I would describe my bass style as simple and effective. We have some amazing soloists in the Herbaliser band and I like to hold the rhythm nice and steady and leave space for the other guys. I put a few well-placed runs here and there, otherwise I hold it down like Bootsy did with James Brown. As a producer I’ve been into hip-hop for a long while and like to play like I’m playing a loop. I do not play five- or six-string basses. To each his own, but in our band we have a saying that the only bass you need has four strings and an F on the headstock. We do have a new tune off our album There Were Seven that could use a low Eb, but I just tune my E string down.
I do not slap, because I haven’t put enough hours in. I saw Larry Graham in London recently and he seemed to play so lightly with his slap style. The secret of playing bass well is to listen to as many James Jamerson recordings as possible, followed by Pino Palladino, who incidentally lives around the corner from me and we have just started to hang out whenever he’s home – which isn’t often. I’ve had a few tips from Pino, and a 61 P-Bass with the tone rolled mostly off with an old set of flats seems to be the sound for me. I also love the fuzz bass sound on Lalo Schifrin’s ‘The School Bus’ off the Dirty Harry soundtrack.
My first bass was an American Fender Jazz. My favourite bass ever to date is my 1961 slab-neck Fender Precision. My bass heroes are James Jamerson and Pino Palladino as above, plus Bob Babbit and Anthony Jackson for his playing on Chaka Khan’s Whatcha Gonna Do For Me album. The greatest bass player that ever lived was James Jamerson, a truly seminal player. We just released our seventh studio album There Were Seven on our own label Department H, and we have a new single ‘A Sad State of Affairs’ out. We have just finished touring Europe and hopefully we’ll hit North America in 2013.