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Hey Mike question about how you played with J?

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by alerieb23, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. alerieb23


    Feb 26, 2003
    Whats up mike, you are definately one of my favorite bass players and I respect your attitude and work ethic a great deal. You know how to keep it real. Anyway I have seen you play with J a bunch of times, the stooges stuff and the fog. I was wondering I play guitar and write similar songs as J and I often end up playing bass on my own recordings as well as playing bass in a band for about a year now. I understand the notes and scales because of my guitar playing but how to really play base I don't know. I try to switch between using a pick and fingertyle to mix it up. But my bass playing is limited so I only play the root notes and than maybe a little fill in between changes at most the third, fifth or octave of the chord. I know some of J's songs require you to play whatever the root notes are like thumb, it would sound weird if you didn't just play it like the album but other songs like ammaring or sameday you were all over the neck. How did you approach the songs. If a song has the chords G Am C D like 4x and than c d 4x as the chorus how would you approach it. I mean obvousily you can play those notes but what might you want to think about. And as for where to play a note on the bass is that just prefrence somethings just sound better with the open string or on the first couple of fretts and some sound better on the tenth fret. Anyway I hope any of this made sense. Thanks alot.
  2. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    well, what I think you're asking me is what's on my mind when I'm composing parts for someone else's songs - maybe even my own songs - what's into composing bass parts, right? what I try to do is support what's going on between the instruments - be the glue or the grout between the tiles. at the same time, I'm trying also to glue the parts of the song together also so I'm not thinking just of the parts as much as I'm also thinking of the transitions between them like "how do I get out of this section?" or "how do I get us into that one?" - stuff like that. so like a drummer, I'm think of thinking of ways to ramp in or ramp out of parts. inside a part, I might want to counterpoint or even going unison w/the other cats, depending on the mood there and if I want to either heighten or lower the drama. bass can be good w/this, the same can be done w/drums. we share lots w/the drummer. of course, there's the nurturing, good feel mode also to help things along - they're all colors from your paint bucket. it's hard for me to tell you what to do exactly cuz so much is subjective to your point of view, especially if you're the songwriter too. I can tell you what I might do but that's as far as it goes if I'm to be really fair (and I want to be).

    you're right - the same note can sound different on different parts of the neck so there's an important decision on where you choose to play it on your bass. same w/open string notes too.

    you're asking about "ammaring" and what I did there? well, in some areas I wanted the bass to soar along w/the guitar and other places I wanted it to calm things while at other times I wanted little build-up and release things. it's all about the way I was interpreting j's tune and his playing - I was very fortunate that j is an open-minded and generous cat about his music.

    I hope this helped some. one thing to keep in mind is what I try to tell myself: "you can look good by making the other cat look good." composition is important on the bass! lots of times you need good parts to play good (does that make sense?)!

    on bass, watt


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