Checking in with Bergantino Artist Ricky Bonazza 

LA-Based bassist/producer discusses his path from Vicenza to Los Angeles to keep the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll alive!

Checking in with Bergantino Artist Ricky Bonazza 

LA-Based bassist/producer discusses his path from Vicenza to Los Angeles to keep the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll alive!

Photo by @rudydedoncker

By Holly Bergantino: Ricky Bonazza has been chasing his dream from a young age. Growing up in Vicenza, Italy and now living in Los Angeles, he’s the embodiment of the hard working, never-say-die rock and roll spirit.  Ricky relocated to Los Angeles to pursue his dream as a professional musician and artist and he’s been going strong ever since!

You have been touring like a mad man, playing arenas and some of the biggest music festivals in rock and metal. Tell us about this experience and how it feels going from small clubs onto the big stage?

It‘s surreal! Wacken is one! I have never seen a festival of that size holding like 70,000 people. My first tour with the Butcher Babies, we played Rocklahoma and due to a storm, the band got moved to play as the closing act right after “Slipknot”. Both stages were right across from each other so when Slipknot finished, the crowd basically just turned around and watched our set. It was a big party and people as far as the eye could see. I will say this about clubs though, there is just an unbelievable energy playing smaller venues. A packed club with 200 people can be just as crazy and energetic as a crowd of 20,000 in my opinion. So I really enjoy both. 

Would you share some of the highlights of your career over the past four years that you are most proud of?

I am really proud to have this great opportunity to tour the world as a professional musician. It’s surreal sometimes the places music and tours are taking me. I think to myself that so many people are actually paying a lot of money to see the world. I get to travel as part of my job and in doing so I get to explore and see many different countries and cultures. It’s something I am extremely proud of. Playing these massive festivals all over the world such as GraspopAftershockand obviously Wacken, which is every rock and metal musician’s dream to play, is huge for me. 

Becoming a voting member of the recording academy and with that helping to shape the future of music is also a big achievement for me.

You are also deeply involved behind the scenes in the music industry, especially as a voting member of the Grammys Recording Academy. Could you share a particularly memorable moment where you felt your contributions had a significant impact on an artist’s career or on the broader music community?”

Yes, this year a fairly newer metal band called “Spiritbox” got nominated for a Grammy. They competed against titans like Metallica and Disturbed. The fact that a new band like that made it to the final nomination, and the fact that new generations bands like “Architects”, “Sleep Token” etc. were in the run too, I feel like we were instrumental and shaped the pavement for new bands in rock to have a shot at the Grammys.

Throughout your career, you have earned the respect and endorsement of prominent guitar and accessory companies like Bergantino, EMG Pickups and D’Addario strings. Could you tell us more about these partnerships and how they came about?

Yeah for sure. I was introduced to Jim Bergantino by my good friend Matthew Denis who also uses Bergantino gear at a NAMM show. We have accomplished a lot in spreading the word and showcasing what the Bergantino Forte HP amp can do in various styles of music. All of us complimented and supported each other. With EMG my friend Jason Klein and Luis Kalil put me in touch with Tommy from EMG Pickups. We produced a series of videos together highlighting some of their signature pickups, we have an amazing relationship and they have been great to me. I am stoked to have earned this kind of respect and trust from these companies.

How has your playing evolved over the years, and have you made changes from your start until now? If so, can you describe the changes? 

Yes, I started incorporating a lot of slap. I honestly couldn’t really slap before the pandemic haha. When I started doing a lot of video covers during covid, I studied bass players like Les Claypool, Marcus Miller and Flea. Also in the very beginning I was mainly a finger player. Over the last years I really developed my picking technique and love to incorporate that way more in my playing, especially if the song dictates it.

What are you working on now?

I am working on my solo project, where I am planning to release music very soon. I have a single ready to go, featuring some incredible guests and just recently signed a distribution deal with Bloodblast.  I am also writing new stuff with the Butcher Babies and that’s pretty exciting too.

When you are not playing shows around the world you are very active in the studio as a producer and writer, can you tell us about some of the collaborations and projects you have been involved in?

Yes, one thing I am really proud of is the recent Butcher Babies albums, which I had the pleasure to help write and record. Songs like “Red Thunder” had an amazing response and actually even made it into rotation at Sirius XM Liquid Metal” and peaked at number 10 of the iTunes Metal charts. I wrote a lot for music libraries here in Los Angeles and recently got a song placement with NBC Sports, which was for the 2022 “Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship”. So that was a cool collaboration I did with “Megatrax”.

Tell us about the Butcher Babies, Lots of good things have happened here.

Yeah totally! It’s been quite busy over the last 2 years. Lots of writing and even more shows. I think last year we did close to 90 shows. We toured with some incredible bands like Fear Factory, Amaranthe, Lacuna Coil, Mudvayne and Coal Chamber. We also did all of these awesome festivals in Europe and the US like Wacken, Graspop all that fun stuff haha. We released 2 albums “Eye For An Eye” and “Til The World Is Blind” which I am really proud of. This year it’s gonna be more or less the same show wise. 

Tell us about the Bergantino Forte HP bass amplifier?

I have had this amp for four years now and was just blown away by it. The sound, the features, everything. It has pretty much has all of the components I want from a bass amp. It is very versatile, clean, thick and powerful. It really just sounds so organic and real. I use it for everything from Metal to Funk and Pop.

What settings do you use the most on the forte HP? What are your favorites and why?

Honestly, all the EQ’s are on 5 o’clock, punch mode enabled, and a bit of compression.

On the drives there are different firmware downloads Bergantino offers. I use Matts tube screamer and another one called the MF360 fuzz that Jim sent me back in the day, it sounds sick. 

Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.

Fender and Fender. I have been playing Fender all my life! At the moment, there’s really nothing else for me. I have tried all kinds of basses. I dig the Dingwall stuff a lot, but at the end of the day, Fender just does it for me. I just wished they did long or multi scale basses! Haha

How did you learn to play the bass guitar, Ricky?

I honestly just started by playing along to Iron Maiden songs. I would also put on the metronome and just start playing the parts and then unintentionally developed a technique. I remember one person telling me that Steve Harris was playing with 3 fingers, so I started practicing with 3 fingers only to find out years later that Steve only plays with two haha. 

Are there any other instruments you play?

Yes, the drums. I never gave up on my dream of playing drums haha, so I learned that a little bit along the way. I also play guitar. I play both of those instruments well enough to write and record my own songs, but not sure if I would ever dare to go out and do it live.

Who are your influencers?

Steve Harris is definitely my biggest influence. Duff McKagan has always been one of my favorites. Jason Newsted, Rob Trujillo, Geezer Butler, Frank Bello, Geddy Lee and many more.

Favorite thing to do besides play bass?

It’s honestly writing and producing music. The studio is my happy place when not on the road. It’s definitely a dream to do that full time at some point. We’ll see what happens.

We see Instagram stories of you when you visit your grandmother in Italy cooking up a storm for you. What isyour favorite dish that she makes for you? 

Haha, that’s amazing you ask this question! Yeah she’s 86 and kick butts like it’s no big deal. Her Spaghetti’s are definitely my favorite, followed by her homemade (obviously) Ravioli. The funniest thing is every time I post her on my IG stories. she gets the most views of all, I could post me playing the craziest shred video of all time and she would still get more views!

Your story and dedication to your craft inspires a lot of people, especially the younger generation of musicians. Do you have any words of advice for them?

As Arnie would say, don’t listen to the naysayers. If you are serious about becoming a professional musician you should pursue it. It’s not going to be the easiest route but it’s going to be the one that full-fills you, and something that always helped me out was a quote from Danzel Washington saying, without commitment you’ll never start and without consistency you’ll never finish.

About Bergantino Audio Systems: Bergantino Audio Systems has been dedicated to developing and building the highest quality audio products and bass guitar amplification systems since 2001. Founder Jim Bergantino has worked in a number of fields in his career, from high-tech electrical engineering to the high-end professional audio world. After designing custom bass cabinets for many other leading brands, he started his own Bergantino Audio Systems. BAS has received numerous accolades within the musical instrument industry and continues to look forward via their designs and unique approach to developing products.

Follow Ricky Bonazza:
Instagram: @rickybonazza 
Facebook: /ricky.bonazza
YouTube: @rickybonazza8011

Bass Magazine   By: Bass Magazine