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: Trevor Dunn
Bands & Artists: Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, Tomahawk
Home: Brooklyn, NY
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Mourning, drinking, grocery shopping under a veil of paranoia, reading Camus’ The Plague, watching Ozark, and organizing my plastic bags by size.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
It’s been the perfect time to get back to basics, so I’ve been doing 40 minutes of long-tones to warm up: quarter-note = 40 bpm, start with eight counts per bow. From there I go to some of Gary Karr’s “vomit” exercises, arpeggios, and various etudes from Simandl, Petracchi, Zimmerman, and Slonimsky. For something musical, I work on the prelude from Bach’s 2nd Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor.
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 obsessed with Crowded House lately—a new discovery for me—and I’ve been sifting through my pile of “music to get to”—either things I’ve purchased or were given to me over the years, that I keep neglecting. Sometimes I turn on WFMU to have some company. As a Fiona fan, I’ve been checking out Fetch The Bolt Cutters and totally digging on [bassist] Sebastian Steinberg. I’ve also been listening to Luigi Nono, Rebecca Saunders, and Morton Feldman.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
None. I’ve been sticking to working on my upright technique with nothing but a bow and some rosin.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been taking walks in [Brooklyn’s] Greenwood Cemetery for “exercise,” although Shaun T’s Insanity 20-minute workout, or 10-minute ab workout are both highly recommended. I also think exercising the brain is important, so I’ve been conversing with many friends and reading many of the unread books on my shelf.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Mr. Bungle is currently remote-mixing the re-recording of our first demo. A duo record with Buzz Osborne will be released, and hopefully tours rescheduled. My duo project, SpermChurch, will be mastered and hopefully I will find a label for it. Recordings and tours with John Zorn will be rescheduled. And I will write new music for my trio-convulsant to be rehearsed and recorded when the time is right.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
As a self-employed musician, I am very much aware of the pitfalls of self-discipline. It’s not easy to self-motivate, even in normal times. I think it’s imperative to stay objective and make a schedule for yourself to adhere to. Ritual is important. I tell my students this, even in terms of what you practice every day. I make sure to put on pants at some point and cross over to work mode. It’s too easy to waste time when you aren’t required to be anywhere, so make those requirements for yourself. And at the end of the day, reward yourself with a Natalie Wood or Liz Taylor movie, or an episode of the original Twilight Zone.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D’Auria & Chris Jisi