From her birthplace of Mullingar, Ireland to the fast scene of Los Angeles to stages all over the world, Tanya O’Callaghan has remained entirely authentic every step of her musical journey. Maybe it’s her feisty Irish side, and maybe it’s her drive to continually better herself as a player — but whatever it is, it’s caught the attention of Dee Snider, Steven Adler, Maynard James Keenan, Ronnie Wood, and David Grey, who have all enlisted her services as a low-ender. With Sadowsky bass in hand and dreadlocks flying in every direction, O’Callaghan has a larger-than-life stage persona that is as unmistakable as her Irish brogue.
When she’s not thrilling crowds, O’Callaghan keeps busy with her work as an activist, and she hosts her own show alongside Derrick Green of Sepultura called Highway to Health, where she sits down with stars like Moby, Kat Von D, and Kevin Smith to talk about healthy living and the vegan lifestyle. Lately, the globetrotting bass star has been hard at work in L.A. due to the lack of touring in 2020, which gave her just enough time to sit still and answer our 10 Questions.
1. What have you been listening to lately?
A mix of Hall & Oates, Gojira, Jeff Buckley, Fleetwood Mac, A Perfect Circle, Betty Davis, and Tool.
2. What’s one element of your playing that you’ve been working on?
Consistency and stamina. Not touring and playing shows on the regular has me feeling weaker, playing- and stamina-wise. That could be part psychological, as this whole global lockdown caused me — and I’m sure many players — to have a loss of creativity and desire to play. But I’m slowly getting my creative energy back.
3. What is the first concert you ever attended?
An amazing Irish band called Kila, and then my first major-artist concert was the Red Hot Chili Peppers at a huge stadium in Dublin.
4. What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?
Sting and Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl, hands down! They both played together, at the same time, with their full bands, one big set — mind-blowing!
5. If you could sub for a bass player in any band, who would it be?
Nate Mandel of Foo Fighters or Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine.
6. What was your first bass?
A Music Man SUB bass.
7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about playing bass?
Lower your action. I learned this when I was a young bass sprog with action you could drive a truck under, and hadn’t yet learned the importance of a great setup.
8. What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you during a gig?
Not embarrassing per se, but I accidentally flashed a festival crowd in Sweden, or maybe it was Belgium, when my bass strap came loose and took my top straps with it. But I ninja-moved super fast and solved the issue, ha! And the same week in Europe, while supporting Aerosmith, I went to say hello to the band and couldn’t think of Steven Tyler’s name when chatting to him — you know,that guy. I think I called him Stu … or Simon maybe. I also called Ronnie Wood “Rodney Wood” in the studio years ago … silly memories.
9. What are the four items that you absolutely need to have on the road with you?
Snacks, earplugs, gym clothes, and a good book, or three.
10. If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
I’d be a full-time activist and advocate for animal and environmental welfare, and also the host of a travel/health show — but I do that already, as well as being a musician. So I guess you could say I’m already living all my passions. –BM
Follow Tanya: Here
Learn more about Highway to Health: Here