Visqueen bassist Cristina Bautista packs gargantuan punches. She’s a lively, might dialed, capacitor who establishes bliss-bomb supremacy on the low end. She’s radiant with smiles while she drives a wrecking ball’s crane. Her vocal harmonies and crushed out snap make her an apt Rachel Flotard counterpart. Bautista, like many musicians, has a special relationship with her instrument. Instruments can be trusted friends. They can be a much loved pet or child. Special bonds can form between player and the thing they play. Bautista spoke of hers:
What kind of bass do you play? Bautista: I play a very new Gibson Thunderbird IV. I got to try one out when I first joined Visqueen and fell completely in love with it.
Where and how did you get it? I got Oliver straight from Gibson. Yeah, I name my stuff. I had been borrowing one from the Showroom for as long as they would let me, so I finally gave in and ordered one of my own. It took a few months, but it was one of the greatest days when it arrived. I got to be there when Kurt Bloch opened the box it was shipped in!
Is it special? It's like my soul mate.
What sort of powers does it give you? A few people have said that it turns me into a plus sign. I like to think that means that I'm a positive force who can hold things together. Plus, as a small lady, it helps me be big and boomy.
Do you ever speak to Oliver? Or say things under your breath to it like, "God, I love you" or "God, you slay my dragon"? I want so badly to answer no to this, but truthfully, yeah, I do speak to it. Minus the dragon part, maybe.
Do you ever lick your bass? What do you think about bass players that lick their basses? I don't lick my bass. I'd have to clean my dried up saliva off of it all by myself. I think bass players who lick their basses have assistants for that kind of thing. I would hope to someday join their ranks, but that just seems both unsanitary and unnecessary.
What about this bass enables you to dominate? I know it looks huge on me, but it feels super comfortable to play, so that helps. Also, Drew Church asked to play it backstage once, so now I feel like it's got a little extra magic.
Comfortable to play, how so? Because it doesn't weigh a million pounds and the neck is slim, it’s great for tiny hands, plus you can let go and not have the headstock come smashing down to the floor. When I first started playing bass, I played short scale on account of my being somewhat miniature, so when I switched over, it was super cool to find something that looked and sounded big without feeling like it.
What do think about when you play? Are you in the heat of battle, or are you sailing through the sky? Honestly, I'm usually thinking about how lucky I am to get to play in one of my favorite bands with people I love. I do a whole lot of smiling, which is not very rock and roll, I know.
How long have you been playing with Visqueen? How did that come about? I've been in Visqueen since Rachel brought me to the United States from Laos last year. Actually, it has been about a year since I joined. I've been a fan since I was fourteen, and Paxil Rose, the band I was in from fourteen to seventeen, may have opened for them once or twice. In April 2008, I picked up the bass for the first time on purpose, loved it, and didn't suck at it. A mutual friend found out, asked for my email address, and told me I might have a surprise coming. Rachel emailed me, I freaked out, learned as many of the songs as I could as fast as I could, and they kept me! I feel like I'm that Filipino guy that Journey found on YouTube.
Is the bass named Oliver after Oliver Twist? Actually, I named my bass after my brother's pony-sized dog. They're the same exact colors, the dog and my bass. He's this giant that some folks find a little bit intimidating at first glance, but really he's the biggest sweetheart ever. The dog, I mean.
How do you get your bass sound? I like things to be as simple as possible. I have a Sunn Concert Bass Head and an Ampeg SVT 1x15 cab. Since I don't use any pedals in Visqueen, I totally trust my machinery and have fewer than ten knobs to fuss around with. I turn everything up and roll the bridge pickup down a hair. I still feel new to bass and am still exploring and experimenting.
I hear you play a Scattegories drinking game. What are the rules? This won't sound nearly as disastrous as it was, but you take a shot every time you don't have an answer, and also every time your answer matches someone else's. That's per matched answer, not just each round. You'd think this would make you better as the game wears on, like the sober opponents would never come up with the same ridiculous intoxicated response you devised, but it's totally a downward spiral once you start losing.
Ouch. I know.
Visqueen plays Olympia on 1/20 and Bellingham on 1/22 at Boundary Bay.