Off the low end
Steve DiGiorgio is a talented bass player mostly known for the fact that he was one of the first who brought the fretless bass into heavy metal.
He was born on the 7th of November 1967 in Illinois, although he has lived in California for most of his life. He grew up in a rather musical environment, and quickly developed a love of expressing himself in the low end of musical compositions. He learned to play the bass clarinet, tuba, bass trombone and of course the string bass (upright, or double bass -- it wasn't until later he picked up the electric bass). Jazz and classical music played some part in his musical upbringing, although later in his life, he found his taste developing into the realms of heavy metal. In 1984, he founded a high school band named Sadus along with his friends Jon Allen, Darren Travis and Rob Moore, unknowing that their little high school project would eventually become one of the thrash metal legends of its day -- incidentally, it was Steve's fretless bass lines that were the band's main claim to fame; the fretless bass was all but unknown in metal at that point.
Beyond The Realms of Death
Sadus recorded some of their early albums in a studio in Canada, a studio which was also used by Chuck Schuldiner's up-and-coming band Death (which would go on to have an entire genre named after it). On several occasions, Steve stepped in when Death lacked a bassist. He enjoyed jamming with Chuck, and the two developed a close friendship which would last until Chuck's untimely death from a brain tumor in december 2001. After the Death lineup broke up in 1990 (due to major personal infighting), Chuck Schuldiner decided to put together a new Death lineup consisting only of people he knew well and trusted on a personal level, and invited Steve to pick up the thick strings in the reformed Death. Steve accepted, and went on to record the bass for the two most widely acclaimed Death records (in terms of the bass, at least) ever, 1991's Human and 1993's Individual Thought Patterns. While the producer had kept the bass lines almost inaudibly quiet on Human, the five thick strings rang loud and clear on Individual Thought Patterns, and that release would go on to open many doors for DiGiorgio. By 2003, he has played for Autopsy, Testament, Iced Earth, Vintersorg, Dragonlord and James Murphy's solo project. When Chuck Schuldiner started his progressive metal project Control Denied, the two old friends joined forces once again. Steve's work on the Control Denied record The Fragile Art of Existence is some of his finest ever.
While most of his work has been within metal, he also still enjoys jazz. He formed a jazz fusion ensemble known as Dark Hall with his friends Flamp Sorvari (flautist and saxophonist) and Chris Dugan (drummer). The trio has gone through other musicians (mainly guitarists) at an alarming rate. His tastes in music are widely varied ("fuck categorization", as he's wont to say) and his influences range from Ravi Shankar to Iron Maiden.
Technique and Technology
His playing style is unique, to say the least. While influences from metal bassists like Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler and Iron Maiden's Steve Harris are undeniably there, Steve's bass lines have an entirely different character. For one, he uses a fretless, which is very rare in metal (mainly because a fretless is extremely difficult to play well at the tempos common in metal, without screwing up the intonation -- this is a disaster, because if the bass intonation is off, the average listener will perceive it as if the entire band is out of key). Secondly, in the age of speed metal, Steve refused to give up his fingerstyle playing in favour of a pick, instead developing the "speed fingering" three-finger style. He is capable of playing at an insanely fast rate, and is fond of throwing in insane-sounding fills whenever there's room for it in a song. He is known to improvise quite a lot, owing to his jazz influences.
He uses Ampeg amplifiers (the "big ballsey one million watt SVT", as he calls his main amp) and exclusively strings his basses with Rotosound strings. As for basses, he currently has an endorsement deal with ESP Guitars, and his main axe is his custom-built ESP 5-string fretless. He also owns several basses by Carvin and Rickenbacker, as well as a homemade fretless Fender copy.
- Sadus: Illusions (1988)
- Autopsy: Peaceville (1990)
- Sadus: Swallowed In Black (1990)
- Death: Human (1991)
- Autopsy: Fiend For Blood (1991)
- Sadus: A Vision of Misery (1992)
- Death: Fate (1992)
- Death: Individual Thought Patterns (1993)
- Dark Hall: Untitled Demo (1995)
- Sadus: Chronicles of Chaos (1997)
- Sadus: Elements of Anger (1997)
- James Murphy: Feeding The Machine (1999)
- Testament: The Gathering (1999)
- Control Denied: The Fragile Art of Existence (1999)
- Iced Earth: Horror Show (2001)
- Dragonlord: Rapture (2001)
- Testament: First Strike Still Deadly (2001)
- Vintersorg: Visions from the Spiral Generator (2002)
- http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?forumid=128 (Steve writes under the handle "Hippie Of Doom")