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: Fred Sablan
Bands & Artists: Marilyn Manson, Peter Hook, Chelsea Wolfe
Home: Los Angeles, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Avoiding sitting in front of the TV or staring at my phone all day, as much as I can. I’ve been listening to music, playing music, learning to cook better, working on an impossible puzzle that I’ll never finish, enjoying the fresh air in my backyard with my goofy cats, and FaceTiming friends.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
My attention span has been short during this twilight zone we’re in, so I have a little Yamaha THR10 amp set up next to my stereo and jam along with everyone. I put my iTunes on shuffle and I play along to whatever song comes on. It’s a major challenge, with about 40,000 songs in there, in all genres. It’s also fun to make up my own bass lines, melodies, and solos to the songs. I’m definitely learning a lot.
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 istening to a lot of old soul and funk: Funkadelic, Shuggie Otis, Curtis Mayfield—his bassist, Joseph “Lucky” Scott, was a great bassist— the Isley Brothers, the Meters. Also artists like CAN, T. Rex, Fela Kuti, Alice Coltrane, Roxy Music—John Gustafson plays amazingly on Siren. The Richard Davis and Elvin Jones album, Heavy Sounds [Impluse, 1967], has been hitting me just right lately. The new Gorillaz song, “Aries,” with Peter Hook, has been on loop lately, too.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been spending time with the Line 6 HX Stomp—creating a fly rig with it because there’s so many options in there. I’ve always been weary of software tones, but the HX Stomp is pretty cool. When I pick up my bass, 80% of the time I don’t plug in. I like how it sounds by itself while sitting on the couch spacing out.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
Hikes and long walks every day are a lifesaver. I’m currently reading Already Dead, by Denis Johnson. I’m obsessed with Midnight Gospel on Netflix show. And I recommend Forensic Files and the documentary Apollo 11.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I have a hardcore punk band with Sara Taylor from Youth Code and Alex Lopez from Suicide Silence called Heavens Blade. We put out an EP back in October and we want to do shows when it’s safe. It’s such a specific genre of music, but so fun for us. And when it’s time, I hope to keep touring and recording with other artists.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Mental health is very important during this time. Stay connected to your friends and family. Give love and get love. Avoid mental rabbit holes. Keep a daily routine, that helps a lot during what feels like Groundhog Day! Stay connected to the world, but from six feet away!
Follow Fred: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi