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: Jani Zubkovs
Bands & Artists: Caspian
Home: New York, N.Y.
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been staying quite busy during the lockdown. My partner is a healthcare worker, and needless to say, taking care of her, our dog, and our apartment has been a fulltime job. I’ve been doing my best to make sure she’s eating, hydrating and sleeping, as well as taking some time for herself. I’ve been dabbling in baking, in a well-intentioned attempt to provide snacks for her team at the hospital as well. Turns out I’m not very good at baking, but luckily, baked goods are rarely turned down.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Honestly, I’ve been feeling incredibly uninspired musically. I think part of it has to do with being bunkered down in our tiny apartment without much human contact, but another part is feeling the pressures from social media. Logging onto Instagram and seeing people post about the 17 albums they’ve written while in quarantine ends up having a negative effect on me. While I’m thrilled that some of my peers have been so productive, I think it’s okay to not be productive, as well. It took me a few weeks to figure that out, but I don’t want to ever feel guilted into picking up my bass.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
A few records I’ve been digging into hard as of late are: Live At Royal Albert Hall by Spiritualized,Lost Voices by Esmerine, Happy Days by Catherine Wheel, Purple Mountains by Purple Mountains, and 27 Miles Underwater by Higher Power.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
Unfortunately, all of my gear has been sitting in our rehearsal space in Beverly, Massachusetts. After our west coast tour in February, I had left everything in preparation for an east coast tour in March. Obviously that didn’t end up happening, but luckily I keep an extra bass in my apartment. Because I’ve had this bass for almost twenty years, it holds a particular place in my heart, and I rarely bring it out on tour anymore. It’s a 1977 Fender Precision—certainly nothing special, but it’s special to me.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
Always start the day with a coffee ritual. Read Vladimir Nabokov, Cormac McCarthy, and Kurt Vonnegut. Watch Twin Peaks, Better Call Saul, and Seinfeld.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I believe Caspian is more or less done for the rest of the year. Like most artists, we’ve turned our focus to 2021. Constant Elevation is a newer project that I’ve been working on, and we have a new EP coming out later this month on Revelation Records. It’s fast, positive hardcore—think ’90s NYHC.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
It’s extremely easy to get down on yourself as a creative type in normal circumstances, but this current lockdown combined with general social unrest has brought us to a whole new level. Focus on things that bring you happiness, and don’t get down on yourself if it doesn’t involve a bass. Learn a new skill; try to fix that broken pedal that’s been sitting in the back of your closet collecting dust. Catch up with friends and family, new and old. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re feeling down, we’re all in this together.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi