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: John Lodge
Bands & Artists: The Moody Blues, Trapeze, Yes, 10,000 Light Years Band, Solo artist
Home: Surrey, England
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Well, I’ve found it to be a very creative time. There are no distractions and in a strange way there’s a calmness. I have a new song called “In These Crazy Times” The Isolation Mix, that was released on July 9th. I recorded it at my home studio, perfecting my knowledge of Garage Band; my wife sang backing vocals and my son Kristian played lead guitar—both for the first time! I also sent the files to Jon Davison, the singer with Yes, and I’m so pleased that he joined me on vocals. So this was truly an “isolation mix.” I’ve been working on with Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes that’s exciting. I’m working on my live album, which was recorded during the Royal Affair Tour of 2019; I hope to release it later this year. And I’m working with Alan Hewitt, my musical director, on new songs I have written “in lockdown.” I’ve been a busy!
“In These Crazy Times” The Isolation Mix:
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’ve been working on as many scales as I can: minor, blues, or straight rock ’n’ roll, but most of my creative bass playing is on the demo recordings of my new songs. Something else I’ve been doing is taking a song I previously released and looking at it laterally; for example, changing the tempo, changing the rhythm, and seeing what alternative bass patterns I can create. For me it’s a great way of exploring my bass, there’s always something new to learn.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I have a very eclectic view on music so I normally go on Sirius on my Sonos system, choose the mood I am in—rhythm & blues, blues, classic rock, deep cuts, prog rock, country and western—and I find there’s always a bass part that interests me.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
My usual gear: Ampeg 4x10 and 1x15 cabinets driven by two Ampeg SVT2Pro tube heads, with and SVT4Pro solid state gead as a backup. Recently I’’ve been using the Line 6 Helix, as well. My bass is a Fender Custom Shop reproduction of a 1963 Sunburst Jazz Bass, with GHS roundwound strings. I play a Guild 12-string acoustic guitar. Both my bass and guitar are wireless via a Shure system.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been reading and walking, but most of my time is spent in my studio. I miss golf and spending time with friends and family; hopefully soon.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
In 1967, the Moody Blues recorded Days of Future Passed, and we were locked down in the studio 24 hours a day, creating an album that changed my life. Being in lockdown reminded me of the creativity and solitude that took place during that period of my life. My wish is that we can all be together again soon, and that my 10,000 Light Years Band and I can get together and make a “Freedom Mix.” But for now, I hope everyone can relate to “In These Crazy Times” as another step in life’s strange and mysterious path, and that it helps everyone continue to keep the faith that we can do it together.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Remember of the gigs you’ve done and think, “How can I do it better?” Or if you were playing many gigs before lockdown and you felt you had become “one” with your bass, keep reminding yourself of it and strive for that feeling. To put it simply, love what you’re doing and I have found it does not desert you.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi