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: Shavo Odadjian
Bands & Artists: System of a Down, North Kingsley
Home: Los Angeles, CA
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Fortunately, I’m working a ton. We’re dropping 22Red [Shavo’s cannabis and lifestyle brand] in Las Vegas, so I’ve been doing a lot of back-and-forth with the people out there through Zoom meetings. I have so many Zoom meetings now that I had to get a Zoom account. Prior to the pandemic I had no idea Zoom existed and now I’m on it every day, and my kids are on it for classes. I’m getting ready to drop my new music project, North Kingsley; I’ve been working on finishing the music and mixing it, doing the videos, and putting a team together. System’s management is backing me, so it’s all family.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Mainly, I’ve been jamming. I’m not doing any specific exercises, but I have a bass and guitar next to me in my office. I’ll pick them up and jam, and ideas will come from that. I find a note and strum, and that leads to others notes, and all of a sudden I have an idea for a song. That’s how System of A Down songs like “Spiders” and “Mr. Jack” came along.
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 kept away from most music recently to work on the North Kingsley album. Being home and not out in my car has limited my listening time, too. I work out in my garage gym and I’ve been listening to Skelletonwitch. I listened to them a lot in 2017 and I’ve recently pulled them back in, and they’ve still got it. In the house I like to listen to Frank Sinatra to set the mood. But I’m really looking forward to driving again!
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
Warwick made me a few custom basses; I’ve been playing those a ton. One of the custom 22Red Idolmakers they made me has a very warm sound that I love playing with my fingers. A friend of mine sent me a pedal that his friend made, which is a crazy fuzz, and I’ve been messing around with it. I’m in my home studio, so I don’t have everything I usually do.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I work out every day, as much as possible. Even between meetings I do a bunch of pushups. I’ve been hiking and taking walks around my house. I live in a hilly, mountainous area, which means a lot of uphill and incline. I’ve been into series like Kingdom, Ozark, and Succession. Once I’m done working for the day, that’s how I zone out, I smoke a joint and watch some shows to take my mind off of everything. Otherwise I’m working straight from 7AM to midnight daily.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Getting 22Red in Vegas is a big undertaking. We launched in Arizona in February, right when all of this started. I’ll be in Arizona when I can travel again to work with the growers out there, called Genesis. I’ll also be in Vegas to check on the quality of the flower and products there. I’m going to be dropping the North Kingsley music, which will come in four installments of three songs for the next twelve months.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
We’re all in this together and I don’t think this is the end of the world. Everything will be better after this, so what you can do with this time is make yourself better. Take the time to write the songs you want to write now, do the projects you’ve wanted to do, and work self-improvement where needed. Get online and take classes, I’d be doing that if I had the time. Even Harvard is offering free classes. Read a book. One book can make a huge difference to your brain. And exercise. Work out and make yourself better physically and mentally. Don’t just sit around all day.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi