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: Chris Chaney
Bands & Artists: L.A. session bassist, Jane’s Addiction, Alanis Morissette, Joe Satriani, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders
Home: Los Angeles, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been on a relentless mission to organize and deep clean our entire house. I’m getting to stuff I haven’t had the time to give proper attention to. I should have done before and after photos to show the difference. Oh well!
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
This lockdown has inspired me to dig out past music books that haven’t been cracked for eons. I’ve been working slowly through Chord Studies For Trombone by Phil Wilson and Joseph Viola. It’s a comprehensive dive into approach notes and chord tones on different chord types: major, minor, diminished, major 7, minor 7, dominant 7, diminished 7, and minor 7b5. It’s a great sightreading workout because it’s written in bass clef, and it’s also quite challenging to memorize the summary exercises of each chord. The book's exercises translate well to live playing situations, and it develops your ear and finger dexterity because it covers the entire neck. I’ve also pulled out Dotzauer: 113 Studies for Cello Solo. This is a series of four books, each with about 28 exercises/etudes that challenge you especially as you progress into books 2, 3, and 4. And I’ve been learning a ton of songs and transcribing bass lines.
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 been cycling through Bill Evans Trio with Scott Lafaro, Steely Dan with Chuck Rainey, and Elton John with Dee Murray—three completely unique bassists who have totally different styles and feel for days!. I’m fascinated by how their approaches not only serve the song and how they add their personaliities. My wife grew up with a tradition of playing the Rolling Stones on Christmas, so in a weird way this time reminds me of the holidays without the presents. Having my daughter home from college is a gift, as well. My son and daughter write music together, and I love hearing what they come up with.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been checking out some different direct boxes and effect pedals. On the DI front I love the new ID DI by Zod Audio; the Starlifter by Carey Nordstrand also kills, the Tonecraft Tube Direct Box is nuts, and the Rupert Neve RNDI, which is on the inexpensive side, packs a low end punch. I’ve picked up some new pedals too. The LIfe Pedal by EarthQuaker Devices; Alpha Omicron by Darkglass Electronics; Doom 2 by 3 Leaf Audio; the Carbon Copy and Thump by MXR; and the mini Pork and Pickle by Way Huge.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
My brother-in-law recommended ZeroZeroZero on Amazon. It's a different side of the drug cartels operation, following three threads: buyers, sellers, and distributors. If you like Narcos with a sprinkle of Goodfellas thrown in, you will love it. I’ve been watching comedies to lighten the vibe; Dave on Hulu is hilarious. I stole my son's copy of Elton John’s autobiography, Me, and I can’t put it down. As a huge Dee Murray fan I love hearing stories from that era. We are fortunate to have a little gym in our house with weights and a couple cardio machines. I hold a plank everyday for five minutes. It’s not as hard as it sounds because you aren't static in one position the entire time, you move to a different variation every 30 seconds or minute. It’s a great exercise for bassists and musicians who typically sit for long periods of time. Strengthens your core! I also walk five miles a day and listen to music or podcasts. I find it truly amazing how fast the days are going by even though the workload has been wiped away.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I have a project with Taylor Hawkins called The Coattail Riders. We released a record a few months ago and we were gearing up to do some promo and live shows. We had to cancel Howard Stern which was a bummer. I was supposed to be in South America with Perry Farrell’s Kind Heaven Orchestra. We were scheduled to play the Lollapalooza festivals in Chile, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. I had a recent meeting with the Jane's guys right before the lockdown and we were gearing up to do some shows, after a two year break. I’m looking forward to getting back in the studio and doing some recording and writing with them. I’m also going to be scoring a movie this year, although the production has been pushed back until they can resume shooting. Fingers crossed for sooner than later.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I read this and it resonated with me: “If you’re not using this time to rest, reset, and prioritize your purpose and people in your life, you my friend are wasting an opportunity you may never get again. The world literally stopped and shifted for you to get your shit together. If this is torture for you, find out why”. That said, I truly hope people are staying healthy and have all their basic needs met. Another positive is the miracualous air quality in L.A., which is the best it’s been in decades. Five weeks of a lockdown will do that.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi