Our post-tour decompression period is over, so I’ve been turning my hand to working on some new musical ideas. This is a really exciting time, when concepts come together and manifest into songs. It’s never good to force them, but to give things a little nudge I purposely put aside a little time in the daily practice session (you do have one, don’t you?) to work on new stuff.
Normally I turn my brain off for a bit, switch on the recorder and play away. In fact it can be good to record your whole practice regime: it can be quite a sobering insight into how your playing sounds. Over the years I’ve used quite a few different home recording devices, from a wonky four-track to nice DAW programs.
Recently I’ve been keeping it dead simple, using a multi-FX/ pre-amp into a laptop with some cheap software. The idea is to get the genesis of the idea down: this is the spark that all good ideas come from. I’ve learned that once the band starts to develop an idea it will morph and be changed in wonderful ways, so I keep it simple.
It might be heresy, but sometimes hashing out a more melodic idea on a six-string guitar can really help to pull the part together. If inspiration isn’t forthcoming, one thing I do is sample a beat or a groove I like and jam along with that. Interesting time signatures and pushes will begin to manifest in your playing, and a more straightforward idea can take on new life when there’s a different rhythmic pulse. That’s one of the wonders of bass playing.
Oh yes, and it goes without saying: always try and record your ideas to a click or a metronome. You never know when you might need to pull a particular moment of inspiration off a practice session when you can’t quite seem to recreate that spark in the studio. Happy hunting.