Rachel Bello is a fierce bassist from New Jersey. She plays in the experimental rock group – Oblivion Her Majesty and the sci-fi horror punk group – Voodoo Death Cult. Read the interview below to hear about Oblivion Her Majesty’s re-branding, Rachel’s latest gear discoveries, and other topics. We hope you enjoy!
Hello Rachel! How are you doing today?
I’m doing good, how are you?
I’m doing well, thanks. What is your first memory of music?
I would say when I was 5 or 6 years old and I saw Matchbox 20 live in Atlantic City with my mom. I was so excited to hear my favorite song and I was passed out front row. I never even got to see it live. It was very upsetting but it just made me want to go to concerts more.
From there, what drew you to playing bass and rock music, specifically?
I thank my mom for my music taste. From the minute I was born she was playing Motley Crue vinyls. I picked up guitar because my brother was really into guitar and I just wanted to be like him. So I played a regular 6-string for years. Then when I got to high school, I tried out for jazz band, like every freshman does. The teacher said he had too many guitarists and coincidentally one of those guitarists is the lead singer in my band now. The teacher said if I could learn another instrument then I would be in. So I picked up bass because I figured it’d be pretty easy. I got a bass for my birthday then told my jazz teacher I could play and so I got to be in the jazz band. From then on I gravitated more toward bass than a 6-string which is unexpected.
That’s awesome! Could you tell us a little about each of your bands for those who don’t know you?
My main band – previously known as Oblivion Her Majesty – is currently going under reconstruction. We are going through a rebrand that will be unleashed at an undisclosed time. We have 4 tracks and a music video ready to go. We went to L.A. a couple times in 2020 to get those done and they will be out very soon. We will be under a new band name which is a little scary, but we’re really excited. It’s gonna be a different vibe from Oblivion Her Majesty. It’s more the direction we’re meant to be going musically and image-wise. Then there is Voodoo Death Cult, the newer band I’m in, which is a sci-fi horror punk band. I play a character called Rachel Rabid. I’m really into horror and creepy stuff and that band was relaunching with a new lineup and I said yes without hesitation. I’ve always wanted to have some stage persona where I have all the makeup and creepy contacts – all that. Both bands I’m in have very different roots but they’re both very me.
Amazing. How did your band, Oblivion Her Majesty, get together?
Will Schmidt, the lead singer and guitarist, and I were in jazz band together in high school. We were jazz bandmates and casual acquaintances. After I graduated college and got into a few serious bands that just didn’t work out. Will reached out to me because Oblivion was looking for a bass player. I said I would sit in for a few practices just so they would have someone but I didn’t really commit because I was involved with a few of my own projects. First it was ‘one more practice’ then ‘one more show’ and that progressed to ‘we’ve got this photoshoot’. I had no intentions of joining this band full time but eventually it got so busy, in the best way, that I had to drop my other projects and here I am.
It was a slow build.
Yeah, they had this secret plan all along and it worked because now I’m the full-time bassist.
Totally. Oblivion Her Majesty is described as an ‘experimental rock group’. What would you say your main audience is like – is it rock fans or more indie fans or more metal fans?
It’s hard to say – especially with the new music we’re writing now. Previously, our fanbase was honestly people who don’t tie themselves to one rock subgenre. It could be a heavy metal fan, a progressive fan, a modern pop metal fan – we’re heavy on trying to add pop influences so we sound up to date too. It’s really cool because just like you, the fanbase of the bands I love tends to be older. A lot of our audience is older but we also have 13 year old fans who come to our shows so it’s really a wide range. So far, we’re pretty good at putting elements that attract different age groups.
You’ve mentioned a few times now that you guys are working on new music. What can you say about that?
It’s a step in a heavier direction which I’m really excited about. When I first joined Oblivion, the music was objectively good but it wasn’t music I was really into, it was more pop influenced than I usually gravitate towards. Now we’re getting into a lot more bass and guitar driven music, I don’t want to say metal because it is a really weird mix of lots of subgenres of rock. Just different. I’m really excited about that.
I’m looking forward to hearing it. 2020 was an insane year. What are your goals for this year?
My favorite part about being in my bands is playing live shows which is a common thing among musicians but there truly is no better feeling than playing a live show, traveling, and touring. It broke my heart not being able to do that in 2020. I want to imagine we’re going to be able to do that in 2021 but I really don’t know. I’m really hoping for a solid month of back-to-back shows. Being home is nice but I just want to travel and play live.
Absolutely. Have you ever faced sexism in the music industry? What advice would you give to others who have experienced similar situations?
Omg yes. Every time I walk into a venue, it really is every time, I hear ‘oh are you the merch girl?’ or ‘oh are you one of the guy’s girlfriends?’. I always say, ‘Actually no, I’m the bassist in the headlining act’. I don’t know why it always has to be such a surprise. I don’t want to say just men because women can take advantage of people too but a lot of men higher up in the industry try to take advantage of new fish in the pond and I’ve experienced that a lot and I’m sure you have too. It’s not fun and it’s not safe. I’ve gotten where I am because I’m doing what I love and what I’m good at not because of my looks or my gender or what I post on Instagram. Being strong and having confidence, knowing where you stand is important.
You recently bought a new bass – the Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass. What gear do you’ve been using lately?
It’s surreal, the best bass I’ve ever played in my life. And for the gearheads, I always told myself I was never gonna be a Fender girl because I love Schecter and Jackson but then I held a Fender bass and I had to take it home. So for the next couple years that will be my main bass. I also have a Schecter Stiletto Studio, a good old Thunderbird and a Jackson Concert Series which David Ellefson from Megadeth helped me get. My band also got me a bass preamp for Christmas so I don’t have to tour with my obnoxious touring rig. For the gearhead it’s called the SansAmp Tech 21.
What is coming up from you and your bands?
Oblivion Her Majesty has 4 songs ready to go and a music video that I am begging the guys to put out now because I don’t want to wait any longer. Let’s announce the name, lineup, and let’s go. For Voodoo Death Cult, we are recording our first album which will be released on vinyl. We’ve also got a show, following all guidelines, coming up on Valentine’s Day at Bar 13 in Delaware. That’s the only venue I feel safe playing right now because I know they truly follow each and every guideline. February 12th in Wilmington, Delaware Voodoo Death Cult will be headlining the Valentine’s Day show.
Is there anything else you’d like to include?
For right now, the Oblivion Her Majesty social media is all blacked out until the re-launch but you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @obilivionhermajesty for the time being and Voodoo Death Cult under @voodoodeathcult. We’re really excited for the re-launch so keep an eye out for that.
Shannon Wilk is a Connecticut-based music industry creative; bassist and photographer. She has brought her bass guitar skills to stages all over the country in various bands, most recently The Heartless and Alice Loves Alien. Dubbed the “female Rudy Sarzo”, Shannon has a unique and captivating stage presence in addition to her distinctive playing style. Since beginning her professional career in 2019, she has made waves in both the live music scene and the digital world, playing legendary stages such as the Whisky A Go-Go and the Monsters of Rock Cruise, as well as accumulating nearly 1 million views across online platforms.At 17 years old, Shannon Wilk has become a force to be reckoned with in the rock n’ roll scene. In addition to her blossoming music career, she has continued to showcase her passion for live music through concert photography. From KISS to Foo Fighters to Evanescence to Yungblud and more, Shannon has captured rock royalty through her lens. In 2018, she launched her own publication, Rockin’ Interviews, where she has connected with beloved ‘80s heavy metal artists through her independently produced podcast.