Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo has been working on a documentary film about iconic bassist Jaco Pastorius for a while now, when he isn’t out trotting the globe alongside James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich.
To further promote the project – and touch on his other various musical projects (including new Metallica music), Rock Cellar Magazine caught up with Rob recently for a fun chat. Enjoy!
Rock Cellar Magazine: You’re involved with a new documentary about late bassist Jaco Pastorius. What about him, his music and his legacy inspired you to go to the lengths you have to make a film about him?
Robert Trujillo: Jaco basically…in 1979, back when I was really kind of getting into instrumental music, a lot of fusion, jazz-rock, I was also into funk, R&B music, funk rock, anything that had good old funky bass, you know?
From Lynyrd Skynyrd to Black Sabbath, I was always connected to the instrument.
I started hearing about this guy…J-A-C-O, four letters, everybody said he was amazing and super-cool. But back then, you didn’t have the internet so you didn’t know what these guys looked like, you couldn’t just go and find out how they played. You had to go buy their album if you wanted to hear their music.
Fortunately for me, he came through Santa Monica with the Weather Report. I caught the gig and was so blown away by the performance. He inspired me, “opened the door” so to speak, by grabbing me in a way that opened me up to other styles of music. He’d do all this stuff with fuzz, and delay, by himself on stage. Kind of like what Jimi Hendrix did back in the day, or Jimmy Page.
The difference is, he was doing it all on bass. Beyond that, Jaco was an incredible composer, and I always say it reminded me of the first time I heard Van Halen and Eddie Van Halen ripping Eruption, you know? Mind-boggling.
That’s what Jaco did for me, and that’s sort of what spearheaded it all…that he was this long-haired, cool skater-surfer lookin’ dude from Florida just ripping it with these jazz cats.
Rock Cellar Magazine: Wasn’t he pretty young?
Robert Trujillo: He was younger, yeah. Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul were much older than him, so he was really bringing the stage to life with the conviction and attitude of a rock performer.
Rock Cellar Magazine: The movie’s been in the works for a while, so who have you managed to round up to appear on-camera in the film?
Robert Trujillo: I jumped on board about five years ago, and in that time frame we’ve secured about 75 interviews. Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Bootsy Collins, Sting, Flea, Carlos Santana, it’s a really wide spectrum of musicians that gave us their time and energy.
That’s really a statement to Jaco, because all these people really cared about him. It was unfortunate the way he died, but in a very short amount of time he did a lot.
I know Joni Mitchell is very particular about who she’ll interview with, and how, and it took some time but she came on board and we’re really good friends now. She’s an icon, and in a lot of ways her artistic sensibilities are very similar to Jaco’s.
Rock Cellar Magazine: What are the future goals & hopes for the film now that it’s nearing completion?
Robert Trujillo: We’re shooting to have the film locked & ready for South By Southwest in mid-March. That’s our target right now. We’re still editing right now, but it’s getting better and better as we go along. I’m so proud that I can see the finish line.
One of the main issues for me is I’ve been financing this project for over five years. It’s cost me an enormous amount of money, so with that we’re doing a crowd-funding campaign through PledgeMusic. I’ve been able to put together some fun exclusives through that for the film as we try to raise the last bit of budget to get the film into post production. Sound design, mixing, colorization, licensing, and so on. It’s expensive – to do it right, it’s expensive.