[pic: Elena Vilain]
I try to fit into the pocket and stay out of the way, but I’m constantly listening to the melody and attempt to support it rhythmically and harmonically. My goal is to feel the melody in the bass line, but not get in the way. I had a six-string bass when I was much younger, but found that I didn’t have much of a need for it. Playing folk and Americana music I don’t have a necessity for a large range, and, since I switch back and forth between upright and electric, it’s much simpler to stick to four strings. Sometimes slap on upright when playing in Chuck’s band, especially in his bluegrass style songs. This came from playing rockabilly when I was younger, and came in handy when Chuck, Jon Gaunt (fiddle), and myself were playing as a trio. Since we didn’t have a drummer, all the percussion came from our instruments, and slapping from time to time added a nice percussive element. For me it’s all about staying out of the way and making the song/band feel great. Keeping your ears open can lead you to the greatest places, and all of my most memorable moments on stage or in the studio happened when the band was really listening to each other. It can be magic! And since it bridges the percussive and harmonic elements, I believe that a lot of magic can start with the bass. I have a Frankenstein Japanese P-Bass from the 70s that’s completely unique and my main electric bass…her name is MAC. But my favourite bass would have to be my upright from KC Strings in Kansas City, Kansas. I got that bass when I was 18 and it’s been on every record I’ve made since! Chuck Ragan’s new album, Till Midnight, is out now. I will be back in Europe for a solo tour in early August. My indie folk project, Baywood, released our first full-length record in January as well.
Basses Fender, KC Strings studio upright, unknown Chinese-made upright for touring, Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings, Fishman Full Circle upright bass pickup
Effects Aguilar Tone Hammer DI, Electro-Harmonix English Muffin distortion, Sonic Stomp Compression
Amps Orange Terror Bass 2×12 combo, Aguilar DB751 head, Aguilar 4×10 cab, Ampeg SVT-CL head, Ampeg SVT 8×10 cab