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Maturity

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by JimmyM, Apr 24, 2009.


  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Been thinking about this a lot lately, and seeing as how you're a "mature" musician at this point, I thought I'd get your feelings about the issue.

    You'll hear a lot of older players, especially ones known for playing wild stuff, talk about maturity in their playing as they get older, and they probably play a little less than they used to in the name of serving the song more than themselves, and it seems like a fine approach. And then you hear other people talk about how they're not as into the maturity thing because it changes what they liked about certain players, and not necessarily for the better. Seems logical to me, too.

    So what do you think about it? Do you notice things about your playing now that are different from back then and can be attributed to the maturity process? Does it even enter your mind?
     
  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Interesting.

    Yeah, I certainly think age and experience (collectively, we can call it "maturity" I suppose) create change over time.

    I guess I've not really thought about it that much. The arc is slow and subtle, that's for sure.

    I think I play less. I think I listen more, have more patience, and relish the things going on around me slightly more.

    There are some things, however, that I think I take risks on now that I might not have done before. Perhaps that's something borne from confidence? Not sure...

    Worth a think!
    JMJ
     
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    "Maturity" is a bit of an unfortunate word, eh? Especially since my latest version of musical maturity lately seems to be reverting back to more of what I did when I was a kid, maybe verging on overplaying a little more often, keeping the M***bass at home whilst I rock proper on a vintage SVT or B-15, using pedals on gigs I could easily do straight into the amp, etc. I did the behaving thing for quite a while and all of a sudden I don't want to behave as much as I usually do. I'm still very much a team player on my gigs, but I feel these tendencies to take more risks that I wouldn't have dreamed of a year ago. Our drummer thinks it's a desperate cry for help, but I think I'm having fun.

    I guess that's one for the shrink's couch ;) Anyway, that's why I asked...just to see if you've had any similar feelings. You get to rock balls out way more often than I do, so it's probably not a comparable situation, but thought I'd ask anyway. Maybe I need to put together a little side project just for the fun of it and work some of that out there before I let it interfere with my paying work, huh?
     
  4. rosstanium

    rosstanium

    Jan 5, 2008
    Detroit
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario
    ...perhaps both of you could weigh in on this...do you find that you're inclined to take more risks now that you've established a certain level of success and security in your respective positions? Whether that means "playing less" or trying different sounds, reverting to something timeless, etc.

    Might be a foolish question. And I'm definitely not trying to bait you into making a statement of cock-sure proportions. I'm just thinking that once you've established oneself to a certain extent, one might be afforded a bit more room to bring an individual creative flavor...

    or maybe not...?
     
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well I've hardly reached the degree of success that Justin has, but I do make a decent living with bass and play some pretty big venues, so I guess that counts for something, eh? ;)

    I feel like I take way fewer risks than I used to. I recorded bass for a friend's album where she felt like I was a completely different bassist than I was 5 years before that, and she would actually tell me she wanted me to do more than what I was giving her. And now, with mostly backing oldies shows with the original artists for the last 10 years and a lot of those songs being written back before I even existed, I tend to play it safe for two reasons...respecting the original versions, and trying to whittle down a 4-hour rehearsal to 3 hours so I'm not totally brain-fried for showtime.

    But I've gotten to the point now where I don't want to keep playing it so safe and I want to try to bring back a little of what made me enjoy bass playing so much when I was a kid. The problem is balancing that aspect with the needs of the acts I work with. And unless you don't like getting paid, their needs always come before yours. My dad always likes to tell me of the Golden Rule...those with the gold rule.
     
  6. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    WI
     
  7. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Good stuff.

    I listen more, too.

    I'm also more free with my playing; perhaps slightly more adventurous. ON THE OTHER HAND: I also find myself happy to lay down very simple things, which may have required a lot of effort and restraint 10 years ago.

    JMJ
     
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Interesting. You think a part like "Sexx Laws" would come out significantly different from the way you did it back then if you were recording it today? That's a part of your style that I'd hate to lose to "maturity" if I were you. It's all about you on "Sexx Laws," but it works so perfectly to plow through everyone else like you did, and it wouldn't have been nearly as big a hit if you hadn't IMHO. Maybe the banjo could have put it over anyway, but not like the bass ;)
     
  9. Most definitely. It all took place after I listened to the tracks I laid down for a certain project I was playing on. I was amazed at how I was all over the place and never really settled down. then I heard the guitars once they were laid down and my lines overlapped their lines. I asked to replay them and I found that I was serving the song much better by listening to the song as I played the song. That's the most important lesson learned in my growing up process. As a bassist I am not an out in the front player. I'm more out in front than a lot of players but I'm not totally out there.

    I also learned that each genre takes a different type of playing and needs to be listened to differently. If I'm playing jazz then I have to listen to that differently than if I was playing at my church. My playing has definitely changed since I was a transformed guitarist. I still play guitar but I'm first a bassist and I'm still learning to fill my role better.
     
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That's cool. Serving the music always has to be job 1 IMHO no matter what you play. And knowing the difference between serving the song by playing some cool out there stuff and ruining it by whacking off is quite a fine line sometimes. Being a good musician takes a fair amount of honesty with yourself, and that's not always easy to do for people who have the confidence to go onstage and demand people watch them.
     
  11. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    No, I don't actually know if I would have gone for it with the same aplomb, to be fair. That song was recorded in a particularly carefree, wild circumstance.

    JMJ
     
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I gotcha... :bassist:

    Well thanks everyone for your contributions. Definitely a lot of food for thought. I guess it has less to do with the notes you play as it is just enjoying the moment on its own merits, huh? I guess what I need is to enjoy the wisdom that getting older brings but not forget the fun level of being a teenager and just learning everything. So if you'll excuse me, I have to go figure a way to work the Whammy Pedal into Bowzer's Sam Cooke medley ;)
     
  13. rosstanium

    rosstanium

    Jan 5, 2008
    Detroit
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario
    "aplomb." cheers on cool word usage.
     
  14. Yes, yes, I kind of liked it myself too, although I have no idea what it means. Hold up a second,.

    OK, here it is:

    a⋅plomb
       /əˈplɒm, əˈplʌm/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [uh-plom, uh-pluhm] Show IPA
    –noun
    1. imperturbable self-possession, poise, or assurance.
    2. the perpendicular, or vertical, position.
    Origin:
    1820–30; < F à plomb according to the plummet, i.e., straight up and down, vertical position
     
  15. rosstanium

    rosstanium

    Jan 5, 2008
    Detroit
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario
    fantastic.
     
  16. Good read, guys. A band member pointed out something I tend to do, recently. In rehearsals I try stuff, add fills, experiment, and play the occasional clinker as a result. Live, or when we're really trying to nail a part, I tend to lock in, sometimes using what worked in the experiment. After this was mentioned to me in the rock band, I realized that I do the same thing in two jazz trios.

    Definitely, though, learning to serve the groove is the biggest sign of 'maturity'.
     

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