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: Josh Moreau
Bands & Artists: Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, AWOLNATION, Puscifer, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lissie, Adam Lambert, UTIOG
Home: Ojai, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Relaxing, experimenting with gear, practicing, studying, writing, recording, working on house projects, exercising, organizing, staying in touch with friends and family, and enjoying nature.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’ve been trying to work on a little bit of everything. When I’m on the road I’m always analyzing my playing and taking mental notes on things that I want to work on, but sometimes it gets tough out there to properly shed. I’ve been practicing a lot of various Jamerson and Joseph “Lucky” Scott, from Curtis Mayfield’s band. If I pick up my Hofners or my Mustang, I love jamming on tracks by the band Air. Nicolas Godin, Jason Faulkner, and Justin Meldal-Johnsen played some killer bass on their albums and live. I’m always messing around with my technique, feel, tone, timing, consistency, control, gear, and style. It’s a good time to get into a zone, break stuff down, experiment, make adjustments, and confront some playing demons.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I’ve been revisiting music that I discovered and dug when I was starting to play—some of it is pretty out there. Off the top of my head, I’ve listened to Swans, Air, Polica, Bowie, Dystopia, Sex Gang Children, Awolnation, Astor Piazzolla, Esquivel, Bjork, Jeff Buckley, Pete Escovedo, Vangelis, Dali’s Car, and Yo-Yo Ma. As for bass players, some that always inspire me besides obvious greats like Jamerson, Pino, and Scott Lafaro, are Dave Roberts from early Sex Gang Children, Mick Karn from Japan and Dali’s Car, Marc van Wageningen from Pete Escovedo’s band and now Tower of Power, Stuart Zender from early Jamiroquai and Mark Ronson’s band, Jeff Hill from early Rufus Wainwright’s band, Joseph “Lucky” Scott, Ethan Farmer, and Miroslav Vitous. I also love classical double bass, so I definitely dig on some of the virtuosos in that world, like Gary Karr and Edgar Meyer.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I have a decent vintage bass collection, which I honestly haven’t had a ton of time over the years to mess with. I’ve been on the road so much with Katy Perry—almost exclusively, from 2008 to 2019—playing mostly Fender Precisions and Jazz Basses. More recently, with Miley, I was digging playing my ’68 Fender Telecaster with flatwound strings, my ’81 Rickenbacker 4001, and an original ’70s Minimoog Model D through my ’73 SVT and ’69 SVT 8x10. That was awesome and hard to beat. Since the lockdown, I’ve been messing around with some old Gibson Rippers, including a modded early-’70s fretless. I’ve also been playing my Guild Starfire and a ’62 Precision with Labella heavy-gauge flatwounds and a mute for soul and Motown type of music.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
Ojai is pretty epic, I’m thankful to be here during this time. A lot of people have been coming out for the trails and swimming holes. It’s beautiful and peaceful and definitely not as intense as some other areas. I’ll always recommend reading the Bible. Jesus inspires me bigtime. I don’t watch much TV, but I I recently saw some episodes of My So-Called Life. I have a weakness for classic films from the ’30s and ’40s. Some movies that are in regular rotation are Morocco, Casablanca, The Girl from10th Avenue, Grand Hotel, Now, Voyager, Ziegfeld Girl, My Man Godfrey, Libeled Lady, To Have and Have Not, and The Big Sleep. Playing basketball and home workouts have been great for me. I’d recommend both for keeping healthy, producing those good mood chemicals, having fun, breathing fresh air, and giving your mind a break from all this crazy stuff—if your nearby courts aren’t shut down of course!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
It looks like I’ll be working with an old bandmate, Aaron Bruno, who has an awesome band called AWOLNATION. He recently released a great album that I got to play on called Angel Miners & the Lightning Riders. It would be a blast to tour with them. Also, just before the lockdown, I started playing for Lana Del Rey, which was amazing. I got to use my Rickenbacker, Hofners, Moog, and cello. I love her band and the style is right up my alley. Sadly everything got postponed before I got to play a show. There were several events that will hopefully get re-scheduled. I’d love to play with Miley and Katy again, as well, if they plan on doing shows.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I think focusing on the blessings in our lives is essential right now. There are definitely challenges for us, especially with the uncertainty of live music in the future, but there’s so much for us to be grateful for. It’s hard to say how this is going to affect us bassists long term, and speculating can be disheartening. I try to take it one day at a time, trust God is in control, focus on the good, and learn whatever lessons I can from this. It’s all going to pass and I think we should take advantage of the opportunity to slow down for a bit, think about what’s truly important in life, grow where we need to, and be there for each other.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi