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 Wyse
Bands & Artists: Owl, Hollywood Vampires, The Cult, Ace Frehley, Ozzy Osbourne, Mick Jagger, Jerry Cantrell
Home: Hollywood, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been doing yoga and watching movies while on the stationary bike. It has been fun to go through old photos and call friends.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’ve been shredding lately on bass guitar with some classical influences in mind, like Paganini, Vivaldi, and Hindemith. When it comes to double bass, I’ve been playing more with the French bow. The German bow has been my primary bow choice.
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 listening to Francois Rabbath for French bow inspiration and Gary Karr for German bow. Those two bassists are a couple of the best in the world and are amazing teachers. They’re both very entertaining and well-spoken, and have a great sense of humor. The Netflix documentaries, Miles Davis: Birth of Cool and Keith Richards: Under the Influence, were great. It’s awesome to see Keith so in love with playing guitar still to this day. These guys are “music lifers”. I love that.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
At home and in the studio I use the Ampeg V-4B head or the VR head and two SVT-212AV cabinets. You can get more gain at a lower volume. I like the Ampeg Liquifier Analog Chorus Pedal. I’m not a big chorus user but this one is great and has its own quality. I like putting a capo on my bass sometimes, for a new perspective. I’ve been putting .45-.105 D’Addario ProSteels strings on a couple of my basses, instead of the .55-.110 I use, live. That’s been nice for soloing and tapping. And I recently got a 24-fret Fender Jazz Bass for the added higher notes.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I like yoga, hiking, and biking. For yoga I like David Swenson and Bryan Kest. They both teach Ashtanga Yoga and have classes on YouTube. I watch Michael Jordon Bulls clips on YouTube and get pretty pumped to play bass. His skills were superhuman. MJ is a bass influence because my little brother Sean always watched him. I would go off to my room to play bass during the commercials and think anything was possible! You can get inspired by so many different things.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I’ve been working on my upcoming solo album and website [www.chriswyse.com]. The album is bass-intensive, with bowed bass and plenty of acrobatics on bass guitar, too. It has a soundtrack feel to it, and at times and it gets dark and moody. One song is about Jack the Ripper, and I get to sing, scream, and be theatrical! I’ve been developing a character that is a vampire-esque owl that is going to accompany the music. I’ve been working with Russel Marks, an amazing artist that has a dark fantasy approach. I originally saw his art on a Netflix series, Myths and Monsters. I reached out about my idea and we hit it off. His art is just amazing and he is nailing my concept. I’ll start revealing some of it over the summer. I got inspired from writing the bass-centric piece, “A Pitiful Beauty,” on the latest Hollywood Vampires album, Rise. That has 14 overdubbed, bowed parts, and an orchestrated, gothic feel. It was cool to be asked to do it. Johnny Depp came up with the title. Speaking of the Vampires, we have a world tour to do, when it’s safe to proceed. I was also thinking about doing some solo shows in clubs with just my Martin acoustic bass guitar; and maybe add a question and answer component.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I recommend researching all of the songs and players that made you start on bass in the first place. From there you can look for new songs and players, and then try writing songs. I think it’s all about keeping that fire and discipline going. Remember when you used to think about bass all day at school and you couldn’t wait to get home and play! The craft does not change and your standards have to be high, with or without a crowd. I’ve been teaching on Skype, which I enjoy. It’s cool meeting and helping other players, and talking about theory and technique. It helps us all to get lost in a great subject matter. Stay healthy, creative, and safe.
Read all 180+ Bass Magazine Check-in Features: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi