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"overbass": When players become stars in their own minds...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by merlin, Jun 8, 2001.

  1. I was fortunate enough to see some very cool bands last night. Although one band who had a bass player as the lead singer was disappointing in a sense that it seemed that they were stars in their own minds.

    Don't get me wrong, i liked the band... on cd, but live i dunno. There was too much bass, to coign a term "over bass". Whereby he would constantly be doing solos, out soloing the lead guitarist with loud flashy fills etc.

    Occasionally he fell into the swing of the song and it smoothed out and sounded really good. But at times when there was need for the depth of the bass, he was all over the place.

    He was a really good bass player and my question is, have you ever been guilty of becoming flashy and forgetting that you're playing with 4,5 or 6 other band members? How did you tone it down? i judt want to fall into the same trap with my band.

  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    ultimately this all boils down to what the player wants to accomplish with his playing - maybe the very elements that you thought were over-done were exactly the same things that he found fulfilling.

    different strokes for different folks, you know? just remember that you have to do exactly what you want and need to do to be happy, or the music will suffer.

    oh, and this is a music thread, so it's off to miscellaneous

    (cue up awesome bass solo traveling music)...

  3. Yes yes i wasn't sure where this thread should go, cheers!.

    Its all well and good to say that he may be fulfilling goals he wants to do, but isn't there the aspect of the over-all band? Like sure i'd love to do runs and solos etc, but i know that it would be wrong in the band setting. There is no "i" in team :p.

    I fulfill my goals at home and occasionally at rehearsal, i find it fulfilling yes, and he is a very good bassist, but like everything there is a time and a place when it is effective. But it wasjust a bit too much over kill and tended to drown out the other band members so they couldn't get a chance to show themselves. Even a mate who is a die hard fan said afterwards that the bass was a bit too much in terms of clattering up their sound.

  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    It's a matter of how much room the bandmates leave eachother. In one of my groups, I play with some amazing players, and we've been playing together long enough to "sense" who's going to fill or whatever next. And the room is left for that person. Sometimes we collide, but hey, that's jazz.

    In my new church gig, I get almost no room, which is a switch from my old gig. It was hard to change, but worthwhile also. They like the way I groove, so much that they didn't just fire me, and we discussed the idea of "picking my spots" more than I did. Funny, I've been gigging so long with certain circles and I almost had carte blanche so the adjustment to playing with a full orchestra was a bit tough. But the discipline was worth it in the end, I'm much more aware of my space now.
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    well, that sounds like the soundguy was partially to blame (when in doubt, always blame the soundguy, right? :D)

    i know that it was very hard for me to find a band and musicians to do what i wanted to do. i'm not a 100% soloist/lead player, but i'm also not a background/root note player either, and when i would show up for auditions with one of my 7 strings and do my thing, the guitarists would get this pouty sneer, and i wouldn't hear from them again.

    i had to practically put my band together myself, where every member is equal, on equal footing, and specifically find guys who shared that same vision.

    think of it this way - there are a million bands built around a lead guitarist, sometimes of questionable ability. a few built around a bassist - like this band you are talking about - offers a very nice change of pace.

    don't buy the hype - every instrument is capable and worthy of leading a band, if the songs are good enough and creative enough. there is no holy decree that says that "thou bands shalt revolve around thy holy guitars of the six skinny strings". ;)
  6. No doubt, JT.

    The idea that bands should be centered on an untalented lead guitarist or an obnoxious frontman is truly offensive to me. I live in a musicians' dorm, and lord only knows (pun intended) that there is a massive surplus of them. The same goes for pretentious singer-songwriter types, spewing out cliched chord progressions and junior-high-poetry lyrics in the name of being "sensitive" or "rootsy." I much prefer to see bands where all of the members clearly have more-or-less equal say in what gets played and who plays what.
  7. This case seems more to me that the guy was used to being told by people that the bass is a support instrument, and felt the need to prove something. Either that or he just wants to show of, no matter what instrument he plays.

    I'm of the school of thought that as soon as you think you're good, you suck. Stay humble, that way you aren't too hard-headed to admit you're wrong.

    Just my opinion though.
  8. in my school jazz band, we had one of those types of bass players. He'd be all over the place, and you'd think, ah, its jazz, let him fly all over the place. but he'd do it over other peoples solo's, which is when it started to bother me. It was like he heard the drums, and that was it. And he just did his thing. Then, inbetween songs, he'd do a little slap/pop thing, that would make everyone love him. wow... they've never heard claypool before i guess, because whatever he was doing wasnt very good at all. he just had speed, so everyone was going balistic for his skills. he was a good player, "too good" if you will. He was a "parkie" (those of you who live in berkeley ca, or are aware of Berkeley High School, you'd know that a parkie is somone who is an EXTREME druggie, spend the whole day in the park doing drugs, not going to class. then when you show up to a class [SURPRIZE!], you're either laced on e or weed. Interesting people... really. wonder wehre they see themselves in 5 years?)

    OTOH, i know what you guys mean, when you say theres not enough room for movment. I was playing with a bunch of guys, and one kid goes... i got a song, writes down the changes. Does it really quick on guitar, so i know the melody. We start playing. thats when i realize, theres no room at all for a bass fill, or even movment, cause there's so many chord changes. What would you guys do in a situation like that?
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Nicely put, John.

    I look at it this way: my bass is my voice. why should I have less to say because I sing in a lower octave?
  10. I full-heartedly agree, it wasn't so much a matter of " the bassist leading the band" because it was good to see that the bass took centre stage. But Like JT said, he had to find the members that fitted together, whereby there was understanding.

    It seemed as if there was a lack of understanding, like the guitarist would break into a solo, and about halfway through, the bass would just pound over with fretboard runs and ppl would be looking at each other as if to say "hey dude, let someone else have a turn". Because at times yes the bass complimented it well and the fills and smaller solos changed the entire mood of the song.

    How does one realise when and when not to break the line? Does it stem from experience or someone telling us? Personally i would prefer someone to tell me to save further criticism from wider audiences. Needless to say it is good to break the norm, but in this sense it didn't seem to gel.

  11. I think it's safe to say that you should keep it fairly simple during other musicians' solos, unless it's a power (or keyboard) trio and you need as much harmonic and rhythmic detail as possible under guitar (keyboard) solos, like a Jack Bruce or a Gary Peacock.

    Other than that, the old "play for the song" technique is always good. Sadly, this seems to have been corrupted into "play root-five patterns and never play fills," but it's still a useful way to look at music. If you want to play that arpeggiated upper-register 16th-note fill at the end of a verse, and it fits with the style of the song, go ahead! Hell, look at my sig--it is most definitely possible to underplay. I myself have learned that, in certain situations, you need to "wank out," because the other musicians just aren't providing the detail needed in the overall sound. I'm of the opinion that you can never have too much technical ability; even if you never do those quadruplet-slapping runs or those rapid-fire arpeggios, it can't hurt to know how to do them.
  12. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Yes, but I felt it was the right situation for two reasons;

    - It was a power trio. The guitarist would often get into chord bashing and I felt the music needed something more melodic and lyrical going on.

    - I was on the lower rungs of the local bands ladder. In order to step up to the bands that actually draw people on the basis of their name, regardless which night of the week it is, you have to be NOTICED !

    (If you're playing in T. Shannon/SRV type situation, that's another story).
  13. well.. i have a very clear opinion on this topic..

    Once you decide to play bass in a band, you must totally forget the concept " individual ".

    A band is a group of musicians that make music together and not a bunch of individuals that make music, and by coincidence, share a stage while doing so.

    ofcourse.. it's cool when people say " hey man.. did you see that band ? their bassplayer rules !! ". But one should not play in a band to boost their own ego.. that's not fair to the other members of the band.
  14. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    Yay, AllodoX! :) Well stated. You got it right!
    - Mike
  15. I have a new friend in Allodox! Well summed up dood! Like i said before there is no I in team. lol

  16. Hmm Man of many words.

  17. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Like my mother said: "There is a time and place for everything." If you want to bust loose, you have to pick your spots or it's just about noise. I work out how I could blow some minds in my pre-rehearsal warm-up. The drummer loves it because we get super funky. He urges me on to get off when we go live but I know it wouldn't always support the whole sound.

    Don't get freaky for the sake of getting freaky. It's like talking just to hear yourself speak. I usually doesn't really impress. Or, like my mom said: "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all."
  18. I cannot jump over the entire stage and play my bass simultaniously... the sound would be really off the beat :)
  19. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Funny you should bring this topic up as my new band brought me in specifically because I know what the bass player's role is within the band (by that, I mean this band).

    We have a sign up in our practice room..."It's about the song, stupid." As a bass player I care more about being in a supportive role within the rhythm section. It doesn't mean I can't be flashy or spontaneous, but it does mean that whatever I choose to do, it should support the song so that the bottom doesn't drop out.

    I've never cared for "lead" bass players, no matter how technically proficient they are, if the song loses that wonderfully groovin' low end, they aren't cutting it as a "bass" player...IMHO

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