As the world continues to recover from the Coronavirus, we're all finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory given the subsequent lockdown that is keeping us off of stages and confined to our homes. Luckily, there's comfort in the fact that we're all in this together, and that there are still many outlets for us musicians to keep us active and sane throughout this quarantine. We're checking in with bass players from all over the world to see what they're doing to stay entertained, healthy, productive, and safe during this trying time.
Bass Player: Greg Smith
Bands & Artists: Ted Nugent, Billy Joel, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, Tommy James, Wizards of Winter
Home: Bangor, Pennsylvania
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been trying to stay as busy as possible in many different ways. I have a 104-year-old house which means there’s always something that needs attention. I’m getting to many projects at the house that have needed to be done for some time. I’ve been doing lots of recording and getting my recording chops up. I’ve definitely had some holy crap moments finding shortcuts recently! I’ve been doing some collaboration videos with fellow musicians, including Facebook livestreams from my backyard with some local players, which has been fun and has definitely kept me sane. We just get together and play old school rock tunes and have a blast. We’ve had people from all over the planet tuning in and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Since I’m home and have the time, I’ve started teaching via FaceTime and Messenger. I usually go out to my studio a couple hours prior to teaching to practice, noodle around, and come up with ideas, which invariably means I come up with some cool riffs and song ideas. That’s pretty much the routine, and as a result I’m practicing more than I usually would.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I’ve rediscovered Sinatra At The Sands, and I’ve been listening a lot to that. Man, those guys play with a tightness, intensity, and dynamic that blows me away! There’s a guy on YouTube named Daric Bennet that I’ve enjoyed watching lately. Lee Sklar’s daily videos have also been fun to watch.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
Because I’ve been doing so much recording, I’ve been having fun with the bass amp modeling in Logic. I’ve been trying out a lot of the basses that I have here. My two go-to basses are my ’72 Fender Precision with a rosewood neck, and my ’82 Fender Fullerton ’57 Reissue Precision with a maple neck. I’ve recently recorded with my ’72 Gibson EB-3 and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it sounded. I’ve also been recording with my Music Man StingRays and I’m blown away at how great they sound recorded. So it seems I’ve been using this time to rediscover what I already have!
What non-music activities, books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
Well, I’ve pretty much exhausted Netflix and Prime! I try to run every day. I’m lucky to live close to nature, so I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors. I think I’d go nuts if I didn’t live here. We have the Delaware River very close by, so I really enjoy taking my raft with a couple friends and spending the day. I’ve apparently channeled my inner 80-year-old Italian man, too, as I’ve got a garden that would make Vito Corleone jealous!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I can’t wait to get back touring again. I never realized that I took it for granted until it went away. There will be tours with Nugent, Tyketto, Tokyo Motor Fist, Tommy James, Wizards of Winter, and Kofi Baker. I’m truly hoping 2021 will very busy! As much as I love being home, I’m a road dog at heart. I love being on a bus, I love the gig, the crowd, the travel, and the fans. I’m not as young as I used to be, so this old man is gonna enjoy the road as long as he possibly can! Ted has been sending me new material here and there, so there may be another Nugent album in the works.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I would simply say stay busy. Practice, write, record, get out and enjoy nature, and exercise, as it keeps you healthy and keeps your head in the right place. Spend time with family, BBQ, hike, take a drive, and fix something around the house. Keep your mind occupied and stay healthy mentally and physically.
Follow Greg Here: Facebook & Twitter
Read all 180+ Bass Magazine Check-in Features: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi