Interviewing bassist stories

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Arthritic_Tom, Mar 23, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I wrote for Bass Player for ten years. The worst interviews I did were (no names mentioned) when:

    I interviewed a legendary British rock bassist by phone, and when I played the tape, all I got was 40 minutes of "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." I had no choice but to call him back and have him do the whole thing all over again. He was... quite unhappy.

    I interviewed a hugely successful veteran bassist whose voice was so deep and soft from daily pot smoking that my voice-activated tape recorder kept turning off and on without me knowing it, so all I got was an hour of rumbling "mup... pt... ops... mohp... drp... vwp..." That interview I reconstructed from memory.

    I interviewed an Australian all-girl band that I loved, but the drummer--the leader of the band--hated what I wrote (I gave them the article before I turned it in.) She expressed her displeasure by immediately screaming profanity so loudly that my ear rang, forcing me for the only time in my career to scream at someone to shut the eff up. She did, and we solved the problem. I went to their first American show, and they were all bombed and singing so out of tune most of the guests left. I've never been so mortified. By the time the article was published, the band had broken up.

    And I interviewed a band with a hot female bassist who I discovered in the course of the interview hadn't actually played the bass on the debut album. I stopped the interview to call my boss to ask what to do, and band's female agent came shrieking down the hall toward me like a murderous lunatic. I aborted the interview, and the record company and publicists made the magazine miserable for weeks. Initially my bosses stood by me, but the pressure got so great that I'm pretty sure it contributed to the end of my career.

    I thought the bass on that debut record was mediocre anyway. They were obviously selling the bassist on her looks. She's famous for writhing, bumping, and grinding in a really contrived way onstage, like the music is so good it's making her lose control of her body. But she still plays mediocre music, so I guess her threshold for losing control is very low.
  2. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    One more.

    I used to work with a photographer who was very passive-aggressive. We were supposed to photograph the bassist of this hugely successful band at the manager's office, because they were going to some gig and had only an hour to spare. I went along to ask some follow-up questions. The day we arranged the shoot, the manager told us five times to not be late.

    I arrived at my photographer's house 30 minutes before the scheduled shoot, which was only a few blocks down the street. My photographer was working on his mountain bike.

    "Let's go," I said.

    "In a minute," he answered. He tinkered away until the exact time we were supposed to be there, and then he slowly gathered up his equipment. We arrived half an hour late. The manager was hysterical. "What did I tell you?" he bellowed. "What did I tell you? Did I tell you how important it was to get here on time? Did I?" He was like Robert DeNiro in Goodfellas, about to blow our brains out.

    I went into the bathroom to wash my hot face as my photographer set up, and I heard this insane howling from inside one of the stalls, "No, we can't now, because the photo shoot is gonna be late! I'm sorry! It's not my fault, so stop talking to me like that!"

    The lead singer of the band came stomping out of the stall with his cell phone and shoved past me without a word. On the roof of the garage, the manger said, "You got 10 minutes. That's it. Go!" So we did a 10-minute photo shoot.

    As my photographer drove me back to his house, he muttered, "They weren't very happy, were they?" I wanted to take his tripod and smash it into his face and then make him eat his mountain bike. Of course my bosses heard about it. That was the last time the magazine used the photographer, which is too bad. He was great. But he was a self-saboteur who always had to push the envelope until he got fired.

    That day I lost 10 pounds from sweating, easily.
  3. smcgov

    smcgov Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2010
    Northshore Mass
    great stuff, this is like reading mixerman
  4. Excellent stories! Now give us some names!!!!
  5. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Can't. They'll ban me. But I'll tease you:

    I pursued a legendary bassist/singer for years. His people always said he was too busy. Then a guy who knew the guitarist told me that the bassist had never once played any of the bass lines on any of the albums. The guitarist had done all of them, and then the bassist would sort of struggle to learn a simplified version to play live.

    That bassist/singer hasn't played a bass since he quit the band, so I'm pretty sure it's true. Plus, I read an interview with the guitarist years after the bassist quit, in which the guitarist said, when asked about one of their most famous songs, "________ played fretless? C'mon!" But that was all he had to say on the topic.

    Too bad. I really liked him as a bassist as well as a singer.
    Ross W. Lovell likes this.
  6. musicon197


    Dec 16, 2010
    Atlanta, Ga
    These are great anecdotes. You should write a book
    ScottMatt likes this.
  7. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Pitched it, but I don't have any sex and drugs stories, and anyway they're all about bassists. So nobody was interested.

    Two more: The bassist of a household-name band was so happy about my article that he invited me to his massive house for dinner. We had salmon that he grilled outside on the porch next to the pool. I met his beautiful wife and we had dinner and talked mostly about travel. Great time.

    After dinner, we retired to his studio, where he played me some of the best music I've ever heard, all his own compositions. I was very excited, because I thought I could get in on the ground floor of helping promote him as a musician in his own right. He's far, FAR more technically brilliant as a bassist than anyone knows. He even asked if I'd help him get more exposure by pitching articles to other publications.

    As we were listening to his music, he asked me what I thought about the Afghanistan war. I said (this was 2002) that since it was over, it appeared we'd done the right thing.

    "We went after the wrong people," he said.

    "We should've gone after the Saudis?" I asked.

    "No, the Jews. They're the ones who brought down the World Trade Center. Not a single Jew died that day, you know. They planted bombs in the buildings and didn't even use planes. Those were holograms. They were projected by orbs that also broadcast the sounds of jets. You can see in the news footage that parts of the planes, like the tails or wings, disappear when the hologram projector breaks down."

    A moment of total shock and sadness. Such a talent, but so far off his rocker that at first I thought he was kidding.

    I interviewed another bassist who also loved my story so much he invited me to a party. I drove to his house, and then he drove us to the party. I watched him drink a six-pack of ale, eight double scotches, and almost two bottles of wine. Then he drove me back to his house. All I could think of was Vince Neil killing Razzle Dingley of Hanoi Rocks. We were doing about 90 miles an hour on surface streets, and he was driving with one hand at the very bottom of the steering wheel, the other behind his head, like he was scratching the back of his neck. And he was talking endlessly.

    I counted 15 near misses with parked cars. By the time we got to his house my legs were trembling so violently I could barely walk. All I had to say was, "No thanks, I'll take a taxi," but that's the power of celebrity. It overcame my survival instinct.

    That was the stupidest thing I ever did as a music journalist.
  8. Thanks for posting this! It distracted me from the inevitable suck that encompasses each Friday at my job. :)
  9. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    I know you can't give us names, but to be honest this makes me want to check this band out. I wish I could play in bands just for my looks and contrived stage presence, hahaha.
  10. Wow, good stuff! Now, I want to figure out who all these people are!
  11. A few months back I was asked to record the basstracks for a new all-girl gothic rock band. I went into the meeting knowing they were going to try to pass off a model female as the player on the album, I went for it anyways. When we were discussing the details and conditions of the recordings and contract I eventually declined the offer. Not only did they want me to record the bass tracks for the album, but they wanted me to essentially convert a cheesy midi keyboard sounding scratch track into a full on rock song and write the guitar & bass lines for them. They wanted to pay me a single one-time low amount of compensation, and not even put my name on the "written by/recorded by" section but rather in the 'Special thanks" section....
    Ross W. Lovell likes this.
  12. Awesome stories, Tom! :cool:

    Regarding the chick model bass player who couldn't play, that happens a lot with a lot of guys, too. I know the guy who did some of the bass tracks for a very large Vancouver band and didn't get credit. However, he did get paid well.
  13. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I always thought she was the luckiest bassist on the planet. She's still playing, though not with that band anymore. There are videos of her all over Youtube, doing all her patented kinky, porny moves as she lumbers through another dull song.

    She's not bad; she's just not good. Tori Amos at her peak produced some utterly brilliant, unforgettable songs, so you could forgive her histrionics as she did all the same I'm-so-good-I'm-getting-off! moves onstage. But this woman is just silly.
    FergusonRJ likes this.
  14. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I wrote a long article for Bass Player that was killed when the editor who approved it was replaced. It was about female bassists and included two of the most famous and two relative newcomers. The question was, does gender make a difference in the industry when it comes to the bass? The most famous bassist was much older, and she railed very bitterly about exactly what you describe. She came up in the 60s and often played uncredited. She was never known for her looks, and it was clear that she was still furious about all of it decades later.

    Interestingly enough, the two young newcomers were both quite beautiful. They could also play, though.
    Ross W. Lovell likes this.
  15. Pklima, I've seen some of your clips, and you could probably get gigs based on your presence!

    Tom, interesting stories, and I'm sorry to hear about your condition. I look forward to reading some more from you. This model bass player, was she by any chance in a band with someone famous, who was married to someone even more famous?
    S-Bigbottom and Ross W. Lovell like this.
  16. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Everyone in the band except for the bassist was quite famous. She was foreign born, exotic and international instead of some dumpy corn-fed American (although she came here when she was a toddler, so she was actually as American as a Ford Bronco), which was her big selling point, along with her looks. What got me is that if she didn't play on the album, why was I being asked to say that she did? Was I expected to lie? Everything I've read about that first incarnation of the band credits her as the bassist. The album credits her as the bassist. To this day the band's Wikipedia page credits her as the bassist. But she said to me through her own two luscious lips that she didn't play the bass on that album, and the screeching, panicky publicist made up all sorts of excuses for why the guitarist played the bass.

    Bass Player ended up doing a piece on her with a different writer, and he deftly sidestepped the whole issue by saying something like "She became bassist for _________, and then they released their first album." Factually correct.

    However, I know her dirty little secret, and it's spelled F-R-A-U-D. I don't know what the hell everyone was thinking by having her give an interview to a bass magazine. Didn't they know I was going to ask how she got the particular tone on a particular track? Or did they assume that I wasn't going to bother listening to the advance CD they sent me?

    That's probably the answer. By that time music magazines were already becoming promotion vehicles for new products, and everything was becoming formulaic. Writers just asked the same questions, and badda-bing-badda-boom-badda-bap, presto, we have an article! Next!

    It's too bad. The editor who got replaced let me interview a one-man band who played electric bass with his feet. Cedric Stokes, The World's Greatest One-Man Band. He played guitar, sax, bass drum, and snare, along with the electric bass. I wrote articles I thought people would really like. I thought the point was to attract as many readers as possible by making the publication unique, fascinating, and entertaining as hell.

    I had seven or eight articles in the can that were killed by the new editor, who began pounding the nails into the magazine's coffin. I haven't read it in years.
  17. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Not uncommon at all for players of either gender to have their parts played by a session player on the album. Sometimes they may not even be aware of it.
    Moley13 likes this.
  18. Arthritic_Tom

    Arthritic_Tom Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Oh, I know. But the point is, the band and record company credited this woman with playing the bass on the album, and she told me herself that she didn't, but only after I asked her specific questions about specific tracks. She and the publicist finally admitted that the band's guitarist, not a session player, played on the album.

    That's why I stopped the interview to call my boss for advice. I wanted to ask him how I should proceed. What should I do? Should I say that due to extreme beauty and sexiness, the woman couldn't actually play on the album, so a far-less attractive male had to step in?

    I never got a chance, because the publicist threw a violent fit before I could get through to my boss, and the beauty-girl herself got all snotty and belligerent, so I ended the interview and told them the magazine would get back to them.

    The publicist and record company bombarded the magazine with complaints, because I was interfering with the launching of a new "supergroup," so I was taken off the story and a different writer was substituted.

    And it worked. To this day people still think Ms. Sexy Writhing Exotic played the bass on the album. But she didn't.
    Ross W. Lovell and FergusonRJ like this.
  19. famousbirds


    Aug 3, 2009
    I am digging these stories, and also enjoying the detective work trying to figure out who you're talking about. Keep 'em coming!
    champbassist likes this.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.