Here’s an excerpt from our interview with FM bassist Merv Goldsworthy, released in time for the veteran UK rockers’ tour in May. They also have a new album out called Heroes And Villains. See dates below the feature!
Tell us about your bass collection, Merv?
I’ve got about 10 basses. They’re all converted from four to five strings. I started on a Yamaha BB5000, which were the first five-strings to come in the country in about 1986. They had really tight string spacing and I played them for years as a Yamaha endorsee. Then I got to the point where I wanted a change, but I realised there was nothing on the market with that string spacing. I played five-a-side football for the Bass Centre back then, so I’d go over to Wapping every Wednesday, and there was hundreds of basses in that shop, but still nothing. Then I met Martin at the Gallery and there’s nothing that he can’t do, basically. I had three Gibson Thunderbirds and converted them and played them for a long time, and I loved their sound but they were a big old lump, with a big case that won’t quite go in your car, and you can’t stand them up because you’ve got to have a special stand. But the tone is amazing, and I was looking for that tone, so I tried a Les Paul bass and we put T-Bird pickups on it. We did four of those. I’ve got small hands, so the nut width is 40mm and the spacing is 15mm.
Do you have to pay full whack for the Les Pauls?
No, I get a donor body off eBay, strip it completely, and then Martin makes it possible. I’ve got the bass of my dreams off him many times over, so it’s like an ongoing hobby now! There’s usually one in production, one being stripped and one that I’m playing at the same time. You can get the bodies from anywhere between £300 and £400 if they’re stripped.
What bass did you use on the new album?
I used one of my Les Pauls. They’re a bit heavy for live, but I don’t want to get them cavitied-out because that might alter the sound. They’re back-breaking.
How did you get into bass?
I’m a massive Thin Lizzy fan: in fact, they’re the reason I switched from guitar to bass. I saw Phil Lynott and I thought, he’s just fantastic, I want to do that! I used Phil’s Ibanez on the first FM album and switched to a five-string for the second album. I haven’t played a four since then.
Is FM your full-time activity now?
We got hit with the grunge bomb in the 90s and there was no point in carrying on. I was living in Seattle at the time, to make it even worse! I’d seen all those bands – Alice In Chains and Mother Love Bone and so on – and I had no idea that it was going to explode like it did. When FM stopped I joined a covers band, we’ve done over 3000 gigs. Everybody’s a jobbing musician, but FM has taken off since we came back!
FM UK dates:
1st May – Bristol, Bierkeller
2nd May – Wolverhampton, Robin 2
3rd May – Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
5th May – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
6th May – Glasgow, Classic Grand
8th May – Newcastle, O2 Academy
9th May – Manchester, Academy 2
10th May – London, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Heroes And Villains is out now. Info: www.fmofficial.com.