Multi-instrumentalist Cody Wright
In just a few short years, multi-instrumentalist Cody Wright has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative, soulful, and jaw-dropping young performers in the world. http://codywrightmusic.com
Scott - Hi Cody, How is life treating these days?
Cody - Great. You know, everything is about growth--at least for me. Since I've taken some time to work on my own music (I stepped away from the Eric Gales Band in November,) I have had a chance to open my mind and heart in terms of who Cody Wright really is. I've been in Colorado the entire winter so far, in a beautiful mountaintop studio, working on finishing this album and also getting my guitar playing back up to speed a little bit. It's definitely been a pretty mellow growth period for me.
Scott - I've been going through your official website as well as Youtube and I see you are a pretty active musician. Gives some names in the business and have worked with and what capacity.
Cody - Well, my most recent full-time gig was with Eric Gales for almost two years. It was sort of a dream come true because he was one of my biggest influences on guitar for years as a teen. With Eric, we shared the bill and hung out with all kinds of wonderful musicians like Santana, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, Bonnie Raitt, Big Head Todd, and all kinds of others. I also spend five years with the fusion steel drum player Jonathan Scales, which was my first gig as a bassist and first experience touring the world. We went to Japan, Europe, and the islands and collaborated with people like Victor Wooten, the Flecktones, Jeff Coffin, and all kinds of other bands. I've also toured with the Chase Brothers, who run the James Brown Dance Party (where I've played with members of James Brown's actual band) and Jazz is Phish, which is a really fun Phish tribute (also sometimes featuring actual members of Phish and Trey Anastasio's band.) I did one tour with Everyone Orchestra with Nikki Glaspie on drums. She kicked my ass onstage and it was incredible!
As a solo artist, I've played with Oteil Burbridge, Victor Wooten, Etienne M'Bappe, MonoNeon, Federico Malaman, co-billed with Stu Hamm, Ida Nielsen, and Dave Ellefson from Megadeth, and other stuff I can't remember at the moment.
One of my career highs so far was scoring & recording the music for the video game Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove, which is basically Toejam & Earl 4. For those that haven't heard of it, Toejam & Earl was a pretty popular video game in the '90's for Sega Genesis. It was my favorite game because of how outer spacey it was combined with the funky, amazing, complex, beautiful music composed by John Baker. I was lucky enough to actually work on the music for the new game with John himself in 2015, but he ended up too involved in his other projects to do anything more than just sketch some basic stuff out. This was a career high for me because I was able to go from being a kid obsessed with the game in 1995 to being lucky and working hard enough to have an opportunity to actually be the bassist on this latest installment. Too much to explain in this interview but it was absolutely life-affirming for me. The lead designer/creator, Greg, has been such a wonderful, encouraging, big-hearted person and has become a mentor and inspiration to me as a human being as well.
"Cody is definitely one of my favourite bass players! I love his playing,
especially when he uses a pick (plectrum) This guy is already phenomenal, and
he's just gonna get better & better. Scary! Make sure you all check out Cody
Wright folks, this guy is somethin' else!!"
- Dave Swift (Jools Holland, Al Green, B.B. King, Amy Winehouse, Paul Simon, Barry White, Eric Clapton)
Scott - Out of all the folks you have toured with, who is the one you connected with the best.
Cody - Oh man, that's a tough question. Musically, I love being pushed or having my butt handed to me onstage because it's the best way to grow. In that sense, Victor Wooten, Eric Gales, and Oteil Burbridge did that to me.
On a personal level, Jonathan Scales and I weathered a lot together and butted heads constantly (every day on tour) for a while, but as the fog has cleared, we are really amazing friends who understand each other in a special way as a result of the hard times.
Scott - Does work come to you easy or do you have to go after it.
Cody - You always have to go after it!!! Sometimes, you don't even know why you are doing it, but in the weirdest way, it will come back and pay off. "Going after it" also means different things to me, too. It might just mean doing videos or updating your social media and website often. It might mean straight up asking for a gig or an opportunity. Just use your own good sense, stay kind & generous, and be relaxed. Don't force anything.
Scott - Do you have a manager? If not, do you promote yourself and how?
Cody - I have just begun working with an old friend of mine from Victor Wooten's Nature Camp. He's an amazing guy (!) and I feel like that is the best place to start from. We will be doing lots more as the year progresses.
Scott - Why the Guitar / Bass? There had to be that pivotable momment when you said to yourself, "I want to do that?" Do you remember that momment?
Cody - Oh man, growing up and really starting to listen to music in the early 1990's, I caught the leftover of the whole '80's guitar craze thing. I wanted to do that, but my parents couldn't afford any instruments for me aside from a cheap ukulele and a set of bongos back then. I played around with those but wanted more. I was always really into video game music.
In 1999, my nephew, who was living with us, received an electric guitar and an amp as a Christmas gift. Pretty soon, I was playing it more than him, then eventually got my own around 2000. That was really how it started. I just knew I had a natural ability on that instrument with the right amp sound and stuff. I didn't start playing bass until 2011.
Scott - How many hours a day to you practice and or play?
Cody - It depends. Moods happen, you focus on other things, then come back to it. Right now, I'm recording my album and tracking a lot of the same stuff over and over. I probably still find time to just practice for about 2 hours a day, while tracking between 5-8 hours. When I was between 16 and 19, I did nothing but woodshed on a Strat for 12-15 hours every day. I was home-schooled, so I had quite a bit of extra time that I spent initially on video games, then it switched to guitar in 2000-2001. I also started playing keyboards around then, recording my own little tracks.
Scott - Bass Guitar and Rig run down?
Cody - My main touring bass is my 1997 Zon Sonus Special with a composite neck & Bartolini pickups. It has a new neck that was rebuilt for me in 2014 before I went to Japan. I also have a few Fender Jazz basses and a Japanese P/J short scale along with a few other Zons including a fretless. My main amps are Mesa/Boogie Subway 1x15 cabinets and Subway D800 and D800+ heads. I also have a Vanderkley Aurora 2x12 rig that I use in the studio in Colorado. I usually tour with only four to five pedals and just carry them in my gig bag with my cables. Those pedals include a TC Electronic Ditto X2 looper, a TC PolyTune Mini tuner, an MXR or EBS envelope filter, a TC or EBS reverb, and a TC Electronic Sub N Up octave pedal. I also occasionally use a Darkglass Vintage Ultra for overdrive.
Scott - I hear you will be coming out with a new solo album in the future. Can you give us an update about that and what we can expect from the new release?
Cody - Yeah. It's been in the works for three years now. It will be released this year, I promise. I changed the title last year from "A Bass Only a Mother Could Love" to "Star Festival" after I realized just how much guitar I was playing on it. It will feature my bass playing of course, but I really want to shed light on the things that people don't know about so much like my songwriting, guitar playing, and singing. It's going to be fairly short but really dense. My brain goes deep really fast with music, so there are moments where you might want to listen to a track several times to even start to hear everything that's going on. I'm trying to keep it melodic, groovy, and singable as much as possible.
Scott - Who will be promoting the CD for you? Will it be on a record label or will this be an Indie release?
Cody - So far, it will be self-released, but I have talked with a few labels in the past. They just want to have the finished product in their hands before they make any decisions.
Scott - Ok, now for the music business... What are your thoughts in reference to the music business as a whole and how it relates to you and your goals.
Cody - Know your role and realize that things take time and hard work no matter how "good" you might be. Don't get caught up in thinking "Man, I'm so good but where is the payoff? I'm playing for empty rooms, making no money, etc..." Just keep playing and shedding no matter what and ALWAYS TRY TO MAKE TIME TO PLAY THE MUSIC THAT REALLY CHARGES YOU UP.
I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I am very excited to keep developing my own identity while also continuing to tour and play with other artists. I also teach through Skype and in person, but have been taking a break from that as I've been doing this album.
Scott - What have you been listening to in recent days?
Cody - I've been very into the compositions and arrangements of Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider. Songs like "Steam Forest" and "Behind the Garden.."
It's very magical, ethereal, music that is simultaneously unpredictable but singable and pleasant to listen to. The music reminds me of the video game Spyro the Dragon a lot. I would love to work with Andreas one day. When he came out, he was doing something absolutely different--which is SUPER IMPORTANT--and he is true to himself!!
Scott - Cody, give us a parting shot across the bow with some wise words of wisdom when it comes to the music business.
Cody - STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF! I get hateful comments and messages literally every day. People think the only reason I play like I do is to show off or prove that I'm "Good." This has happened since I first started really having my own voice on guitar. The more I really come out with who I really am, the more I seem to really get those sorts of vibes. Just stay the course, stay kind, and don't get in dogfights with anyone for any reason. Avoid conflict. Just play for the love of it. Woodshed your butt off. Don't worry about trying to push your image with fancy production if you haven't put in the shed time yet. That stuff comes after you have a strong product and voice, at least for me.
A big obstacle I've been faced with is the whole lecture that some older musicians might give you about how things used to be so much better in the industry. Don't let that get to you. Your time is NOW, not then. You don't know that reality, so don't worry about it or feel like you missed out. I'm speaking to myself too on that one.
I am always open to any musicians who feel lost or in need of some advice or encouragement. I was lucky enough to get it from some of my heroes, so all I can do is PAY IT FORWARD. Stay kind! Be more concerned with being interested than with being interesting. Smile!! <3 http://codywrightmusic.com