The Panic! At The Disco low ender reveals her dream gig, the best concert she's ever seen, and her most embarrassing stage moment
If you’ve seen Panic! At The Disco live, then you already know that their big production performances offer a lot to take in, both visually and musically. The 12-piece unit’s vast stage setups, pyrotechnics, talented multi-instrumentalist frontman, and packed set lists explain why they sell out arenas all over the world. But as fans have quickly discovered, the star of the show is bassist Nicole Row. Commanding the low end while covering every bit of the vast stages, Row has become a fan favorite and a regarded player in the bass world. Her almost five-year tenure with the band has put her in the spotlight, which is no easy feat given the company she keeps.
When she’s not on the road stealing the show, Row keeps busy by woodshedding through charts that cover a multitude of genres, writing, collaborating with fellow artists such as Scary Pockets, being featured on jam nights in Los Angeles, and heading out to backpack through nature with her trusty dog Scout. Always expanding both her playing techniques and collection of basses, Row is often seen rocking her short-scale Fender Custom Shop Jazz 5, Marcus Miller Signature, or classic Mustang — with both her basses and playing styles always tailored for what’s best for the song. Right now she’s enjoying a quick break in the middle of the Panic world tour, which was the perfect time to ask her our 10 Questions.
1. What’s something readers would be surprised that you listen to?
I guess it might surprise some people that I love to pregame for gigs and nights out with some produced R&B with dark lyrics and heavy runs that I can attempt to sing along to, such as SZA.
2. What’s one element of your playing that you most want to improve?
I’ve been working on my ear lately. I started playing these speakeasy sets about a year ago with an artist named Jacob Lutrell, who has an incredible ear and demands the same from his band. He would enjoy throwing in new chords, swapping chord qualities, or wanting to do a “play what I play” game with you onstage, on the fly. So much fun, and so challenging.
3. What was the first concert you ever attended?
The first large concert I ever attended was the Deftones at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. I was probably around 13.
4. What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?
I got to see Thundercat opening up for Erykah Badu a few years ago. Each person on that stage was music to their core, and they loved each other so much. It felt like you were in their living room at a house party.
5. If you could have lunch with any bass player today, alive or dead, who would it be?
Carol Kaye. Do I even need to explain why? Carol … if you see this, let me take you to lunch.
6. If you could sub for any bass player in any band, who would it be?
How about sitting in with James Brown in place of Bootsy?
7. What was your first bass?
The first bass that I loved was a Gretsch Junior Jet — serious low end for a short-scale bass.
8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about playing bass?
Never compromise your feel.
9. What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you during a performance?
I got up to sit in at a jam and I did not check the bass tuning, but instead, just plucked a single string to check my level. I guess in my mind since my friend had just been playing, I was safe. The song starts and I start playing, and it sounds insane. The hipshot tuner was engaged. Awesome. . . .
10. What are four items that you absolutely need to have on the road with you?
Practice rig, because, duh; noise-canceling headphones because you’re usually in close quarters; warm socks and massive hoodies for cold buses and planes; and downloaded music and videos for when you ultimately forget to do it preflight; plus, good people. –BM
Follow Nicole: Here