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: Paul Turner
Bands & Artists: Jamrioquai, Annie Lennox, Trioniq, The Dark Sinatras, Brother Strut, Shuffler
Home: London, England
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’d find it so easy to fill the days with practice, but I’m trying to balance the time with my family, walking, running, keeping fit, and even some home maintenance. To be honest I still feel there’s not enough hours in the day, but I’m trying to do the things that I usually can’t find the time for musically and otherwise. Eating at home every day with my wife and kids too, of course. Workwise, I often record from home, so fortunately that has continued. I've been doing some online one to one lessons and a college class via Zoom.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Bass-wise, I’ve been spending longer on warming up, that is, playing super slowly and consistently, whether pizzicato, pick, or slap, and listening to every nuance. Putting the Real Book back up, playing with iReal, loops and vamps, study pieces, looking through old lesson notes, Berklee study books. Trying to introduce more colour, either from new approaches or from what I already know, but often omit. I’ve also been sharing time on different basses, to dive a bit deeper with each of them. I’m finally sitting at the piano and drum kit, too.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I still dig the same stuff that excited me 20-30 years ago: Weather Report, with Alphonso Johnson, Jaco, and Victor Bailey; Jon Scofield’s Still Warm and Uber Jam; Pat Metheny’s Bright Size Life and Still Life Talking;
Stanely Clarke, Roy Ayres; Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye, Pleasure—I find it easy to listen with fresh ears, so it’s been a nice balance against finding newer music and artists too. I’ve also been keeping the whole house happy with Michael Kiwanuka, Robert Glasper, Thundercat, Vulfpeck, Anderson Paak, Nika Costa, and anything funky. My favorite band of all time for melancholic moods is The Blue Nile, especially Peace At Last and High.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been loving spending time on different basses. My Stenbacks are unbelievable, and I’ve just strung one with flats. I’ve been falling back in love with my ’65 Hofner Club and ’73 Fender Mustang. Even though I’ve always had basses with flats, I’ve been comparing. I have La Bella (52-110) on my ’63 Precision, Thomastiks on my Moollon, tapes on the Mustang, and Dunlops on my black Stenback 5-string. I’ve been enjoying the Proton and Doom 2 pedals from 3 Leaf Audio, and the Thump by MXR.
For recording from home, I’ve been using my Aguilar DB680, as well as my Jule Monique. And I’m looking at moving from Logic to LUNA as a recording software.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I’m finishing Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, which is awesome, and I’ve started Flea’s autobiography, Acid for the Children, too. I’ve been watching Mindhunter on Netflix.
Keeping fit helps me chill and I’ve had loads of fun joining my wife and kids for online Body Pump and Krav Maga.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I have a project called Trioniq which I’m excited about. It’s with [Jamiroquai guitarist] Rob Harris and [trumpeter/keyboardist] Iwan VanHetten, plus guest drummers and vocalists. The ethos is to be in the room together and see what happens, and play and record with the same spirit as the records we love. We released a second EP on Spotify and Apple Music, and we shot some live videos in January, but the lockdown meant a change in approach. So, we’ve emailed ideas and continued writing like that, but when we can, we’ll be all be back in a room.
Hopefully some of the cancelled live events will be re-scheduled, but I think it will be some time before that happens. There are also plans to do new albums with Jamiroquai and Brother Strut.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Whilst it’s cool to enjoy a bit more elasticity in each day, for me, it’s still important to set some plans and targets. Getting the time to achieve them is a huge positive and is good for the soul. That then helps me relax properly and feel good about down time. Contacting friends and family on video links is important for us and them, as well.
Follow Paul: Here