The first time Cristian Cuppetelli picked up a bass, he had to stand on a chair to play it. He started on an old school jazz upright at age four, eventually moving on to electric bass a year later. Having his hands dwarfed by the massive wood body of the instrument is something he's always known. But even back when his instrument of choice was taller than he was, the pint-sized player now known as The Rockabillykid was never scared of trying to tame it. At age 10, the bass still looks big on him especially the wide-bodied cherry red Gretsch he plays (he's also currently endorsed by the company along with a slew of others). The only difference now is that his career is getting to be just as big. And for good reason. This kid rips!
Playing a variety of styles from rockabilly (natch) to punk, funk, jazz and classical, Cuppetelli is definitely getting his licks in on stage, branching out from his hometown of Corona to play shows with his band Takin' Namez and opening for The Cadillac Tramps, The Adicts, Jonny "Two Bags" Wickersham of Social Distortion and revered Johnny Cash Tribute band Cash'D Out. It's no coincidence that the Rockabillykid is on the fast track to stardom. His manager/dad Kennie has promoted shows for some huge names in the rock and metal world (Alice in Chains, Metallica, Helmet) and obviously has shepherded his boy toward some big opportunities. But there's no question that the fire in his son's fingers is turning heads. In recent months he's become a regular presence in the OC punk and rockabilly scene with gigs at House of Blues Anaheim and the Observatory. Not bad for someone that should probably still have a 9 p.m. bedtime! We recently spoke to the Rockabillykid to learn more about this young lord of the low end.
OC Weekly (Nate Jackson): How did you first get into playing bass?
The Rockabillykid: I started at four years old with the upright [standing on a chair to play it] and then I moved onto the electric bass at 5 and I just kept going from there.
Do you come from a musical family?
My mom plays piano and my dad is a concert promoter for Helmet, Metallica, Alice in Chains, all those good bands. He also does the rockabilly reunion in Lake Havasu City.
How often do you tour?
Right now I'm doing a mini tour with my band, Takin Nam3z, House of Blues Anaheim, House of Blues San Diego and the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas and I'm playing Lake Havasu this weekend at the Heat Hotel, playing with my band.
How do you feel people react to you when they see you play?
When we play we try to make the show as exciting as possible and we want to entertain them and get them into it. So we wanna give them a show and blow their minds the fact that most of us are just kids and we're playing this type of music and it's really inspiring for them and us.
Did you take lessons?
When I started playing upright bass I didn't know how to play chords or anything, then my dad put me in a music school when I was 8 and now I teach myself.
You've also had some amazing mentors I hear.
Yes, at the Whiskey a Go Go I had a lesson with Duff Mckagan and I had a lesson with Sean McNabb, Sean's one of my mentors. Jonny Two-bags from Social Distortion gives me lessons too.
Here's my video I just filmed for Ted Nugent. Looking forward to performing with him. Please like and share this video!!!!!!I would like to give a special Thank you to Rockstars of Tomorrow Music Academy, Kunhardt Photography, Gretsch Guitars, Ted Nugent, Lyle Sharman and my band Mates Minor Strut for the support and helping produce this video.
Posted by Rockabillykid on Wednesday, May 13, 2015
You're obviously known as the Rockabillykid, what other styles do you like playing?
I play everything, jazz, blues, classic, rock n roll, metal. I respect all of it because I know there's people that like that music. I'm writing my own music right now, working on an album.
A solo album?
Most likely, I'm still working on that right now, it may be with the band but I still have to put more thought into that.
Are you currently back in school now?
It started a month ago, I go to school in Norco/Riverside area [Sierra Elementary]. The school I go to is where my grandma worked for 25 years. And when I have big shows and I need to leave school I have a permit so they give me three days off so I can make up the work.
What really appeals to you about bass?
Bass is the foundation of the song, it keeps the beat together, it goes with the drums and you want the bass and the drums to be together.
Just fooling around on some songs I taught myself today. Will be ready for performances by the end of the night. Get ready there's a lot.more coming. See you all next week sunday at House of Blues Anaheim Downtown Disney. #rockabillykid #christinedevine #seanmcnabb #music #bands #rockandrollfestivals #rockabillyreunion #gretschguitars #guitars #kidsrule #takinnam3z #whiskyagogo #whiskyago-go
Posted by Rockabillykid on Friday, August 14, 2015
Who are some of your favorite bass players?
I love Flea, he's awesome, I love Duff McKagan, for blues and jazz I like to listen to James Jamerson and Sean McNabb is one of my favorites, I was actually in a music video with Sean for his song "America."
How often do you play shows?
Mostly every weekend. We just got done doing the House of Blues in Anaheim and then we opened up for L.A. Guns at the Whiskey a Go Go and we're opening up for Agent Orange at the Whiskey again and then Stephen Pearcy of Ratt at the Whiskey again and in a couple weeks we're playing at the Vegas and San Diego House of Blues and the Hard Rock Cafe.
Do you ever feel like you need time off?
I do take time off but my brain is always moving around, thinking about music and new ways to improve my music. Last year I had a show with the Cadillac Tramps at the Observatory opening up for The Reverend Horton Heat and the Adicts.
What was that show like for you?
It was awesome and so interactive, we weren't there to get paid or anything we were there just having a good time and enjoying the music. Honestly that was one of my favorite shows.
I'm really good friends with Gabby [Gaborno] and [Brian] Coakley. Gabby's son Presley and I hang out all the time. We're actually gonna go to Knott's Berry Farm soon.
What's your goal as far as your career in music?
I'd like to move on with my band and continue inspiring kids and playing music. I'd like to have my own studio and help kids learn how to play.
So your next gig is in Lake Havasu, what's that gig gonna be like?
My next show is next weekend in Havasu at the Heat Hotel after a tattoo convention. We're playing two hour long sets.
Tattoo convention? Only 8 more years and you'll actually be able to get one!
Haha yeah. One day.