I would describe my bass style as really irritating if you’re a Fall fan! I play a Fender Jazz, wear it really high and play with my fingers. Typically I should play a Precision, wear it low and play with a pick, like my predecessors. I don’t play a five or six-string bass, because I have freakishly small hands for an adult male.
I have had five- and six-string basses in the past, but I find it really uncomfortable after a while and anything I play on one of those, I can play twice as fast on a four-string. I slap my bass like a ginger stepchild, but never with The Fall: I get enough stick playing with my fingers. I do love slap bass: it’s the first thing I do when I pick up my bass at home. It gets frowned upon massively nowadays, but that sound is one of the reasons the bass stood out and appealed to me when I was a kid. I love looking at old videos on YouTube of Louis Johnson and Larry Graham: I wish I’d had something like that at my disposal when I was 13 and starting out on bass. The closest thing I had to slap bass to practise to was the Red Hot Chili Peppers cassette I owned, which I would practise to religiously every day.
I think the secret of playing bass well is being able to hear things with a bass player’s ear and know when to speak and when to shut up. It also helps if you can find a drummer that you can totally connect with. I’m lucky to have played with Keiron, The Fall’s drummer, for near enough 14 years now, and we can pretty much finish each other’s sentences off, we’re that tight. My first bass was a Fender Precision Lyte, a great bass with a super-slim neck that you could play on for hours without even noticing you’d been playing, which I suppose really helps when you’re starting out. I had the frets taken off so I would play it more after I bought my Warwick. Consequently I never play it any more because it’s fretless. I’ve just purchased a 1984 Ibanez Roadstar II, which I’ve been after for ages. It is absolutely solid as a rock and sounds really meaty, so once it’s been cleaned up a bit I’m hoping to use it as my main touring bass.