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: Freekbass
Bands & Artists: Solo Artist, Bootsy Collins
Home: Cincinnati, Ohio
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been living the majority of my life in the digital world. Between teaching lessons on Zoom, streaming performances, and a ton of recording, I spend most of my awake time in front of a laptop screen. I also started weekly online livestreams. One is called “SATURDAY-NITE-ChitChat”, and it runs everySaturday at 9PM EST at my Facebook Page. It's kind of a music variety show with a special guest interview, and a review of the week, according to Freekbass: movies, pop-culture, and such. On Wednesdays at 9PM EST on the Facebook Page, I do a bass-centric show, I call “Bass-Talk.” It’s weird because I actually feel busier now, than I ever have. But, I can’t wait to play live, again!
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’ve been listening to and learning a lot of bass lines by artists from different eras, which you might be surprised by. The other day I learned to play the bass-line from “Head Over Heels,” by Tears for Fears [Curt Smith on bass]. Great line and very McCartney-esque. A few days before, I learned “Minute By Minute,” by The Doobie Brothers, which actually has a super-funky bass line. Tiran Porter is such a great bassist.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
Funk and dance music are always my comfort space. I’ve been listening to a lot of disco and early ’80s funk lately. The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, The Bar-Kays, and Cameo are a few. The grooves, production, and songwriting are so timeless from that era. I recently discovered BBC Radio 2 for a nice, completely random music fix.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
My staple basses are my custom Eisenberg "Pink Panther" bass and both of my Stonefield Musical Instruments basses: the Freekbass Signature Model and the Double Neck. When recording, I either run direct or go through my Gallien-Krueger rig, which I love the sound of. I’m a “pedal-holic” with a huge collection of pedals, but the ones I never grow tired of are the MXR Bass Envelope Filter, the Pigtronix Envelope Phaser, the QTron by Electro-Harmonix, and the Digitech Whammy Pedal. I recently picked up a DJ Controller, which is a great little piece of gear to round out the livestream and Zoom tools.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I’m a superhero movie geek, so I am always on a quest to find out the latest developments in that world. I was recently a guest on the amazing podcast, Batman-On-Film, to discuss the latest Batman/Michael Keaton news. And I’m super-excited about the news that they’re doing a new and proper cut of Justice League on HBOMax, allowing Zack Snyder complete his original vision for that film. As for recommendations, check out The Mandalorian on Disney +, a great addition to the Star Wars franchise. Also, Ozark on Netflix is a must. Incredible writing, directing, and acting. For workouts, I watch a lot of YouTube weight-training and aerobic videos for being able to workout at home. I belong to a gym, but I’m not ready yet to take that step and go back there.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I have several tracks with Color Red dropping soon, each being released as an individual single. They were recorded with the full band—Freekbass & the Bump Assembly—in Denver, Colorado at Color Red Studios before this craziness hit. Eddie Roberts from The New Mastersounds produced; he also produced our last album. I plan to release my solo project, a series of singles which will ultimately make up one EP, called Bass Conspiracy. It's even more bass-centric than my usual projects and it was a great opportunity to work with some cool guests, such as Stefan Lessard and Doug Wimbish. Of course, getting back on stage in a live festival and club setting is what we are all dreaming about daily, as musicians. We have some dates on the books, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll all be funkin’ together in person, soon!
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Drink lots and lots of strong coffee and you’ll be fine. Seriously though, take this time to do the projects you thought you didn’t have time for. Learn new things about your instrument, take a step towards something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, but finally made the step of becoming fully vegan. And most importantly, reach out to friends and family, and let them know you are there and you love them. That’s what all of this is about.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi