Background Vocalists...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BMGecko, May 28, 2003.

  1. BMGecko


    Sep 5, 2002
    Albuquerque, NM
    I want to get info from bassplayers that do vocals with their bands or their personal music. I have recently started playing more funk style lines and I noticed a strange thing happen... The other night I heard a Roy Orbison song I love (In Dreams) and I started singing along, harmonizing with it! I believe that my funk playing (which I'm getting happy with!) has opened my ears up somehow.

    But to the actual question...

    Are the bassist-vocalists out there generally singing lead or backup vocals, what kinds of music do you play, and how long has it taken to learn to sing as you play?
  2. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    The hardest part about BV's is blending them. I guess it's just a matter of really listening to what everyone else is singing and making sure that a) you're not singing the same note someone else is, and b) getting as far or as close to the mic so as to get the perfect volume for a nice blended harmony.

    I've just started singing some lead vocal. Not much, only 4 or 5 songs to give the lead vocalist a break. I've deliiberately picked songs that don't have vocal gymnastics, and suits my voice. Most of the songs I sings are by Aussie artists so you probably won'd know em, but I'll post em anyway:-

    Song Formerly known as, by Regurgitator.
    Do it with Madonna, by the Androids.
    Blister in the Sun, by the Violent Femms.
    By the Way, by RHCP.
    Warning, by Greenday.
    Pussy Town, by Machine-Gun Felatio (comming soon).

    I'm finding that the hardest part to singing lead is to resist the temptation to kill your voice in the first song. I'm still learning to pace myself.

    Hope that helps.
  3. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    You shouldn't have to worry about your volume if you have a halfway decent sound guy. He should be in charge of that. Get as close as you feel comfortable to the mic. What you hear on stage is nothing like what the crowd hears, so what might sound like a perfectly blended harmony to you on stage may sound like you're not singing at all to the crowd (ie: they can't hear you because you're too far off the mic).

    I sing lead on a few songs, but mostly backup in my band. I find it hard to sing to a song where there is an intricate bass line though. I can only concentrate on one complicated thing at a time. I still don't understand how other bass players can play an intense bass line and sing a completely different rhythm over it, that impresses me.

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    My favorite backing vocals bass players would be

    Robert DeLeo from Stone Temple Pilots, He does a good amount of backing vocals and he maintains some complex lines as he is singing. Watch him he is good. Go to the multimedia section of their site and look at sour girl or interstate love song and see what he does.

    A bit diffrent in his vocal approach is Jason Newsted former bassist of Metallica. He really is a master at this with the metallica music, if you watch him this would greatly help he is singing the parts but at the same time he knows where all the notes are on the bass so he dosent keep looking at the bass. give him a listen to. I think singing and playing bass is something you figure out in your head and get the body to do two things at once easier said then done but best of luck in trying.:)
  5. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    As a guy who sometimes does sound, I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this one. When sound guys talk about which singers are good to work with and which arent, the conversation always turns to "mic technique". If you're too far away from the mic, that's poor mic technique. It's also a sign that that person is shy and/or their foldback is too loud. I've been known to turn their foldback down a smidge to get them closer to the mic, and it works (provided they can still hear themselves clearly of course).

    If you're just as close to the mic for the loud notes as the soft ones, that's even poorer mic technique. The only way to deal with singers like that is to compress the crap out of their vocal. Too much of any effect, even compression, is a bad thing.

    Remember that while your'e overall volume on stage is independant of the FOH, you're gain structure isn't. In other words, changing the gain at the desk will affect the volume f BOTH the FOH and Foldback. So if the gaiun structure is right and the sound guy is listening, what is heard out front is closer than you think to what you're hearing on stage. Take it from someone who's been on both sides.
  6. When doing back vocals, you can't sing as loud as the lead vocal. So yes, mic technique IS important, and it is called dynamics. It's the equivalent of playing hard or soft on your bass. But this is a whole different thread... :cool:
  7. I'm bassist in a 3 piece (gtar, bass drums) playing what might best be described as "classic rock". You know, late 60s early 70s stuff + a few different bits thrown in eg. Mustang Sally.

    Before our singer left (then a 4 piece) I did backing vocals. Now I'm lead vocals and bassist.

    Because we don't gig very often I've kind-of grown into this dual roll. I guess it's been about a year since the singer left and I took on the job because only I sing. We tried to get another singer but couldn't for whatever reason so I just did the singing to keep the rehersals ticking over. I guess I got better and better at it without realising and, eventually, had some nice things said about my voice. Having said that, I'm really not a genuine singer - if you see what I mean - I can just sing to a fair level and it seems to work OK.

    We did a gig some months ago when I did lead vocals playing the fretless and that was quite hard:eek:


  8. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    Petebass and ombudsman, I actually do agree with you. I was trying to talk in very general terms because this thread isn't really about mic technique. Before I was in the band I'm in now, I did ProAudio, location audio, and audio sweetening for some major companies, so I do konw what I'm talking about.

    It is very true that you can't scream into the mic at the same distance that you are whispering because no sound guy can predict when you're going to do that and turn you down quickly enough. What I was saying is that in general you shouldn't make yourself sing quieter to make it "mix" better with the lead vocal because you don't know what it sounds like in the main mix, only what you're hearing on stage.
  9. YMMV
  10. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    I do lead vocals and bass in my current band. However, my parts aren't exactly the most complicated in the world.
  11. Right on Pete - blending the volume and the harmony, very important.
    Good job.:cool:
  12. I sing bass as well as playing bass at the same time. I don't necessarily sing the same bass line as what I play on the electric bass so the tone isn't duplicated. This all started about five months ago when the group learned I could sing. I play with a church Praise & Worship band that uses both men & women vocalists. One day, at practice, the two male vocalists were missing. It just didn't seem right without a guy, and just the ladies, so I started filling in vocally with bass harmony. I wasn't even mic'd but our lead looked over at me, then she moved close to listen and hollered at the sound guy for a mic right now. The rest is history, I'm expected to sing all the time now. I thought it would be difficult at first, simultaneously singing and playing, but have caught on quite rapidly. The mic that was provided for me couldn't pick up the full range of my voice and our leader kept trying to get me to sing louder on the low notes. I asked them to check the specs and discovered that the mic only went down to 200Hz. I bought my own mic, a Samson Airline Vocal, that goes down to 50Hz and now my full range is being reproduced. I'm no longer being asked to sing louder. A curious note; all the music that we have learned since I started singing and playing bass at the same time has been quite easy to blend the vocal with the instrument. The music that I had learned prior to singing and playing is more difficult to go back and add the vocal.
  13. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    my band has been instrumental for a few months but im just starting to sing. i suck at it and our songs are pretty easy on bass and vocals but im still practicing. get the bassline down real well before you try to start singing with it is all i can tell ya.
  14. I became the lead singer/bassist of my new band about 6 months ago. We play a lot of covers as well as originals and it took a lot of practice to be able to do both. If I come to a place in a song where I find it difficult to do both, I slow it all down, and then figure the word or words to the percussive placement of whatever bass note it falls on or near. It got easier and easier as time went on and now its like butta. The ones that I was at first reluctant to attempt, ended up being just as easy as the simple ones. Anyhow that's all. This is the first thing I have ever said here, so Hello All!!:)
  15. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I sing backup along with playing bass in a rock cover band. I agree with Pete about mic technique. Different songs have different mixes as far as the vocals go. On some songs the lead and harmony are at the same level, while on others the backup vocal is at a lower level than the lead. Think of it this way: You adjust your dynamics when playing bass to maintain a good mix between the instruments, why not do the same with vocals?