playing punk

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by Chudweiser, Jul 18, 2002.

  1. Chudweiser


    Jul 5, 2002
    Mr. Watt,
    Allright, so here's the deal. I'm a jazz bass player, and recently, I got drafted into a punk-ska band. I figured "no big deal, punk bass is wicked easy compared to jazz". Now, however, I find myself frustrated. When it comes to fast tempos, I can only stick to quarter notes on the root of the chord or else it sounds too garbled, even though I want to do more. I don't know too much about the music, but when I hear Green Day's earlier stuff, the basslines are technically fluent and they fit the song. My question is; what kind of things can you do in a punk situation to really make things interesting and unique, yet at the same time keep the band focused. Your input would be appreciated.

    Greg Chudzik
  2. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    I can't tell you how to play but i can give you some examples that i recomend listening to to give you an idea. OPERATION IVY. OPERATION IVY. o and suiside machines, real big fish, commom rider,(not too much of a fan of those ones but they are examples) o and did i mention OPERATION IVY featuring Matt Freeman of Rancid.
  3. whirlygirl


    Aug 20, 2002
  4. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    hi greg,

    one strategy might be what's called "playing the holes" - creating space to let your parts breathe. another option is to get melodic, come up w/bass lines that contain melodies that can help your bass sing. a third idea is counterpoint - pivoting off of what the guitar player is doing. all three of these ideas rely on what kind of personality you've developed on your machine. be curious, explore, dare. punk is for taking chances!

    on bass, watt

  5. 60HzRumble


    Mar 31, 2002
    Harrisburg, PA
    I've noticed that most punk bassists play with a pick too...It might give more of a bite than you get now.

    Also get some Descendents and ALL. Karl Alvarez is nothing short of amazing. He has a jazzy feel that you may get some inspiration from. You might want to break out some old Police albums too (yeah, I know you have 'em on vinyl!).
  6. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    the pick has it's own thing and is a great compliment to your set of tools. I think it's great to be able to play w/both pick AND fingers, depending on what you want going down. remember, there is NO ONE WAY TO PLAY PUNK, technically that is. all choices should be up to the individual to express his or her's unique style and interpretation. punk is more about a state of mind than a method of operating a machine to manufacture music. that's what I think.

    tony, karl, matt, joe... all these cats are killer bassists w/their own personal touch imprinted on their playing, quite inspiring for me and righteous for the bands they're part of.

    on bass, watt

  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    It's ducks on the pond to agree with a master....but I really like Mike's advice on this point because it buttered my bread for years.

    I was more of a "melody player" than my guitarist was as he banged out chord walls with his 8x12 Ampeg. And, by gawd, it worked!!!

    A big part of the "trick" for me was a set-up that will let you punch through and a guy at the desk who knows what you want.

    Using "quicker" speakers, fresh Rotosounds, Herco picks, and a Precis with a maple fretboard wasn't the whole answer either. I often played chords so it didn't sound "sparse" but they didn't sound muddy.
  8. watt

    watt TalkBass Pro Supporting Member


    you make good points, rick. I would also add that a nimble bass player can navigate a situation by being smart w/the head and intense w/the heart. remember, it's not always about gear/machinery.

    I really like this quote you wrote:

    "You change the bass player, you're changing your engine room." --- Keith Richards

    thanks much for that!

    on bass, watt