Bass in the USA

Things are getting hot and heated here in the bass realm. Summer festivals are in full swing, there are several new albums are hitting shelves and a very exciting reunion is in the works. Personally, we’ve found the best way to beat the heat is to stay indoors and woodshed those scales and modes we’ve been managing to avoid throughout the winter.

Coming off a banner year that earned them a platinum album, two Grammy awards and a slew of notoriety and praise, the New York indie band Fun. is in full preparation mode, as they get ready to spend the summer on a tourbus. Bassist Nate Harold, who previously played with Koufax and as a touring member of the Get Up Kids, plays an integral role in Fun.’s live show. On his ripping bass solo during the song ‘All Alone’, Harold pushes his 1962 Fender P-Bass reissue through an Electro-Harmonix Pog2 to get a synth bass tone that fills out the large venues. Harold’s bass also drives the band’s major hit singles ‘We Are Young’, ‘Some Nights’ and ‘Carry On’ with riffs that not only have to support four-part vocal harmonies, but also have to battle an array of synths and keyboards coming from the other members of the group.

robert trujilloWhile the band is certainly enjoying their recent success, the level of fame they are achieving came as a shock to Harold and the other members. “I definitely did not see us reaching this level so quickly,” Harold said in a recent chat. “When I joined the band it was before the first record had come out and we did sup- port tours in a little van for a year and a half. It just kind of exploded in the last year. It went way beyond anyone’s expectations and we’re still having to get used to it.” For a player who grew up idolising great bass players such as Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam and the immortal Paul McCartney, the shows are what he looks forward to, even if the venues are a bit daunting. “It’s still an adjustment,” says Harold. “Before this, we had all been playing 400-capped venues. I think the biggest challenge is to not be overwhelmed and to not take the crazy, manic energy of a little club show to a big stage. But I am absolutely loving every minute of this.” Fun. will begin their expansive tour of the United States alongside up-and-coming female duo Tegan & Sara, on 6 July in New York, before heading to Cleveland, Ohio on 9 July and will conclude it on 26 September in Charlottesville, Virginia. Other stops include Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Los Angeles, California.

In reunion news, Trent Reznor has announced that Nine Inch Nails will be returning this summer after taking four years to “disappear for a while.” The band played their last official show together in 2009, with previous bass player Justin Meldal-Johnsen at the helm during their Wave Goodbye Tour, which featured NIN’s most explosive line-up to date. For this new incarnation of Nails, Reznor has enlisted some new blood into the legendary project including famed guitarist Adrian Belew who has previously played with Frank Zappa, Talking Heads and David Bowie, alongside previous drummer Ilan Rubin, guitarist Josh Eustis of Puscifer and Telefon Tel Aviv, the former keyboard player Alessandro Cortini and bassist Eric Avery. Avery has been very busy over the past few years. Aside from playing with the band Garbage as a full-time touring member he is best known, of course, as a founding member of the epic Jane’s Addiction. Avery seems to be a perfect fit for NIN. This is due to his distinct, hard picking tone that should accompany the progressive and often electronic vibes of Reznor’s songwriting perfectly. Avery has been playing Fender Jaguar basses through the Line 6 POD HT Pro for a while, so it will be interesting to see if he decides to adjust his set-up, to accomodate for the different sound of NIN, although Meldal-Johnsen previously played a mix of Jaguar and Jazz basses for his time in the band. While no dates have been confirmed yet for a tour, rumour has it that this year’s Lollapalooza in Chicago in August might mark their triumphant return. Reznor has yet to comment on the possibility of a new album, though he has admitted that he and Belew have been working hard recently on a lot of new material.

I couldn’t leave you all hanging without a little round-up of the summer festivals. In its 11th year running, the Bonnaroo Music Festival is back from 13-16 June in Manchester, Tennessee. This year’s headliners are legendary in the bass world, as Paul McCartney takes the centre stage of the festival as well as Ron Blair with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Ted Dwane will be rocking his upright bass with Mumford & Sons, along with John Stirratt of Wilco, Ben Wahamaki of the Lumineers, Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and many more.

Metallica is bringing back their Orion Music + More festival for its sophomore run in Detroit, Michigan. Robert Trujillo will be welcoming his bass brethren Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Sergio Vega (Deftones), Joe Principie (Rise Against), Sarah Negahdari (Silversun Pickups), Trevor Dunn (Tomahawk) and others to the stage.

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