To celebrate his new signature Fender model, bassist Dywane Thomas Jr., who’s better known as MonoNeon, sat down with Guitar World recently to discuss his playing and career. One of the most important parts of his career was when he played for Prince for about a year before the legendary musician’s passing. Asked about what it was like to play with Prince, MonoNeon said:
“It was such a casual, cool experience, being around him. I thought it was gonna be a situation where I would have to change up something about myself, but he literally allowed me to be who I was. He really embraced the whole MonoNeon thing and allowed me to do what I wanted to do while I was with him. He just let me play what I wanted to play.”
When further pressed about whether Prince ever “directed” his playing, the bassist recalled one occasion when he did so, explaining:
“I remember one time he told me, ‘Play a little bit less here’. I probably overplayed a little, especially when I was learning a song. But honestly, he would let me do what I wanted the rest of the time. I knew what he wanted, especially in the studio, so he would just let me figure shit out.”
Asked about how he looks back on this time, Dywane Thomas Jr. replied:
“That whole experience was just so surreal, because when he passed away, I was just there with him: we just started recording together. Honestly, I’m still not over it, because I was just getting to know him and be around him. But it was a great experience – really great – and it got me into songwriting, from being around him.”
During his time with Prince, MonoNeon recorded just one piece. Titled “Ruff Enuff,” it features Prince on the keyboards.
As mentioned previously, MonoNeon has partnered with Fender for an all-new 5-string signature bass model. As the musician’s name and appearance suggest already, the instrument comes with an “eye-popping” neon yellow finish that catches everyone’s attention.
Along with that comes a neon orange pickguard and a neon orange headstock. It’s also equipped with an 18-volt active preamp that bears a 3-band EQ. It all powers its Fireball 5-string humbucker pickups, giving it a somewhat “punchy” tone. This Jazz-style model is available at Fender and you can check it out here.
Photo: penner (Prince at Coachella)