IT’S BEEN A SURREAL YEAR FOR MATT McJunkins. Not only has the 28-year-old continued his runs with Puscifer and Ashes Divide, but he has also filled the bass duties for 30 Seconds To Mars and become the new bassist for A Perfect Circle, which includes both Puscifer’s Maynard James Keenan and Ashes Divide’s Billy Howerdel. So it’s only natural that this ambitious young player with world-class chops is celebrating his success in Jerome, Arizona, which has a population of 353 people. Wait, what?
Rest assured, McJunkins hasn’t turned his back to the bass world, and he’s certainly not on vacation. He and his Puscifer bandmates are holed up at Keenan’s home studio and vineyard, where they’re busy writing material for the next Puscifer album.
How do you contribute to the writing process?
We discuss musical ideas in the morning, separate into different areas in the studio, and then I set up with our drummer, Jeff Friedl, and we work on rhythm-section ideas. In the afternoon, we get back together and share the stuff we’ve been working on. It’s great to be in Jerome because it’s beautiful here, and there aren’t many distractions.
What’s the right bass aesthetic for Puscifer’s music?
There are a lot of heavier bass tones, and the music really lends itself to grinding, distorted bass, somewhat like Paul Barker’s bass playing with Ministry. I experiment with a lot of pedals to get the right tones for the mood of the music. Everything I do with Puscifer, I try to get some grit behind it.
Now that you have one tour under your belt with A Perfect Circle, how do you feel going into this next stint?
This time, I’m way more comfortable with the songs, and I’m not frantically woodshedding the band’s entire catalog. On the last tour, we did three nights in each city and a different album in its entirety each night. That was a lot to prepare for, but it was a very special thing to be part of. I’m looking forward to having a regular set where we’re not rehearsing 60 songs at a time.
Has it been difficult to replicate the playing styles of past Perfect Circle bassists Paz Lenchantin and Jeordie White?
There’s not a lot of crazy technical shredding or anything super-fast or physically shocking, but some of these songs are tricky. I have to remember weird patterns or time signatures and riffs that never repeat themselves. And the fans know every note by heart, so there is pressure to nail it each night. This is definitely a band that strives for perfection.
With tours lined up with APC, Puscifer, and Ashes Divide, you don’t have a lot of downtime in your future.
It’s hard to sit still when there is so much going on. It seems like every day I am working out parts on my bass or hashing out vocal choruses. It takes a lot of time and even a bit of compromise. Some people can’t compromise their playing, which is great for the sake of uniqueness. But when you’re playing in an established band, you have to be able to adapt to their vibe—and more important, be the most prepared person in the room.
HEAR HIM ON
Puscifer, “C” Is For (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE) [Puscifer Entertainment, 2009]
Bass American Fender Precision Deluxe
Rig Mesa/Boogie Big Block Titan V12 head, Ampeg 8x10 cab
Effects Fractal Audio Systems multi-effect
Strings, etc. Ernie Ball Power Slinky’s (.055–.110), Dunlop Tortex .88 picks