INTERVIEW: BILL BODILY (CONTRARIAN)

There’s always something to be said about the level of musicianship and downright insanity accompanying each and every Contrarian album. Hailing from Rochester, New York, Contrarian are a one-of-a-kind progressive death metal outfit, producing concept album after concept album under the supervision of mastermind and guitarist, Jim Tasikas. However, ripping the low end and riffing on bass with the same caliber heard on recent Beyond Creation, Archspire, and Obscura tunes, is Bill Bodily – a man with a wealth of skill we’re fortunate to have in this area.

1. First and foremost, how did you come to join Contrarian?

The way I came to be a part of Contrarian was Jim Tasikas reached out to me about playing live with Contrarian for a short run of shows supporting Pathology and Narcotic Wasteland. We all felt a good connection with each other while traveling around and playing the shows, getting to know one another and each other’s musical influences and tastes. I knew the next album was in the works and the bass position was open so I asked Jim about it and he offered me the opportunity to be a part of the next recording and Contrarian.

2. Talk about the most memorable live shows you’ve performed with the guys to date.

Unfortunately I haven’t had too many live shows with them to really have any shows that stick out. Saying that, I’ll go with the Pathology/Narcotic Wasteland show at Saint Vitus. That was our final night of the tour for us and were joined by the guys in Malignancy which was cool to see them play.

3. What’s it like playing with Bryce? How do you guys feed off each other to build the backbone of such a progressive, yet aggressive band?

Bryce is a sweetheart of a guy, but don’t let that throw you off because he is very driven and focused. It’s because of that he is able to do what he does on the drums. My rhythm section relationship with him is rather unique and I’ll discuss that a little more in depth further on in the interview. Overall, he’s a pleasure to work and perform with and I can say I’m lucky to have someone of his caliber in this band.

4. I’ve watched a few of your playthrough videos over the past year or so. Talk about some of your favorite musical contributions to Contrarian. Which are your favorite bass licks you’ve written for Only Time Will Tell?

First off I’m going to have to draw some attention to the previous bassist Ed Paulsen before I answer this. Ed is a top notch bassist and extremely difficult to follow. I had my work cut out for me having him as my predecessor. He really brought something unique to the sound of this band.

Saying that, I had quite a challenge to bring something as unique without completely altering the trajectory of the band’s sound all the while including my own voice as part of the present version of Contrarian. I sincerely hope I was able to capture that in Only Time Will Tell.

One of my personal favorite parts is in “Scarlet Babylon”. There’s the pre-chorus where I play some notes that are reminiscent of bells chiming and ringing out which play to the lyrics from the beginning of the song, “Wake up my darling, Night is over and day is here”. I wanted that part to have a, “morning In Europe” feel with the church bells chiming and it fit the song quite nicely.

The beginning of “The Final Hour” is fun as well. It has an innocent, jovial/fanfare feel to it that I enjoy which transitions into what reminds me of an adventure taking off which ultimately leads our cloaked contrarian to his final hour.

Lastly I’ll mention the part for “Beat The Clock”. This was fun because it is a synth sounding song. Brian played the slide guitar on it and I play the Chapman Stick. This combination turned out so well in my opinion. While Brian is soaring away with these high pitched smooth swells the addition of the melody side of the Stick gives me the ability to play chords to help fill in a mid voice and the bass side of the Stick allowed me to add the bottom end to the song at the same time.

5. What is the writing process like? Does Jim usually come to the rest of you guys with the foundations for the songs, or is it more collaborative now that you guys have solidified a new lineup?

Okay, so this is where I’ll expand on working with Bryce and the others for that matter. Jim comes up with the concept and writes his guitar parts for the songs before he hands them off to everyone else. This is where things get interesting. In this band the drums really follow and accentuate the guitars. Bryce plays very musically while at the same time keeping things locked in. At first, when I was handed the material, I was listening to the guitars and drums together wondering where I would be able to find a place to exist. This is why the bass is able to come and go as it pleases in this band. At any point I can choose to add more melody or lock in with everyone. That’s why there’s so much going on at once, however I think we are able to pull it off without stepping on each other. I really enjoy that freedom and it’s part of what makes Contrarian unique.

6. Talk about the bands and bassists that made you start playing bass.

Well, I didn’t really start playing bass because I saw a bassist and thought, man I really want to play the bass. It was more out of need for a bassist in a band, so I bought a bass and became a bass player because of that.

Just to name a few… bassists like Timi Hansen, Hal Patino, D. D. Verni, Greg Christian, Alex Webster, John Myung and Steve Di Giorgio were who I was paying attention to in my earlier days.

As far as bands go, I listened to and still listen to early King Diamond/Mercyful Fate. Then there is Overkill, Fates Warning, Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Testament, Dream Theater, Damn The Machine, Cannibal Corpse, Cynic and Anacrusis.

7. Who are your favorite bass players today?

I’m glad you ask the question like that. The guys I started out with are not the same as my musical tastes have grown and changed over the years. However I’ll have to say Sean Malone was the pivotal one for me. I had never heard anything like his playing until I saw him with Cynic live for the first time. I had no idea bassist did what he did and it put me on a different path.

I would have to say some of my current favorites are Robin Zielhorst, Steve Lawson, Michael Manring, Evan Brewer and Rich Brown to name a few.

8. Talk about the gear you swear by. Discuss some brands, makes, models, and other equipment you feel all metal bassists need in their lives.

We’ll start with my basses. Right now I’m playing Skjold Design Guitar and Elrick basses. Both of those guys, (Pete Skjold and Rob Elrick) are phenomenal at what they do. The quality, feel, playability and tone the basses built by them have are exactly what I want to have in my hands.

Sticking with the bass guitar subject and components in them a bit further , I have to give a huge shout out to Bartolini pickups. I have used their pickups and preamps for quite a while now. They give a full depth and breadth to the sound of my bass while providing frequencies that also help keep it present and clear. They have been a consistent and integral part of my sound.

Onto the other pieces in my signal chain that have been consistently with me are the FEA Labs compression and harmonic booster pedals as well as the Jule Monique bass pre-amp. That gear really helps me dial in what I want to hear from my voice.

Good cables shouldn’t be overlooked either. For those I use Kirlin cables. I use the studio cable for recording and the live cable for shows.

9. Plug any upcoming shows/tours/albums/singles etc. that Contrarian have in the works! (anything you’re allowed to talk about)

I do know of some shows that are in the works, but can’t really say anything about them yet. I would recommend to follow the social media of the band to keep informed on what’s coming up next for Contrarian.

10. List off your favorite live music venues you’ve played over the last few years. We’re all about “saving our stages” in the forthcoming post pandemic world, and I’d love to plug some clubs!!

I like Saint Vitus in Brooklyn. That’s a cool club, but I’m happy with any club that treats the bands well, sounds good, has a good vibe and people show up to enjoy the show.

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