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How did you learn the NIN catalogue?

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by Broadbent, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    Hey Justin,

    first off I wanna say I saw you In Chicago at lollapalooza, and again at the show in Detroit, and they were both fantastic shows! really great mix of songs(and not an identical set list either!) I'll be at at the Grand rapids and Hamilton shows for sure!

    My question is, when you first started working with NIN, how did you go about learning the bass lines? Does Trent sit down with you and show you what he wants for different songs? Or are you just given a cd and told to come back in a week with all the tunes learned? How much flexibility do you have?

    Thanks in advance,


    PS, I've been transcribing Year Zero for the past week and can't figure out what the hell you're doing on God Given... Any tips?
  2. Dave328


    Mar 5, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    I'm very curious about this as well. I remember you making some brief mention about this in a thread elsewhere, but can't seem to find it at the moment.

    Sat there and watched you play at the Seattle show, and will be doing the same at Portland when you're here :)

    And Broad...I swear I see you on every board I cruise.
  3. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Thanks y'all.

    Learning the catalogue was lots of hard work. I would listen to CD's, and occasionally I would get multi-track stem files spread out over maybe 8 tracks in Garage Band, ProTools or Logic, depending on what album they are from. Then I could solo the bass, and quickly make charts. I'd play with the chart once, then start pulling it away so I can't rely on it.

    I would have to learn 4 songs every day. That was a challenge, since rehearsal was from 11AM - 8PM, and I had other work going on at the same time before and after rehearsal. Essentially, I'd have to condense getting four songs down in an hour and a half, pretty much. Hard, but not impossible. Not much sleep for around 5 weeks.s

    Then I'd have to refresh myself every few days on what I had learned over the past 12 songs or so. Trent gave me latitude as long as it was following the framework and had a tone that worked for him aesthetically.

    God Given is my own bassline, it's not from YZ. I cooked it up for the show.

  4. Dave328


    Mar 5, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Wow, and I think I have busy days :eek: At least your busy doing what you really enjoy.
  5. kyral210


    Sep 14, 2007
    Who was it that said life as a rock star was easy? Isn't it all sleeping by the pool eating caviare? +1000 for pulling it off!!
  6. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    I guess you have good taste then :p
  7. dubmon


    Sep 20, 2007
    Just curious--how detailed would charts be that you'd make for something like this (since you plan to NOT use them ultimately anyways)? Just general chord/arrangement charts, or do you actually jot down parts in notation form?

    Do you keep any notes onstage on your set list as reminders?

  8. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    I will notate tricky lines or special phrases. Mostly just very rough chord per beat sort of charts, nothing tricky. I have it all in a three ring tabbed binder with an index. Also, I'd put lyrics on the left, and the chart on the right facing page. Also, vertically, I'd write down the song arrangement as well, which is what I'd read as I weaned myself off the chord chart. Then I'd just start closing up the book, though lyrics were the last thing to get pinned down and I'd often need to backtrack to memorize.
  9. Are there any songs that were particularly tricky to learn?

    And did you just get a list of songs you were playing this tour, or is that something the band develops along the way?

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