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: Jeroen Paul Thesseling
Bands & Artists: Obscura, Quadvium, Salazh Trio, Pestilence, Ensemble Salazhar
Home: Amsterdam, Netherlands
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Mainly by studying bass, writing, and recording in my studio at home. I’ve had a busy year, working on a debut album for Quadvium, the international group I founded last year together with legendary fretless bassist Steve Di Giorgio, and making my recent comeback to the German progressive death metal band Obscura. After a nine-year break, I’ll hit the studio in August to record the group's sixth full-length album. I also like to get outside a few times a day for walking, in order to avoid physical problems from working many hours in the same position.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Mostly my usual exercises to keep intonation, finger position, and stretching in control. For a long time I played bass while sitting on a piano bench. These days I’m standing up with the instrument to strengthen my back and shoulders because the instruments I play are quite heavy—about 13 lbs each. This seems a good preparation to get in shape for intensive touring.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
Several videos on YouTube have been inspiring to listen to and analyze. Although Matt Garrison isn't a fretless player like I am, I appreciate his signature style and right-hand technique; for example, the articulation he nails down with his solo in “The Last Dance,” a piece he recorded together with Gagik Khodavirdi, Scott Kinsey, Arto Tuncboyaciyan and Arman Jalalyan [Below]. Despite being heavily involved with death metal, fusion is often the most inspiring music for me to listen to.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I've been mainly playing my newest fretless Warwick Thumb NT 7-string custom shop bass, which was “masterbuilt” in 2017. I’ve been recording with a Kush Audio Electra parametric equalizer. It adds a nice, punchy sound that enables my bass to penetrate the heavy guitar riffing that we use in Obscura. In addition, the Aurora Audio GTQ2 Dual Chanel Preamp works best for all of my studio sessions.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I take long walks that cross the city center of Amsterdam. Due to sleep disorders, my daily rhythm is very instable and instead of sleeping I often go out after midnight. In this exceptional lockdown situation you see your own city completely empty, abandoned like never before. Although striking to experience, it helps me to empty my head and find rest. Also, silence and living in a minimalistic environment is an important element in my daily life to create a certain focus.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Obscura will start rehearsing on a frequent basis to prepare our upcoming live performances. Depending on the progress of Quadvium, there may be opportunities to combine shows with both groups. Unfortunately a budget-related situation caused the cancellation of recordings for a second Salazh Trio album [with drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernández and pianist/ composer Iván Bridón Nápoles . Hopefully there will be better times, financially, to reactivate the project in the near future.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Following a passion that keeps your mind active is definitely a positive factor during this crisis. Furthermore, I think it's helpful to avoid watching and reading too much news about the virus and its global impact. I'm aware most news has a negative impact on my mental state. Therefore, I try to filter information provided by the media and I mainly keep my focus on bass playing.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi