Why I love John Wetton, by Pallbearer's Joseph D Rowland
The Pallbearer and Hosianna Mantra musician Joseph D Rowland pays tribute to John Wetton’s bass technique
“I discovered John Wetton through my dad. My parents were religious and very strict so I was only allowed to listen to classical music when I was younger, but bands like King Crimson, Genesis and Weather Report would occasionally get brought up in conversation because my dad had seen them when he was younger. It was only when I reached my teens and started playing bass that I discovered King Crimson for myself. That’s when I got super obsessed with John Wetton’s playing.
He was such an emotive player. He played around with the rhythm so much and was a true master of being able to begin as hard as he could and then fall back to a lighter, pianissimo sort of dynamic. So much of the lyrics and tonality of King Crimson’s music was bitter cynicism and I think his playing imbued that too.
Through King Crimson, I got into UK, Family and Asia too. Asia’s been super influential in my songwriting style as well. I think they did a pretty impressive job of taking progressive song structure and melding it into something a little bit more fitting with pop music.
My favourite John Wetton album is still Red, although Larks’ Tongues In Aspic is pretty close. Red is the perfect rock album; it’s so vibey and has that dirtiness and cynicism to it, especially on Starless. I listen to it constantly and I strive to achieve that sound because I feel like it completely conveys what I want to do sonically. It’s one of the few records I have saved on my phone.
Now I have an all-white P Bass – that’s my John Wetton tribute. I thought it looked really badass and it might give me a little bit of his magic. I told the guy who makes my pickups to reference the three King Crimson records that he was on too.
Camel are another huge influence, Pink Floyd, Magma, Amon Düül... I saw Gong earlier this year which was absolutely mind-blowing as well, but I can’t honestly think of any other musician in the prog realm who played such a key role in as many bands as John Wetton did. He’s gone down in history as a really hardworking musician who always did incredible work.”
Heartless is out now via Nuclear Blast. Check out Pallbearer's official site for more info.