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: Stu Hamm
Bands & Artists: Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Frank Gambale, BX3, Solo artist
Home: Los Angeles, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been giving Zoom lessons and keeping in touch with friends online. I had a small roster of students before this started, and that has increased. You can sign up for lessons or recording work at [www.stuhamm.com]. I have also done a few musical collaborations, the Brian May challenge for a friend that ended up including so many of my friends: Alex Skolnik, Marco Minneman, Jeff Scott Sotto, Bumblefoot. And I have already done a few that haven’t been released yet! It has been good in that it forced me to up my technology skills on my Mac. Before they shut the parks and trails I had a good two days exploring remote parts of L.A. with my pal Jude Gold. I wrote a smooth little melody for Easter that I filmed and posted on my Facebook pages [StuHammBass] and I will be appearing LIVE on a TrueFire online concert Thursday April 23rd at 1:30 PST.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I was in the middle of a European Stu Hamm Band Tour when this hit; I had to cancel everything and get home, so my chops were in good shape. I’ve come up with some new variations of the scales and arpeggios that I use to warm up with every day, to keep my mind and fingers on their toes!
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I listen a lot of ambient and minimalist music anyway, and it truly help keeps me calm and sane. Arvo Pärt or Bach are usually on, and there’s a web site called Hearts of Space[https://v4.hos.com/home] that I enjoy. One of my students hipped me to Joe Dart and I had a fun few digesting him—his wonderful tone and the optimism of unbridled youth!
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
It’s difficult to get to try out new gear, but I am loving the way my green Proto-Stu Signature Warwick has been playing. I feel very good about the bass that Marcus Spangler built at the Warwick factory in Germany. And of course I have been goofing around with my looper more than normal. I’m using pedals much more than I have in the past for something new; I’m loving the tone and versatility of the TC Electronic gear.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I just binge-watched the entire season of Firefly by Joss Wheedon, and then the big payoff to that show with the movie Serenity. If you’ve never seen that show, it’s a fun and engaging diversion, and won’t damage your brain as much a Tiger King. I read two amazing books by Jonathan Powers, Overstory (which won the Pulitzer) and Orpheo, an incredible book about—among many things—avant garde music. It even mentions my father and the music department and musical movement that he was a part of.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
That really depends on when things get back to “normal.” I have a few new instructional courses to film for TrueFire. Alex Skolnick and I will be hitting the studio for some new music, which we’ll eventually play live. I’ll be recording a new record with Greg Howe, with U.S and European tours to follow. I’m also in the planning stages of my first bass festival/camp. I’ve been bouncing ideas off of the organizers to come up with something unique that will make it different from all of the other bass events. I want to focus on things that I feel are important that don’t always get covered in these settings.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Slow everything that you play down so that you can really hear each note. Focus on the sound and tone and length of each note, and eliminate everything that is not necessary. And faith... you gotta have faith!
For more visit: Stu Hamm