I try to play melodic lines in the pocket. I play five-string bass on a few songs because I need the extended low range. I don’t play six-strings though. I don’t slap because I’ve never had a gig that called for it. When I was younger I learned a bunch of slap techniques but never used them, so now I’m pretty rusty.
The secret of playing bass well is obviously to practise, but also listening and playing with people. Practise to learn the nuts and bolts of the instrument, listen for inspiration and play with people for some real world experience. It doesn’t hurt to get kicked off a few bandstands either, I’ve been kicked off my share.
My first bass was a Harmony that I think my parents got from a JC Penny catalogue. My favourite bass ever to date is my American Fender Jazz. It’s really nothing special, no crazy mods, but every time I pick it up it feels like home. I’ve been playing it for the last eight years and don’t plan on replacing it anytime soon. My bass heroes are too many to list, but a few are John Paul Jones, Rocco Prestia, Charles Mingus, Billy Gould, Joe Lally, Trevor Dunn, Jaco Pastorius, Tony Levin, Michael Formanek, Nate Mendel, Sting and Colin Greenwood. These are all players that have had a profound impact on my playing. The greatest bass player that ever lived? That’s a really tough question. It would be impossible for me to narrow it down to one player. There have been so many greats that I couldn’t name just one.
If I could get the bass tone of any album ever, I would choose Faith No More’s album King For a Day… Fool for a Lifetime, mainly because the songs vary so much. Some of the songs have an aggressive tone, while the others have a mellower tone. Throughout the record the bass remains a distinct voice that helps shape the song. Stop worrying about hitting the root notes on downbeats. I had a teacher say that to me when I was a kid and it blew my mind. We just released our new record The Afterman: Ascension. It’s the first part of a double album. The second half, The Afterman: Descension, will be released in February 2013 and then we’ll be doing lots of touring to support it.