Julie Slick
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Julie Slick

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States
Band Rock Avant-garde


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"An interview with Julie Slick"

Days before hitting the road on tour with the Adrian Belew Trio, bassist Julie Slick was able to take the time to give us some insight into how she handles playing with a powerhouse like Belew. A graduate from the Paul Green School of Rock (yes, it existed before the movie), Julie is pretty busy these days with performing and producing.

The Adrian Belew Power Trio put out the Side Four Live album, full of fast funky grooves and bass lines featuring every technique from slap tap to pick mixed with Adrian’s innovate guitar. If you didn’t get the chance to see them live, be sure to check out the album!

On top of playing with the Power Trio, Julie also co-produces and engineers Cheers Elephant, Sweatheart, and other artists. In this No Treble exclusive, Julie gives us a glance at how she gets that growl tone, her influences, and where the music is taking her next.

The Q&A

Q: Everyone who sent a question (and we mean everyone) wants to know how you get your tone.
A: Well I’d have to say I attribute a lot of my tone to my rig: I use a Lakland Bob Glaub into a Keeley C-4 Compressor, with the occasional effect: either a West Siberian distortion pedal (i bought with Tony Levin in Moscow) or a Korg AX3000B. This all goes into an Ampeg SVT (8×10 fridge of a cab), which is widely popular for a reason: it makes pushes the air and makes for great sounds!

Q: A few of our readers remarked about the many different ways you approach the bass and would love to know why and when you decide to use a pick, slap, tap, etc., to get your unique sounds.
A: Well I’m a huge fan of dynamics and getting different sounds throughout the shows, but I must admit I usually am just a pick player. Many other bassists often ask why I use a pick and to them I say: It generates punchy, aggressive sounds, which compliment a lot of Adrian’s music. (Although I should also note that I was 11 when I first picked up the instrument, and I learned to play it from Paul Green, a guitar player).

Q: Tell us about your gear, especially how you get that awesome growl out of your Lakland (see? we told you)
A: I think I answered this mostly in [the first] question, but I’ll reiterate: I use a Lakland with a Keeley into an Ampeg SVT 8×10. In my opinion you can’t get a “growlier” chain.

Q: We loved when your mom told us she’s the mother of two-thirds of the Adrian Belew Power Trio. How is it playing with your brother?
A: Playing with Eric is the best! We’re related, and we’ve been playing together all of our lives – it’s just easier to perform when you’re locked in (mentally and literally) with the drummer. And we’ve always gotten along, so it’s really like being on tour with best friends.

Q: Who are your major influences?
A: Oh man, I started playing bass because of Jack Bruce and John Entwistle. After that, I idolized Paul McCartney, Chris Squire, Patrick O’Hearn, Les Claypool, and of course, Tony Levin!

Q: Do you have a fan page on Facebook (or a Facebook profile?) Where else can we find you on the web?
A: Gah – I had a Facebook profile, but haven’t been able to log in of late… I’m making a new one, but until then there’s always Myspace. Look for julieslick.com soon.

Q: Tell us about your experience playing with Adrian Belew. What is it like playing with one of the heavyweights in progressive rock? I mean, you are living the dream of countless people :)
A: Adrian is a true icon – I realized that the first time I (consciously) heard his playing when I was 14. To this day, there are moments on stage that I gaze over Adrian, to Eric, with this look of awe and disbelief. I realize I am extremely lucky to be performing with him, and even luckier to be making new music with him.

Q: Where can we hear more of you?
A: Um, I don’t currently play in any other groups (aside from sitting in with California Guitar Trio), though Eric and I are planning something for the future. I also produce a local Philly band called Cheers Elephant. Check out myspace.com/cheerselephant.

Q: What’s next for you, after the tour?
A: Hopefully our new album “e” will be released by then, and we can start promoting and touring more for that. On the home front, I plan on finishing Cheers Elephant’s second CD and starting up that project with Eric! - No Treble

"Adrian Belew: Side 4 (Live) Review"

Absolutely hammering a Fender Jazz through an Ampeg rig, Julie Slick’s tonal approach is dirty, turgid, and snarling throughout Side Four. Paired with brother Eric Slick on drums, the power trio combines 20th-century vintage tone with 21st-century chops for a modern update of the classic King Crimson rhythm-section sound. Julie is a firebrand on Crimson classics “Dinosaur” and “Thela Hun Gunjeet,” but it’s even more fun to hear her and her bro take it out on improv pieces like the hyper-driven “Beat Box Guitar” and the nastier “A Litte Madness.” Belew’s Side Four is a loud, aggressive, engaging romp, the sound of a heavy rock power trio metaphorically breaking a bottle over their heads in the midst of a wild party and screaming in delight, and Julie Slick cuts through the din as if her bass was a battle axe.

-Bryan Beller - Bass Player Magazine

"Julie Slick"

What was it like to learn from Paul Green at his School of Rock?
It was like studying with a mad genius. Paul taught me music theory and blues progressions and then decided to put on a Pink Floyd show with all his students. My parents almost pulled me from the program when Paul decided to do a Zappa show next! I grew exponentially by studying Patrick O’Hearn’s bass lines; it was like going to Zappa bootcamp. Paul’s teaching style involved a lot of competition and negativity, but it worked because I’m very competitive. My brother and I were in the original all-star band that played the Zappanale festival in Germany with [former Zappa singer/saxophonist] Napoleon Murphy Brock. I had already graduated when Paul asked me to record bass for the documentary movie soundtrack. The best thing about that was playing “School’s Out” with Alice Cooper and Stewart Copeland at the film’s premiere.

What was it like to play with Copeland?
It was tough because he has an incredible groove, but his tempo is all over the place. I actually love that, and I’m pretty good at keeping up because my brother sways, too. It’s fun. Most music today is boring because it’s all played to a click on a grid, so there’s no feel at all. My favorite part of playing music is improvising, especially with my brother, because we have a connection that transcends. We constantly challenge each other with progressive jams in different time signatures and tempos onstage. Of course, Adrian keeps up [laughs].

How much freedom does Adrian generally allow?
He instructs Eric and me to play certain sections the way they are written, and then there are other sections where we’re free to go nuts. I tend to play bass like a guitar player. I like to play with a pick and strum aggressively to get a punchy, almost lead-bass tone that’s similar to Jack Bruce with Cream or Chris Squire with Yes. I don’t like sticking to root notes, although I’m learning to play fewer notes with more interesting rhythms.

How do you approach recreating Tony Levin’s Chapman Stick lines on the King Crimson material?
I play fingerstyle to make the attack sound more authentic. I was never a plucking-hand tapper, but I learned how to do it in order to play lines such as “Elephant Talk.” The approach is so percussive that it almost feels like tapping a conga. I play full chords to fill up the initial hits on “Frame by Frame.” To simulate the Stick’s deep range and fretless sound, I play those lines with an octave/sustain/chorus multi-effect. I scoop the low mids to keep it clear, yet deep.

How does it feel to be playing such killer material with a rock legend to packed venues, before you’re even out of college?
I feel so lucky to be traveling the world playing with the best in the business. When we jammed with the Flecktones, Victor Wooten took a solo and then pointed at me to go next, but I wasn’t about to solo after him! I’ve still got a lot to learn. I’ll have my Music Industry degree from Drexel University in a few weeks, I hope.
Can Be Heard On

Adrian Belew, Side Four (Live) [Adrian Belew Presents, 2007]
Various Artists, Rock School (Soundtrack) [Calvin Spain, 2005]

Radiohead, In Rainbows [Capitol, 2008]
“I didn’t like it at first, but like all Radiohead’s records, it’s starting to grow on me.”

Basses Lakland Bob Glaub Signature, Fender American Standard Jazz Bass
Rig Ampeg SVT-4PRO, Ampeg SVT-810E
Effects Korg ToneWorks AX3000B, Keely 4-Knob Compressor
Strings “I’m not too picky. Any set of medium-light strings will do.”
“I was using a Fender Jazz Bass when we recorded Side Four, but I recently switched to the Lakland because the neck feels like a J and it growls like a P-Bass.”

-Jimmy Leslie - Bass Player Magazine


This Philly news by way of Portland, Oregon where Ropeadope all-star Mike Heilbronner writes in "Yo Andy, you gotta get down with Paper Cat, featuring the bro/sis combo of Eric and Julie Slick. He’s a great drummer, and she is a truly sick bass player. I know them from the Adrian Belew Power Trio. The guitarist is also quite good....May not be your cup of tea [editor's note - it was my cup of tea] but they are local to you -- if you’re interested in rocking out to some psych/prog-ish edgy instrumental rock". - Ropeadope.com

"Adrian Belew Experiences the Power of Youth"

Acrobatic guitar legend recruits two 20-something siblings for new trio

"Consummate axe-skronker Adrian Belew has seen it all.

Touring with the likes of David Bowie, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, solo at various times, and with his very best band (of Cleveland buds) The Bears, this 60-ish guitar innovator has given us so much music of swooping, sterling variety, from the Beatle-esque to the Dali-esque.

But perhaps nothing has felt so literally vital as what the man is doing now, fronting the Adrian Belew Power Trio, alongside brother-and-sister team Julie Slick (bass) and Eric Slick (drums), both in their low 20s, and both possibly the best musicians this writer’s ever seen live.

The trio is an interesting animal, figures Adrian, chuffed that this group has harnessed their energy in a new record simply titled e.

“Yes, well, the format itself, of having a trio … if you are the frontman, the guitarist in such a thing, it allows you a lot more freedom,” says Belew. “In the case of the power trio, I try to make it so we have places in the set, and during certain pieces of music, where we kind of improvise and change from night to night.”

Having two eager new recruits to push him helps keep things interesting.

“I think the power trio format, for a guitar player, is just wonderful, especially if you have two great young musicians like I do (laughs),” says Belew. “I think Eric and Julie’s role is to bring the youthfulness, the energetic qualities to the band that are so attractive. Of course, their playing is amazing, for their ages, and really, for any age. But for me, those two things combined make a pretty powerful thing."

Belew also has taken on another job with this group that’s proving to be tough.

“Maybe the last thing is, as kind of a producer/arranger, I’m enjoying the role of taking on material that should be difficult for three people to play — maybe songs that were played by four or five people, or even six, in the case of the double trio King Crimson material,” says Belew. “So that’s challenging, too. You put all that together, it’s a hot little package (laughs).”

Did Adrian ever wonder, looking back, that if players like Eric and Julie had been around when he was sprouting his wings, if he’d have been left in the dust, that he “never would have gotten the gig” so to speak?

“I never really thought about it that way, although that’s possibly true (laughs),” says Belew. “I always thought you got the gigs you got because you were ready for that, and you stepped up to the plate and did well. But it does impress me, and interest me quite a lot, to watch their progression as musicians and as people. And as young people seeing things that I saw for the first time — I really enjoy that part. Like when we go to Russia or Australia or Japan, somewhere that I’ve been many times, and it’s their first time, or even their second, I can kind of remember how I felt.”

Being siblings, Julie and Eric have a different way of approaching music.

“It’s different the way they view it and process that information, first of all, because they’re brother and sister,” says Belew. “So they always have a companion (laughs). They even like to share the same room; they don’t even like to have separate rooms. They’re always on the computer together, and that’s just the way they are — they grew up best friends. That makes one big difference. Because when I went out and toured the world the first few times, I was pretty much on my own and had to accept things and discover things in a different way.”

And together they’ve made … e?

“Way back when I was a kid,” says Adrian, by way of explanation, “I used to do drawings of a cartoon character I made up called e, and it was a lowercase e, and I would draw things in high school, and there would be these cartoon pages of this guy. So I don’t know why. Now the letter e, especially lowercase e, appears in a lot of places — e-mail, eharmony or whatever. But I always thought of just a nice simple title — e; it’s a letter, it represents a lot of different things, it’s the beginning of a lot of different words, it’s a very strong graphic — just the shape of an e.”

The album features many of the usual Belew tricks, as well as his latest hobby, looping.

“Maybe seven years ago I began this form of looping,” he says, citing it as a key impetus in this album’s creative process. “You play something into your looper and it’s repeated over and over, so it therefore adds another guitarist for you to play with.”

Fortunately for us, all of this can be witnessed live, as the Adrian Belew Power Trio tour fairly extensively worldwide. And be sure to keep an eye on drummer Eric, whose speed and deft touch can be mesmerizing, which leads one to ask, how much more could he possibly improve?!

“Well, actually, I would say, you’re right,” laughs Adrian. “I would say I’ve watched him progress, is more correct, because, you know, I don’t know much further he can take it. What is so impressive to me about it is, yes, now he’s got the mechanics, got the chops, he can do all kinds of amazing things, but it’s his tastefulness. It’s way beyond his years. And the same with Julie. I mean … it’s kind of mysterious how these two young people get to this point where it usually takes someone 40 years to arrive at (laughs).” 

-Martin Popoff - Goldmine Magazine


Rock School: Original Soundtrack, 2005
Adrian Belew Power Trio: Side 4 (Live), 2007
Adrian Belew Power Trio: e, 2009
PAPER CAT: Live at John & Peter's 7.16.09, 2009
Julie Slick: (self), 2010
Bahner/Slick Duo: Live at Slick Sound Studios, 2011
Bahner/Slick Duo: Streaks, 2012
DRGN King: Paragraph Nights, 2012
Julie Slick: Terroir, 2012
Corporal Spirits: (self) 2012
Springs: (self) 2012



Julie Slick began playing bass at eleven years of age. In 1998, at age twelve, she was one of the original seventeen students at the Paul Green School of Rock Music and became the school's first All-Star bassist, with an appearance in the award winning documentary, Rock School. She is also predominately featured on the documentary's soundtrack. By age sixteen, she had already performed across America and Europe with legendary musicians like Frank Zappa alumni Ike Willis and Napolean Murphy Brock, Jon Anderson of Yes, Stewart Copeland of the Police, Ann Wilson of Heart, and Alice Cooper.

Three years after graduating the School of Rock and while a junior at Drexel University working toward a degree in Music Industry, she toured the UK with Philadelphia icon Chuck Treece, founder of McRad. But her big break came six months later, in March of 2006, when she was invited to join Adrian Belew on stage with her brother, drummer Eric Slick, at the Knitting Factory in New York City for an impromptu version of Frank Zappa's "City of Tiny Lites". Little did she know that Adrian had been searching for "the perfect rhythm section" and that this chance meeting would lead to the formation of the Adrian Belew Power Trio.

In their short existence, the trio has collaborated and shared the stage internationally with several luminaries. In 2006, they found themselves trading licks with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and Umphrey's McGee. In 2007, the ABPT was named "Best in Show" at the Festival d'Êté in Québec City, and were invited back for two performances in 2008. For the second show, they were billed as "Friends of the Crimson King" and shared a set with the California Guitar Trio, featuring Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto on bass and drums. Primus followed, and the ABPT's mini set concluded with Levin, Mastelotto, Claypool joining them on stage for a monstrous rendition of the Crimson classic "Thela Hun Ginjeet". In 2008 and 2009 the trio also performed at the King Crimson Festival in Moscow, featuring Adrian Belew, Levin, Mastelotto, Eddie Jobson, Greg Howe, Ric Fierabacci, and Marco Minnemann.

In 2010 Julie released her self-titled debut record, and continued to tour with Adrian in Canada, Japan, South America, and Europe. In 2011, the trio joined forces with Stickmen, and formed the Crimson ProjeKct, a double trio featuring original King Crimson members Adrian, Pat, and Tony. They've spent the last two years touring around the US, and spent the summer of 2012 opening up for Dream Theater.

In September 2012, Julie put out her second solo album, "Terroir", which features luxuriant soundscapes and legendary guest musicians Pat Mastelotto, Adrian Belew, David Torn, Rick Musallam, Marco Minnemann, Eric Slick and more.

Now based in LA, she continues to work on many projects in both the studio and on the stage.