I never took lessons and have always felt a bit self-conscious in my ability to speak the musical language. When I try, it is often in a broken dialect with a heavy accent. My insecurities are compounded by being in a band with highly trained and competent musicians. But being the primary songwriter, I have to translate my ideas into more standard directions. It’s like a sitcom where there is always a hilarious misunderstanding and someone ends up cross-dressing.
I play eight-string bass. Not because I’m pretentious but because I wanted more range. I don’t play my bass like a bass or a guitar. It is a song-writing tool. I love thumping on the low end but not as much as I love writing melodies in the treble range. I love incorporating chords and harmonies where most four- or five-strings would fall short. I slap when the song calls for it. Metaphorically, when the song throws a temper tantrum in the middle of a crowded restaurant and I need to show it who’s boss, then I will use it. I will never have the impeccable rhythm of Claypool or the out-of-this-world thumbing technique of Wooten. But I do believe that slap-bass can be used for accenting especially badass parts. I feel the same way with tapping, shredding or sweeping. If it’s all you can do, then I want my money back. I much prefer variety to masturbatory showmanship.