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: Tanya O'Callaghan
Bands & Artists: Dee Snider, Steven Adler, Maynard James Keenan, Ronnie Wood, David Grey
Home: Los Angeles, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
So far I’ve been really embracing the time to catch up on a lot of backlogged work and personal goals. I’ve been traveling non stop for almost a year straight before things came to a sudden halt, so I guess the initial lockdown doesn’t feel too drastic to me—yet! I’m adamant to keep a routine, up early everyday, coffee and check inbox, yoga and a walk, play my bass for an hour or four, depending on the day. I’m also writing a lot of content for public speaking I started just recently, and working on voice overs for a TV project I have in development. I’ve always had multiple projects on the go outside of music, as I’m very involved in the activism realm with animal and environmental issues. So as well as multiple musical projects keeping me occupied on or off the road, I still have a lot of work to achieve every day during this pandemic pandemonium.
What have you been working on in your personal bass practice?
I’ve been trying to get back into simply having fun playing and learning random songs, and messing around with some of my gear that hasn’t been out on the road with me over the last year or so; I’ve dusted off a few old pedals. I’m going to reopen some unfinished original music this month also and try to get a few tracks completed with some friends remotely online from their home studios.
Which bass have you been playing the most right now?
My beloved Sadowsky NYC.
What music have you been listening to through this?
Any given day for me swings from Fleetwood Mac, Gojira, Miles Davis, Snarky Puppy, Jeff Buckley, Pantera, Radiohead, Ella Fitzgerald, Hall and Oates, Muse, Opeth, Paul Simon, Tool, Eminem, Prodigy, Pearl Jam, Massive Attack, Hozier, Earth Wind & Fire. I find most Radiohead records very easy to float away to, I adore Colin Greenwood as a bassist and love how varied their sound is—let’s just say I like to mix things up a lot musically! A lot of my listening time is audiobooks and podcasts. I enjoy utilizing the audible realm for learning more on topics that interest me, so I’m doing a lot of online learning classes across a multitude of topics.
What non-musical things have you been doing to stay busy?
I have a huge TV project underway that I’m co-hosting with Derrick Green from Sepultura that had me on the road for the past six months, filming in between tour shows. It’s a worldwide travel food and culture show exploring all things plant-based foods, eco-friendly innovations, and individual stories from all over the world of people doing amazing things for the planet, animals, and the human race. Our guests are fascinating and varied, from music legends to chefs, athletes to doctors. So far we’ve been to Brazil, Mexico, L.A., Cleveland, and Ireland, and we’re now editing the episodes.
What books, shows, or movie recs do you have for us?
I adore books! Where should I start? Most essential reads off the top of my head, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, The End of Faith by Sam Harris, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Storms (the Fleetwood Mac story) by Carol Ann Harris. I’m a big fan of podcasts too. I don’t really watch much TV or movies, I prefer documentaries, but I do love The Office and the quintessential Irish comedy, Father Ted!
What’s the best advice you’d give to musicians during this time?
Funny enough I think musicians, artists, and in fact all freelancers are almost a little more mentally prepared for this time than those who work in the more structured corporate realms with consistent incomes, and perhaps more superfluous spending habits. The financial unpredictability is something we have always known as artists, it’s the nature of this industry. I’ve learned over the years to never put all my (vegan) eggs in one hypothetical basket! Let’s face it, when we decide to be fulltime musicians we automatically sign up for a very capricious lifestyle.
So my advice, if you are truly stressing and anxious, is tap back into the why and how we got here in the first place. If you’ve made it to the point where you’re a working musician on any level, big or small, then you’ve got this! Use this precious time wisely and come out the other side stronger for it, either back to gigging as an even stronger player. Or perhaps it’s time to go to law school if this entire isolation time was just too much. Let it also be a lesson in figuring out what you truly want going forward. Also learn to cook simple, healthy, and plant-based meals on a budget. YouTube is your friend, and make exercise a part of your day. Good health and movement are key to staying mentally and physically healthy. Learn songs that bring you joy, don’t compare yourself to other musicians, just play and create and accept the fact that we are all on hold for a few weeks, or months, and it is what it is. Do your best and pay it forward. There is no greater feeling than helping someone in need. Stay healthy, stay safe, and keep it low my low end friends!
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