Bass Player: Andy Curran
Bands & Artists: Coney Hatch, Soho 69, Caramel, Leisureworld, Envy of None
Home: Toronto, Canada
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve survived so far by finding the perfect balance between messing around in my home studio, hanging out with the family, dog walks, long bike rides, playing and watching hockey, sampling the many fine wines from the Niagara wine region—oh, and a little bit of work in there, too!
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
My daughter made me a cool little Covid sign marked “Bass of The Week,” which I place on the guitar stand, and I’ve been swapping out all of my basses to keep it fresh. My fretless Jaco Pastorius Fender Custom Shop Bass that Geddy Lee gave me has been a big inspiration to work on my intonation. I recently picked up a 1983 Rickenbacker 4003 and a cool, 1969 Dan Armstrong clear lucite bass; both were “held over” longer than a week. They all play so differently and force me to write in different styles. For me, a day of practice has changed into a day of writing, so I plug in and record instead of just doing exercises. I also have what I call a TV bass that I leave out to play while watching my beloved Chicago Blackhawks, to keep my fingers moving and my calluses rough. My 1967 Hofner Beatle bass is a good one for that because I don’t need an amp to hear it.
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 a lot of R&B and funk. Bands like the Meters, War, and Sly & The Family Stone all have such amazing feels, and the bass lines are fun to relearn. Many of them are “less is more” in terms of locking with the drummer and not having to play a million notes to be heard. Having said that, I recently listened to Yes’s Relayer [Atlantic, 1974] for my Chris Squire fix, as well as Jaco Pastorius [Epic, 1976] and Stanley Clarke’s School Days [Nemporer, 1976], both on vinyl.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
My newest piece of gear that I can’t live without is my Tech 21 dUg Pinnick Signature DP-3X pedal. It’s incredibly versatile and not only can you dial in an aggressive Pinnick tone, you can also tame it down and tweak warm, big tones. I’ve used it live and in the studio and it’s bulletproof. I run it through my 1980 blackface Ampeg SVT head and 8×10 SVT cabinet, with a fresh set of GHS Bass Boomers and it’s crushing! I started with a Tech 21 PSA-1 many years ago and we’ve had a great working relationship for a few decades.
What non-music activities, books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been playing ice hockey since I was five. It’s part of my Canadian DNA, so I’ve managed to get on the ice two or three times a week. When it got very cold here in Toronto this winter I actually played some outdoor pond hockey, which was awesome. That’s my version of a workout, and chasing a stupid little rubber puck has been a great way to keep my mind clear and not dwell on the pandemic. I’ve been binge watching old episodes of the Addams Family, the Beverly Hillbillies, and Bewitched. I’m also reading Confess: The Autobiography, by Rob Halford. We toured with Judas Priest in 1982, Rob is an awesome guy and an incredible vocalist.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I’ve been busy on the Coney Hatch front. Having never released a live record, we did a livestream show in October from the newly-renovated El Mocambo in Toronto. It’s an incredible venue, with 4K streaming capture and an SSL digital console in the control room. We just finished mixing the show and we’re doing a limited run of bootleg-style vinyl that can be ordered from the Coney Hatch website [www.coneyhatch.com]. It has attracted some label interest, as well, and we’ll add two new studio tracks that we recorded over the lockdown. I’m also excited about a new studio project that features Maiah Wynne, a young vocalist from Portland, Oregon. I played some of the songs Maiah and I wrote together for Alex Lifeson, and he asked if he could be involved. I had to pinch myself during that call! We have seven songs completed and Alex played on pretty much every one. One song was already featured in the Netflix series Tiny Pretty Things, and we’re planning a release—maybe a cool NFT bundle. The band is called Envy of None and it has a trippy, moody, ambient, sometimes evil, pop vibe.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I think its super important to keep those fingers moving. If it’s just while watching TV, all good. Use the down time to write as much as possible because when this all blows over life will get hectic again. Listen to as many styles of music as possible. There are so many great bassists out there to learn from. I saw a YouTube video about Carol Kaye playing with Brian Wilson and it blew me away. That kind of inspiration will open your mind for bass line creation. The goal is to keep learning; don’t get stale, and always challenge yourself. You’re never too old or too talented to learn new tricks.