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: Mike Watt
Bands & Artists: fireHOSE, Minutemen, The Stooges, The Missingmen, Dos, The Secondmen, Il Sogno del Marinaio, mssv
Home: San Pedro, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been doing a lot of composing and recording. I’m so glad I got a Pro Tools HD setup and an okay internet connection!
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Playing bass every day! Adding bass to sound files people ask me to play on, and playing along with James Jamerson on YouTube in-between. I keep a bass—my Chinese-made Hofner—by where I konk so I can wail on it whenever! I have a tiny recorder nearby to capture idea fragments.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
Jamerson. Larry Graham with Sly and the Family Stone. Ron Asheton on the Stooges Raw Power. Geezeer Butler on Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4. Herbie Flowers—with Jim Gordon on drums—on Harry Nilsson’s Jump into the Fire. Dig his wild detuning before he solos! Live recordings from the tour John Wetton did with Roxy Music in 1974—with Andy McKay playing fucking oboe on a rock tune, “Out of the Blue”! (See below)
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I got a fuzz box from Johnny at Daredevil called Almighty Bass Fuzz that I've been recording a lot with lately. And a Quilter Bass Block 802 head that I’m going to use with my Barefaced Super Compact 1x12 cabinet for live streaming out of my pad.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I just started Bound for Glory, Woody Guthrie's autobiography, that Mike Baggetta of mssv gave me. I’ve been watching a buttload of documentaries on YouTube. I haven’t had cable in years and I’m not missing it, so television for me comes via the internet. I don’t have Netflix or anything like that, either. I’m just getting stuff off the internet using an Apple TV box and my wifi connection—total econo! Every morning at the crack of dawn I do about a three mile hobble—I have a bad knee—by the waterfront here in Pedro that takes about eighty minutes. I won't let anyone within fifty feet of me—that is if I see anyone at that time in these parts! I also have an elliptical trainer in my pad that I use every other day to get a sweat up. And of course I have my Watt from Sand Pedroshow that will turn nineteen next month. All of the shows are archived. I usually try to do one a week when I’m not on tour, but these days I’m doing a ton of them.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Lots of tours! mssv with Mike Baggetta and Stephen Hodges. Also with Il Sogno del Marinaio—we’re finishing our third album, Terzo, now. I’ve got Missingmen and The Secondmen albums to record, as well. Me and Secondmen organman Peetzo [Pete Mazich] have a studio in his backyard here in Pedro that we’re trying to set up for live streaming “virtual gigs.” And I’ve been invited to be part of righteous trip going down in London when it's possible.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
The lucky thing about music is we can compose, record, and share thorugh the internet even if we can’t do gigs or even fucking practice. I do wish really smart programming people would develop software where we can jam together via the internet, while somehow solving the latency problem. We gotta keep thinking “music, music, music” and “bass, bass, bass” while hunkering down, so we can try and put a kink in this virus spread. Bass is like glue and we need stuff to stick to or we'll end up just being puddles. We gotta be driven, I think, driven to use the bass as a hatch to get over to a healthier tomorrow. A farmer might tell you if you want a good crop, then use a lot of manure. I say okay, fucking bring it. We keep on pushing... and we don't stop!
Mike Watts’ Hoot Page: www.hootpage.com
The Watt from Pedro Show: https://www.twfps.com