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: Tony Franklin
Bands & Artists: The Firm, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Kate Bush, Whitesnake, Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Home: Murrieta, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
My routine has been fairly normal for when I’m off the road. I’m an early riser. I start the day with Yoga and meditation, then take a brisk walk. Then I’m onto to my “business”—emails, calls, and so on. Next it’s the “creative” part of my day—playing, recording, and writing. Different kinds of opportunities and collaborations have presented themselves during this time. I’ve been able to focus on completing my first bass instrumental album, still in progress, plus all the accompanying media it requires—including videos, a Patreon page, and PR. I’ve been completing songs for potential licensing opportunities. I’ve been writing my memoir, which I’d like to be an aspirational work, as well some great rock and roll stories. I’ve completed quite a few Cameo video greetings. And I’ve been spending time with my family, tidying up and meditating longer. I like to stay busy!
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’ve never had a regular practice routine. I prefer to play free-form, being mindful not to fall into patterns or ruts. Sometimes an idea will come from this kind of playing, which I’ll document, stay on for a while, and see if it develops. Maintaining my dexterity and stamina is important. So I’ll play free-form for maybe thirty minutes, or until I’m ready for a break.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
My biggest go-to music is the early and mid-’70s output of Stevie Wonder: Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness First Finale, Songs In the Key Of Life. His groove, and his keyboard bass lines taught me so much about playing bass. I also like Disc 2 of Standing In the Shadows of Motown [Deluxe Edition]; it has stripped-down instrumental mixes from the original Motown master tapes. I prefer this to the solo James Jamerson tracks. It puts Jamerson in context. It’s powerful and emotional. And finally Chopin—pretty much anything and everything. His music transports me to unknown realms! So beautiful.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I recently got a Fender Rumble 40. A small combo for home use. I love the Fender bass amps, and their Rumble gear is phenomenal. I also have the Rumble 800 head, which is loud, punchy, and fat! Bass-wise, I only own Fender basses, and only Precision Bass guitars, mostly fretless but some fretted—all with the added DiMarzio Model J bridge pickup, as in my signature bass. This bass does it all for me. I don’t even own a Jazz Bass.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I rarely watch TV. I recently saw all four seasons of The Expanse on Amazon Prime; well-written, great characters, well-shot. Before that I watched The Man In the High Castle, also on Amazon Prime. And I finally got ’round to watching The Mandalorian with my daughter. I’m not a big reader, so I have a great collection of half-finished books. I’m currently reading The Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru, by Philip Goldberg. Very inspiring, and it looks like I might actually finish that book! I like to be efficient with my exercise. Brisk walking, even skipping, while tensing and relaxing my arms, as if I’m lifting imaginary weights. It gets my heart pumping.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Before the lockdown I was close to securing a deal for a new band of mine. I’d like to pick that up again. I’ll share details when it’s time. I’d like to wrap up the bass album, possibly do some shows with that. I’m keeping my eye on a few other projects, as well.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Quite simply, we have to choose to be positive. Look for the things to be thankful for, even if they’re hard to see. The more we look, the more we’ll find. Feed our minds with positive thoughts. We think thousands of thoughts a day, many of them are unconscious thoughts that have been repeating in our minds for years. Life always goes through ups and downs. This time has certainly been challenging on many levels. In all my travels, highs and lows, successes and trials, I’ve realized that things, or people cannot make us happy. Only we can make ourselves happy. When I’m meditating, or at any point throughout the day, I repeat positive affirmations. “I am brave, I am strong, I am worthy, I am successful, I am happy, I am loved.” Find something that you can feel, believe, and resonate with. Use this time to work on what you want to become. Remember to breathe. And also, laugh! Be silly. Things will improve, they always do.
Follow Tony: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi