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: Marty O’Brien
Bands & Artists: Lita Ford, Chris Cornell, Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, Tommy Lee, Disturbed
Home: Los Angeles, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been writing songs, as well as recording bass tracks for other artists; most recently on some songs for a surf-rock album.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’ve never been one to practice specific concepts, like scales or fingerings. I’ve always just picked up the bass and played it—sometimes all day long. I’m usually learning some favorite songs or just improvising over a beat. I suppose most people call that “practice,” but I never saw it that way. If you love playing the bass all day, you’ll never actually practice a day in your life.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I’m usually exploring older music rather than new—the catalogs of ’60s and ’70s artists I like, such as the Eagles and Stevie Wonder. At home, playing in the background, I often listen to 1940s big band music. I have a couple of old vintage radios from the 1930s that I had restored and re-tubed, with a hidden audio-input jack added, so I stream the old songs wirelessly into a couple old radios in different rooms.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
My amp at home is the small-but-mighty Aguilar ToneHammer 350, through an Aguilar 1X12 cab. When recording at home, I mic the cab and also record a separate track through an Evil Twin Tube-DI. I have a couple vintage Fender Precisions that I mainly use for recording: a’52 and a ’61. I’ve got some Dunlop/MXR pedals on the board this week, loving the Bass Chorus Deluxe and the Bass Octave Deluxe. While on the road with Lita Ford, I’m almost always using my old Spector NS2 basses from the late ’80s.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I’m obsessed with documentaries. Lately I’ve been digging into a documentary series about Los Angeles and the history behind some of it’s famous landmarks. It’s on PBS and I’ts called Lost LA.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
My main touring gig is with Lita Ford. We were supposed to be on tour right now opening for Alice Cooper through the spring and summer. They are working on rescheduling those dates, so hopefully we can all return to our normal routines soon and get back on the road!
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
My advice for this is always the same, regardless of a quarantine or pandemic: Exercise, hiking/biking/walking. Unfortunately all the great hiking trails around L.A. are closed right now, but that can’t stop you from getting outside and walking around the neighborhood. I try to bike or hike around the hiking trails at least a few times a week and enjoy the silence out there. It’s the perfect contrast to the busy freeways. It will change your mindset completely.
Follow Marty: Here
For more one Marty: Click Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria and Chris Jisi