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: Jon Button
Bands & Artists: The Who, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, Roger Daltrey
Home: Los Angeles
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Teaching First Grade to my son! He’s a really good, mellow kid, but even so, it’s a challenge at times. Before all of this, we had been accustomed to eating out a lot, so we’re now spending a lot more time cooking—which apparently also means more time doing dishes! Who knew? I’m also finding time to practice and do some recording for people via the internet.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’m always recording myself playing along to different records and trying to work on feel. I’ve been spending a bit of time on the first Bach Cello Suite. I’m working on using three fingers on my right hand. I’m a member of Scott’s Bass Lessons—there’s always something to learn from on there. I’ve been brushing up on soloing over minor 2-5-1 changes. Then there’s trying to keep my upright chops halfway together. I’ve found some good jazz backing tracks on YouTube where you can play standard jazz tunes along with a pianist and drummer.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I recently discovered bassist Carl Radle. I’ve been checking out his work with Leon Russell, Derek and the Dominos, and Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. Lee Sklar’s YouTube videos are fantastic! He plays along with some of his classic recordings, and chats about them. I’ve been digging Earth, the new solo record by Ed O’Brien, from Radiohead and, dare I say, I like Fine Line, the latest Harry Styles record.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’m digging into my Line6 HX Stomp. I’ve been using the HX Helix on tour with the Who, but I spent so much time dialing in the few basic sounds I use that I hadn’t had a chance to explore all the bells and whistles. There are a lot of great distortions and fuzzes. There’s also a new EBS compressor that Billy Sheehan helped develop that I’m looking forward to checking out.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
Wait, what? There are activities other than music?!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
My next-door neighbor, Dan Epand is a writer, producer, and drummer, and I’ve been tracking bass for on a record by his new band, TWO. It’s a project with him and singer-songwriter Aja Volkman. We recently did a video for one of the songs, with each of us on different roofs along our street, shot from a drone. I’m also working on a record with a well known band that I’m not at liberty to mention, but they’re trying to figure how we can safely get back in the studio soon. Lastly, The Who were planning a big tour starting in March. Ostensibly all those dates will get rescheduled, but sadly, it’s hard to say when that could be.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
This is difficult and scary, but the world has gotten through harder things and we will get through to the other side. I think we’ll want to look back at this period happy that we spent the time finding joy and enrichment, not worrying. It’s hard not to worry but it’s not very constructive.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi