“I’VE FOUND THAT SOME OF THE BEST STUFF I’VE DONE with Coop was basically just plugging my ’71 P-Bass directly into a Neve pre and just letting it rip,” says Chuck Garric, referring to his recorded work with shock-rocker Alice Cooper. Garric has played on several of Cooper’s records over the last 12 years, including the most recent, the Bob Ezrin-produced Welcome 2 My Nightmare. He’s also been the go-to guy for a diverse array of artists including Don Felder and Ronnie James Dio. His solo project, Beasto Blanco, released Live Fast Die Loud in 2013. Chuck is currently on the road with Cooper in support of Mötley Crüe on its All Bad Things Must End tour.
In a three-guitar band, how do you craft your sound so that everyone has space in the mix?
Imagine the classic, natural tone of an old Fender Precision—that’s the sound I’m trying to get across. We had to soup it up by adding more mids and taking out some of the lows; it’s not necessarily an incredible tone by itself, but when we started adding the drums and guitars, it fit nicely.
How much do you stick to original Alice Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway’s bass lines?
Surprisingly, I’ve pretty much stuck to what I know and what’s on the records. Is it note-for-note? No, but are the important parts still there? Yes. I feel like it’s important to have something solid for everyone to play off, and that always comes down to the bass and drums. As long as the guitarists have a strong foundation, it’s going to sound like Alice Cooper.
Do you play pick or fingerstyle with Alice?
Both. I started with Coop as more of a finger player, but as I dove more into the tone I wanted, I felt like the material sounded better with a pick, so for the last eight or nine years I’ve been predominantly a pick player. It really depends on who I’m playing with. I just did a benefit with Michael McDonald and Pat Simmons from the Doobie Brothers, and I played more fingerstyle, which lent itself to that style of music. It’s nice to be able to do both.
You’re involved in quite a few charitable endeavors.
I try to give back as much as I can. Music has given me so much, so through the years, my wife and I have been involved with the charity at a Montessori school in Milwaukee. These kids are all below the poverty line and the school was looking for some sort of music program. With one show, we generated enough money to get the government to match what we put in, get the kids instruments, and finance a teacher to come in and teach music. It was probably one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.
What advice do you have for aspiring players?
I had a chance to spend some time with Dan “Bee” Spears, Willie Nelson’s bass player, who taught me to be aware of what was going on and to always think about the music. Listen and be aware of your surroundings; don’t just think of yourself. If you hear something happening with the other musicians, go with it.
There was this time I played with Billy Bob Thornton, who had a country/hillbilly band, Marty Rifkin. His slide/pedal steel player would come up to me before a show, and instead of saying “Let’s rock!” or “Let’s knock ’em dead tonight!” he’d look at me and say, “Hey man, let’s get musical.” I love that. Let’s make some music, and maybe it won’t be exactly like it was the night before, but let’s see what happens.
Alice Cooper, Welcome 2 My Nightmare [Ume]
Basses 1973 Fender Precision Bass, 1957 reissue Fender Precision Bass, custom J Backlund “School’s Out” bass
Rig Ashdown ABM 900 EVO III heads, Ashdown ABM 810 8x10 cabinets
Strings Dunlop nickels (.045–.105)
Effects Ashdown LoMenzo HyperDrive, MXR M-101 Phase 90, Tech 21 PMDI Sans- Amp Para Driver DI, Korg Pitchblack tuner, Shure ULX-S wireless Picks Intune Guitar Picks GrippX .73mm
Accessories Straps by Trophy and Red Monkey
Chuck Garrick photo by Steve Ziegelmeyer