For over three decades, Aaron “P-Nut” Wills has been laying down deep dub lines, funky grooves, and rapid slap licks with his band 311. His wild and energetic stage presence and inspired playing on 311’s 13 albums has solidified P-Nut as an influence to bass players all over. Fans flock in masses to watch him slay it onstage with his signature Warwick 5-strings, eagerly awaiting the moment during the song “Feels So Good” when he takes a serious slapping solo that never fails to bring down the house. Currently hard at work on 311’s 14th album, P-Nut took a break from writing his band’s next chapter to answer our 10 Questions.
1. What music have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been really enjoying Baroness. They’re such a fresh breath of awesome for my ears and imagination. Mac Miller, as well, has been a welcome addition to my listening. His early demise is haunting in his lyrics, and I love what [producer] Jon Brion did with the atmosphere.
2. What was the first concert you ever attended?
My first concert was the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I saw them in a now-demolished bowling alley in Omaha. It was John Frusciante’s first tour, and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan had just come out. I had to be dragged by my neck out of there by my brother before it ended because it was a school night and it was snowing like a son of a bitch. Welcome to Omaha.
3. What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?
Best concert is a tie between Ween and Tom Waits. Both shows rearranged my brains. Ween was in support of their seminal album The Mollusk, and the show was at the El Rey theater in Los Angeles. Tom was at the Wiltern, also in L.A. Live music is the best, obviously.
4. What’s one element of your playing that you most want to improve?
I’d like to improve my speed. In particular, keeping up with [Vulfpeck bassist] Joe Dart. What a beastly beast.
5. If you could have lunch with any bass player today, alive or dead, who would it be?
Scott LaFaro jumps into my mind as a person I’d like to have had lunch with at some time in his short life. And I do believe that in that short life, he rewrote the book we all play from as bass players.
6. If you could sub for one bass player in any band, who would it be?
Andy Rourke of The Smiths. Oh, man, just thinking about it makes me crazy in the head.
7. What was your first bass?
My first bass was a P-bass copy by a company called Phantom. It was black on black, cause I’m dark and moody. Well, certainly at eleven I was.
8. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you during a gig?
I don’t get embarrassed onstage. That shit is mine.
9. What are four items that you absolutely need to have on the road with you?
Weed, beer, books, and headphones.
10. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about playing bass?
Bootsy said deep into my soul, “Don’t ever quit, man.”
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