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.
Bassist: Victor Brodén
Bands & Artists: Richard Max, LeAnn Rimes, Randy Houser
Home: Los Angeles, California.
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve enjoyed spending more time than usual with my family, and with friends online via Zoom; longer conversations than usual, which is nice. I’m guilty of having spent entirely too much time looking at gear I don’t need on Reverb and eBay. I’ve also started studying Spanish. Soon after I moved to Los Angeles two years ago, I realized to fully appreciate the culture and soul of this city, I should learn that language. I fully admit to having procrastinated, so the lockdown is giving me a chance to catch up on those lessons. I do gear reviews for Premier Guitar magazine and I have been able to fit a few of those in, as well.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’ve been picking up my bass late at night to get my playing hours in before bed, for some reason. I’ve been polishing up on some of the basics that I sometimes don’t practice is enough: modes, reading, and dexterity stuff. I have a few books laying around on Afro-Cuban bass, which have finally gotten some use. I am also an avid fan of ’80s synth bass lines in pop, so I’ve had fun learning some more of those on electric bass—the most recent from the band Go West. My inner 12-year-old gets instantly happy from learning the keyboard bass lines, while the analytical bass nerd in me appreciates how the often those lines take me out of comfortable fingering patterns and boxes. I’m definitely not on a practice schedule. I have lazy lockdown days bass-wise, as well.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
Swedish Rock band Work Of Art has a new album out entitled Exhibits, that I can’t stop listening to. Great work from several Swedish session bass players like Nalle Påhlsson, Henrik Linder of Dirty Loops, and Andreas Passmark. I’ve been listening a lot to newer pop acts like British band Fickle Friends. Their songs are incredible, and the vintage bass tones mixed with key bass in their music are so well crafted. Lee Sklar’s recent YouTube presence has been a wonderful daily occurrence for me—a bass player playing songs, nothing more, nothing less. I think he’s doing the bass world a great service by making those videos at this specific time. I’ve been listening to some neo soul classics like Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite. That music puts me in a relaxed headspace instantly.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been obsessed with early to mid-’80s Yamaha BB series basses. I’ve picked up a few of them and I’ve been inspired by the subtle differences between fairly identical looking instruments of the same model. I’ve been messing around with the latest, third version of the Billy Sheehan signature distortion pedal from EBS. It does so many more flavors of distortion than the sound Billy is known for. The separate clean and dirty channel looping capabilities has been a fun rabbit hole to hop into. Another pedal with many uses is the Xotic RC Bass Booster. I just got my 26-year-old Eden World Tour 800 head out of storage, and I’ve been using it for most of my lockdown session work from home. I completely forgot how much I love that amp.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been listening to two different guitar podcasts that some of my friends have been doing for a few years: Riff Raff, hosted by Shane Theriot, and Guitar Geeks Podcast, from Sweden. Both have bass players as guests occasionally. I’ve been trying to watch as much Spanish language content on Netflix as possible, due to me trying to learn the language. Also on Netflix, I’ve enjoyed Keith Richards: Under the Influence and ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas. I’ve been reading Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll, by Peter Guralnick, about the man behind Sun Records in Memphis. For workouts I’m currently mixing using basic equipment like a pull-up bar and some weights and doing “vintage” Tae Bo videos on YouTube.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I’m excited to record a bunch of new episodes of my podcast The Lowdown Society, as soon as the lockdown is over; this will include folks here in in L.A, as well as trips to Minneapolis and Nashville. I’m looking forward to doing some in-person writing and recording with my original duo project, The Love Elektrik. During the summer I’m producing a Las Vegas-based artist and I’ll spend some time there, if the world is up and running by then. I’m also excited to get back into the L.A. club scene that has been so fun, inspirational, and good to me since I moved here. It’s vibrant and full of great players.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Take a walk every day, smell restaurants and gardens you walk by a little extra, listen to the players that originally got you excited about bass, Facetime other bass players to nerd out—whatever it takes to keep the spark alive, or to re-ignite it! When we get back from this situation, people who are not in the industry will truly appreciate that you’re playing your bass for them. The world will need all that low end in spades. As plain as it sounds, a little extra kindness goes a long way if you have to leave your house. Hold the door for somebody, tell the person at the gas station, whose face you might not see behind a mask, to have a good day. We are indeed all in this together. Finally, I think all of us creative folks especially could stand to not get caught up with how productive we are being or not being during lockdown; different strokes for different folks.
Follow Victor: Here
Read all 180+ Bass Magazine Check-in Features: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi