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: Gary Willis
Bands & Artists: Tribal Tech, Wayne Shorter, Allan Holdsworth, Gergo Borlai, Dennis Chambers, Solo artist
Home: Barcelona, Spain
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been fortunate to be able to make the transition to online teaching at Berklee Valencia, the Conservatory here in Barcelona, and with my private students, all of which I enjoy and look forward to continuing. Meanwhile, I discovered a crack in my carbon fibre bike, so I took this time to learn how to repair carbon fibre bike parts and now I’m pretty sure it’s stronger than it was before.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’ve never been a practice routine person so I guess not much has changed. Of course there have been periods of intense practicing, but as my career has gone on that’s been more dictated by upcoming projects or other pursuits.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I suppose I’m an outlier when it comes to my relationship to listening to music. I don’t seek it out for comfort or sentimentality, although maybe I could. I know it’s there and when I do actively listen I do connect intensely sometimes. But I don’t put it on when I’m busy or times when it has the possibility to become the background. With the tools available now to everyone, there’s just an ocean of music that’s been released and I find it is impossible and even stressful to try keep up.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’m still playing my signature Ibanez basses, the GWB 20th Anniversary model from 2019, and this year we’ve updated the GWB205 with a sunburst finish, as well. Of course, I’m using my Aguilar AG-700 head and SL212 and SL112 cabinets. And I’ve been testing the new Boss SY-1000 Guitar Synthesizer pedal, and getting some cool sounds out of it.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve really missed being able to get out on my mountain bike, but at least I’m lucky to have a static bike at home. While on it, I watch all kinds of random stuff, from a Tarkovsky retrospective to, of course, Tiger King.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I’m mostly looking forward to getting back out on my mountain bike once it’s safe to do so. My most recent record, Larger Than Life, and my Groove A Day app were huge commitments over the past six or seven years, so I’m enjoying not having any big projects right now.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I would lean towards a target of medium, steady morale—maybe a medium morale is more sustainable, with fewer ups and downs. Meanwhile, this is a great opportunity to learn; we owe it to ourselves to come out of this with more skills, abilities, and self improvement. All of this inaction—of not getting out, not socializing, not connecting physically—has the potential to make us feel not in control. But we should remember it all ultimately adds up to everyone of us standing a better chance of living through this thing, and arriving at a version of this world that puts all of this in the rearview mirror.
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi