PlanetBass.com 2004 Interview
What inspired you to first pick up a bass and what were your first attempts at playing it like?
I was inspired from playing drums in the school marching band, particularly the bass drum. My first attempts were bloody blister ones...
Who were your early influences and what did you learn from them?
Sting (the Police). I also found a teacher in the area and he directed me to many of the greats like Paul Chambers, James Jamerson, Ray Brown, Stanley Clarke and Jaco.
Did you take lessons or are you self-taught?
I took lessons from Rusty Holloway for 5 years and he still teaches at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
What's the most important bit of advice you were given by another musician?
Be well rounded and competent on both Upright and Electric bass. Create your own reality.
What's the most important bit of advice you could give to new bassists?
Study and work as hard as you can. Be focused and have a plan. Create your own reality.
Where do you stand on the old fingers vs. plectrums debate and why?
Fingers! That's where you get your sound! If you play with a pick you are limiting yourself and you aren't building those calluses.
Do you play 4, 5 or 6 string basses mainly? Fretted or unfretted?
I play Double bass, Electric 5 string and a fretless bass.
How would you define your style of playing?
Tell us a little about the artists and bands you have worked with, and how/if you adapted to playing with each of them?
I have been blessed to work with a host of artists from Col Bruce Hampton, BlueGround UnderGrass, James Williams, Leo Nocentilli (the meters) to jamming with many artists such as Phish, Oteil Burbridge, Derek Trucks, Jimmy Herring and many others.
Of the artists and bands you've played with who was the most inspirational and why?
Jimmy Herring. He was a true genuine cat who really gives of himself. He pushes you man.
Do you warm up before a concert and if so how?
Oh yes...Usually scales (chromatic scale from the lowest to highest note).
Do you have any other last minute rituals or habits before a concert?
What do you drink onstage?
Have you ever played while drunk or under the influence of drugs?
Yes. I don't endorse this and don't recommend this attribute. You are cheating yourself, the other musicians on the bandstand and your fans.
What's the biggest disaster you've ever had onstage, and how did you cope with it?
My strap broke and my bass feel to the ground. I laid on my back and finished the tune out. After the song, I had an extra strap and was back on board.
What's the biggest disaster you've ever had in the studio, and how did you cope with it?
One studio session I did was in the middle of August in Memphis, TN. It was 110 degrees. The studio had to turn off the AC while the tape was rolling because it was picking up the noise on tape. The studio felt like 150 and I was melting man. The bass kept going out of tune and I almost passed out on several occasions. It was unbearable and one of the worst sessions I have ever been involved in. Fortunately for me, it was so hot, that the studio equipment started malfunctioning due to the heat and the session was called off.
What's been your proudest playing moment?
Every time I play and share my music. As long as I have my health and feel like I have something to say, I will continue to strive to cherish every moment.
What's been the most fun playing moment, and why?
Man that's tough. It's all subjective and really a mental state. If I am playing with good cats and everyone is listening than that becomes key to having a good time.
What's been the least fun playing moment, and why?
Playing at the opening of a casino and watching green midgets parachuting from the sky...
What equipment do you use live and in the studio and why?
I use a walter woods preamp, a bergantino cabinet, monster cables, pedulla bass, Kohler upright, DR strings and lots of effects pedals.
Are you fairly flexible about the equipment you use or must you always play >with the same gear?
I like to play with the same gear. It has taken my a long time of trial and error to discover what my equipment actually is. I love what I am using now and have no plans of changing my setup.
What one piece of equipment would you advise all bass players to own?
Do you read music?
Yes. I also teach a course for bassists every 6 weeks on "How to Read Music" at: MusicDojo.com
Do you play any other instruments, and how well?
Piano, drums and guitar. I am really not very good at any of them, however I understand their function and their importance. I use my knowledge of them to enhance my writing ability as well as playing and locking in with various artists in the studio and on the stage.
Do you write or co-write songs and if so do you write on the bass?
I do write from the bass as well as the piano.
Do you ever play cover versions, and if so how do you learn the originals note for note or do you improvise you own parts?
I do some arrangements on cover tunes. I feel it is important when doing cover tunes to express who you are through them. It is important to put your stamp on them. Make them unique and different from the original.
Do you sing? Do you feel it is important?
I sing, but I'm not very good. I do feel it is important and I usually sing along with everything I am playing.
If you could nominate one song that you've recorded to sum up your playing style and feel which one would it be?
As a composition and groove song...I would say "Groovemessenger" from my drum and bass society CD. There are many songs that almost make it, but I am so critical I usually find something wrong with everyone of them, even if it's 2 seconds of the song. I'm constantly striving for it.
What have you been doing recently?
I just finished writing a collaborative book called "Indie Artist Producer Handbook". I have been working on a DVD and I have several projects slated for the first of the year.
Do you have a personal or band website? Or would you like to recommend any other useful websites?