1. OK, what's the deal with all the different bands?
The honest answer is that playing in multiple projects keeps my MADD (Musical Attention Deficit Disorder) from flaring up. I love the variety of playing with 5 or different bands in a given month. It's a great challenge keeping up with all the different material, plus it gives me the opportunity to play with a large group of people. There's so much to be learned from playing with different musicians.
2. How did you get the gig with Crack The Sky?
In 2001 I met CTS members Bobby Hird and Glenn Workman at a studio session. I didn't see them again until 2008 when CTS and my old band Oblivion Sun played a show together. Fast forward to December 2010 and I got an IM on Facebook from someone I had recently met at a gig and he asked if I'd be interested in auditioning for CTS. He told me he was friends with someone who was helping the band find a new bassist. I got in touch with that person and also I emailed Glenn to let him know I was interested. Funny thing - he told me my name was on a short list of people the band was going to contact. A little while later we all got together on two separate occasions to play through some of their songs and then not long after that, I got the news I wanted to hear!
3. What was the most number of gigs you ever played in a month?
27 shows in October, 2003. I'm in no hurry to break that record!
4. Would you ever consider playing in only one band?
I've done it before and I'd do it again if the situation was right and it made sense to do so.
5. How do you keep track of your gigs with all these bands?
One word - iPhone.
6. What the heck is a baritone guitar?
The quick answer: It's a guitar with a slightly longer scale length than a standard guitar and it's tuned down a fourth - from B to B.
The long answer: Time for a little history lesson. Way back when in the early 60s, Fender put out a "bass" that was made for guitarists called the Bass VI. It had a somewhat longer scale than a guitar and was tuned just like a guitar, only down an octave. Since it had six strings it became known as a "six-string bass". Danelectro and Gibson followed and released their own versions of these hybrid instruments.
These days when we hear of a six string bass, we think of a bass guitar with a low B string and a high C string added. In the early 90s, reissues of the 60s "six-string bass" started appearing and in order to keep everyone from getting confused, the term baritone guitar ended up being applied to these reissues as well as their B to B-tuned cousins.
I have 3 baritone guitars:
- Fender Bass VI (tuned E-E)
- Fender Telecaster Bajo Sexto (tuned A-A)
- Gretsch Synchromatic (tuned B-B)
7. Of all the bands you play with, which one is your favorite?
It's a tie between the one I played with last night and the one I'm playing with tonight.
8. I might want to have you play bass on my CD/song. How does that work?
9. How many bass students do you have?
51 as of this moment. Care to make it 52?
10. Is it true that it's easier to learn bass than guitar?
I believe it's easier to be an average bassist than it is to be an average guitarist, but it takes just as much effort to be a proficient bassist as it does to be a proficient guitarist. And cello is harder than both.
11. I've thought about taking lessons but I have no interest in learning all that jazz theory stuff. Is there any way around that or am I stuck with it if I want to improve?
Although I recommend that everyone spends at least a little time getting their feet wet with some theory, it's not mandatory to become Dr. Theory in order to improve. However, there are many levels of theory that may be of use to you before you hit the "jazz stuff" - like simple triad knowledge and some basic scale and interval knowledge which will make learning and creating cool bass lines a lot easier. I use that stuff on every gig! If the idea of theory really spooks you though, there are ways around it. Check out the Instruction page for more info.
12. Who's your favorite bassist?
Too many to mention. All the usual suspects. Anyone who does something creative with bass gets my respect.
13. Who's your favorite drummer?
It's a 3-way tie between Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney and Lenny Kravitz.
14. Of all your basses, which is your favorite?
My Gibson Thunderbirds. My black one is The Holy Grail.
15. (This one gets asked at just about every gig) What kinda music do y'alls play?
After all these years, I can't resist answering this with - "Both kinds - Country AND Western". If it's clear that they've never seen the Blues Brothers movie (most haven't) then I'll follow it up with something like, "Me personally, I prefer the Country over the Western, but we like to mix it up, just to keep it interesting". The quizzical, dog-with-the-head-cocked-to-the-side look inevitably follows.
16. How often do your smart-ass comments backfire on you?
So far, only once. One time a guy came up to request a song. The guy was a dead-ringer for Curly from the Three Stooges. Try though I did, I just couldn't resist doing Curly's signature "Whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop" into the mic. Everyone close enough to see him thought it was great and started laughing. Being the ham that I am, I followed it up with a few nyuck, nyuck, nyucks. I guess the guy didn't find it all that amusing because after we played his song, he came back up and handed each of the other guys a $20 bill. My ill-timed impersonation cost me 20 bucks!
And the moral of the story is: comedy doesn't pay.
17. How do you play a 10 or 15 string bass?
The same way you'd play a 5-string, only you press down harder. It's similar to a 12-string guitar in that it has a string tuned up an octave next to each of the 5 fundamental strings. Essentially you're playing 2 strings with every note.
The 15-string adds an extra octave string so that you're now pressing down 3 strings. This is similar to the 12-string bass, invented by Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson and also used by Doug Pinnick from King's X and Jeff Ament from Pearl Jam. Listen to the intro to Pearl Jam's "Jeremy". That's the 12-string bass in all its glory! For more info, check out www.12stringbass.net.
18. What's up with these instructional CDs?
The Turn It Up & Lay It Down CDs are the brain-child of drummer Spencer Strand who also happens to be the Sales Manager for RhythmTech. There are 6 CDs in the series and I came on board in 2001 for Vol.2, which also featured former Steve Vai bassist TM Stevens and Chuck Bergeron. In 2004 I wrote, co-produced and played on Vol.3 - Rock-It-Science, a collection of tracks covering all the styles heard on modern rock radio.
The CDs were made for drummers to throw on headphones or crank the CD through a P.A. and jam along. The current one, Vol.6 - Messin' Wit Da Bull, was released in August 2006 and is a collection of killer 70's funk style grooves, written by yours truly and featuring Doug Mattingly on guitar and John Hall on keys. The CDs are great for drummers of all levels to work on fills, grooves and feel. Head over to www.drumfun.com and check it out!