Johny Chow is the tremendous bass playing talent in Stone Sour – a band fronted by Corey Taylor and enjoying huge success on a global level. Inspired by the likes of John Paul Jones and the late John Entwistle, Johny's four-string prowess is a major driving force in Stone Sour's rock-solid musical foundation. Whe he isn't touring with Stone Sour, Johny plays with metal legend Max Cavalera.
Johny plays through a D210MBX, D810XT and WT800. He also uses an EC10 for practicing and writing.
How old were you when you first started playing?
I was about 10 years old when I started playing single notes on a guitar that only had 4-strings! I didn't take it too seriously then, but I was tinkering. Then, when I was about 16, a friend gave me a Jackson/Charvel midnight-blue-sparkle, neck-through, hockey-stick-style headstock bass. I’m not sure of the exact model but I started messing around with it more and more. At that time I was really into punk rock and hardcore music. I borrowed a friend’s Youth of Today [an influential American hardcore punk band] album and started figuring out all the riffs. Within a week I could play the whole thing and when I brought him back the album I played it for him. He said he couldn't believe that I did that so quickly and that I must have an amazing ear. This opened my eyes to pursuing playing more and more, and I began to take it more seriously.
What made you want to start playing the instrument in the first place?
I originally started out on drums. In 3rd grade they offered lessons for piano, violin and drums, so I chose drums. Then, when the class began, they handed me a pair sticks, a wooden block with a rubber pad on it, and a book full of these strange squiggly lines! I was like, “where is the drum set?!?” I wanted to pound on drums not a wooden block. So, needless to say, after learning how to read some fundamental rudiments and the lessons finished, I didn't pursue the drums anymore. Also, my neighbor had a drum kit and was coming along as a player so it seemed pointless to have 2 drummers when we were talking of playing around.
Shortly after making that decision, I picked a hollow bodied guitar from the garbage! It only had the 4-low strings on it and I started jamming w my neighbor. I didn't know any chords so I was single noting it. Then a mutual friend of ours came in the mix and he could play power-chords, so I stayed with the single note stuff – I just turned all the knobs(not knowing what they really did!) until I got a lower, bassier tone.
EDEN: Who were your early playing influences?
JC: In the early years of HBO [a US cable TV network] they broadcasted a live show of the Who and I was totally blown away by John Entwistle. How much he moved around with amazing lines and runs that seemed like they were their own parts, not just the instrument filling the bottom, inspired me greatly. I heard and saw just how important he was for the Who's sound.
EDEN: Who are your influences now?
Still John Entwistle! John Paul Jones is another one: On Zeppelin II he actually drives the band to a point where, the way I hear it, Bonham and Page actually follow him…which is amazing. I also love Chris Squire of Yes. His aggressive approach and tone are crushing. Victor Wooten is always good for a jaw-dropping experience too, and he’s an incredibly nice person as well. From the new school, I really like Evan Brewer’s playing and approach to heavy music (Evan is a phenomenal bassist from Nashville, TN, USA].
What do you like most about your Eden rig?
I love that my amps and cabs are true work-horses. With the amount of touring I do, my equipment takes a severe beating but it’s never reflected in my sound. I get solid tone each-and-every night. Plus I can really pinpoint what sound I want to achieve at every show and dial it in with ease.
Eden also made me a set of custom monitors I use on stage with 2x10” speakers that sound like they're 8x10" cabs. Stone Sour performs live with in-ears so I really want to feel that punch and low-end from those monitors…and I do.
What would your advice to young, upcoming bassists be?
Pick up albums of bands you like and try to figure out the bass lines. Then buy some albums of bands you might not necessarily listen to and try to get in the head of that bassist as well. This will help you broaden your approach to how you would lay bass down in a song.
Also, when you least want to play your bass, when you’re tired, or just want to veg out watching a movie, believe it or not that is one of the best times to pick up you bass! Before you know it, hours will have passed and you feel good about yourself because you've pushed yourself when you least wanted to. I honestly feel that's when hurdles are jumped.