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: Billy Mohler
Bands & Artists: Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga, AWOLNATION, The Calling, The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, Kelly Clarkson, Jon Brion, Steven Tyler, Liz Phair, and many others.
Home: Los Angeles, CA
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been using the time to write for my next record and finish production on an album I started before the lockdown. Also, getting every household project completed that would have never have been completed!
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I learned Teen Town on upright bass last week for a friend’s bass transcription challenge, which was super fun! I’m always playing arpeggios and working on dominant chords as well as playing over the blues. I’ve been finishing up writing for my next record. I put out my first record called Focus on my label MAKE Records last year, and have been aiming to record over the summer.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
Bill Evan’s Sunday Night at the Village Vanguard is it for me! That record is so hauntingly beautiful, it made a profound impact on me, and Scott LaFaro was so ahead of his time. A must listen. I’m in love with Carla Bley’s latest record Life Goes On. Steve Swallow sounds phenomenal on it. I’ve also been listening to drummer Matt Mayhall’s Latest record Fanatics. Also been digging to George Morrow’s playing. Check him out on Clifford Brown’s "These Foolish Things," his phrasing is next level!
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been playing 130 year old Czech Flatback Bass. It’s currently strung up with Pirastro Slaps (E, A , D) with a LaBella Golden Tone G String. I’ve also been playing my new 4-string Moollon jazz Bass that’s totally killing!
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I was surfing until the beaches started closing. I’m taking a lot of walks and riding my bike a few times a day. My wife has approved getting a half pipe to skate if this drags on, haha. That could be slightly too risky. As far as books, "Edouard Nanny: Complete Study of the Double Bass." I studied with the great Whit Brown while I was at Berklee and he had me neck deep in the Nanny Book, so it’s nice to revisit it. I watched the Clive Davis Doc (Netflix's Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives). I highly recommend!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Lots of projects. I’m looking forward to the explosion of art that will come from this!
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I would say practice every day, even if you’re not feeling it. Daily practice builds upon itself, so even if you can only get 10 min, get it! Practicing is cumulative, so getting in short amounts daily works best for me. Make sure to get outside a couple of times a day. Change your clothes! Don’t wear your pajamas all day and stay inspired. I’m loving see all of my idols getting online and posting! We’ve never had a better time to dig in and study.
For more on Billy: Click Here