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: Nick Schendzielos
Bands & Artists: Nuclear Power Trio, Havok, Job For a Cowboy, Cephalic Carnage
Home: Denver, CO
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I have definitely spent more time staring at glowing rectangles of various sizes than I’m proud to admit, but I’ve also found waves of productivity emerge when I can get my head into the right space. I’ve finally been able to crank out some comedy/bass videos for both my own personal as well as Nuclear Power Trio’s socials, which brings me a lot of joy. It’s cathartic to color outside the box of the more traditional musical situations that I find myself in and just create something that makes me laugh when I’m working on it—and hopefully others too. I’ve been giving bass lessons, which is a great way to be connected to people from all over the globe and hear the different stories about how things are in all these different countries. I’ve recently started live streaming, which has also been pretty cool to dive into. Also, beer. So much beer.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I usually try to keep a bass on the couch, and have it live there, so it’s always right within reach and I can get that N.E.T. (No Extra Time) practice in. I’m already sitting there for hours on end binge-watching Ozark or something, so while my conscious mind pays attention to the show, I let my hands and subconscious mind explore different rhythmic slapping or raking possibilities. It’s actually led me to some fun ideas I probably never would have stumbled upon if I was consciously focusing on coming up with something. I’ve been listening to some killer drummers and attempting to transcribe their patterns into slap parts as best as I can, one example being Bernard Purdie. I’ve also been incorporating a rice bucket into my daily routine to build wrist strength. There’s a ton of exercises you can do, such as burrowing your hand down in the bucket, and drawing the alphabet in capital letters, which keeps everything strong and conditioned.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
Victor Wooten’s A Show of Hands has always brought me both massive amounts of inspiration and comfort. I find it incredibly uplifting to listen to, and the licks, techniques, and lyrical themes are as relevant today as they were in 1996. I mentioned earlier I went down a big Bernard Purdie rabbit hole, and man you can’t hear groove like that and not feel good, as well as be inspired to play to it. One bass player I’ve recently discovered that is super inspiring is Remco Hendriks. His mind-blowing groove and his lobster claw technique, which I’ve never seen done before, dropped my jaw and made me want to play a hell of a lot more. Also, I love Michael Manring’s new album, Small Moments. How he plays with that level of technicality while also being 100% musical is insane. Other all-time favorite records include The Cinematic Orchestra’s Every Day, Devin Townsend’s Ki, Zero 7’s When it Falls, Joep Beving’s Prehension, Michael Manring’s Soliloquy, and Marcus Miller’s M2.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been absolutely loving my new MTD 534-24/17mm. Daniel and Michael Tobias knocked it out of the park for me and it’s been a phenomenal and inspiring instrument to play. I acquired some killer pedals from MXR: the Sub Octave Bass Fuzz and Sub Machine are crazy fun. Then there’s the Darkglass Microtubes X Ultra, which is the Swiss Army knife of my bass gear, as well as their Hyperluminal Compressor and Harmonic Booster v2. The Neural DSP modeling stuff is badass, especially running bass into the Archetype Abasi. And I always love a fresh set of Dunlop Super Bright strings, and my Aguilar pedals and amps—particularly the Filter Twin and SL 115 cab with an AG700 head.
What non-music activities, books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
A lot of what’s going on right now brought to mind a book I recommend reading called Fractal Time, by Gregg Braden, where he presents the concept that fractal patterns don’t just apply to geometry in nature, but that they also exist as fractal patterns in the repetitions of time cycles—similar to Terrence McKenna’s Time Wave Zero or the I Ching. Think of the universe as more of a spiral of space/time than a flat plane, and as we journey through the spiral, it’s cyclical nature means the resonant frequency of major events echoes itself in a self-similar pattern. Braden’s math was a little wonky, but I think one of the key takeaways from the book is that there are these fulcrum points or “choice” points when a cycle is repeating, where we have the capability to collectively change that pattern. I think we’re at one of those points now, and it’s very important that we heed those messages and try our best to reinvent our relationship to the planet and to each other. I also recommend The Day the Earth Stood Still—even the remake was pretty well done. Without giving away the whole story, the gist is an alien species with significantly advanced technology comes to Earth to try to catalyze us towards a peaceful and homeostatic civilization, but they decide we aren’t capable of change and must be destroyed in order to save the planet. But we point out that it is only at the precipice of collapse that we change and adapt. That ties in nicely to another book I highly recommend, the epigeneticist Bruce Lipton’s Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (And a Way to Get There from Here). He speaks about imaginal cells, which are these cells in the caterpillar that completely redesign the entire biological organism into a butterfly during the cocoon phase. Powerful stuff! Workout-wise, I’ve been trying to get out for a walk at least once a day, to surround myself with some type of nature even if it’s just a local park. I’ve also been trying to ride my motorcycle as much as possible, which is incredibly therapeutic.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I’ve got a new project called Nuclear Power Trio, which should be coming out in the fall. We’ve been working on a new Cephalic Carnage record, which we have a lot of material for. And I’ve been talking to Jonny Davy from Job for a Cowboy; we’re seriously considering doing another record. so I’m excited for that.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
My heart goes out to anyone affected by the various tragedies that have plagued our world so far this year. It has certainly felt like the most challenging period the human family has had to endure in a very long time. I think with the never-ending hustle of our regular lives, both as musicians and just overall 21st century humans, we have the very unique experience of a once in a lifetime opportunity to adjust the focal point of our individual and collective path. I think it’s been revealed throughout all this that positivity and positive change are things that have to be conditioned. It’s not something you can just do once or get to once and have it last—it’s like working out. We have to make it a daily practice because it’s damn easy to let the world get us down, and it’s so hard to be motivated or productive when you’re in that lower resonance. We have to make a choice to focus on the positive and take daily action to do the things that cultivate happiness. For musicians especially, the next year and a half look incredibly uncertain, but I try to think back to all the times I was super burnt out and just wanted a break. Well, here it is. I hope everyone can try to utilize this time to figure out what truly matters to them and what they really want, so when we look back at this time we can see that it was supposed to happen, so we could get to that better future for everyone.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi