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: Mark Stoermer
Bands & Artists: The Killers
Home: Las Vegas, Nevada
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I try to pick up a bass everyday and do some chromatic finger-stretching exercises and some scales and arpeggios. Occasionally I’ll put on a record and try to play along for ear training; it’s a good way for me to get out of my playing comfort zones.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I listen to a lot of different music for inspiration and comfort. Listening to The Beatles and related solo material seems to always keep me grounded, as well as classics like The Stones, Neil Young, and Dylan. I’ve been listening to plenty of non-rock music, too. Classical music is often on in my house, like some of the all time great composers: Bach, Mozart, Mahler, Satie, or even Phillip Glass. Jazz is frequently on, like Miles Davis, Return to Forever, Thelonius Monk, and John Coltrane. I find myself putting on mellow, so-called “new age” instrumental artists, like Stephan Micus and Vangelis. For bass player performances, I really love Jaco Pastorius’ work on Joni Mitchell’s Hejira.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I haven’t been trying out much new gear lately. At home I usually practice on an acoustic Martin bass without an amp. When I do use an amp, my all time favorite amp for tone is a ’71 Fender Bassman Head with a 4x12 speaker cab. I’ll usually use a Fender Jazz or Mustang through it.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been reading Proust’s mega novel In Search of Lost Time, I’m currently on volume 3 of 7. It’s a big undertaking, but now seemed like as good a time as ever to tackle it. As far as workout/exercise, I walk a lot and try to always get in 10,000 steps every day. I also try to do a 25-minute at-home workout four or five days a week. I’m taking Italian lessons three days a week online, in an attempt keep my mind active. I’m far from conversational in the language, but it seems like it definitely challenges my short term and long term memory in a good way.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I don’t have anything set in stone for projects once we return to normalcy—maybe more work with The Killers on an album? I may also do some solo writing; I haven’t been in that mindset for awhile, but who knows?
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Try to incorporate something that gives you joy in your daily routine, whether that be music, films, books, whatever. And to keep moving. Even walking around the house or in the backyard tends to make me feel better after I’ve been sitting around a lot.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi