Pancho Tomaselli of War / Philm
For many people, mastering one musical style is a huge effort. However, for Francisco “Pancho” Tomaselli, no genre or style of music is beyond the depth of his tremendous playing abilities. Weʼre proud that this fantastic and versatile bass player is part of the ESP family.
Born on May 26, 1974 in Quito, Ecuador, Pancho began playing bass at a young age before moving to the USA and attending the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. His area of specialty at Berklee, though, was in their Music Business and Management program, in which he received a degree. Moving to Los Angeles, Pancho began working in the A&R side of the music industry, joining Virgin Records and adding his skills to the careers of artists like Janet Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, and Ben Harper. However, the call of performing music was never far away.
Session Cat Goes to War
As most of you are aware, some of the best players in the world are those who work as studio session musicians. They are expected to be able to perform any style flawlessly, and often have to learn new songs and record them expertly within minutes. Being able to sight-read music is often a required skill. In 2000, Pancho began working as an independent bassist, and almost immediately was chosen to play on some high-profile albums by artists such as Tricky and Carlos Santana. He also performed with groups like The Latin Project and La Sonora Dinamita. Sonngs Pancho performed on during this time have sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide.
In 2003, Pancho got an offer he couldnʼt refuse, to join the legendary funk band War. If youʼre not familiar with War, perhaps you know some of their songs, like “Low Rider”, “Spill the Wine”, “Why Canʼt We Be Friends”, “The Cisco Kid”, and many others. Since their founding in 1969, War has sold over 50 million records to date. Over the past nine years, Pancho has performed with War on The George Lopez Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, and many other high-profile gigs. In 2008, the band released Greatest Hits Live, their first album in more than 14 years, which featured Panchoʼs outstanding bass work.
Perhaps Panchoʼs work with War can be summed up in one somewhat backhanded compliment by War co-founder Lonnie Jordan. Upon hearing Pancho perform early on, he said, “I don't like how you play because you don't make any mistakes.” We could all wish for such an assessment!
Rocking with Philm
With his background in funk and pop, you might not understand how Pancho ended up in yet another band... but one that can be classified (if it can be pigeonholed at all) as alternative metal. Philm is a three-piece band consisting of Pancho, guitarist/vocalist Gerry Nestler (from prog metal band Civil Defiance), and drummer Dave Lombardo, best known for his work with a little band called Slayer.
Philm provides a sonic assault that Pancho quite aptly calls “a tsunami of sound”. As Lombardo says, “PHILM shifts musically -- it can be very intense at times, and then passive and soft, trance-like, then the rhythm shifts and swings as the music changes and molds itself into something people can dance to or bang their head to. I've seen the audience do both at our shows!”
Meanwhile, in addition to his work in these two very different bands, Pancho continues to work on his own solo material. His album SalsaSoup was released in Japan on his own label, and made both the Latin Jazz and Chicano Charts.
Pancho and ESP
Whether heʼs onstage with War, rocking with Philm, or in the studio working with yet another group of artists, Pancho turns to ESP for his most important work. His bass of choice has been the ESP Vintage-4 in Vintage White with a maple fingerboard, a classic bass with modern high-performance feel and components. It offers bolt-on construction at 34” scale, with an alder body, one-piece maple neck, 21 XJ frets, and chrome hardware including Gotoh tuners and Gotoh bridge. Pickups on the Vintage-4 are Seymour Duncan Basslines SJB-2 (bridge) and SPB-2 (neck).
Furthermore, Pancho and ESP have been working together on a Signature Series model based on his custom specifications. Keep your eyes and ears open for an announcement in that regard in early 2012!