This is most of the IAMA that Juan did, with anything I thought would be vaguely interesting. apologies for the wall of text..
What is your go to meal to make at home?
Eggs, over easy, with toast and black coffee.
Will you demo the Strymon stuff?
Yes, I have some to edit. I love their stuff. Clint from Dot Hacker uses their delays and does some incredible stuff with them. http://dothacker.org/
Do you have any advice for new musicians?
Also I just want to say the Frances the Mute is one of the best albums of all time and your bass playing is amazing
Please dig in the crates and listen to the history of music.
I love FTM! Best TMV record!
In 2012, I saw Lisa do an amazing performance in Tokyo and talked with her after the show a bit. How did you guys meet and start writing together? What brought Big Sir into existence?
We were in the band, Pet, in the 90's. We were on Tori Amos's label through Atlantic records (if you want to search that record out...its great and has JMJ on bass!). After that band folded, we focus'd on Big Sir w Tim from RATM and Bruce from Racer X. We wrote everyday for about 6 months and the other two dropped out and Lisa and I continued.
I'm having a hell of a time trying to set my neck in the "right spot." Do you do any of your own set up? And if so, do you have any advice on setting a J-Bass neck? So far, I've gone with the trial and error method, and have gotten a lot of both.
Anyways, thanks for all your work.
Eric's Guitar in Van Nuys Ca does all my setups.
Hi juan I love your pedals and effects website its helpes me kinda get my head around creating specific sounds and figuring out how my pedals shoild be set up. If you had to pick 3 pedals and only 3 to use for the rest of your playing days what would they be?
Boss CS-2, Sovtek Fuzz and my Vintage Electro Harmonix Microsynthesizer (because their new ones are awful!).
will we ever get to hear studio versions of the vato negro material with O & D?
I don't know where those tracks are.
What's your favorite album your listening to now??
Lastly, can I open for you when/if you come to Houston? How do I make that happen??
I love Tame Impala's record, Kendrick's record and James Blake.
What is the greatest moment for you of your musically career, as in a single experience?
Playing Mexico City for the first time with TMV and the most recent first shows with ZAVALAZ. Huge and profound experiences.
Is Dan Elkan on the upcoming Zavalaz album or he was added later? Why is Jonny Polonsky not touring with you?
Yes. He is all over the record. Jonny couldnt commit to the band's touring. He is still on some of the record.
What is your opinion of Trevor Dunn as bass player?
I am not familiar with his music but I do have a great story I heard about him. I heard he had a trio and they toured Europe via train with all their gear...drums, upright and I think guitar. Punk rock
Hey Juan, big fan. My question for you is this: What will the line up be on the new Vato Negro?
Same as Bumpers. Matt Sherod on drums/programming/engineering/mixing and me on bass.
Hello juan! im a huge fan and appreciate your contribution to the music and art world! I would like to ask what turned you onto a fretless bass?! Have you always had one??
Steve Evans did. He had one, I fell in love with it and so I bought it off him. It is my main fretless and has been for years.
a while back you mentioned maybe doing some playing with St. Vincent, Deantoni & Kimbra... has anything / will anything ever come of this?
also, is Big Sir gonna be in Boston anytime soon? I have a high five with your name on it.
Kimbra hits me up about it every now and then. It would be tight!
I hope Big Sir comes to the East Coast!
Hey Juan, thanks for doing this.
What are your current 'always-on' effects?
Rainbow Machine by Earthquaker Devices, gojira's trembulator, which we are giving away today at PedalsEffects.com, and Red Panda's Particle! Also Dwarfcraft's Pitchgrinder!
Do you have any musical influences that might surprise some people?
Dr Dre, DJ Premier, Warren G, Timberland...
zup juan, love your playing,
what make u start playing music? and then how did bass happen?
what keep you going?
appriciate your contribution to the web!
My father and his love of jazz music. My friends needed a bass player so I started on bass. I love music. Thank you!
How has Cedric been since the whole twitter indecent? Will ZAVALAZ come to El Paso anytime soon? Thanks.
He is an amazing father. He is a natural. He really fell right into fatherhood.
Hey Juan, good afternoon! Who is the best musician that you've played with?
My bass teacher, Steve Evans.
-What was the extent of your influence, (if any hah), on TMV records? -How've you and Ced been since Zavalaz? I just listened to a live recording last night and it was great! -What do you recommend a really new bass player to learn as far as learning rhythm and harmony with other instruments? I am not formally trained by any means but I've played guitar for awhile now and I'm really lost. Would be really sweet to have your input on any beginner material! -Can I have free pedals?
Thanks for all the great music, looking forward to new Big Sir!
It is too long winded to put down here but I believe I had influence on TMV'S life. Cedric and I love how stress-less the band is. It is really really fun. Just play what inspires you.
Juan, you are a beast. Definitely one of my favorite bass players. So versatile! Is there any chance Racer X will be doing any upcoming tours/shows?
I never know. Paul is a busy guy, I am, Scott Travis is. I love those guys.
Juan. You have the most unique bass tone. One question, give me your best three pedals for a player on a budget.
Behringer Vibrato, MXR Octave, MXR Phase 90.
Since you love TMV show at Mexico City, are there any plans for Zavalaz to come play here?
For sure. We will come through. Cedric and I, both being Chicanos, would love nothing more.
hey juan, been watching your videos for pedalsandeffects, do you use any software effects (vst, rtas etc...) or think you'll cover that at all?
it would be cool if you could talk to some electrical engineers on how the effects work and stuff
I do. I use plugins and I do love the Arturia synth and Vintage Drum Machine stuff. You should have those in your computer for sure.
I plan to interview some for sure.
Will Zavalaz be going on a bigger tour soon? If so, will you be coming through the Kansas City area? When can I hear this album? I will be patiently waiting. Peace.
Yes, we will. Yes we will, I would think. I love Lawrence! The album is getting mixed as I type. Nate Walcott did some really amazing keys on it and Dan Elkan is so damn musical on it. I can't wait for you all to hear it!
One more: If you had to pick three songs (not necessarily by one of your bands) to describe your music career so far, which would it be?
Lisa's Theme by Big Sir, The Widow or Cygnus by The Mars Volta, and Vato Negro's Bumpers.
What was your favorite TMV song to play live??
What's your viewpoint on At The Drive In?
My old band, Distortion Felix, opened for them and the Locust at the Troubadour back in the day. I am not familiar with their music except for the hit.
Long time fan of PedalsandEffects.com since day one. I've got a few questions: 1. Do you still practice? If so, what does a 'typical' routine look like? 2. How do you allow yourself to not overthink when you write music? I'm currently working on an album. I'm trying to sound like "me" but I end up overthinking everything wondering if that's something I would say/play. 3. What are you thoughts on Fulltone? Pedals and the owner. I hear he's a bit of a nazi.
I do practice but with sound design. I grab a pedal, see what it is capable of, combine it with other pedals and then record my results...all done at 5starr Sound Labs in Highland Park, CA.
What inspires me tells me what to play. Fulltone is ok. Not the most bass friendly pedals.
Hello Juan, TMV was (and still is) one of the most influential bands of my musical career so for that I have to take a moment to thank you!
Why do you think that your not a household name when it comes to musicianship, creativity and vibe? To put it simply... Why do you think your music doesn't hit the mainstream as hard as some bands that sick to regular cord structures? Will ZAVALAZ hit harder?
Most music I have been a part of is an attempt to move music forward and that doesnt always go with the mainstream, I guess. ZAVALAZ is very catchy so I wouldnt be surprised if this pops in the mainstream.
Hi Juan, which Mars Volta songs did you most enjoy playing live? Also, do you think The Mars Volta would have been more accessible or commercially successful if they had more typically structured songs like Cotopaxi or Molochwalker? Not that I'd change a thing about what's been produced, love your work.
Cygnus. Not sure if I would consider those songs commercially viable.
Do you miss working with Omar at all, or do you think that chapter has ended?
I love what I am doing now and content.
How was it like playing with John Frusciante? Any cool insights into the man that nobody knows anything about because he's so damn secretive and refuses to release all of his music?
Also - any advice for a new bass player? I've been playing bass for about a 1.5 years now, I try and put 4-5 hours in every day. My motto is just to keep practicing frankly. Anything you wish you knew when you were a newbie?
He has the best timing/rhythm of any guitarist I have ever been around. He is one giant musical dude.
Practice warming up and hydrate!
Hi Juan: how is your "approach" to ZavalaZ songs? do you use a lot of effects like in TMV, or your bass sound is more "natural"?
More natural but I do drop some wild stuff via the Particle by Red Panda. Josh Klinghoffer has one on his board too!
When writing a bass part to a piece that is already written, what are some notations that you consider that NEED to be there?
Do you usually apply pedal effects pre or post writing/recording?
Should pedals be used minimally or maximally?
be musical and less is more.
Although it may have been in jest at the time Nick from Tera Melos tweeted something to the effect of making an album as his birthday gift. I know you have something substantial on your plate right now but the two of you could make some killer noise....is this something you've considered?
He and I have spoken about it. We wanted to do it when he was here, in LA, on tour but I never heard from him. I am headed to Sac this week so I will track him down, make him do a video of his pedalboard and then we will end it in a freak, free jazz jam.
Do you play double bass? I think I've seen one on some of the photos from your studio.
No...I wish I had studied it.
Question: If it were up to you where would you like to see music go. Genre wise, instrument wise. Answer however you wish.
Request: If you can please demo the Fairfield Circuitry Feedback loop AND the new ZVEX Seek's when they come out in August. You do very thorough reviews; i watch them all Juan. Keep it up!
A little more towards instruments and a little less off of programing. Some balance would be nice. I have used the Fairfield Circuitry Feedback loop on a video on PedalsAndEffects.
Does Zavalaz have any plans on coming to Europe soon? It would be such an honor to see you play again.
hey just wanted to tell you day of the baphomets is one of my favorite songs how did you come up with that bass line
Solo was all mine, the bassline was Omar's.
Back in 2011 when you toured with ORLG+Cedric you guys played this 20 some odd minute jam, what is the name of that song? Was it ever recorded?
It was just one of several jams we did.
Has your perspective changed for playing for Zavalaz versus how you played for The Mars Volta? I can only imagine the "dictatorship" to "democratic" move must have been a change of pace for your work.
I have been in bands all my life and only one band like The Mars Volta. It is easier for me to be in a democratic band, for sure.
Hey Juan! Massive fan, you are a huge inspiration cosmically and playing wise.
A few questions I can only think of right now: -Did you ever jam with bosnian rainbows and do you dig them? Are you and Omar on speaking terms right now?
-Did you ever record the material you did with D and Omar for the ORLG stuff you guys did as a three piece...is that going to be vato negro material?
-What's the longterm plan with yourself musically?
-Do you dig Tame Impala?
-What is your relationship with Lakland and Fender currently?
I don't expect you to answer these all :P
love from Australia
I have not heard their record. Yes we recorded stuff. I plan on doing ZAVALAZ as long as possible. I love Tame Impala! I endorse Fender, I love Lakland when Dan owned it. I love Australia!
- Thanks for replying dude..really appreciate it. Yes tame impala are from perth where I am from! I forgot to ask when this ORLG three piece/ vato negro stuff will be released... or do you not know at this stage because it's omars stuff?
- It is not Omar's stuff...It is all three of ours work, mine, Deantoni's and Omar's. He probably has the hardrives but we all own the music.
Hello, love Big Sir and looking forward to ZAVALAZ! What is your favorite piece of music to play?
The end of Bottleneck!
Have you spoken to Omar since the breakup?
no, I have not.
You are such an inspiration Juan! I just wanted to ask if everything is going well with your polycythemia vera? Hope you are doing well health-wise! ;) Can't wait to see Zavalez soon and talk with you in person again!
My counts are stable! On meds and feeling well!
hey juan, what's the deal behind the Columbus, OH shows that got cancelled twice? Drove there three times to see one show..
I am so sorry. Cedric got sick. He lost his voice so instead of doing some subpar show, we chose to come back when he was healthy..
I am only familiar with your work on The Mars Volta, so I have a question or two about that. 1. There was a lot of very strange sound and a lot of dischord in TMV albums, whose idea was that and do you believe it was necessary? 2. Do you sometimes wish TMV was smaller? (Had less members?)
I loved the 2003/4 lineup w Marcel, Jon, Ikey, O and C and the last lineup w Deantoni, Marcel, O and C. So yes, the smaller lineups are preferred.
Hey Juan. We've met a couple times, at NAMM, Vato Negro shows. Always a pleasure.
My question for you: many years and many bass lines later, is there one that has stood out for you? A particular groove you tend to come back to?
Lisa's Theme by Big Sir, The Widow by The Mars Volta, and Crowd Control by Vato Negro. The new ZAVALAZ record has a bassline I am fond of ... Blue Rose Of Grand Street!
I'm actually just playing around. I would like to ask a serious question though..When you worked with Omar, who is a self-confessed theoretically ignorant prehistoric Neanderthal with respect to music (I'm probably paraphrasing...); and you, who I believe have received formal training.....I don't know how to form this into a question....but basically I was wondering if you could give me some insight on that working relationship, i.e. between a musician who has no training albeit being mega-talented and musically intelligent and someone who's has had received that education in music? Thanks and I hope my previous comment didn't peeve you.
I don't read music but I have a decent understanding of harmony and theory. Music is a language and you don't need to know rules. Just expression.
I know you're a big hip-hop fan--who are you digging right now?
Kendrick Lamar. I like J Cole, and I do like Drake...shoot me now.
Juan, Omar has stated that Bosnian Rainbows feels like a real band to him (where Mars Volta was rather just his dictated project). Is this the case for ZAVALAZ as well? Do you have more creative input than in the Mars Volta?
ZAVALAZ is a band! We all have a say in our future. We get along extremely well and have so much fun laughing and creating. We are sharing a tour bus w Dot Hacker and they are as funny. We should turn our tour bus into a reality show and put that shit on Comedy Central...
Any tips on how to increase speed on a fretless?
If you had to assemble a band of anybody, dead or alive, who would it be?
Bonham on drums, Hendrix on guitar, Jaco and me on bass and Cedric ripping vocals.
What's your favourite King Crimson record?
What up brother, how have the fans that have seen the ZAVALAZ show reacted to the music live? Is it similar to the vibe at a big sir show? How does cedric think you guys have performed so far?
It has been great. We have been having a blast. Fans have been really nice to us and they dig it, from what I can tell. Cedric loves how things have been sounding. Thanks to my bandmates, Greg Rogove, Dan Elkan and Nate Walcott.
Hey Juan, nice to see you back. Since you've last been here, I've taken up bass playing and even wrote some songs and played in a battle of the band. That's in large part to the works of yourself and a few other bands, especially after watching your P&E vids. I know this part isn't really a question, but I'd thought you'd like to know the positive effect you're having on others.
Anyways, I have some questions.
How is it reuniting with Cedric in Zavalaz? Has the dynamics changed now that you guys have moved on from The Mars Volta, and what makes this band so special to you personally?
How do you come up with those great bass lines for Big Sir? Actually, how do you write all your music? I'm currently writing music for a show where I'll only have bass, drums, and keys, and I'm trying to make the bass the lead instrument.
I've heard that people have been removed from Zavalaz shows for checking their phones. Is that from your requests (I know you guys don't want bootlegs), or is that the venue in question taking your polite requests too far?
Do you think you could get Cedric to answer some questions, or at least do a shout out or something?
How do you always stay so humble?
Cedric asked me to participate over a year ago. We get along great and we have a no stress band. It is awesome.
Drum beats/loops inspired me. I then add keys or guitar or whatever that compliment Lisa.
I dont think anyone has been removed. We just want people to wait to hear it on a record as opposed to a bad clip from a phone.
Thank you so much for doing this! I was so excited to see your name in the AMA list
What made you change styles so much? Obviously there's a huge difference between Racer X and what you've been doing the last several years.
Also, that bass part in Scarified, how is that even possible?
I love all styles of music so it is easy to adapt to what you love. We used to play Scarified at rehearsal around 180bpm.
Hi Juan, really appreciate this opportunity. Cedric already mentioned something about a Zavalaz world tour before. Do you guys already know when you're hitting Europe? Lots of support and thanks!
We are sorting out details for the album...after that, a tour!
I saw somewhere that there are strict cell phone rules at Zavalaz shows, if this is true (which I hope it is) how have people been reacting to it?
I wish fans would watch the show with their eyes and not through their cell phones
Do you feel that your role In Zavalaz is bigger than it was in TMV? I heard some Zavalaz clips and it sounds much different than what I am used to hearing from you, what can you tell us about the sound of this new band?
Yes, it is. I have a say in my future! The new band's music reminds me of being in my family's station wagon, growing up and the AM radio was blasting all the hits!
Hi Juan. I see online that you own a Squier Classic Vibe 60s precision. Care to talk to us about squiers and your experience with them? What strings do you use as well?
My main Racer X bass was an 80's Squire from Japan. They are great basses! Ernie Ball strings only!
Hi Juan, longtime fan here... I was also one of the unfortunate fans that missed the Raleigh, NC show due to Thomas getting fired right before... Can you shed some light on exactly what happened? It really affected my view of Omar, and from an outsider's perspective it almost seemed to be one of the last straws for TMV as a whole.
Thomas got really drunk, did some bad things and did some real damage to the trust we all had w him. Sorry about the cancellation.
Hey Juan. I did an interview with you last year for ultimate-guitar.com. Anyway, one or two nerdy questions and then for the popular world:
When you learned De-loused tracks, did you go and learn the exact fills Flea did and such?
Do you use the same setup you did with TMV with Zavalaz?
Is the Zavalaz/Dot Hacker tour ever going to make its way to the eastern US? Dying to see both bands.
if there is a demand, yes.
Why did the Mars Volta break up from your perspective?
Years of bad communication and resentment building.
I love you man. Will you ever work with Jon Theodore again?
God, I hope so.
- Or Deantoni Parks?
- I love D!