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: Alan Robert
Bands & Artists: Life of Agony
Home: Brooklyn, NY
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I've been busier than I thought I would be. Between standing on long lines at the market to get food and supplies for my family, and chipping away at the house to-do list, I've been drawing a new book for my horror coloring book series, The Beauty of Horror[http://thebeautyofhorror.com], which comes out this September. It’s the fourth volume in the series. The book is almost 90 pages, and I basically draw a new page every single day.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
To keep my chops up, I've been focused on learning bass lines and riffs I've always loved but never knew how to play. The first one I tackled was “Hysteria” by Muse. Damn, Chris Wolstenholme is a monster player! I broke down the main riff into four parts and then mastered each part separately. After I got comfortable with the patterns and the picking, I pieced them all together until I could play it fluidly. Other riffs I’ve learned so far are Pink Floyd's “Money,” Misfits' “I Turned Into A Martian,” The Beatles’ “Come Together,” Rage Against the Machine's “Killing In The Name Of,” The Clash's “Guns of Brixton,” and Nirvana's “Come As You Are.”
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
The Misfits have always been my go-to band, so I have their records crankin' all day. Fiona Apple’s new record, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, is a great one to zone out to—a lot of avant garde and jazz influences in there. I like drawing to it.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I recently got a new Orange rig: AD200 MKIII and OB1-500 heads driving four OBC410 cabinets, so my neighbors definitely hate me! I’ve been trying out some great pedals from ZVEX, particularly the Super Duper Concert Bass Mod. A terrific fuzz pedal that may have been discontinued is the DNA Analogic SF-1 Smoky Fuzz–it has great overdrive without losing the bottom end. I have a collection of 1974 Fender Precisions and custom basses built by Stuart Spector that are fun to play.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I’m a huge Breaking Bad fan, so I've been getting into this last season of Better Call Saul. I've also been revisiting the Locke & Key graphic novels now that the Netflix series aired. My buddy, illustrator Gabe Rodriguez did an amazing job bringing that story to life. Fantastic visual storytelling. It's a story by Joe Hill, Stephen King's son. Definitely check it out.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
The Beauty of Horror universe is about to expand in a big way. Besides the new tarot cards sets, there are a bunch of other cool products on the way this fall, plus something truly mind-blowing in the works!
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Open your mind to learning and trying new things. Use the time to push yourself out of your comfort zone a bit. Creating little daily challenges can keep you motivated and focused as a player. There are some great free bass lessons online. Fender launched a free online service, and I even got my family to gather around the iPad to learn some basics on acoustic instruments. It's been fun for the family to connect through music in that way.
Follow Alan: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi