Bass in the USA

While the alternative band Phoenix is from Versailles, France, we love them here in the United States as our own, which is why there’s a lot of excitement surrounding the release of Bankrupt! Their fifth studio album is generating a lot of attention after the success of their 2009 release, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. A large part of their popularity is due to bassist Deck D’Arcy, whose groove-filled lines and in-the-pocket delivery have been the driving force in the band’s previous hit singles ‘1901’, ‘Lisztomania’, ‘If I Ever Feel Better’ and ‘Too Young’. Armed with his collection of Fender Jazz and Mustang basses, D’Arcy’s background as a classically trained pianist has given the founding member a truly melodic ear, as his note choices offer many twists and turns in the form of counter-melodic lines. Even more exciting is the fact that the album was mixed on the original board that was used by Quincy Jones to record Michael Jackson’s masterpiece Thriller, as well as albums by Paul McCartney and Donna Summers. To promote the record, Phoenix will be making their first tour stops here in the States beginning with Freeborn Hall in Davis, CA on 2 April and ending their run on 25 April at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.


Bassist Nicole Fiorentino has been very busy as of late, between the constant touring with Smashing Pumpkins and the 2012 release of their new album Oceania, to jumping in with her other band The Cold & Lovely, who released their debut, self-titled album last year. During a recent break from her hectic schedule, Nicole and The Cold & Lovely jumped into the studio to release a new record that will feature four new songs and one cover and which is set for an April release. “A lot of the songs on the first record were actually written on bass, so they were much more riff-driven,” Fiorentino explained. “I think on the new EP I’ve had more room to contribute stylistically, which is much more exciting for me as a bass player. I didn’t feel like I had to work within the riff, I could work around it. I have more melodic sensibilities than anything else when it comes to writing bass parts. I’m not much of the root-note playing type.’

After spending months in the studio with bass master and producer extraordinaire Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Paramore are finally ready to unveil their self-titled new album on 9 April. For this album, bassist Jeremy Davis was happy to welcome former Nine Inch Nails drummer Ilan Rubin to the rhythm section, who Meldal-Johnsen played with in NIN and other projects. The album’s first single ‘Now’ features the dirty mid-range lines we’ve come to expect from Davis’s strong-handed picking on his Jazz bass. He gained high praise from his veteran producer. “Jeremy is a really exciting bass player because he stays away from what’s conventional and isn’t afraid to take risks with his playing,” said Meldal-Johnsen. “His playing on the new album is really inspired and I think it really does a lot to spark the rest of the band.” To coincide with the album’s release, Paramore will be kicking off a US tour with two dates in April.

Typically, the alternative-folk duo of Tegan & Sara would never be found in a bass magazine, but hear me out: it’s not that I dislike them, it’s just that there’s not a lot of low end going on within their music. However, they’ve enlisted an unfathomable bass trifecta to play and produce their latest synth-pop album, Heartthrob. Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Eminem), Justin Meldal-Johnsen (speak of the devil) and Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction) have all pitched in on the new record by writing the bass and handling the production.

The beloved Icelanders Sigur Rós have just announced that they will be releasing a new EP that will be given to every ticket holder of their upcoming tour, which starts its US run this month. Bassist Georg Holm and his bandmates will be playing their newest material of haunting and ambient music to venues all over the States, starting with the Fox Theatre in Detroit on 1 April and concluding on 17 April at the Bill Graham Civic Arena in San Francisco.

I would be remiss to not mention one of the favourite summer gatherings in the US – the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California from April 12 to 14 and 19 to 21. Notable bass performances include Flea and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brent Harding and Social Distortion, Alex James and Blur, the aforementioned Deck D’Arcy and Phoenix, Matt McJunkins of Puscifer and too many others to name. Get your tickets now.

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