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questions for Mike Watt and others here

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by No Name Here, May 9, 2002.


  1. I'm doing a research project on bass guitar, and for one of the resources of this, I need to have some interviews. I was giving advice to send these questions to the pro bass guitarists. I would be very happy if I could get some answers from some of you guys (Not just Mike.) Thanks


    1. What is the most important part when it comes to establishing a groove of some kind with the rhythm section as a electric bassist?
    2. Which do you think is the most important part of bass line, a good melody, or a good rhythm?
    3. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages to playing an electric bass compared to playing a standup bass?
    4. How do you feel about virtuoso bass players, who use the bass as more of a solo instrument then anything else? Do you think they’re breaking some kind of unwritten rule of being a rhythm men as a bass player?
    5. Who do you think was a bass player that really showed what the electric bass was capable of? Why?
    6. With all the various techniques that have been discovered on all the many types of electric basses (tapping, chords, slapping, etc.) Do you think there is still room to innovate, or have all of the technical tricks of electric bass been tapped out? Why?
    7. What part of a groove do you think a bass player and a drummer should lock onto?
    8. When playing in a group as a electric bass player, what do you believe is the best thing you could do?
    9. When playing in a group as a electric bass player, what do you believe is the worst thing you could do?
    10. Any advice to aspiring bass players?
     
  2. 1. What is the most important part when it comes to establishing a groove of some kind with the rhythm section as a electric bassist?

    i think the most important part is to establish a mental lock with the drummer. to accent each other's fills. to basically achieve almost a group mind kind of thing.

    2. Which do you think is the most important part of bass line, a good melody, or a good rhythm?

    BOTH! i feel it's incredibly important to have a strong rhythm with the drummer as well as add to the melody of the song. not just playing the root notes of the guitarist or what ever "lead" instrument may be present but also adding your own flavor to the mix. what i mean by that is accenting the changes within the song and adding rhythmic hooks with the drummer as well.

    3. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages to playing an electric bass compared to playing a standup bass?

    unfortunately i've never really played standup bass so i cant honestly comment here. i will say this though, of the times i've just noodled around on a stand up bass i felt as though i probably look a lot cooler!

    4. How do you feel about virtuoso bass players, who use the bass as more of a solo instrument then anything else? Do you think they’re breaking some kind of unwritten rule of being a rhythm men as a bass player?

    i feel there's nothing wrong with it as long as what they're playing has some emotional content to it. there are some guys out there that can play "lead" bass and give off the vibe like, "hey look at what i can do!" and i think that kinda sucks to be honest. on the other hand there are bassists that will take a solo that you can tell they are truly feeling and they make you feel it was well. as flea once said (and i'm paraphrasing) it's all good as long as it's not "all flash and no smash".

    5. Who do you think was a bass player that really showed what the electric bass was capable of? Why?

    jaco pastorius. jaco took the bass to all new levels of melodicism as well as rhythm. to me personally he was the beginning and end of the "flashy" bass players. mike watt. for taking puck rock bass out of the root note "follow the guitarist" mentality and getting wild with the bass. andrew weiss' playing with the rollins band also did that for me as he was never afraid to take chances and get out there with his playing.

    6. With all the various techniques that have been discovered on all the many types of electric basses (tapping, chords, slapping, etc.) Do you think there is still room to innovate, or have all of the technical tricks of electric bass been tapped out? Why?

    i think there is still much more room for growth in the world of the electric bass that goes beyond tapping, chords, slapping, extra strings (5, 6, & 7 strings). the use of different effects including all the new looping devices (the boomerang, the boss loopstation, line 6 DL4) as well as the use of alternate tunings. i feel that expanding the world of the electric bass doesn't exactly have to deal with the technical aspect of playing (ie: tapping and what not) but more with creating a mood. a good example of this would be the sonic ambient explorations of devin sarno (aka crib www.fourstring.org) who generates huge ambient sounds using only the electric bass. the only thing holding back any artist is themselves not their tools.

    7. What part of a groove do you think a bass player and a drummer should lock onto?

    the groove thing should be a trade off i think with each person within the ensemble given their time to shine while the others hold back and support. with my band, sketch, when given time for a longer set we tend to throw in at least two sections in our set for pure improvisation and that's the way it almost always tends to work. a slow gradual build with each member accenting their parts to a rising intense crescendo that dissolves back into it's original form. well at least that's how it works on a good night!

    8. When playing in a group as a electric bass player, what do you believe is the best thing you could do?

    do what is best for the songs. there's a time to play busy and a time to hold back. don't let your ego get the best of you and busy up a song because you want your bass to be heard because when people do that it usually turns the song into a steamy pile of poopy.

    9. When playing in a group as a electric bass player, what do you believe is the worst thing you could do?

    i think i got ahead of myself and answered this in the last question! just serve the songs. a great band doesn't have just ONE stand out guy or girl. to me the best music always sounds empty if you peel away anyone of the ingredients.

    10. Any advice to aspiring bass players?

    play as much as you can. learn technique if you can but don't let it ruin your sense of adventure and willingness to experiment with your instrument in non-traditional ways. play with as many people with different styles as you can, this will teach you new things and only add to your own abilities. listen to as much great music as you can from as many genres as possible and borrow from all of them, this can only increase your versatility and help you to create your own style and sound.

    hope this helps! let me know how your project goes!

    peace,
    chris frascella