Bass Player: Kaveh Rastegar
Bands & Artists: Kneebody, John Legend, Sting, Colin Hay, MeShell Ndegeocello, Charlie Puth, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, De La Soul
Home: Los Angeles, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Well, first of all, take everything I'm about to say with a huge grain of salt. To act like I’m capable of any consistent structure or focus during this shit would be extremely optimistic. What an insane time. Who would have thought we would all be living through something like this? There are literally no rules on how to handle these incredibly perplexing, at times stressful, at times ominous, at times boring, and extremely meaningful days. I have to say the biggest factor that is bringing focus, meaning, and joy to my life right now is being a father to my two daughters, Emilia, 9, and Elena 7. Their mom and I (we're separated) are doing our best job co-parenting through this and homeschooling. It’s a challenge but it has been incredible to have this much concentrated time together. When I don't have my girls, I've been trying to stay busy and give myself a schedule that includes practice, writing, and recording, as well as exercise. There are a good amount of projects I've been working on; I've been in touch with a lot of friends to collaborate.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine and your creative music side?
I've been reading through a book of Irish reels. I bought the book at a violin shop a couple months ago. It's literally called the Irish Reel Book. There are hundreds of reels and jigs in there. They are beautiful to read through on double bass. I’m focusing on keeping my shifting through positions fluid. Also playing both pizzicato and arco, keeping the bowing consistent, with each quarter-note being its own bow stroke. I’ve been repeating them over and over, and speeding up as I go. I've also been playing along with records. I've been transcribing some songs and learning new songs to sing and play.
On the creative side, I've been writing a bunch with a couple of producer friends for a few projects. And during that, I've been going through the vaults of recordings and ideas I've compiled over the years, and I’ve been building new “Kaveh” songs. I'm about to put out some videos and live recordings of music from my most recemt record, Haunted This Way. And I ‘ve had some double bass and electric bass recording sessions come through my studio over the last couple of weeks, which I'm super thankful for.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
Well, I've been listening a ton to a copy of the Wailers masterpiece Catch a Fire. My friend Adam told me about the Bunny Wailer album Blackheart Man. This album is insane—classic roots period reggae with beautiful songs and brilliant production. Fams [Aston “Family Man” Barrett] plays bass along with his brother Carlton Barrett on drums. Robbie Shakespeare guests, Peter Tosh is on it, Bob sings background vocals, Tommy McCook from the Skatalites arranges the horns. I’ve been listening to Joni Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns; Townes Van Zandt's first album [For the Sake of the Song]; my friend Mick McCauley's album Highs and Bellows; and the new Thundercat [It Is What It Is]. And I got to play a little on Rufus Wainwright's upcoming album and I have beenloving his Instagram Robe Recital daily concert series, and digging his single ‘Damsel In Distress,” which has been pre-released.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I've been playing two German double basses that are in my possession. I’ve also been playing a lot on my trusty, green ’64 Fender Precision.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been playing chess; I love chess! I love talking to and hearing from friends and family. I appreciate the conversations and the people who check in, and I’m loving doing the same. Books I’ve been reading are Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem—her take on California as a 30-something woman in the 1960s—and South of the Border, West of The Sun by Haruki Murakami. For films, I rewatched Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild—which is a movie I would love to live in—and I loved Mama Roma by Pasolini. I also binge-watched Ozark and really enjoyed it.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Bringing my girls to school and seeing them give their friends and teachers big hugs, then driving to my favorite local cafe, tipping the hell out of the barista, going for a run at the Rose Bowl, getting together with a piano player friend to play duets, meeting my dad for Persian food in Glendale, heading to a movie, meeting Mike Valerio at a bar for a glass of wine and to talk shit, then heading to another bar to catch my friends play creative music in Highland Park, and finally keeping the tears from streaming when I realize what I took for granted in this beautiful world before it was shut down!
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Try to stay positive. Keep an instrument or two out to stumble upon and force yourself to play and practice. Maybe take some time to listen to someone you normally wouldn't have checked out, or have always wanted to. Write down some goals—it's impossible to make them happen if you haven't articulated them to yourself. With everyone talking about how much they're doing or getting done, remember, life as we know it has completely fucking stopped. People are suffering in ways that are impossible to comprehend. So, cut yourself some slack. Don't feel like you have to do anything “productive” except to make sure that you and the people you care about are safe, and you have what you need to feel safe and healthy. Know that this will be over and we will be better for it.