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Mike Gallo: "My father told me guitar players are a dime a dozen, but it’s harder for a band to find a good bass player"

Mike Gallo: "I don’t think the bass should have more than four strings! But that’s just me"
(Image credit: Future)

"My dad is a musician and my mother was as well, so I grew up listening to music from an early age. You could say it’s in my blood. Bands like Black Sabbath and early Metallica inspired me to play guitar and be in a band. 

"My father gave me the best advice ever: when I told him I wanted to learn to play the guitar, he said that guitar players are a dime a dozen, but it’s harder for a band to find a good bass player.

"He took me to Sam Ash in New York and bought me a Squier P-Bass – I believe it was around $200, and it was a great first instrument to start off with. It was a struggle at first to learn to play, and I didn’t get serious until I was older. It was getting into hardcore and punk that inspired me to really pick the bass up and be in a band.

"I’m pretty much self-taught for the most part. I took lessons for a month and hated it. The teacher turned me off playing music because all he wanted to do was teach me scales. I asked him to show me some riffs and he told me I wasn’t ready for that. 

"He just had no idea how to try and make it fun, so I was bored and didn’t pick up my bass again until after high school. I would just put on some of my favourite bands and try to follow them. Thank God for punk rock and hardcore!

As I got older, I really got into Motown, though; I just loved how the bass really drove the music

"My biggest influences are Geezer Butler, Cliff Burton, Steve Harris and John Entwistle; no-one did it better than them for this style of music. As I got older, I really got into Motown, though; I just loved how the bass really drove the music. You can actually sing those basslines. James Jamerson played bass on most of those songs; he was an incredible force that really made those songs so memorable."

"I can play with my fingers a bit, but I don’t bother with it. Playing with a pick is my thing; it’s what works best for me for the music I’m playing, so I don’t waste any time trying to play other styles that I know other people can play better. I’d rather focus on what I do and try to do it the best I can. 

"I don’t really listen to music where there is five- or six-string bass being played... In fact, I don’t think the bass should have more than four strings, haha! But that’s just me. Of course, there is music that calls for it, but it’s just not my thing.

"I’m coming up to my 19th anniversary of being with Agnostic Front; it’s insane how fast that went by. I think the song ‘Public Assistance’ off the 1986 Cause For Alarm album has to be one of my favourite Agnostic Front songs to play on bass. It’s such a wild ride from start to finish: very thrashy, fast and aggressive. 

"It was a challenge learning it, but I feel like I mastered it and put my own stamp on it. For sure, it’s the most fun to play besides the new ones we just wrote. A lot of it has that thrashy style to it that I so enjoy playing.

"We have a lot going on besides the release of the new record, Get Loud! We have The Godfathers Of Hardcore film by Ian McFarland, which is the story of [vocalist] Roger and [guitarist] Vinnie’s life and how they kept the band together all these years. We’re on the road non-stop too, so there’s no time to rest. 

"When we’re not touring, I’m busy doing my artwork, and that has been really successful. You can see my stuff on Instagram. I don’t think I’ll ever stop playing music, and I also don’t think the band will ever stop either, at least, not until we’re physically unable to continue. Until then, there’s no stopping us."

  • Agnostic Front's Get Loud! is out now on Nuclear Blast.