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: Jack Bates
Bands & Artists: The Smashing Pumpkins, Peter Hook & the Light
Home: Manchester, England
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been doing a lot of cooking! I don’t want to fall into the trap of sitting on the couch every day eating rubbish, so I’ve been trying to cook more and eat well. Not only is it a time killer but it can also be fun to try out new things. Like everybody else I’ve also been watching a lot of Netflix and playing video games. I try to play some bass for an hour or so every day too.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I wouldn’t say I have a practice routine, to be honest. I’ll just pick up a bass when I’ve got nothing else going on and mess around. I listen to a lot of music in the house and whenever I hear a riff I really like I’ll grab a bass and try to figure it out. Just yesterday I was jamming along to “Obstacle 1” by Interpol—Carlos D. is one of my favorite bass players. For me, the best form of practice is to keep playing regularly and to challenge myself by learning new songs or techniques along the way.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
A lot of new stuff has come out recently, so I’ve been immersing myself in all of that. Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs out a beautiful solo record, Random Desire. I’ve also been listening to the new Pearl Jam album, Gigaton. Nine Inch Nails’ new Ghost V: Together sounds perfect for the times in which we find ourselves. The new Local H album, LIFERS, is a fun listen. My dad [Peter Hook] just put out a great song collaboration with Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz called “Aries” that I’ve been loving. Yesterday I was digging through my vinyl collection and I listened to Where You Been by Dinosaur Jr, Ritual de lo Habitual by Jane’s Addiction, and Banker’s Hill by El Ten Eleven. I was also listening to Yes by Morphine. That band has become one of my favorites, Mark Sandman was an unbelievably innovative bass player with his unique 2-string, slide bass style.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been playing my Yamaha BBP34 a lot, and using my iRig Pro to record some bass ideas into my computer. I find the Yamaha THR amp to be the best amp for home use and practicing, it’s very easy to use, lightweight, stylish looking, and great sounding. I’ve been exploring my Line 6 HX Effects, too, creating some fun delays and loops. I’ve also been playing my Tanglewood acoustic bass quite, which has been a nice change as I hadn’t played an acoustic for a long time.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
My top TV recommendation would be Gomorrah. It’s an amazing Italian crime drama series that has four seasons and a movie. From the acting to the characters to the music to the way it’s shot, it’s the best series I’ve ever watched. I also love that it’s in Italian with subtitles—it forces me to forget about my phone for a few hours so I can concentrate on what’s going on. On the opposite end of the spectrum I’ve also been watching Tiger King, like everybody else—absolute madness. Only in America! Curb Your Enthusiasm is probably my favorite comedy show of all time, and the recent season was fantastic. I finished reading Flea’s book, Acid For The Children, I would recommend that.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
This year was supposed to be a busy one, with lots of shows planned for both Smashing Pumpkins and Peter Hook & The Light. Almost everything has now been either cancelled or postponed until the fall, which is a bummer but absolutely the right thing to do until concerts can be put on safely again. In May, Mark Lanegan’s Straight Songs of Sorrow is coming out and it was a real honor to play some bass on that record. Mark is one of my heroes and all-time favorite artists, so it was such a thrill to work with him and the genius of Alain Johannes on a few of the tracks. Mark also has a book coming out called Sing Backwards and Weep, which I can’t wait to read.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
My advice is to try and stay positive because this will pass. As bad as things may seem right now, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep positive and we’ll all get through it together. It’s kind of a unique situation in that everybody is in the same boat, so it’s a good time to reach out to friends and family to talk. Stay at home, wash your hands, and try to help out those who need it most.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi