John Dedomenici has always been rock solid every time I have seen him play, and that’s a lot considering how many different groups he has played with over the years. Currently he is finishing up a literal world tour with Jeff Rosenstock (previously featured) which must have been insane. He did most of this interview from Australia which is pretty cool if you ask me.
Gear Metropolis: Let’s start with basses you use. I know I seen you use a few different things in the past, so tell me what you look for in a bass and why you prefer what you use?
John DeDomenici: So I have 2 and a half id say main basses. My favorite and the one I’ve had the longest is a red 2008 Lakland skyline series 44-64 /duck Dunn signature model. I actually ordered that directly from Dan Lakin, the owner of Lakland at the time and got to meet him and try out a mess of cool stuff at the warehouse when I picked it up in Chicago. They have been pretty wonderful to me over the years. When I used to have the stock pickups in it and they died on me on tour they overnighted me new ones for free and whenever I go there they give me a free setup and changed the pick guard when that cracked once too. They asked me if I was playing the bass underwater last time I brought it in. I guess we get a bit sweaty on stage…
The bass is all original except for the pickups which I replaced with Seymour Duncan quarter pounder p-bass pickups. Originally I was just trying to buy a fender p bass with a j bass neck but all the basses I were finding from fender at the time were active and I want nothing to do with batteries. Rick Johnson from mustard plug actually turned me on to Lakland because the Duck Dunn model is basically exactly that, p body j neck. That bass is super fast which was useful in my :::cough cough ska days cough cough::: and sounds nice and big. It’s also a string-thru body which I prefer to get a bigger warmer sound then you normally would out some fenders. I’ve played over 500 shows with this bass and possibly way more than that. It’s been all over the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia. Every BTMI song I recorded on I used this bass. Besides my cat it’s pretty much my favorite thing.
My other bass is a 2015 midnight blue Rickenbacker 4003. I picked this up because the main band I play in, Jeff Rosenstock, has been playing more and more as a 3 piece so I was looking for a bass that I could play more chords on and get a bit nastier and bigger than my Lakland would. I got pretty lucky and found a 2004 on Craigslist basically for half the price you’d get one new and jumped all over that. Unfortunately about a month later that was stolen along with pretty much all our other stuff. Our fans were amazing though and crowd funded us all the money to replace everything so I was able to buy a brand new one in the same color though so I can’t be too upset about it. The only thing I’ve changed on it is I took the bridge pickup cover off and Installed one of those pickup bezels.
Basically whenever we play as a 3 piece I use this bass now. It gets a real nasty sound when you want it to but has a rounder warmer sound than my Lakland which fills out the band better and still has a pretty small neck comparatively which I love because I have baby hands. I’ve also started playing through a guitar amp on stage as well as a bass amp and splitting the signal to an octave pedal shifted one octave up so when Jeff starts playing leads I can play chords in the guitar range and bass range. The Rickenbacker ended up being perfect for that. It also looks super fucking bad ass and it’s basically the same bass Haruko fights robots with in the anime FLCL so that’s an added bonus.
My 1/2 bass is a Mexican fender p bass Mike dirnt signature series. After all our gear was stolen the lovely folks we were on tour with graciously offered to let me borrow their basses but none of them felt right so I needed to go out and just buy something until I was able to replace my Rick. I was originally looking for the mark hoppus bass half because it’s a lot like my Lakland and half because that’s just funny but the one store I went to didn’t have it. They did have a mike dirnt bass which I never tried which I ended up liking which was surprising because the neck on it is hilariously oversized. It has that old tele bass look and for the price it’s a huge sounding bass and is crazy loud. For $400 it was a no brainer. I meant to sell it when we got home but never got around to it and with my new fear of things getting stolen I decided to bring that bass with me to Australia and Europe which is where I am now. This ended up being the right call because upon arriving in Australia I was informed my bass was left behind in New Jersey by United and if that was my Rick or Lakland I mighta had a heart attack in the airport or tried to fly a plane back myself to get it. Luckily it was just this one which I didn’t mind waiting an extra day to get back.
When we recorded “We Cool” I actually used none of these basses. Jeff wanted me to use something different than my Lakland and I didn’t have the Rick yet so I used Jack Shirley, the person who recorded the records late 70s p bass. I was obviously not at all upset about this. My shoulder and back however were after a few days of tracking. Ok that’s all the basses I use!!
GM: So let’s talk about amps, I know you’re using a backline now (currently in Australia), but when you’re home what is your set up with Jeff? I saw you guys at the lanes as a 3 piece and it sounded great.
JD: Yeah I’m using some weird shit I’ve never heard of here but at least it’s the same everyday so I’m hearing the same weird sound everyday.
When I’m home I use mostly all orange stuff. My main amp is the orange bass terror 1000watt. I think it’s pretty much the perfect touring amp. It’s super small. It’s super basic, 5 controls (gain bass mid treble volume) and it’s crazy loud. I’m pretty sure I’ve never put it past 3 in any live setting. It gets real dirty when I want it to and can get nice and juicy and warm if I need to as well and with a million miles of head room. My cab is a 90s ampeg 8×10 which is also pretty much perfect for touring because you can basically set those on fire and they’ll still sound the same the next day. The size is a bit much but I do love that it’s basically ear level with me because we’re a pretty loud band off the stage and it helps me not need to be louder than necessary. Basically I’m pretty much into gear that’s going to sound good everyday every gig and need low year to year upkeep. And honestly I’ve AB’d my orange with some higher end all tube amps and I’ll take mine most everyday of the week. The head also fits in my civic in its road case which is tight.
When we play as a 3 piece I also use an orange dual terror 30watt head through an orange 2×12 open back cab which I send a split signal to through an ABY switch an octave up with a micro pog pedal to sound like a guitar when Jeff plays leads. I keep that amp pretty clean and just use an OCD pedal to get it dirty which is going to both the bass amp and the guitar amp. I can switch this on and off with the ABY so it’s not always happening but just when the leads occur. This helps us fill out the sound as a 3 piece and get crazy loud when we need to but still allow us the ability to get real quiet as a trio as well. Sometimes I will also bring an orange 2×10 bass cab out as well to run the guitar amp through along with the guitar cab but usually on tour we don’t have enough room for all that even though I do love setting up 2 full bass stacks next to Jeff’s fender deville combo. Jeff does not love that.
When we recorded “We Cool” I used a Mesa boogie 400+ through a similar ampeg 8×10 to mine. I really love that head for recording but as an everyday amp it’s a nightmare between its weight and the tube maintenance you need to do every year or so. 16 power tubes to change out gets expensive I’m sure.
GM: Yea I’ve been on tour with a bass player that used a 400+ and it was the worst. Not only is it heavy, but one side weighed more than the other so it’s tough to carry.
You mentioned the OCD pedal, is that ll you use? Do you feel there’s any low end loss using a guitar pedal? Also, you’ve been covering some of the keyboard and glock parts(sometimes while still playing bass) so how did that come about?
JD: My pedal board as of right now is a fulltone OCD, an earthquaker device cloven hoof, a Morley ABY switch a boss tuner and electro harmonix micro pog.
The OCD pedal being a guitar pedal is a bit weird to have on my board but I kind of just use it to give a bit of a volume boost and grit up the signal a bit as well as dirty up the guitar amp when I’m using that as well since that’s really what it’s intended for. I go back and forth on if I feel like there’s loss of bass when I turn it on. I run it pretty chill so that cuts down on the bass drop a fair bit. We were robbed a few months back and we had all our pedals stolen and most of mine were not easy to find ones so I’m still figuring out exactly how happy I am with my pedal situation. The OCD pedal is replacing an old prescription electronics pedal I had called a depth charge which I absolutely loved. The OCD pedal though is extremely versatile for both guitar and bass and it’s one of those things where literally everyone has one so everyone can’t be wrong ya know?
The cloven hoof I use as my fuzz sound. I used to be a big muff guy all the way but was tired of replacing them every 2 tours from being damaged. Jeff turned me onto earthquaker since they’re pretty indestructible. The cloven hoof does everything a big muff does too or at least what I needed it to and gets way way nastier. It’s also half the size which is great for my tiny board. (You want pictures of all this stuff btw?) and when I want to get extremely filthy I’ll have both the OCD and hoof on at once for songs like Novelty Sweater or Hall of Fame and it sounds like the bass is kinda on fire.
I use the micro pog to split the signal from my bass and put it an octave up to the guitar amp and I use the ABY switch to toggle that on and off and just keep the pog always on.
On “we cool” I just used a swollen pickle fuzz pedal for all the fuzz parts except on the song “nausea” where I just turned one of those old acoustic amps all the way up and that’s how I got that fuzz sound on that song. The swollen pickle is cool but I think it gets a bit too harsh in live settings.
Since there’s just 3 of us sometimes and it would probably take 5-6 of us to cover all the parts on the album at once we are kinda forced to play a few instruments so I have a microkorg which I play on a few songs for a synth bass sound and for the end of “darkness records” during the orchestral part. I also play bells on a few songs too and it even works out sometimes where I can just play open strings on the bass and use my free hand to play some bell melodies which is pretty neat. We figured before we did that AJJ tour last year that we needed to be more than just a 3 piece so if we could all be playing like 3 instruments and make all this different noise that would be interesting for the 2 of 4 opener. If that’s what ended up translating to the crowd I’m not sure but it was fun to take on the challenge.
GM: So I’ve seen you play with like every band on long island. How do you learn/remember all of those songs?
JD: Yeah I’m in a few.
Well for one when I practice quite a bit. I never want to be the person showing up to practice unprepared so I like to know the songs forward and backwards even before we get together in a group setting.
Usually my method is ill sit down in my living room with 2 laptops 1 with the songs I’m learning and 1 open with “notes” and just start writing the songs out note by note. I like to use notes so it goes into my phone and I can reference it at rehearsals. Sometimes I’m able to get Isolated bass tracks of songs from certain bands which is super helpful but not always happens. Depending on the band it takes me between like 10-45 minutes to get a song written out. Then I just listen to those songs a ton. I run a lot so I’ll just put those songs on a playlist and just run for an hour or so to just keep it all fresh in my head and just do that for like a week straight.
That’s pretty much my weird method. I also have a fairly good musical memory I think mostly from how complicated Jeff’s songs can be so I’m just used to retaining a lot of musical information in one song. It’s helped me tons when I play with more straight forward bands.
Jeff Rosenstock released ‘We Cool?’ In 2015 and just finished a world tour with dates in the US, Australia, and Europe