Tru James
Model(s) Used: ATK 5-string
Band: Stone Mecca
Ibanez: You've been involved with many different artists over the years. How did you start getting involved with music?
Tru: I started playing the drums when I was 9 years old. When I was about 17, I bought a cheap little Sears guitar. I taught myself how to play, and got involved that way with learning about music. The reason I jumped on bass was that I had a band, and we had to do a recording of what we played live. They could not record as well as they played live. So when we tried to put it down it was off time and sounded crazy. I was with Earth, Wind, and Fire at the time, and there was a time limit on it. Maurice really wanted to work with me, because he saw me carrying my guitar around everywhere with me. He had also seen me play percussion, and I danced and stuff like that. So when he got off the tour, he wanted to hear something. He actually wanted to do a solo thing with me, a Bobby Brown type thing, but that was never really who I was. I wanted to play the instruments and do the whole thing. So anyways, I had to learn bass technique as well as keyboard parts and stuff just so that we could lay the tracks down quickly. So I really had to expand my knowledge of what I could play, and from there on I just played all of it anyway.

Ibanez: What are some of the things you look for in a good bass sound?
Tru: The roundness of the bass is one big thing. It has to be thick and round, and it has to have a nice presence to it. I've played basses where they're pretty thin sounding. Even though they've got nice bass sounds, they just don't sound fat on the recording. You have to enhance them with some outboard gear. When I first played the ATK just going through the board, it sounded round and big. It has so many adjustments that you can get pretty much any sound you want right off the bass. Not only did I notice it, but I used to work on [Ice] Cube's stuff and a lot of west coast rapper's albums. I also worked on a lot of r & b stuff, and they would all notice it. They'd be like, "Man, what kind of bass is that?" I didn't have to do any mixing or anything to add to it. I like a little bit of a vintage sound, too, because I do a lot of plucking and fingering. I just want it to come across and be present in the mix.

Ibanez: What function do you think a good bass part serves within a song?
Tru: You know it really depends on the song. Sometimes I hear just a simple bass line, because that's all the song needed. I always give the song what it needs. If I can get away with adding extra things in it that the average listener won't catch but enhance the song, then that's what I'll do with the bass. Sometimes I'll throw in a little pluck here and there or something where you wouldn't even know the bass is doing it.

Ibanez: How did Stone Mecca get started?
Tru: Stone Mecca was an idea I had, and I wanted to bring a movement together of people that was true to music and the real feeling and sound of music that we once had. I also wanted to have the hypnotic effect and hard hitting beats of today's music and hip-hop and stuff. Nobody was able to do that successfully, I felt. Like RZA said when I dealt with him, we were the first group to ever be able to do that and it "worked". Those were his exact words. He said that it was like digging through his crates and finding the joint, but it was new. That's why we call the movement "future soul". The name came to me when I was on the plane. I wanted it to be where people could depend on music again and depend on a group. So the "Stone" is because it's solid. "Mecca" is like the coming home or the place where you go to ground yourself again. So you put them both together and you've got a solid home. That's what the whole concept of Stone Mecca is and where it came from.

Ibanez: What is the writing process like for new material in that band?
Tru: It's like a kitchen. When you're making a meal, whatever chefs that need to come in and add to the meal or the dish then that's what's needed. So when you're writing a song, maybe this person doesn't need to come in on this song. Sometimes maybe we need everybody on this joint. Whatever the song tells us to do, that's what we do.

Ibanez: What do you have coming up over the next few months?
Tru: We have the RZA/Stone Mecca tour coming up. We're doing a split bill. The first date is June 10th in Texas. So we'll be hitting all over the US and in Canada. Then we've got Earth, Wind, and Fire. We have dates that we're lining up with them. We're definitely opening up for them. We're just solidifying the dates and places. The debut album, First Contact, was also released this month. It's available now on iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, and all those places. It's also available at StoneMecca.com and Myspace.com/stonemecca.

Ibanez: What are you listening to right now?
Tru: Right now it's funny! I'm in the car driving to have a meeting with RZA, and I'm listening to "Birth of a Prince" by Bobby Digital. It's one of his solo albums. I'm refreshing my ears, because we're learning all of his songs to back him on the tour. The band is going to do our set, and then we're going to play behind him for his set. We're putting a big show together. So I'm actually right now listening to that [laughs].



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