A self-taught musician, david beste gravitated to bass early—he began playing with his older brother’s band around age 13, deeply absorbing a long list of rock, soul, funk, and R&B influences that stretches from the Flamingos and Marvin Gaye to Living Colour and the Police. When the bassist for Long Beach natives Rival Sons, Robin Everhart, decided the road just wasn’t for him, the band had longtime friend Beste fill in. It was a match made in rock & roll heaven. On Rival Sons’ fourth album, Great Western Valkyrie, Beste makes his presence known via thundering grooves and a steady pocket that mesh perfectly with this well-oiled machine.
What were your biggest formative influences?
Well, my mom liked Neil Diamond and my dad liked Bob Dylan. But it was the Police song “Spirits in the Material World” that made me choose bass. I loved that bass line as a kid, and it taught me early on how influential the instrument is in making a song special. I also couldn’t get enough Aretha Franklin. Still can’t.
How free are you to create your parts?
I was 100 percent free to do my own thing when I joined Rival Sons. The writing process is very organic and spontaneous and old-school; we basically just hop in a room together and see what happens. Scott [Holiday, guitar] may have a riff and we build it from there, or Jay [Buchanan, vocals] will come in with an idea and we expand it—but mostly, it’s very collaborative. We write, record, mix, and master the thing in roughly a month.
How did you decide to follow the main riff on songs like “Electric Man” and “Rich and the Poor”?
“Electric Man” was a riff of Scott’s that was originally much faster. Once we had tracked some other things, we actually slowed down tape, and we loved how it sounded and grooved. With a strong dominant guitar riff, it’s a pretty obvious move to follow along. On “Rich and the Poor,” the bass line is following the vocal melody for the most part. Jay wrote that melody on bass, so it just felt natural to follow that lead.
How long did it take for you and drummer Michael Miley to lock in so tightly?
We locked in immediately. When you’ve got a great drummer and you’ve been playing bass for a long time, it shouldn’t be difficult. With us specifically, I think we speak a similar language. I like to think I speak “drummer”— not in words, but in feel and fills. Miley can be unpredictable, but he keeps me on my toes. Most drummers I’ve played with have been solid cats, but Miley is especially inventive and very musical.
Rival Sons, Great Western Valkyrie [2014, Earache]
Basses 1984 Fender Fullerton reissue ’57 Precision Bass, Yamaha BB2024X, Bluesman ’67 Eldorado
Rig Two Orange AD200b heads (one clean, one dirty), two Orange OBC810 8x10 cabs
Strings Dunlop nickels
Effects, etc.Verellen Big Spider fuzz