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: Corey McCormick
Bands & Artists: Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Lady Gaga, Peter Frampton, Bob Weir
Home: Pasadena, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I haven’t had this much time at home since I was in my twenties! And I’m really digging it! I’m spending a ton of time with my family; working on my Japanese; practicing a ton; doing a bit of homeschooling with my two-year-old; and taking lots of walks. My wife is about to have our second child so I’ve been doing a ton of stuff to get the house ready!
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Back in December I signed up for a six-month master course on classical solo bass. It started at the end of January and it’s all online. I had no idea if I was going to have the time to do it since I was supposed to be on the road for most of the course. Now, having to stay home has given me the opportunity to really dig into the course. We have two master classes a week: a techniques class, a Monday warmup class, plus private one-on-one lessons with the instructor. The instructor’s name is Lauren Pierce and she’s a baddass. She gives a ton of specific exercises, a weekly listening list, and books to read. So I’ve been deep in classical practice with my bow and my upright, and I’m loving it!
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
As a result if the course, I’ve been checking out lots of classical bassists. Among the standouts is Sam Suggs. He has a bunch of clips on YouTube. His playing is gorgeous and very inspirational. I’ve also been enjoying all the instagram/facebook stuff that’s going on. This pandemic has given us all a gift. All of our musical heros are sitting at home and lots of them are doing some cool stuff online for free. I watch Christian McBride every Friday; he has a different subject with great guests. Wynton Marsalis has a weekly show I enjoy, and Friday nights with Talib Kweli has been fun. Chick Corea simply sits at his piano and plays for hours. It’s amazing!
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
Mostly I’ve been playing my upright. I got the Line6 HX Helix pedal, which I’m going to dig into. I’ve been learning about music software as a tool for writing. I recently acquired access to a very nice studio that has a ton of killer mikes and mic pres. I’ve been trying different combos of mikes on my Aguilar rig. The Shure SM57 matched with a Neumann U 87 works especially well. And I’ve been working with Yamaha luthier Pat Campolattano on a couple of custom basses. One is the new BB-style body but with custom woods, color, and hardware, plus custom-wound pickups from Curtis Novak. The second is a vintage 1964 Yamaha I bought last year. We’re repainting the body and refurbishing all the hardware, and Curtis is making some custom pickups for it. The Yamaha crew has been very good to me!
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
Flea’s book is great, I flew through it. I’ve been reading a book called Self Compassion by Dr. Kristen Neff; I’m trying to be nicer to myself. I don’t watch much TV but I did finish the third session of Ozark on Netflix. Working out has been a challenge, with the gym being shut down. I have a pull-up bar in my house, an indo board, a trampoline, and workout bands. We walk two to five miles everyday as a family. I’ve also been doing yoga five days a week with some good friends of mine. Check out their website if you’re interested https://www.eddiemodestini.com/
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real released a new album in April, so I’m looking forward to going on the road to support it, at some point. I’m proud of the record, It’s raw and gritty, like us! My band, Organa, has a record coming out this summer. The songs are bangin’ and we have some special guests on the record, including members of Ozomatli and other amazing Los Angeles musicians. I’m excited to share it, you can follow @organamusic for the upcoming release.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
This time we are in is like no other. I don’t think any of us were ready for something like this. And there are so many unknowns. I can say for myself, I’m scared to death about what the future holds. I’ve made my living as a touring musician for the past twenty years and haven’t set up much of a backup plan. With a young child at home and another on the way, its pretty frightening. I have no idea if things will go back to normal. Instead of dwelling on this, I’ve been trying to stay creative, and keep myself busy enough so I’m not constantly stressing about it. I think the key right now is to try to stay grounded and to not let the news or all the negativity run our lives. Conserve your money. Conserve your food. Try to live as low-key as you can. Weather the storm the best you can and use this time to get better at things that enrich your life. And practice your bass!
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria and Chris Jisi