Roger Hirtz Bass & Vocals
One of the founding members - and the "R" in M&R Rush - Roger Hirtz's natural talent and self-assured style have laid a solid foundation for success. Born in September in Chicago, Hirtz began his musical career at age 12 as a lead vocalist, and picked up the bass guitar shortly after that at age 14. He co-founded M&R Rush, his first and only band, in 1970 with childhood little league friend Marty Mardirosian, the "M" in M&R Rush.
Also a gifted athlete, Hirtz combined his natural talent and determination to become one of the best pitchers in the Chicago high-school baseball league. By his senior year, his desire to be the best took him to the top: pitching the High School All-Star game at Chicago's Comiskey Park, striking out seven of the nine batters he faced. Hirtz's laid-back style belies his ability to adapt to any situation: he smoked on the pitcher's mound as a left-handed pitcher; and smokes on bass guitar as a right-handed player.
Hirtz studied music for two years after high school, and is a major contributor to M&R Rush's original music. On stage, his voice is consistently strong and his range sounds limitless. His style is laid back, but his natural talent on bass provides a solid foundation for the band.
Roger plays Rickenbacker & Fender guitars and uses Galien Kruger amps
M&R Questions & Answers
What Do You Enjoy About Playing in M&R Rush:
The Music & our common bond (getting free beer at shows is good too)
What Do You Think The Audience Remembers About M&R Rush:
Hopefully ,the music and the fun we have playing live.
Blues Brothers (We're gettin the band back together)
What People Say About You:
He's a nice guy! (I got em fooled)
Favorite Artists Past and Present:
Beatles-NICKELBACK – FOO FIGHTERS
CD in your Player
Bad Company Right Now
If You Knew This Question Was Going To Be Asked What Would You Have In The Player:
Def Leppard or Tom Petty
What You Want People To Say About You:
Optimstic & positive attitude –Easy going!!! (Hey I’m just the bass player)
Pizza-Pasta-Good Steak and Raspberry Ripple ice cream
What You Most Often End Up Eating:
Boneless Wings & Pizza-I miss Chicago pizza living in Indy.
What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up:
Rich & Happy
Place Of Birth:
Chicago IL - Roseland - Southside of Chicago
Interests, Hobbies, Outside Of M&R Rush:
Classic car buff & Pro Football
What Car Do You Wish You Owned:
69 Camaro SS Tuxedo Black with White Stripes (Awesome)
Bud Light (Ice Cold)
Crown & Coke
First Rock Album:
Meet the Beatles
Your Former Bands:
The Mod Squad with Marty (I was lead singer & played the tamborine) -Lacy Monroe & the South Side Main -(Don't ask)-Then The Empty Box w/Marty-pre M&R Rush
Most Disturbing Thing You've Seen During Your Years Of Playing:
Having a Flashpot blow up in our roadies face (He's OK)
How Long Have You Been Playing Your Instrument:
43 years- (Damm)
Favorite M&R Rush Song:
Hard choice –Workin for the Man -Alpha CD
Last Concert You Saw:
Yes and Emerson,Lake, and Palmer (Chicago Amphitheatre-long ago)
Summer - Sun and Fun-Bikinis and Speedos (Right, Mel)
Movies You Recommend:
The Incredible Mr. Limpet
Regular or Decaff Coffee:
How Do You Take Your Coffee:
Sugar & Cream (Hazelnut)
What Your Band Mates Say About You:
Steady & Reliable
Favorite Sports Team:
Indianapolis Colts , Da Bears, & the Chicago White Sox
What You Watch On TV:
Sports mostly – NFL – College Basketball IU, Also movie lover
Why You Play The Instrument You Play:
79 Rickenbacker 4001 Bass Walnut-It just sounds and feels good.
What You Would Play If You Had To Choose a Different Instrument:
Drums -I took lessons and then I saw Marty play so I decided to play with him not against him.
Plum Crazy Purple (Mopar)
Not getting National Record deal (Bummer!!!!)
"If you don't eat beans you don't know beans" Rudy Hirtz
Most Embarrassing On-Stage Moment:
Getting electrical shock at the microphone on our 1st song of the night. I fell to the
floor and we stopped playing. I was OK but from then on I always checked my microphone
before every show. (WOW)
German and Dutch
What Do You Miss From Your Youth:
Less responsibility and my 71 Red Camaro Z-28
Favorite Day Of The Week:
Saturdays when we are playing
Artist You Admire, But Do Not Listen TO:
Faith Hill –Johnny Cash -Elvis
Coke or Pepsi:
Coke –Pepsi too sweet
Paper or Plastic:
Plastic - Amazing what they can do nowadays.
Most Obscure Artist You Enjoy Listening To:
Artists People Would Be Surprised You Like:
Magazines You Enjoy:
Ever Traveled Out Of The Country, Where:
Caribbean Cruise –Jamaica – Grand Cayman Islands & Mexico
Mustard or Ketchup:
Ketchup-unless it's with pretzels
Brothers and Sisters:
3 brothers -Tom -Dave -Bob and 2 sisters Virginia(Gin) -Lois (Loobs)
If You Went To A Casino, What Would You Play:
Roulette & Dollar Slots
Your Dream House:
Lake House with a pool, hot tub, speed boat, and pontoon party boat
Leno or Lettermen:
Leno (He's a car buff)
Skill That Most Aren't Aware Of:
Ambidextrous -Lefty or Righty
Musical Guilty Pleasure (Like It But Embarrassed To Admit It):
Favorite Vacation Destination:
Dale Hollow Lake -House Boats -Tennessee
Left or Right Handed:
Lefty who plays right handed bass.
PC Or Mac:
Mac – Ipads are awesome
How Do You Like Your Eggs:
Over Easy w/toast
Mile high Chocolate Cake from Rick’s Boatyard in Indy
Steak Or Fish:
Filet-but I do like popcorn shrimp
How Do You Like Your Steak:
Medium a little pink
Morning Or Night:
Night -Live music
High School Sports:
Baseball all 4 years-Lefty pitcher
Dreams - In Color Or Black and White:
Black & White -Don't really think about it
Forgetting the words to a song on stage. (It's happens more than you think)
Life On Other Planets:
Definitely, where else did the Coneheads come from.
Rose- just cause it's used in a lot of rock songs.
2 dogs- Dexter & Ozzie -1 small kitty
Cars , Bass Guitars & Pizza (Chicago Style)
Ideal Amount Of Sleep:
7-8 hours if possible
Do You Still Own Any Albums:
Disappeared in 83
Bio Addition: Interview - Roger Hirtz
This is the second in a series if interviews with members of M&R Rush talking in depth about their music.
Lets start with your bass guitar. You currently play a Rickenbacker model 4001.
Well, it's a 1979 Rickenbacker 4001 in walnut finish. I loved the natural wood look it has. It sounds good and plays awesome. I use to have a white one many year ago.
What is the white bass guitar I see you occasionally play?
That is a Dean bass. I picked it up for my son who is learning to play. I use it on stage as a back up to my Rick. It has a little more bottom end than my Rick and it plays really nice for an import bass.
From the sound you get, I can tell you used a pick. I know you play using fingers too. You play quite well using your fingers. What is the reason behind this?
I started originally playing solely with my fingers. As time went by we were learning different tunes requiring more picking action. I worked on using a pick on certain songs we did (Yes tunes). I started to like the brighter sound and the slap of the pick. Over time, I have swung to almost 90% using the pick. It's kind of nice to have the option to do either way that it is appropriate for the tune.
Have you ever considered using a 5 or 6 string bass; or, maybe go way out and use a 12 string Chapman Stick like Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel) uses?
I've considered it but not really pursued it. Maybe I need to broaden my horizons.
I noticed you were using a Peavey Amplifier. The last gig you used an Ampeg. In the old M&R days you used an Ampeg SVT Bass amplifier.
Yeah ,that was one bad a__ amplifier. It had 300 watts of power and 2 cabinets. Each with ( 8) 10" speakers. That would put out some serious sound. For a while I just used one cabinet because when I used two I would blow everybody in the band off the stage. Nice to have that power, the head alone weighed a 1,000 lbs (ha ha). My amp now is an old Peavey Bass with some crazy features. It actually has a fuzz control.
Did you always play bass or did you switch from guitar? Have you had any formal training?
Actually I first started out as a lead singer in a band with Marty the drummer in the band. We were called the Mod Squad circa 1969. (Wow). I had aspirations to play the bass and a friend named Carl Severson , a guitar player actually taught me the basics. I took it from there and sort of self taught myself the rest. I would say I picked up things over the years from other players also.
Who influenced you as a bass player?
Probably -Jack Bruce (Cream), Chris Squire (Yes), and Geddy Lee (Rush)
Are there any Chicago or Indianapolis area base players today that you believe to be exceptional?
Unfortunately, I haven't gotten out much to see many bands. You know, I'm always home rehearsing. Oh,yeah.!!
In your opinion, who are the top players today?
Don't know their names but like the sounds of Nickelback and Green Day.
How about bass players in other music styles like Jazz, Big Band or Blues?
I appreciate and listen to those styles occasionally, but always seem to prefer rock & roll. Stanley Clark
was an awesome Jazz player.
Roger, you are an exceptional singer, and you harmonize very well. (Please elaborate on this) Do you consider your self a singer or musician first?
Well, thanks for the compliment. It's always nice to hear. I would say an even balance between playing and singing. I guess I look at my self as a very steady bass player to compliment some of Marty's (drummer) flash. We have been playing together off and on since 1969. We work well together. As far as vocally, I think we harmonize well and we have a distinctive sound together.
Are there any other musicians (non base players) that you admire?
Probably at the top of the list is Paul McCartney. He qualifies because he can play guitar and keyboards. He's an unbelievable singer and songwriter. Plus he's a lefty and a bass player. Well I got 2 out 4. Others include Tommy Shaw (Styx), Phil Collins (Genesis), and Sammy Hagar. (What a rock voice)
What was the last band or musician you recently seen play live?
I just got back from an Alice Cooper Concert last night. That guy (?) can still rock. His band was strong and the sound was good. It was at the Verizon music Center in Noblesville ,IN -Good Show especially the guillotine part. I tried to talk Marty (drummer) into getting one of those for us.
Before I let you go, please tell me what CD's you have recently listened to at home or in the car (be
Actually, Rick Springfield-Warrant- Don Henley -& Yes. Now, there's a mixed bag for you. I'm pretty open ended with music. Just not a country or rap fan. (Sorry, Kyle)-He's my 15 year old who loves rap.
Mike - Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. See you on next years "Life Is Good' 2016 Tour !!!