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: Ra Diaz
Bands & Artists: Suicidal Tendencies
Home: Los Angeles, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been doing a lot of videos. Me, Charlie Benante (Anthrax). and Alex Skolnick (Testament) have been doing some Rush cover videos. It’s been super fun! It all started after I posted a video where I jammed over Travis Barker. He loved it and shared it. Days later me and Charlie were talking and decided to do a little jam. We did one and the response was great. He said we should try do a Rush song and suggested we hit up Alex, and we did two videos already as a trio, “YYZ” and “La Villa Strangiato,” and it’s been amazing. Those videos have been shared and viewed all over the world. We’re just glad to be able make people have a good time and forget the situation we are in, even if it’s for a couple minutes. I define it as “entertaining ourselves entertaining others,” ha! We’re currently working on more videos with other bands and genres. With Suicidal Tendencies, I live right next to [vocalist] Mike Muir, so we’ve been experimenting in his studio a little bit. I helped him with a few Spanish versions of some ST songs, and we also started doing streams on our own Twitch channel: Cyco_STream. We talk about anything, share stories, show new music, I play bass and teach how to play songs, and more. It’s been super fun and a great way to stay connected with our fans. I also did some Instagram live streams of my own and with Schecter Guitars, and I’m working on a track for a video game.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Bass practice for now has been learning all these crazy cover tunes and recording and filming the videos. Other than that I haven’t planned any specific routines or exercises. I mostly sit with my bass and just jam or play along with and learn songs.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Rush because of the videos we’ve been making. I’d almost forgotten how badass Geddy Lee is. The last time I sat down and tried to play Rush songs was probably in high school. It’s been very refreshing to rediscover it in a way. I love albums that take me back to cool memories or eras. Some people think I’m always listening to metal or hardcore and stuff, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Usually you’ll find me listening to Motown, Carole King, Billy Joel, Thelonious Monster, Cat Stevens, and Elton John, to name a few. I’m also loving the new Thundercat record, It Is What It Is.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been using and abusing my Roland GO:MIXER. I use it to practice, for live streams, to go and play outside, and more. At home I have my Gallien-Krueger MB 112 combo that you can also use with headphones if needed, I love it.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I’m an old school guy: I watch Seinfeld, Married with Children and The Office. The new LA Originalsdocumentary on Netflix is rad. Lots of homies in it, and my bro Eric Bobo [Cypress Hill, Beastie Boys, and Ritmo Machine percussionist] did the original music. For books, I highly recommend The Rogue To Nowhere by my fellow bassist and friend Jason Christopher.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
We have a compilation with Suicidal Tendencies that will include “bass lead” tracks. I did one, and also invited Bubby Lewis, Josh Paul, and Saya Gray to do some tunes on it, as well. We’ve been showing a bit of it on the Cyco_STream. Besides that, I’m just waiting to get back on the road. Travelling, playing shows every night, meeting people, making new friends, seeing old ones—that’s what I miss the most.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Take advantage of the technology tools we’ve been given and find ways to connect with people. Even if we are all stuck at home, there are a lot of things we can do to keep our careers going: practice, write, record, network, build your website, start a podcast, and so on. Use this time to plan and try to be as ready as you can for whenever the world gets going again.
Follow Ra: Here