I’m all over the map,” says Vinnie Zummo, when asked about his musical influences. As a guitarist, producer, songwriter, arranger, and sound designer, Vinnie Zummo has had many projects that are both versatile and unique. His musical explorations began with rock n’ roll music, and later progressed into bebop. A collaboration of these two genres is what makes Vinnie Zummo such an eclectic songwriter, and his versatility enables him to embellish with fascinating sounds. These sounds can be heard on his albums consisting of samples and loops, and from his original works featured on his latest album, Swinging Guitar Sounds of Young America. “I’m a career-oriented person,” says Vinnie, “But I don’t come up with a master plan too often. Things kind of tumble into my lap, and I either run with it or I don’t.”
Vinnie has many amazing memories of his seven-year tenure with singer/songwriter Joe Jackson. He even substituted for Eric Clapton on a session where Eric was to record for a Paul Carrack album. Vinnie’s also a featured soloist on Shawn Colvin’s album, Fat City, and Art Garfunkle’s Up Till Now. In addition, Vinnie has written jingles for companies like Oreo and the Chubby Checker Campaign, MCI, Popeye’s Chicken, Pepsi, and many others.
Vinnie’s first sample CD released by Zero-G/East West is entitled N.Y. Cutz Vol. I and features over 1100 hip-hop, keys, guitars, basses, beat and scratching samples. The volume has been sold worldwide, and was awarded the Platinum Award by Future Music Magazine. N.Y. Cutz Vol.2 Off Da Hook was also one of Zero G’s top sellers and has up to 1500 samples of beats, vintage keys, guitars, old school vocal licks, hi and lo-fi live drums and much more. Following the release of Vol. 2, was of course, N.Y. Cutz Vol. 3, which was especially well received at the NAMM conferences in summer 2003. “The N.Y. Cutz volumes have done pretty well,” says Vinnie, “I’m very lucky.”
Other major sample CDs like Acoustik Bass Hitz Sample CD have put Vinnie’s musicality to the test, as the collection contains bass and drum samples from different genres like metal, ska, reggae, rock-a-billy, and jazz. On board for this project was bassist Chip Jackson. “It was a very tough project, and a very tough instrument to record,” says Vinnie. “Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry in the very least about the performance, because Chip Jackson is a monster. He’s like a musician’s musician.” The album was released in the spring of 2003, and to this day is still one of a kind. “It’s still a unique product,” says Vinnie. “There’s nothing else out there that has acoustic bass loops with matching drum loops. So it’s pretty unique.”
Vinnie’s most memorable working experience comes from the making of his latest album, Swinging Guitar Sounds of Young America, an album that grasps that old bee-bop and classic rock influence that Vinnie has always carried with him. “It just kind of came out of thin air,” says Vinnie. “I’ve never had a work experience compared to the one with this album where everything went well.”
On certain songs like “Take the Cream,” “Photograph,” and “So Relaxed I’m Nearly Dead Blues,” Vinnie plays through the VOX Valvetronix ToneLab SE modeling multi-effects processor, a pedal board with tube-powered tone that has really impacted the recording and production process for his new album and for his overall style. “You plug the ToneLab in, turn it on, and you record. What more do you need?” The ToneLab has helped Vinnie find sounds quickly, which for many artists, is half the work. “When you’re trying to record in that creative fever, you want to get it recorded as soon as possible. Anything standing in your way is blocking the song. Any kind of ingredient you have to make it easier to record…well…do the math. It’s very simple.”
Vinnie’s experience with the ToneLab on certain tracks like “So Relaxed I’m Nearly Dead Blues,” left a strong impact on him. “The ToneLab just nailed it. I took no time for that. I just plugged the guitar right in and did the solo. When I went to mix it, I was stunned by the sound quality.”
Keep an eye out for Vinnie’s new sample CD, Drop It Like It’s…which is the next chapter to N.Y. Cutz. The second, Found Sound is a collection of chopped up songs from old demo albums from the ‘50s and ‘60s which he hopes will provide inspiration for new hip-hop artists. For more information on Vinnie Zummo, go to www.vinniezummo.com. For information on Vinnie Zummo’s sample CDs go to www.zero-g.co.uk.