Before bassist Robert Trujillo starts his Metallica tour in Baltimore in May for the band’s newest album Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, he’s got a more important role to play. His 12-year-old son Tye—a skateboarding Nerf-gun enthusiast—is filling in for Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu on bass for Korn during its current tour of South America. Trujillo is going along, part bodyguard, part tour assistant, and part groupie. “I was like the nanny,” Trujillo says of when Tye began working with the metal musicians.
Back in August, Trujillo and Metallica ran into Korn at LAX as both bands waited for different flights. The nü-metal band mentioned that Arvizu wouldn’t be joining them in South America and that they were possibly interested in Tye. “Some of the members were following him on Instagram and really loved what they were seeing,” says Trujillo. “I’ve known the Korn guys for a while, I trust them, but the bottom line is they were impressed with him as a player and a performer.” A few months later, Trujillo had only two days home to get his son ready to play with Korn. “I had no idea how he was gonna do,” says Trujillo. Once they arrived, Tye started skateboarding and shooting Nerf guns at Arvizu’s kids—“he’s still a kid,” Trujillo laughs—but once he put on the bass, he focused. “I was amazed,” Trujillo admits proudly. “Cause I didn’t help him with anything!”
The bass is Tye’s second instrument. By the age of 1, he was enamored with the drums. Trujillo bought him multiple toy drum kits, but Tye ripped through those, literally. At 5, he “retired” from the drums, Trujillo explains, and instead began picking up his father’s instrument–not entirely surprising, as there is a bass in every room of the Trujillo home. “The beauty of it is he’s a writer and I helped guide him with some of that,” says Trujillo.
And Trujillo’s just a regular, supportive dad. “I’ll be downstairs and I’ll hear him come up with a great riff,” he says. “I get excited and I run upstairs and say ‘that’s a great bass line, oh my God!’” The 12-year-old has “earned respect,” according to his dad, jamming un-self-consciously with Metallica frontman James Hetfield and Korn guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer. “At 12 years old, I didn’t know what a bass guitar was,” Trujillo laughs. (His beginnings were in acoustic guitar–far from metal–but his son was watching Metallica onstage in diapers). His parenting hasn’t stopped, of course. He told Tye to chill out with skateboarding because the risk of injury was too high and pushed him to go on hikes while carrying his bass to get in good condition.
Trujillo says his son is pretty “sheltered” and “grounded.” Before going on tour, Tye came back from school one day and told his dad that someone at school said the Korn gig was “kind of a big deal.” His dad agrees.