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: Annie Clements
Bands & Artists: Maren Morris, Sugarland, Hula-HiFi, Side Piece, Amos Lee
Home: Nashville, Tennesse
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I make my bread and butter (and make my heart flutter) by performing live. In lieu of this, I’ve been making collaborative song videos with my project Side Piece - a collection of all-female side players. We track individually to a click, send the videos of ourselves tracking to each other to build upon the arrangements, and piece everything together. It’s a whole new level of communication working up arrangements via zoom meetings, texts, and emails. Until someone solves the problem of latency around real time music-making, this is how we’re getting it done! We try to release one video per week and pick songs relevant to this current crisis. Hopefully it’s bringing some joy to the world!
My husband [Sugarland guitarist Thad Beaty] and I are expecting our first child, due in June, so we’re taking this time to prep the house and the nursery for her arrival. We are also teaming up with Project Glimmer to play music at some of the virtual baby showers people are now having since in-person gatherings aren’t safe. There are so many new moms in need who were counting on their baby showers to get their essentials. We found a great partner with Project Glimmer who specializes in distributing products to women in need so we’re trying to get support and donations for the cause via our music and hopefully making an impact on some families that need help. Stop by www.projectglimmer.org and my instagram for the details!
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Learning new songs tends to be what guides my practice these days. Whether it’s for a Side Piece video or something that my husband is working on. He’s been taking the time to learn the music of his childhood heroes and I just jump in with him. Been playing a lot of King’s X, Iron Maiden, and other assorted hard rock and metal. Also, I do teach some online students and their curiosity always pushes me. Right now, I’m just playing for the joy of it. That’s important to me.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
ZZ Top's Tres Hombres! Thad and I stumbled on a documentary about them a few weeks ago and now we can’t get enough, especially the early stuff. We’re both big fans of doing a lot with a little as well as the intricacies of arrangements. The sound that those guys are getting between the three of them is miraculous. And during these quarantine times, you gotta do a lot more with a lot less, so I find it fitting. Same goes for King’s X and Jimi Hendrix. Digging a lot of power trios these days.
Tower of Power's Live and in Living Color always brings me a lot of comfort. I got way into Tower of Power in college, thanks to being a singer and the vocal arranger in Berklee’s ensemble dedicated to their music. Putting on that record and knowing every horn hit, every harmony part, and of course, continuously being awed by Rocco Prestia’s playing gives me comfort and energy. It takes me out of my mind and releases endorphins. Also, all Beatles records. They all have that effect on me. We put a record player in the nursery so Thad and I will go in there, listen to music that we love, and try to give the space some good energy.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I've been trying out a lot of different things while recording tracks at home for other folks and my own projects. We use an Apollo interface in front of Pro Tools in our home studio. I've been finding some great sounds using my green Acme DI and the Universal Audio Neve plug-ins. Universal Audio also has some great amp models of old Ampeg stuff so we’ve been messing around with various combinations to get just the right amount of dirt. My husband runs a Kemper in the studio so we don’t blow up the neighbors with crazy loud amps. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and having fun with all the cool bass amp profiles he’s found through that.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I’m a podcast person. Tim Ferriss and Brene Brown have both been putting out wonderful content relevant to the pandemic that I’ve found to be hopeful and helpful. I try to get outdoors, get some fresh air, walk around my neighborhood and breathe. I talk to my family regularly and stay connected.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Maren Morris’ tour is up next for me. Some tour dates are shifting around, but that’s the plan. Also having a baby! The Side Piece band normally plays downtown in Nashville on Monday’s and Tuesdays, so whenever things are safe, we will resume.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
My therapist always says “Do the next right thing.” If that’s putting in a load of laundry, washing a dirty dish in the sink, returning one text, calling one friend, do it. Just take one step forward. Believe me, I have moments of being scared and overwhelmed, but I know I can get through today. And that’s all you have to do.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi