We were just being us, and when the Christian community found out we weren’t like them, and I was gay, they dumped us. And actually no genre has accepted us. I still call us just a rock band. Calling us anything else is just plain bullshit. We just kept doing what we do and we have been able to keep a dedicated fan base.
10. Is it easier now than when you were first entering the music industry?
Its 1000% harder trying to have any success in this music industry anymore. The musical gold rush of the 70-90's is over, now all we got is a bunch of amazing gold diggers but big corporation took it all. The musicians are still here, the magical ones are still being born every day! There’s probably a band in every town that could be the next Beatles or Zeppelin. But, we haven’t figured out how to let the masses know. Remember "smells like teen spirit?” The whole world heard it at once. It went huge! The Beatles; "I wanna hold your hand” on the Ed Sullivan show? Just about everyone who had a TV in the U.S. saw them do it. But the times and technology have changed. What do we do?
11. What words of wisdom can you give younger musicians on their way up that might have similar hurdles to jump?
Just keep believing in what you do, take advice from those who have done it and have been there, be creative, and remember this an adventure, no beginning or end, if you are a musician then you’ve been one all your life and your joy should come from being able to do what you love to do. And there are no guarantees in this adventure. It’s a life experience. Enjoy the ride!!
I never got signed to a major label until I was 38. That was Kings-X "out of the silent planet" in 1988. So never give up.
12. Speaking with you many times you seem in high spirits, mild mannered and content all the time. What is your secret to your happiness?
Fake it when I’m in public, and sing about it in my songs, and treating everyone as I would treat myself.
13. What can we look forward to in the future?
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