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: Oliver Hofer
Bands & Artists: Rock of Ages, Blue Man Group
Home: Brooklyn, New York
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
The main difference has been not taking the ride into the theater district to get to work. I upped my workout routine in the morning to keep me sane and feel some sense of accomplishment. If I just sit around all day I feel like a trash bag. I’ve been doing lots of Skype and Zoom calls with friends and family overseas. And I’ve done a couple of remote sessions for fun.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I came across a little exercise Felix Pastorius posted on his IG. That made me order his books. I now have material for the next ten pandemics! I’ve checked out a couple of online workshops.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I’m a sucker for pretty much anything Devin Townsend releases; I forget everything around me and it’s definitely inspiring. Of course any rock and roll does the trick: The Who, Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crüe, Motorhead. I also had a recent Skunk Anansie renaissance. They were not too popular here in the U.S., but I highly recommend them. They’re a fun British Band from the ’90s, still going strong. Their bass player, Cass Lewis, is awesome! I’ve been watching loads of documentaries across the spectrum, too. I especially recommend The Rainbow and Miles Davis: The Birth of Cool.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been rotating my basses: ’73 Fender Precision, ’90s StingRay, Sandberg Fretless 5-string, and Gibson Thunderbird. I got an Electro-Harmonix Freeze pedal, which I’m having fun with. I have an old Korg G5 Synth Pedal that I recently broke out; I forgot how cool it is. In the morning you might catch me on my stoop with a tiny Blackstar amp, waking up my fingers. I'm making good use of my Phil Jones HA-2 Headphone Amp at times when my neighbors are home, it’s amazing. And I bought a little MIDI controller to use with Logic.
What non-music activities, books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I started running and rope jumping in the morning, followed by practice for an hour or two, depending on how much fun I’m having. The rest of the day is between Xbox, Netflix, trying new dishes in the kitchen, and trying to come up with ideas for the future.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
It all depends on when Broadway and touring shows are allowed again. The outlook is grim, with one company I was part of declaring bankruptcy and the other show expressing no optimism about coming back. I might take some time off and live in Europe for a bit, just to get away from it all.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Don't watch YouTube videos of 8-year-old monster players unless you are one of them! Learn how to program a realistic drum track. If you know what a drummer would play, sit down with logic or your DAW of choice and try to program it. Of course, if you can, get in room with a real one. I truly miss that.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi