Juan Alderete

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Juan Alderete
Born (1963-09-05) September 5, 1963 (age 51)
Los Angeles, CA, United States
Genres Progressive rock, hard rock, heavy metal, speed metal, jazz, experimental, trip-hop,
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Bass guitar
Years active 1985–present
Associated acts Racer X
The Scream
The Mars Volta
Big Sir
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group
Vato Negro
Distortion Felix
Zavalaz
Website http://www.pedalsandeffects.com
Notable instruments
Fender Jazz Bass
Lakland Daryl Jones
Fender Precision Bass

Juan Alderete (born September 5, 1963) is an American musician, best known as the longtime bassist of Racer X and The Mars Volta.

Biography[edit]

Alderete was born in Los Angeles, CA the fourth of five children to Angel and Alicia Alderete. After moving from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1970s, he began to build interest in playing music when he was a teenager.

He was exposed to jazz music on a weekly basis by his father who was a big fan of jazz music, and often played it around the Alderete household. Alderete's other early influences included his brother Carl's progressive rock albums, which included bands such as Yes, Rush, King Crimson, etc. He started learning the basics of the bass guitar when he was 16, and was influenced by such players as Jaco Pastorius, Geddy Lee, and Stanley Clarke. His fascination with the bass guitar revolved around it being a somewhat "underappreciated" instrument at the time.

After high school, Juan enrolled in Musicians Institute in Hollywood (Los Angeles, CA). He enjoyed his time in the school, explaining that he was able to learn techniques and styles that he had never even considered prior to his enrollment. Juan and fellow student Paul Gilbert started their musical relationship during an audition that Paul held to find a drummer. Juan showed up at the audition, bringing a Musician's Institute student and drum-playing friend named Bill Lescohier. Although Lescohier was turned down for the part, Paul was impressed with Juan's bass playing; the two quickly sought to form a speed metal band that would incorporate Paul's advanced neo-classical metal guitar technique with Juan's solid bass lines. To complete the band, Harry Gschoesser joined to fill the drummer position, and Jeff Martin became the vocalist; the group named themselves Racer X (a title that Lescohier had suggested). With this lineup, the band released their debut album, Street Lethal, in 1986. Juan has been recording with Racer X ever since (note: there was a ten-year hiatus starting from 1989), and their latest album was released in 2002, titled Getting Heavier. Juan is credited as John Alderete on all Racer X albums.

However, four years after the creation of the band, Paul Gilbert left Racer X to form the band Mr. Big. The remaining members of Racer X decided to stay active in music, although they went their separate ways. For the next ten years, Juan would be involved in several different bands (including The Scream, DC-10, Big Sir, and Distortion Felix) as well as becoming an instructor at Musicians Institute. Not long after, he released his first instructional video on bass techniques and modulation.

Although Extreme Volume II: Live was released in 1992, Racer X was not actually reunited. That year, Paul Gilbert was touring with Mr. Big, and Juan was recording with a hard rock band called The Scream. In actuality, the album was just a compilation of songs that were recorded in concerts before the hiatus. However, around 1999, Juan got a telephone call from Paul Gilbert, who asked if there was any possibility of recording another Racer X album. Juan agreed, and Racer X reunited to record Technical Difficulties, which features new material as well as older songs that were never recorded.

In 2003, while working as a radio producer Alderete received a call from Omar Rodríguez-López of The Mars Volta while on their European tour with an offer to audition for the band:

He went on to record Frances The Mute in 2004. He has recorded bass on every Mars Volta album since, as well as a number of solo albums by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. Since joining the band, he has played at Madison Square Garden and was featured on the front cover of the March, 2005 issue of Bass Player Magazine.

Aside from The Mars Volta, Juan has been invested in his own musical projects. Big Sir is a group composed of Juan and singer Lisa Papineau. They have released two albums, and are currently recording a third. Vato Negro is a group with a revolving door of musicians, including Deantoni Parks, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, and Jon Theodore. Juan has played shows with both groups in 2010, in California and Fuji Rock Festival in Japan.

In addition Alderete co-produced the film The Sentimental Engine Slayer with Rodriguez-Lopez and former Mars Volta bandmate Paul Hinojos.[2]

After The Mars Volta broke up, Alderete joined vocalist Cedric-Bixler Zavala in his new band, Zavalaz, and is also the bassist for Deltron 3030. Juan also runs a successful website dedicated to showcasing effects pedals and other musical gear called Pedals and Effects.

Personal life[edit]

On May 1, 2007 Alderete announced that he had been diagnosed with polycythemia vera, a rare blood disease. However he also mentioned that he is feeling fine, will experience no side effects from the medication, and will continue to play music.[3] Since discovering his condition, Juan had agreed to become a spokesman for the MPD Foundation.[citation needed] Juan lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Anne.

Technique and equipment[edit]

Basses[edit]

In 2007 Alderete sold some of his Fender basses on eBay and donated money to the MPD Foundation for research on blood disorders.

The Laklands that Alderete had on tour are:

  • a white Darryl Jones Signature
  • a black custom fretless
  • a red Bob Glaub signature

Lakland had made Alderete a bass that if popular, would become a signature model, assumed to be based on his modified 70's fretless Fender Jazz that he used during the Frances the Mute tour.

  • Darryl Jones model body
  • Fretless neck with painted lines
  • Volume/Volume/Tone. (Passive)
  • Precision/Jazz pickup orientation
  • "Curb" style thumb rest
  • Killswitch

For live shows he was most recently using a white model with a white pickguard and maple fingerboard.

Amplifiers[edit]

  • Mid-'70s Ampeg SVT Amplifier (now Ampeg SVT-VR heads with 8x10" SVT cabs)
  • Early '70s Acoustic 360 preamp and folded 18" cabinet (the "Jaco rig")

Alderete was featured on the first issue of the online magazine Resonate, talking about his Ampeg Rig.

Influenced by players like Jaco Pastorius, Juan's main playing technique is to use the "standard" fingers to pluck the strings with his right hand (two fingers: index and middle). He occasionally uses Dunlop Gel picks, as well as his signature picks. He is also known to use two-handed tapping techniques and even slapping/popping.

Effects Pedals[edit]

[4]

  • MXR DC Brick
  • Electro-Harmonix Bass Synthesizer ('70s version)
  • Two DigiTech Whammy IV Pedals
  • moogerfooger MF-102 Ring Modulator
  • DigiTech Digital Delay
  • Boss LS-2 Line Selector
  • Fulltone Fuzz
  • Musitronics Mutron III
  • Musitronics Mutron Micro V
  • Electro-Harmonix Sovtek Fuzz (second issue)
  • MXR Phase 100
  • Digitech Bass Synth Wah
  • Boss PN-2 Pan Tremolo
  • Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
  • Two Boss CS-2 Compressor/Sustainers
  • Dunlop Bass Crybaby Wah
  • Boss OC-2 Octave
  • Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
  • Wren and Cuff Phat Phuk B
  • Wren and Cuff Tri Pie 70
  • Line 6 DL4 Delay
  • Ernie Ball Volume Pedal
  • DOD Meat Box Sub Octave Pedal

Discography[edit]

With Racer X[edit]

With The Scream[edit]

  • Let It Scream (1991)
  • Takin' It To The Next Level (Recorded in 1993, unreleased)

With DC-10[edit]

  • Co-Burn (1995)

With Distortion Felix[edit]

With Big Sir[edit]

With The Mars Volta[edit]

With Omar Rodríguez-López[edit]

With Free Moral Agents[edit]

With Vato Negro[edit]

With Zavalaz[edit]

  • All Those Nights We Never Met (2014)

Guest appearances[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]