The bass guru tells us who he'd ideally sub for, what his first bass was, and his most embarrassing stage moment in this edition of 10 Questions
Few bass players are regarded as highly as Tim Lefebvre. The session and touring ace has inspired his contemporaries throughout his career, which has seen him play alongside David Bowie, Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Black Crowes, Chris Botti, Wayne Krantz, Jon Batiste, Carole King, Donald Fagen, Knower, Empire Of The Sun, and Van Hunt, and on the soundtracks of The Sopranos, 30 Rock, Oceans Twelve, The Departed, and Analyze This. As a doubler on electric and upright, his powerful playing is instantly recognizable across every genre. As a producer, he’s constantly working on projects as a mainstay at Sonic Ranch Studio in Texas or wherever his travels take him. As a gear guru, he serves as a major resource on the basses, amps, and pedals that bassists buy simply by playing them on his recordings and socials. In the bass world, he’s one of the biggest influencers out there, but we’re not talking about the selfie kind.
The Foxboro native has been busy of late, touring and performing with his outfits Rudder, XXXX, KCL (Krantz, Carlock, Lefebvre), Jeff Babko & Mark Guiliana, and Melissa Etheridge, and recording with keyboardist Jason Linder in their duo, Sedatø. He has also been gigging and recording with his wife, vocalist/keyboardist Rachel Eckroth. Her recent album The Garden, which Lefebvre produced and played bass on, was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. We pinned down Tim between some New York City sessions, long enough to answer our 10 Questions.
1. What music have you been listening to lately?
Billy Mohler’s new album, Anatomy; Luke Steele’s Listen to the Water; some Photek singles; and Madison Cunningham’s “Hospital.”
2. What’s one element of your playing that you most want to improve?
I’m trying to clean up my attack in the right hand, but it’s not working! I’m just generally trying to smooth out my technique and time — especially on upright. I’ve been picking a scale and doing intervallic improvising. For example, taking a C minor-major 7 scale — C melodic minor — and trying to play cool-sounding intervals up and down the scale.
3. What was the first concert you ever attended?
The first one I can remember was the Newport Jazz Festival in the late ’70s. I remember Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock playing as a duo.
4. What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?
Possibly LCD Soundsystem at Hollywood Palladium in 2017. Or maybe Fink at Rough Trade in New York City, in 2018.
5. If you could sub for any bass player in any band, who would it be?
Paging Pino Palladino! Him or Nate Mendel and Foo Fighters. Also Dick Lovgren of Meshuggah, if I had about a decade to learn all of his stuff.
6. What was your first bass?
My first bass was a Sears Jazz Bass [copy] and also the 1978 Fender Precision that they had at Foxboro High School.
7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about playing bass?
Ron Carter once said that if someone walked into a venue, he/she should know what song you’re playing even if it’s just bass.
8. What the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you during a performance?
My amp going night-night mid-show. This has happened a few times, including at Royal Albert Hall, and there’s absolutely nothing fun about it.
9. What are four items that you absolutely need to have on the road with you?
My coffee rig, picks, earplugs, and a local gym nearby.
10. If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
Driving a forklift! Or something sports-related like research or journalism.
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