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: Derek Frank
Bands & Artists: Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Air Supply
Home: Los Angeles, CA
What have you been doing to keep yourself occupied during the lockdown?
I’ve created a list of “quarantine goals” that I want to accomplish during this lockdown period, and so far I’ve been sticking to it. This includes exercise, writing songs, and reading books. I also have a couple of house projects I want to get done, such as cleaning out the garage, closets—things that can easily put on the back burner when I’m busy with work.
What have you been working on in your personal bass practice?
I’ve been writing more than practicing. My goal is to have an entire album written by the end of April. In addition to that, I have a couple of transcriptions that I’ve been meaning to tackle for awhile.
Which bass have you been playing the most right now?
For the songwriting, I’ve been mainly using my LaBella Olinto P-Bass tuned down a whole step. I love the sound and feel of an open D on a 4-string, and my album will incorporate a lot of that. Also, I recently acquired a custom Sandberg California VM4 model. It’s tuned B,E,A,D, and my plan was to use it in the Vegas residency show that I do with Shania Twain. Of course we got shut down, but hopefully things will get back to normal soon and we’ll be back at it in May. But the bass is awesome, and I’ve been messing around with it in my studio, just itching to get on stage with it!
Have you been writing songs, recording tracks, teaching lessons, or woodshedding more with the extra time?
I’ve been doing a couple of recording collaborations. One was singing background vocals on a project that my friend and Dirty Diamond bandmate Fernando Perdomo put together. He downloaded a piano/vocal performance that Bono had posted on his Instagram, inspired by people in Italy in isolation singing from their balconies. He then wrote and produced an accompanying track, and got a bunch of L.A. musicians to contribute. The video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/WMZSLi_VkDo . I’ve also added some bass to a forthcoming release of The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” produced by my friend Steve Ferlazzo, which will also feature many notable L.A. musicians.
What music have you been listening to through this?
I’ve created a playlist of music that is inspiration for the new album I’m putting together. It includes music by John Scofield, The Black Crowes, Gov’t Mule, The Meters, Joe Bonamassa, Thundercat, Cory Wong, Vulfpeck, and Dumpstafunk.
What non-music activities, books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been working out, going on walks with my wife and dog, playing Xbox, and sending off-color memes to my friends, We gotta laugh a little through all this madness, right? A bunch of us L.A. bass players recently had a virtual hang via Zoom, and that was a blast! We’re gonna try and make it a weekly thing during the lockdown. It’s always good to connect with other humans any way we can. I’ve been reading Flea’s new memoir, and when I’m done with that I’m going to start Rudy Sarzo’s. After that, so I don’t burn out on bass player tales, I’m gonna dig into Isaac Asimov’s Galactic Empire series. I used to read a lot of science fiction when I was younger, but got out of it over the years. Now seems like a good time to get nerdy again. As for shows, the Netflix series The Tiger King and Ozark are amazing.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I’m scheduled to return to Vegas with Gwen Stefani for the first half of May, then Shania Twain for the second half, into June. Then I’ve got a European festival tour with Gwen for the whole month of July. I’m really hoping that all of that stays on the books with no further cancellations. Fingers crossed!
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Stay productive and don’t freak out. It’s a very strange time, as none of us have ever been through this before. There are so many unknowns, and I think the best thing to do is just live our lives and hope that we can get back to work before too long. Just keep busy, do things that bring you joy, and don’t look at the news or stocks too often. There really isn’t any good news at the moment, so we just need to create our own happiness however we can.
For more visit: Derek Frank