Suicidal Tendencies have been pleasing fans for over 30 years and released 13 full length albums during that time. Roushan was lucky enough to get in touch with Ra Diaz(Bassist) of Suicidal Tendencies to discuss their 2016 release, 'World Gone Mad', his background and what it takes to make it as a musician.
Suicidal Tendencies recently released World Gone Mad. Tell us a bit about the writing /recording experience.
Most of the material for this record came from Mike. We would jam together and build on his ideas. It was a very cool and organic process, and we got to know each other musically while recording it. For me it was my first time recording with the band so it helped me understand what they're looking for in a bassist and what they like. Its was really fun and we are all very proud of the record.
The hardest part was working on it in between tours, but we all gave 110% and got it done. The last guitar solo that we tracked for the album was actually finished moments before heading to the airport for our South American tour last year, haha!.
As a fellow bassist, I know we often get a lot of flak for our chosen stage weapon. What would you say to those people?
I wouldn't say anything, they can believe whatever they want. I love playing bass, and I'm blessed to be able to travel the world and make a living doing it. I'd rather focus on doing my best and giving my all every night onstage.
That being said, what is the worst bassist joke you've heard?
What do bass players use for birth control? Their personalities!
Suicidal Tendencies has had a legacy of talented bassists, and you have your own legacy. Tell us about your journey as a bassist and how it lead to your current role in the band.
Well I grew up listening to Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves. Bassists like Robert Trujillo, Josh Paul, Thundercat, they all have had a tremendous influence on me. Since I was little I always knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. That's why I ended up moving to L.A. a few years ago. Listening to all the California based bands like ST/IG, Fishbone, Chili Peppers, Faith No More, etc, I always knew it would be a good fit for me musically, so everything else in my life and career was pretty much doing whatever was needed to get to where I am right now. I played every single style possible, great gigs, shitty gigs, I even worked in an office while living in Mexico just to be able to apply for a tourist VISA and visit L.A. to meet new people, posted cover videos, went to every show possible to network, etc. Tons of ups and downs, but I built a name for myself and things started going my way. It was more about being patient, having faith and hanging in there.
What do you feel is your most unique or valuable attribute with regards to your playing?
I would say I'm very passionate about it. I'm not the fastest or most technical player or anything like that, but I'm willing to die onstage if necessary, haha. I give it all I got every night. So in my case I think it's more about the heart than the actual bass playing.
If you were stuck on a desert island and you could only choose one band to listen to (on an infinitely charged ipod) what band would it be?
It would probably be music that reminds me of my family and my loved ones but I'm pretty sure my survival skills aren't that good, so I would die immediately. Can't it be on an iPhone so I can maybe have a chance of contacting someone and get the hell out of that island?
What bands are on your current playlist?
Right now I've been listening to the band KNIVES. They just put out an amazing album titled "Boy Thursday", Mike Muir does guest vocals on the song "X's and O's". You should really check it out. Also, a band I used to play in Mexico named La Banda Baston came out with a new album titled "Luces Fantasma" and I recorded the bass for it, so I've been listening to it as well. When we recorded it everything was super improvised and just a beat and me jammin' and trying different stuff, without vocals or chords or anything, so it's really interesting to listen to how it all came together.
What was it like growing up in Chile? and what was your experience of the local music scene there?
I love Chile. Growing up was cool, my family is amazing and always believed in me and supported my career. I did play in a lot of different bands and projects there, Indie and Mainstream, so I like to believe I kinda experienced it all. My thing was more that I never felt I totally fit in there, which is why I eventually moved to Mexico and worked there for a few years while planning my next move: moving to L.A.
What set you on your musical path?
I don't really come from a musical family, but when we were kids my brother started playing electric guitar. My brother has always been one of my biggest heroes, growing up I always wished I could be as cool as him. I eventually started playing music on my own and would jam with him and his friends. I just fell in love with music immediately, and here we are now.
You moved from Chile to Mexico and later California, what inspired you to take the leap and venture forth onto new ground?
My family. My main goal in life is to make them proud, and they selflessly sacrificed for my brother and I, and I knew there would be no better way to repay them for their sacrifice than to follow my dream. I set that goal and saw it as a way to show them they didn't waste their time. That's why when I got to play in Chile with Suicidal Tendencies I had them all onstage with me and they got to be part of this crazy experience. If it wasn't for them I would never have got to where I am today.
Was bass your first instrument?
Not really, my first instrument was a little drum kit for kids, you know, the one's that are like a hihat, a kickdrum, a snare and a cymbal. Soon after hearing bassists like Trujillo and Flea I bothered my family till they finally got me my first bass at the age of 11 or so. But to do so I had to make them a promise that I would get lessons and take it very seriously. The rest is history.
What was the first bass you ever owned? Did you name it? Do you still have it?
Washburn Pbass, four string, black, white pickguard. I don't have it but one of my best friends has it in Chile.
What is your dream bass?
My current bass. My custom made Spector Coda 5 Deluxe that we call the RAD5. Also known as my Purple Queen. It's the most amazing bass ever, it's just perfect. Figured maple over alder, birds eye maple board with abalone inlays, matching headstock. Comes with a Darkglass Electronics onboard preamp, EMG Active J pickups. As good as it gets.
What are you currently working on? What are your plans for the future?
I'm just focused on being the best I can be for the band I love and hopefully make the fans happy at every show.
You've mentioned in other interviews that you were a fan of Suicidal Tendencies before you joined. Did you ever think you would be playing with them? Tell us a bit about your experience with the band thus far.
I've always been a fan, I still am, and I will always be. I'm proud of being a fan. It makes me appreciate this so much more. And I always had faith that joining my favorite band could happen. It wasn't overnight though. I first met them around 11 years ago, and everything just naturally evolved from there. Being in the band has been the most beautiful experience of my life. When they called me and told me they were willing to give me the opportunity and then told me that Dave Lombardo was going to be playing drums, it was like just a dream come true. Everything has been amazing so far. We have all become very close and I truly consider them - band and crew - my family here. I'm literally just living my dream. There's no other way to describe it.
If you weren't a musician what would you be?
I'm not sure. Probably something creative involving photography, art or design.
Any plans on seeing South Africa? Any other countries on your list?
I would love to. And I know the band would love it too. We are down to play anywhere, we love going onstage and we want to do it as much as possible in as many places as possible. My personal to do list is South Africa of course, Russia, Australia and going back to Japan. I went to Japan with another band a few years ago and fell in love with it. Would love to go back with Suicidal this time!
If you could scale up any animal to ride into battle, what would you choose?
I don't know, a Panda? After all, I kinda look like one.