There are very few in or around heavy rock in any of its iterations who can boast a resumé to rival that of Scott Reeder. As bassist in Across the River with Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson), Mark Anderson and Alfredo Hernandez (later Kyuss), he took part in one of the formative moments of desert rock, and would later reinforce its ascent in Kyuss, playing on their seminal final two albums only after joining with Scott “Wino” Weinrich in the revitalized The Obsessed for their 1991 outing, Lunar Womb. He played on Unida‘s unreleased masterpiece, joined Goatsnake for the 2004 Trampled Under Hoof EP, and released a solo record, TunnelVision Brilliance, in 2006, all the while making a name for himself as a recording engineer and producer for the likes of Orange Goblin, SunnO))), Whores of Tijuana, The Freeks and Sixty Watt Shaman — later also recording in his Sanctuary Studio in the desert with Karma to Burn, Black Math Horseman, Sonic Medusa, Dali’s Llama and Blaak Heat Shujaa, among many others. His vocal contribution to “Garden Sessions III” from Yawning Sons‘ 2009 debut, Ceremony to the Sunset, remains a high point of that album.
In 2013, he found chart success contributing bass to the single “From Can to Can’t” on the Sound City: Real to Reel soundtrack to Dave Grohl‘s Sound City documentary, and in November he made his debut with Sun and Sail Club on their first outing, Mannequin, adding his bass to the guitar of Bob Balch and the drums of (a different) Scott Reeder, both of Fu Manchu.
The Obelisk Questionnaire: Scott Reeder
How did you come to do what you do?
It’s in my blood — all four of my Grandparents have been musicians. My parents played music together before I was even born… so it’s always been a big part of my life. I’ve had a few non-musical detours in my life, but I always seem to gravitate back to being in or around it.
Describe your first musical memory.
My Grandparents on my Mom’s side would have jazz jam sessions at their house a lot when I was very young. My Grandpa is still one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen, but I would always be drawn to the bass amp, and I’d sit right in front of that amp for hours, feeling that thump, and hearing the walking bass lines weaving through the music. That guy’s name was Sid Fridkin — I was always amazed at how he knew the perfect “weird” notes to throw in.
Describe your best musical memory to date.
I would have to say jamming in the Across the River days, around 1985 and ’86, with Mario Lalli and Alfredo Hernandez. We were really just starting out, and loved playing, and began getting better and better at expressing ourselves — it was really exciting to start realizing that we could do anything we set our minds to! Our garage was insulated pretty well and we painted glow in the dark stars all over — we’d jam for hours, exploring every weird little idea that came up… Mario and I both had our future wives, Nana and Renee living there with us, too — it was a magical time. And after our friend Dave Travis introduced us to the generator and we’d played a few crazy parties outside, we discovered it was nice just to go out ourselves into the desert and just jam under the real stars. The best times for me were when we just went out with our very close friends… it was peaceful, and inspiring. Later on, it turned into big parties, and eventually just got out of control. Knives, guns, fires, police… but the early days were pretty fucking awesome.
When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?
I had an out-of-body experience when I was 16, when I was fully conscious, before I’d had any sort of mind-altering substance. I was playing trombone with the local college’s jazz band, sight-reading a really tough chart with the band, when I “popped out” — I was looking back at myself from a few feet away, and I could hear every note coming out perfectly, even though I wasn’t conscious whatsoever of reading the music. There was a complete calm, like the quiet of diving under water and not moving… and then I snapped back to struggling through the chart. It seemed perfectly natural when it happened, but when I was waiting afterward for my Mom to pick me up, I realized it was a little weird. I had no idea what had just happened, but I stumbled upon a book a few months later about OBE’s called The Astral Experience, and it documented people trying to reach the experience with LSD. And so that became my next journey at age 16, before I’d even tasted a beer or took a puff off a joint. To this day, that book is on a table in our bathroom for our guests to check out… That initial experience made me believe that our spirit is indeed separate from the body.
Where do you feel artistic progression leads?
I usually don’t have much to write about unless something is really eating at me. I’ve been in the studio singing a few times with tears streaming down my face, but then it gets transformed into something I can embrace — it’s like therapy, I guess. Recording some of them have been pretty painful, but it’s a huge catharsis to get it out, and it feels good when it resonates with a few people. As far as progression goes… I don’t think I’m going to have an epiphany someday on how to write a hit song, or anything. I’ve got all the tools I need to express myself — I suppose the songs will just slowly follow the course of my life over time. I’m not very prolific, but that’s fine — I don’t have a deal with a label breathing down my neck for “product.” I just trickle stuff out on iTunes or whatever… slow motion is fine for me. And I guess that if I only write when things are bugging me… then the fewer times I have to go through the process, the better!
How do you define success?
That’s a tricky one. There are small successes possible every day, striving to be the best you can be at everything you do, whether it be putting down a bass track or raking up some horse shit. Laughing with each other. Enjoying the simple pleasures. Life is in a constant state of flux — at the end, it won’t matter how much money you made, or how many things you acquired. I’ve lived among the rat race, with everyone stepping over each other, not thinking of any consequence to stabbing each other in the back — that’s not the life for me at all. I’ve tried to slow down my life, keeping it as simple as I can, for the most part. There have been some bumps in the road over the last couple of years, but it’s inspired me to focus on what’s important on a deeper level, I think, and I’m still searching. But I think the most important thing we can do, is to do our best to elevate each other.
What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?
Well… I guess this is supposed to be an ugly one. After my Mom passed away a couple of months ago, she was laid out on her bed. The coroner was running very late, so it was great to be able to take our time saying goodbyes. However, I was alone in the room about six hours in, and dark fluid started coming out of her mouth — I tried to quickly clean her face so that her husband and his kids and grandchildren and my brother wouldn’t have to see that, but it started streaming out faster than I could wipe it away, as I was desperately trying to keep everyone out of the room. That image will always haunt me. On the positive side, hopefully it helps me to process the reality of her death a little quicker. But, no rush…
Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.
Hmmm… That would be our future swimming pool with a guest cabana and a big patio for barbecues!
Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?
That would definitely be the next time I take my horse out for a ride. That’s probably the only time I’m really away from music, even though you get completely enmeshed into the rhythm of the horse’s gait. It’s like a meditation, becoming one with the horse — it clears my head and calms me. I should be doing it every day, but I get busy…