NOMEANSNO article from bass player magazine

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by bigbass, Jan 28, 2002.

  1. i know there are more than a few nomeansno fans here on the list and being i don't have a scanner (or a life) i decided to type out the article... much credit is due to bass player magazine for doing an article on such a great and under appreciated band.


    rob wright - loud means loud

    nomeansno's rob wright admits that much of his sound comes from sheer volume. "i don't think i could get away with my stage volume in any other band," he says. "that's my sound. but it's loud music and you can't fake loud music. loudness has a certain impact; it's got to have a visceral feeling. if it doesn't, you're just lip-syncing to your own music."

    one of the most explosive bands to come out of the north american punk scene, the vancouver trio has been helmed by brothers rob and john wright since the early '80s. in their earliest days they set out to conquer the punk world as a rhythm-section duo. "with that line-up we couldn't be a static background for solos and guitar work. the rhythm section had to do everything - it had to have all the dynamics, all the melody, and all the changes. i think that's what made us distinctive; by the time we got a guitar player, we had honed ourselves to expect a lot more from the rhythm section."

    that's evident from nomeansno's latest alternative tentacles cd, "no one". the disc's unyielding driving rhythms and grooves have a rare energy and conviction. alongside jagged edge story songs such as "our town" and "the graveyard shift", the closes the cd with covers from two very different musical worlds: the ramones' "beat on the brat" and an ingenious re-think of miles davis's "bitches brew", compete with lyrics written by rob. thought the band's muscular beats and changes recall king crimson at times, rob is unassuming about his bass skills. "i don't consider myself a 'player'. jimmy blanton, ron carter, paul chambers, ray brown- those are players. on the bass, i'm a song writer. the playing i do serves the song. it may be hard and complicated, or it may be da-da-da-da-da-da, if that serves the song."

    rob, who also sings lead, developed his bass-and-vocals coordination simply by practicing. " most bassists find that hard because they never have to do it- but when you do it all the time it becomes second nature. no matter how different the lyrics' rhythm is to what you're playing, they'll match up at certain points. you have to hit those points and let them be your ground strokes." wright's second nature ability has been turned into a songwriting tool. " i can sit down and play a bass line and start improvising vocals over the top pretty much right away, because i'm used to doing it. it's fu to do that; you can just go off and find things that interweave with your bassline."

    wright plays stock fender precision basses. " i like the new ones with the cheap mexican pickups. those pickups are the greatest- they're so hot they're microphonic. the trouble is i sweat so much on my bass that i kill it within a year, and i have to get all the guts replaced because they're completely corroded. i work my bass pretty hard but that's what a hammer is for." he drives a marshall 4x12 guitar cabinet with a 300 watt marshall 3530 solid state head, which includes one tube " to soften the waves". the amp is not common. "everyone else has trace elliots and gallien kruegers; they're great; but that's not my sound. i'm not looking for fat , clean lows.i'm looking for mid range growl- basically a lemmy tone." rob uses a pick on .045 - .105 rotosound strings. his only outboard effect is an eq pedal he sometimes steps on to cut all the highs, turning his sound into "a complete dub bass."

    the furious back and forth jamming between rob and john wright makes you wonder if they have an instinctive connection that comes from being family. " i don't know if it's anything spooky or genetic. the ties of playing music keep us close more than the fact that we're brothers. in terms of our syncing up, that's just practice. we've been playing together since '79, so if we dont know where we're going yet, we never will."

    - s.l. duff
    GreaserMatt likes this.
  2. watt

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

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    what issue number, date and page of article? great piece - rob wright is one of my favorite bassists around. much inspiration from his way.

    flex artist search:

    on bass, watt

    GreaserMatt and jw23mind like this.
  3. watt,
    i don't remember what issue number it was but it was the january 2002 issue page 14. the first record i heard of theirs was "wrong" and it blew my mind! one of my favorite records of all time and definitly my favorite of thiers.
  4. watt

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

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    check out "sex mad" too - one from the 80s.

    on bass, watt

    GreaserMatt likes this.
  5. Rob +John are from my hometown of Victoria, BC. When we were young punks we'd get all hyped up on sugar, wearing out the grooves on our Black Flag and Minutemen 45's then head on out to the local houseparty to check out NMN. We often had to crouch down in local basements with standing water but it was worth it. That was 20 years ago now...Rob was always real supportive of us young types and when our band started to get it together we rode around on their coat tales for quite the while (That Victoria, BC punk-jazz sound) John W. even produced our first album. Shovlhed went it's seperate ways and our drummer, Ken went on to play many roadtrips as NMN's second drummer. that was something...two drummers and Rob; powerful. Rob was always kinda the "old man". He was so freindly..then he'd get up there and sing and give you goosebumps. He lost his voice for many years...almost never sang again. Shortly after he started using it again a bunch of us were at a show as he sang "Long days" and we realized what we all almost lost...moving.
    A NMN show is a very "physical" experiance...the air is lit up with electricity. Rob was a great influence for a young bass player..that "punk" ethic and all. I guess Watt was my other big one ;) Victoria,BC was always a hotbed of creative music...not sure why. Fun to see Rob in bass player...
    GreaserMatt likes this.
  6. Shovlhead! Amazing band.
  7. great story sub!!! i know what you mean about a nomeansno gig being a physical thing. i only saw them once at this little club in philadelphia but it will totally go down as one of my all time favorite gigs. they had the two drummer thing going on for that show which was totally mind-blowing!!!! wish they'd tour the east coast more!!!
  8. They haven't done that two drummer thing in a while..I think it was just a _little_ bit too cosy in the van, if you know what I mean. When Rob hits those first notes on his P-bass the air lights up with electricity...makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Their live set is still great after all these years but as a longtime fan I have noticed how grumpy ol' man Wright gets on stage these days...he's been doing this an awful long time. You know that if a bottle, shoe, whatever makes it anywhere towards the stage you are going to hear about it for at least the next 5 min. or so. But hey..they're still great.
    If anyone ous interested in that "Victoria BC sound" check out this page for many MP3's..

    Chris Buck
  9. godspeed68

    godspeed68 i'm here for the sound

    Mar 24, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    It's been four years already?

    I just saw nomeansno for the 6th and 7th times this past month. What a great birthday present.

    I noticed Bartolinis in there.

    That's a solid state head????? IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!

    Well...possible I guess....but for only 300 SS watts....that is quite the volume he has.

    my muse!

  10. Rob Wright was the reason I picked up the bass:bassist:
    Suck an amazingly talented player and singer, can't wait to see them live again!
  11. Zilla


    Dec 19, 2006
    they just played in my town a few months ago and stayed with me. the nicest guys you could imagine and the new album is wonderful.
  12. paul_g


    Aug 15, 2006
    Vancouver BC
    Just saw the Hanson Brothers (NMN with John singing and a great drummer named Ernie) on the 20th of January at the Anza Club, my local watering hole in Vancouver. Got covered in beer and had a great time! GREAT SHOW! I took some photos if anyone cares to have a look:
    GreaserMatt likes this.
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