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Bassist Ben Shepherd
Ben Shepherd is the creator and bassist for the up and coming band Mr DanZ. Aside from playing in that band, he is currently the new bassist for pop artist David Archuleta, with another Mr DanZ member, Steven J. Robinson.
Amidst a busy schedule of booking shows for Mr DanZ and rehearsing for David Archuleta, Ben took the time to answer some questions about his musical background and his goals for both his band and his new gig with David.
1. When did you start playing the bass?
When I was 7 years old. I've been playing for 14 years, I started out on drums when I was 5 but gave up after seeing another kid absolutely destroy me on drums lol.
2. What made you choose the bass?
Well like I said there was that kid but mainly what made me choose bass was that when I was playing drums I was feeling the rhythmic aspect but I needed some sort of melodic aspect too but still have the responsibility of controlling the groove. Bass was the answer, but then it can also be a lead instrument too!!
3. Have you always been interested in music?
Absolutely! I grew up in a household where music was played all the time and my parents had a pretty diverse record collection too!
4. Who are some of your favorite musicians?
Too many to name but I'll name a few in no particular order:
Alphonso Johnson (bassist)
Jaco Pastorius (bassist)
Stanley Clarke (bassist)
Herbie Hancock (Pianist/Keyboardist)
Bill Evans (Pianist)
Christian McBride (Bassist)
Chick Corea (Pianist/Keyboardist)
Darek Oles (Bassist)
Pat Metheny (Guitarist)
Ray Brown (Bassist)
John Coltrane (Sax player)
Steven J. Robinson (You've probably never heard of him, some crazy drummer!)
Milen Kirov (Crazy Bulgarian Peasant!)
In terms of composers I love Debussy, Ravel, Charles Mingus etc.
5. You’re currently the bassist for David Archuleta, what’s it been like getting to rehearse with David and the rest of the band members?
Well its no different to any other rehearsal I have with other groups. We meet at the rehearsal space, chat/setup, talk about what we should rehearse, play the songs, joke around etc.
6. You’ve done one show with David so far, what was your favorite moment from
My favourite moment was when the mixing board that ran our in ear monitors died before we started playing. Our monitor man Beau Burchell was so calm and focused on getting that thing working again. People who have that work ethic are the reason why a lot of these events are very successful.
7. What's been your favorite song to play with David and this new band?
I like Complain because we all do 5 part vocal harmonies. Singing and playing bass is very difficult.
8. Aside from playing for David, you also play in the band Mr DanZ with another “Archuband” member, Steven J. Robinson. What’s that been like?
Mr. DanZ is a project of mine that I put together a year ago. The music we play is based around Jazz/Fusion but just like any group we have a lot of influences outside of that genre. It took me a while to get my own group happening because I was looking around for musicians who would fit best. Steven, Neil and Milen are the guys that make up this band.
9. As David mentioned at a recent show, you’re from New Zealand. Is there anywhere you’d like to visit or revisit while traveling with David?
Well it'd be cool to perform in New Zealand, maybe Europe?
10. What are your goals for the future playing with David Archuleta and Mr DanZ?
Well it's nice seeing people grow and David has definitely grown since his Idol days. A lot of Archie fans were saying after this Myrtle Beach show that David's sound and songs sounded more mature which is pretty nice because it definitely appeals to the older audience as well as the younger. Another thing was that they got another fresh perspective of David's older tunes that some may not have been a fan of but after hearing the way we played it in Myrtle Beach it became at the top of their list. So pretty much helping David grow musically is definitely a goal as well as creating a unique experience for the show.
As for Mr. DanZ, I'm in the process of writing more material for that group and trying to get gigs around town. It's very hard getting gigs around LA even though this sort of music came out of LA. Sometimes club owners aren't interested in having a loud fusion band at their jazz club or some just don't return your calls or emails at all. Some even aren't interested because you're a new upcoming band and don't have much of a following, others ask for a deposit to play and ask you to sell tickets and if you don't sell all the tickets you have to pay them the amount you couldn't make, that is what we call pay to play which I strictly don't believe in at all! So as you can see Mr. DanZ' goal is to get gigs because it is a great band and needs to be seen!
11. Where can people catch up with you? Website? Twitter? Facebook?
My girlfriend is re-designing my website so that will be up pretty soon. I have a Facebook but I only accept people I know and are my personal friends mainly because that page is my personal page. So if you add me I will decline but you can join the Mr. DanZ Facebook fan page. I am also on Twitter so instead of Facebook follow me on Twitter. There's also Youtube, Myspace etc.
12. Any message to all of the Archie fans who are now supporting you?
Thank you for all your support and your kind welcomes. We look forward to performing in front of you all and meeting you. This is gonna be a great one!!
I know there’s a bright future for Mr DanZ as well as this great gig with David Archuleta. Thanks so much to Ben for taking the time do to this with me! We all look forward to hearing the awesome bass playing!