Darryl Jones – On a Roll

Darryl Jones - InterviewDarryl Jones is not your average bass player.

Hand picked by the legendary Miles Davis for his band while still only 21. Since then he’s played with (amongst others) Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Peter Gabriel, Sting and Madonna on tour, and in the studio.

He has been an actor, written film scores and has his own custom bass guitar.

Oh, and one other thing, for the last 19 years he has been the bass player in the Rolling Stones.

Darryl is an irreplaceable part of the Stones live band (and has played on all their recent records), his love of music means he’s never far from a studio or stage.

Flush the Fashion caught up with the man they call ‘The Munch’, hard at work in the studio while recording a new solo record.

What are you up to at the moment?
I’ve been working on music for a vocal album for several years and I’m deep into recording it now. I’m hoping it’ll be ready by summer.

Where does ‘The Munch’ nickname come from?
In my freshman year of high school I started playing jazz with some upper classmen. Soon after that they decided I needed a nickname.I wasn’t very tall at the time so after considering a few choices they decided on “The Munch”. Believe me when I tell you it was the best of the names they considered. By far.

It must have been amazing playing with Miles Davis, did he encourage you to be creative with your bass playing?
Playing with Miles Davis was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. He encouraged me to be a creative person. He told me, “Darryl, one art helps the other”.

He suggested I begin drawing and painting and like my father he was always cooking. The lessons were always much broader than music.

Above (Darryl playing Code M D, with Miles Davis)

You have been playing with Charlie (Watts) for a while now, does it get ‘better’ the more you do it?
Absolutely! I don’t brag about my playing, but Charlie and I together are like a locomotive. But like a locomotive with irreverent swagger. There ain’t nothing like it. We rock……And we roll.

After nearly 20 years the Stones, all see you as their bass player. Do you feel like a ‘proper’ member of the band yet?
The Rolling Stones have been in existence since the year after I was born. There are maybe 7 or 8 people that could, at one time or another, be considered ‘proper’ members. This is a very exclusive club. I doubt there will be any new members. What I will say is, I can’t fathom playing any differently now than if I were a ‘proper’ member. My integrity as a musician demands it. The music demands it. The rest is not my affair.

Your most memorable gig ever?
Two gigs come to mind. One was the first night I played with Miles Davis. I wondered if a great bassline would come to me from ‘wherever great basslines come from’. About 15 minutes in, it came.

The second was on the last Stones tour. We played a gig in Rio de Janiero for an audience of over a MILLION people. Keith started “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and an instant later a huge wave of energy from all those people crashed into us. It was unequivocal. I’ve played before audiences of 100,000 people or more many times. This was different, something else entirely.

I looked into Keith’s eyes and I could tell it was different for him too. His eyes said, we’re riding a Tsunami tonight!

What is your favourite Stones song to play live?
‘Midnight Rambler’ is one. There’s a form but we improvise within the form.It’s different every night.It’s also pure blues. Form, improvisation and blues. Come to think of it those are the basic elements of jazz.

What other Bass Player(s) do you admire?
There is a long list….. Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, James Jamerson, Anthony Jackson, Alphonso Johnson, Larry Graham, Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Angus Thomas, Jimmy Allen, Marcus Miller, Victor Bailey, Vashon Johnson, Daniel Pearson, Christian McBride, Meshell Ndegeocello, Richard Patterson and many,many more.

You must have one of the best jobs in the world, what would you do if you weren’t a musician?
I do feel as though I have one of the best jobs in the world. I love acting and art and great food so maybe I’d be painting or cooking or acting or taking pictures. Maybe I’ll try some of those things one day.

Darryl Jones signature guitarDo you have a favourite Bass guitar, and how involved were you in the development of the ‘A Bass Darryl Jones Signature’?
I have to say I’ve fallen in love with my signature model. There have been so many bassist who’ve come to me praising the instrument. It’s made me realize that all the years of hard work Albey Balgochian and I did were well worth it.

Basically, Albey kept making basses and I kept saying no until we got it right. The bass will be coming back onto the market very soon.

Have you had any time for any acting roles lately?
The only acting I’ve done recently was a stage reading of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Honestly, I’d forgotten how stimulating it is to inhabit a character.

I don’t have an acting job so I can’t get an agent and you can’t get an agent without a job, so I’m in a fix as far as acting is concerned at the moment. I am still studying.

Off the road, do you get recognised a lot by fans?

Now and then. Not so much that it’s become unpleasant.

Do you have any advice for kids taking up the Bass guitar?
I got mine,go get yours! Just kidding.
I would advise young bassists to listen to and learn a number of different styles of music. You should seek out the standardbearers of those styles and learn what they do and why and then find your own voice.

And finally….. Has anyone called you about a Stones tour in 2011?
No.

Above Darryl playing with the Stones (minus Mick)

So there you have it, if the Stones DO tour in 2011, you can guarantee Darryl will be there and if he does know something he’s being very tight lipped about it. Anyone looking to take up the bass guitar could do alot worse than searching out some of the stuff Darryl did with Miles Davis, it is unbelievable.

We’ll be looking out for his solo record, so watch this space.

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Editor of Flush the Fashion and Flush Magazine. I love music, art, film, travel, food, tech and cars. Basically everything this site is about. You can follow me on Twitter HERE or on Instagram HERE

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