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: Steve DiGiorgio
Bands & Artists: Testament
Home: Antioch, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I flew home from our European tour on day one of the newly-imposed lockdown and I immediately started feeling sick. I had a cough, felt feverish, and was completely drained of energy. The next morning I woke up with a fever that lasted eighteen straight days. After twice being denied a test, I was finally tested and came up positive. For the next three weeks I was basically in bed, isolated from my family and the world. Since recovering from the fever and body soreness, I’ve been trying to acclimate back to a normal lifestyle. Home projects and springtime chores have been requiring a lot of my time. I think I’m still paying a price physically for being sick for so long. But I’m beginning to feel normalish, and the music projects have been rolling in. I’ve been recording bass remotely for a band in Denmark, and doing other sessions and lockdown videos.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I don’t have a regular practice routine, I focus on what specifically is required for a session. This may limit my growth somewhat, musically and technically, but at least I’m keeping my chops up with these home recording projects.
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 The Riverside album, Anno Domini High Definition. Mariusz Duda plays great bass lines with a killer tone. There are times when focusing on amazing bass playing is the ticket to getting motivated. And then there are the times where having something nice to not focus on helps relieve the analytical tendencies of studio mode. Honestly, my favorite thing to listen to is the birds, knowing which ones sound which way, and what different inflections are used in each situation. Getting away from quantized air pressures and giving your ears a break from headphones to let natural, uneven sounds permeate is a good pause to avoid burnout.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I have a few Ibanez BTB basses. 5-string and 6-string, fretted and fretless. I’ll play the same few bars of a track with each one and see how it reacts to the other instrumentation, and I’ll go with the one that offers the best character. It’s cool how each has its own tonal personality, but since they’re all equipped with the same Nordstrand pickups, it tends to level the broad range of the spectrum. I’ll grab an old Rickenbacker, too, to keep up my relationship with those. I use Darkglass for overdrive in my recording setup, and for the more sensitive, exposing nature of digital recording, I’m trying out the Darkglass B7K plugin. Live, I use a Tech 21 SansAmp RBI or Bass Driver, and I’m anxious to see how their new YYZ pedal fits in onstage.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
Take advantage of this time to fix everything in the house, build a garden, or clean out the garage. When I need a break from home, I’ll go for a motorcycle ride and breathe the fresh air. I keep up on my cardio by taking out my dog for long walks in the park or up in the hills on the trails. She is definitely benefitting from so much time together. Get to know your pets better!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Testament will resume touring for our latest album, Titans of Creation. We’re working out a new set list, knowing the live show climate will be changed to some degree. I also have a new band with my good friend and legendary fretless bass wizard, Jeroen Paul Thesseling. We’re calling the group Quadvium and taking on the unusual task of writing for two predominantly fretless bassists. The music will be instrumental and we have an amazing drummer, Yuma van Eekelen. When we find the right guitarist, we’ll be preparing for our debut album release next year.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Don’t watch the news or read the posts, memes, or stupid graphics about any of this. It’s a giant rabbit hole of continuous misinformation set to provoke and agitate the polarization of differences and glorification of ignorance. It’s okay to not know something or not have an opinion on something. To stay positive, stick with what you know and keep things simple. I keep hearing about how many people have contracted the virus, and how many have died, and how many are expected to get it. What about the ones who have recovered? What about those of us who fought it and lived to tell about it? Where’s that stat? I think that would be beneficial to report as we seek a positive outcome.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi