Roberto Agustin “Robert” Trujillo (Spanish pronunciation: [roˈβerto tɾuˈxiʎo]; born October 23, 1964) is an American musician and songwriter best known as the current bass guitarist of the heavy metal band Metallica, a position he has held since 2003. He was also a member of crossover thrash metal band Suicidal Tendencies, funk metal supergroup Infectious Grooves, and heavy metal band Black Label Society, and has worked with Jerry Cantrell and Ozzy Osbourne.
Life and career
Roberto Agustin Trujillo was born in Santa Monica, California. He is of Mexican and Native American descent. He grew up in Culver City, California. Trujillo was exposed to a lot of music during his childhood. His mother was a huge fan of Motown, musicians like Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Sly and the Family Stone. Trujillo stated that “Jaco [Pastorius] was my hero growing up”, and that “Hearing him was like hearing Eddie Van Halen doing “Eruption” for the first time: You thought, ‘What instrument is that?’ I loved jazz fusion and branched out from there. But Jaco had an edge that far exceeded his jazz persona. He was funk, he was rock, he was soul. And his whole attitude was punk.” He began playing in “a lot of backyard party bands”, playing music by Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Rush, and Led Zeppelin. He went to jazz school when he was 19 with the intention of becoming a studio musician, however he maintained his passion for rock and metal.
Trujillo first gained prominence as the bass guitarist for California crossover thrash band Suicidal Tendencies. Initially billed as “Stymee” on the 1989 album Controlled by Hatred/Feel Like Shit…Déjà Vu, Trujillo remained in the band until the mid-1990s. Concurrent to his work with Suicidal Tendencies, Trujillo was also a member of the band’s side project, Infectious Grooves, along with vocalist Mike Muir.
Trujillo was a member of Ozzy Osbourne’s band for a number of years starting in the late 1990s. He was the subject of controversy for re-recording Bob Daisley’s bass tracks for reissued versions of Osbourne’s albums Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman because of Daisley’s claim of not receiving proper royalties. During this time, Trujillo formed an experimental supergroup, Mass Mental, with then Dub War singer Benji Webbe, whose “ragga-punk-metal” outfit had just disbanded. The band released one studio album (exclusively in Japan) and one live album of their performance in Tokyo before disbanding. Zakk Wylde, a personal friend and bandmate from the Ozzy days, also recruited him to play with Black Label Society for a few shows.
Trujillo began playing electric bass for Metallica on February 24, 2003. The rest of the band now consists of James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Lars Ulrich. He had previously met and befriended his future bandmates when Suicidal Tendencies supported Metallica during the Nowhere Else to Roam tour in 1993, and again during the Shit Hits the Sheds tour one year later. Trujillo received one million dollars from the band as an advance for joining Metallica. His audition and hiring as well as his million dollar payment offer appear in the documentary film Some Kind of Monster. As the current bassist for Metallica, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside all current members of the band, as well as Jason Newsted (who left the band in 2001) and the late Cliff Burton, for whom Jason Newsted was the replacement, in the 1980s.
Trujillo has had some small roles in television and film. He had a non-speaking role in the 1978 Walter Matthau film House Calls, and had a minor role in the 1980 Gary Coleman made-for-TV film Scout’s Honor. He also played a character named “Flippy” in a 1982 episode of the television drama series CHiPs. In 1989 he appeared in a Pacific Bell Smart Yellow Pages TV spot; he was interviewed while out jogging and expressed an interest in having a custom kilt made for his upcoming tour. The interviewer produced a copy of the phone book and they found a heading under “Kilts” thus proving that anything anyone wanted could be found in the Yellow Pages. In 1992 he appeared as himself along with his Infectious Grooves’ bandmates in the hit Brendan Fraser comedy film Encino Man. In 2003, Trujillo was seen playing an upright bass in the Nickel Creek music video, “Smoothie Song”. However, he did not play bass for the band during the song’s recording.
Trujillo is married and has a son, Tye, and daughter, Lulah. His wife, Chloé, did a pyrography (woodburning) design of the Aztec calendar for him on his bass guitar.
In 2012, Trujillo began producing a documentary about jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius entitled Jaco, directed by Stephen Kijak and Paul Marchand. The film was named Official Film of Record Store Day 2014 and was released in November 2014.
Trujillo is primarily a finger-style player, but has been known to play with a pick in some recordings and while playing live. Trujillo’s predecessor in Metallica, Jason Newsted, was almost exclusively a pick-style player, while Cliff Burton, Newsted’s predecessor and bassist on Metallica’s first three albums, played finger-style exclusively. Trujillo is known for playing “massive chords” and “chord-based harmonics” on the bass.
Trujillo also uses the slap bass technique, seen mostly in his work with Suicidal Tendencies and especially Infectious Grooves. At many of the shows during Metallica’s 2004 Madly in Anger with the World Tour, Trujillo would often play an extended bass solo (dubbed “Jungle Essence” on recordings), which made extensive use of slap bass and other techniques and effects.
For recording purposes, Trujillo uses his own code for writing down bass arrangements. Inspired by an article by Pino Palladino, he developed this during the recording sessions for Jerry Cantrell’s Degradation Trip, which, according to Trujillo, had him working from “little hoodrat demos” with nearly inaudible bass.
With Metallica, Trujillo is most often seen playing Fernandes Gravity 5-string basses, particularly a model with a silver finish, blue flame decals, and EMG pickups. He has a Warwick Signature Streamer bass both 5 and 4-strings that was released in March 2010. He also has a signature bass model, the Sonus RT, manufactured by Zon Guitars. Prior to Metallica, he was most often seen playing Tobias, ESP and MusicMan basses (all 5-strings), as well as a Fender Precision Bass with Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne. Trujillo has been seen in concert playing a Yamaha TRB5-P2 5-string bass, a customized green Rickenbacker 4001/4003 4-string bass fitted with EMG pickups, various Nash P-Bass Copy guitars, and both a classic Fender Precision Bass and Fender Jazz Bass. For amplification, he uses Ampeg amplifiers and cabinets. Trujillo recently collaborated with Jim Dunlop to create his new Icon signature bass strings – these strings are taper-core stainless steel, with a non-tapered B string in gauges 45–130 (5-string).
Trujillo also owns the “Bass of Doom” – a defretted mid-1960s Fender Jazz Bass that was formerly owned by the late Jaco Pastorius and that was extensively used on his recorded works. The bass had been seriously damaged, but has subsequently been restored and refinished. Trujillo acquired it from its previous owner, with the intention of having the bass remain with him, in trust for the Pastorius family. He has, however, been seen playing it onstage with Metallica.
Trujillo’s pedal board consists of an Electro Harmonix Q-Tron, a Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI, a Tech 21 XXL, an MXR m-135 SmartGate, a Morley Mark Tremonti wah pedal, and a Boss OC-2 Octave Pedal; all powered by a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power.
- Degradation Trip (2002)
- Degradation Trip Volumes 1 & 2 (2002)
Black Label Society
- 1919 Eternal (2002)
- The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move…It’s the Infectious Grooves (1991)
- Encino Man Soundtrack (1992)
- Sarsippius’ Ark (1993)
- Groove Family Cyco (1994)
- Mas Borracho (1999)
- Year of the Cycos (2008)
- Funk It Up – Live in France 1995 (2010)
- Mad Mad Muir Musical Tour (2011)
- Lights…Camera…Revolution! (1990)
- The Art of Rebellion (1992)
- Still Cyco After All These Years (1993)
- Suicidal for Life (1994)
- Year of the Cycos (2008)
- Mad Mad Muir Musical Tour (2011)
- Baptizm of Fire (1997)
- How To Write Love Songs (1999)
- Live in Tokyo (2001)
- Down to Earth (2001)
- Blizzard of Ozz (reissue) (2002)
- Diary of a Madman (reissue) (2002)
- Live at Budokan (2002)
- St. Anger (2003) (Credited but does not play. Features on the deluxe edition, live DVD and music videos)
- Death Magnetic (2008)
- Lulu (with Lou Reed) (2011)
- Beyond Magnetic (EP) (2011)
- Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016)
- “The Blackest Box – The Ultimate Metallica Tribute” (2002)
- “A Song for Chi” (2009)
- A.N.I.M.A.L. – “Poder Latino” (guest in song track 6)
- Live at Budokan live album with accompanying live DVD
- St. Anger live bonus DVD – 2003
- Some Kind of Monster Metallica documentary
- The Videos 1989–2004 video compilation DVD
- Français Pour Une Nuit live DVD from the concert in Nîmes
- Orgullo, Pasión, y Gloria: Tres Noches en la Ciudad de México live DVD from the concerts in Mexico City
- The Big Four live DVD from Sofia, Bulgaria
- Metallica Through the Never 2013 movie
- Boozed, Broozed, and Broken-Boned live DVD from Detroit, Michigan