Jason Momoa: ”I always knew I wanted to play bass. I wish I'd done this when I was young – but I’m making up for lost time”

Jason Momoa
(Image credit: Damian Bray)

When the music and cinema worlds collide, the results are often questionable. We can all name a long list of musicians who act and actors who play music, and the occasional gem aside, the crossover doesn’t usually work. 

Keanu Reeves tried it, Steve Martin tried it, Jared Leto tried it – and while they all gave it their best shot, there’s often something about the actor/musician interface that doesn’t feel quite right. 


Rex Brown: “What type of sound do you go for? Fat and distorted, or clean and robust?”

Jason: “More distortion. I have a couple of pedals that I experiment with, but it depends on what I’m playing. If I’m doing something Claypool-sounding, or something that’s like Flea, I don’t have it distorted. I love it all, man.”


David Ellefson: “I’m curious if a longer, 35” scale neck would work better with your larger hands?”

Jason: “I play on everything. I don’t let my hand size stop me from playing anything. Right now I’m doing mandolin and ukulele, so it’s always a bitch transferring from one instrument to the next, but I enjoy everything. I play bass every day, I play guitar every day, when I’m away from my family, and when I’m on the set, because I constantly like to be in my right side of my brain.”


Frank Bello: “Do you get the same high when you’re jamming bass to a great song as you do when you finish acting a cool scene?”

Jason: “Definitely, but I really use bass as a tool to help me be calm, and to not sit in my mind too much. It’s much like a painter, probably – to get to disappear into a kind of space that isn’t like time. I love being in that state of mind.

“I feel like it’s ageless, and it’s fun, the more I can learn about music theory, which I’d like to spend more time with – learning that language. Bass is like a moving meditation. I love it and I love the way the bass sounds, even when it’s not plugged in.”


Robert Trujillo: “Jason, what is your earliest memory of getting excited about the sound of the bass guitar?”

Jason: “Actually, it’s funny when I think back on it. My very first album that I ever bought with my own money was The Uplift Mofo Party Plan by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The second album that I ever bought was Sailing The Seas Of Cheese by Primus. For me, it was skateboarding that got me into those bands.

“I was a really big skateboarder back then, I was super, super into it. I’ve always been into it my whole life, and so that was my introduction to that particular kind of funk sound. When it came to listening to bass, everything was consumed by Flea and Claypool. There it is, that sound, and still to this day, both of those albums get played monthly. Even if they came out today they’d still hold sway.”


Les Claypool: “When I was young I was drawn to the bass because I thought guitar sounded thin and kinda wimpy. The bass, to me, was a much more sultry instrument. I figured by playing bass, it would help me get more ladies. In your experience, has playing bass helped you get the ladies?”

Jason: “Haha! Wow. He’s one of my idols, Les. You know, I found my lady [Momoa’s wife Lisa Bonet], and then found the bass. And now I stay with my lady – so there is no ‘ladies’. But you know what there is? There’s one woman and lots of basses.”

Les: “Sound travels 4.5 times faster underwater, therefore the clarity and definition of tone is much more precise. As Aquaman, what piece of music are you most drawn to when at depth?”

Jason: “Primus. One hundred percent.”


Tom Araya: “Would you ever take a break from acting to do a full album cycle tour with a band?”

Jason: “Oh man. A lot of my friends are musicians and I love them, and I feel like it’s fine for them to be actors, but I don’t know, when I see actors being musicians I’m like, ‘Oh my God’. It’s just like ‘Ugh...’ It never really works out.

“It’s all good, and I would never want to say ‘I’ll never do anything’. I enjoy playing up there with my friends if they’re raising money for a charity, of course, because it’s always good to help – but I feel very out of place up there.”

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Joel McIver

Joel McIver was the Editor of Bass Player magazine from 2018 to 2022, having spent six years before that editing Bass Guitar magazine. A journalist with 25 years' experience in the music field, he's also the author of 35 books, a couple of bestsellers among them. He regularly appears on podcasts, radio and TV.