Victor Brandt of veteran death metallers Entombed AD reveals the secrets behind the big sounds.
I play like a rusty tractor: loud, detuned and heavily distorted bass with a rock and metal approach. I prefer to filter the schooled parts through a metal and punk attitude rather then going with something slick or too schooled, but I’ll go with whatever I feel that the song needs. I often find that less is more with my bass playing. Although my ego might want to do something advanced or impressive, it might not get the effect that I am looking for. It’s better to listen to the song and to your band-members than to your ego.
I own two five-string basses that I needed when I was in the band Satyricon from Norway, but I never felt that five-string bass was my thing. When I picked up my four-string again it always felt like coming home. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m in the rhythm section and I need to build a foundation for the song along with the drummer.
Slapping doesn’t really go well with the kind of music Entombed plays, but I do enjoy playing slap or tapping bass when I’m practising. This reminds me of a funny story: I was part of Warwick’s Fuss On The Bus 3 DVD a few years back. I had prepared this slap/tap thing that I felt would be very impressive and fancy. Me and Dave Roe, who used to play with Johnny Cash, were sitting and watching the other players perform in front of the camera: guys like Larry Graham, Lee Sklar, Alphonso Johnson, TM Stevens and many more. Just before my turn to film my part, Dave said to me: ‘Isn’t it funny that there are so many slap and tap performances here?’
‘Yes, you’re right!’ I replied, suddenly much clearer in my mind. ‘What am I doing?’ I thought to myself. I decided to completely change my prepared bass part for the DVD to something that I usually play instead. I borrowed a distortion pedal and I was set. Steve Bailey did the interview and asked me what I was going to play, so I said ‘Death metal!’ and played some distorted pick bass in the vein of Autopsy and Celtic Frost. I felt right at home. Thank you, Dave!
My first bass was a cheap Reno Jazz copy. I still have it, actually: I defretted it and use it for practising fretless. It was good to start out with a beginner’s instrument, because it made me appreciate quality. It’s never good to be spoiled or to take things for granted. My favourite bass ever to date is my Warwick Streamer Stage II. I get in a good mood just holding it or looking at it. I really like the thin finish and the Afzelia wood. I have five Warwick basses and four of them are Streamers. They feel like some of the best commodities in the world: you just can’t go wrong with them.
If I could get the bass tone of any album ever released, I would choose 10,000 Days with Tool. Justin Chancellor is really cool. But if I’m allowed to say so, I’m extremely happy with the bass tone on the new Entombed album Back To The Front, which came out in the summer on Century Media.