My Hero – Bass Edition
I was feeling a little bassy, after spending a very long while making the final adjustments to my basslines for The Electric Mafia *cough cough* my band *cough cough* you should check us out, here’s a link http://www.facebook.com/TheElectricMafia *cough cough*.
After spending a week going over every little note and fill with the utmost precision, I started thinking about what developed my personal style as a bass player and who I owe everything to. I managed to whittle the seemingly endless list of influences down to my own personal “Big Four”:
In ascending order- Geezer Butler, John Paul Jones, John Entwistle and Cliff Burton.
Resisting the urge to just waffle on about the first three, who were the that shaped my understanding of the instrument, Cliff was the first player who I looked at and thought “That’s what I want to play, I want to play that, like he does, if not better”… then the life long quest of a guitarist in denial took its first steps.
Look at how he holds himself on stage, the trademark basses, the ground breaking tones and effects.
All of this was previously unheard of in a bass player before this one man who changed everything. Even Metallica (or so I’ve heard) mistook him for a guitarist upon hearing his audition tape. Never before had I seen a bassist having a larger stage presence than the frontman or lead guitarist. The head banging drew you in, and the long curtain of hair confused you as to how he could possibly see what he was doing under all of that! The sound snared you, distortion pedals and Wah effects, a bass player with a Wah?! What is this dark sorcery! The boundary pushing use of equipment put Cliff at the top of my bass playing hero list, just because he’d do things that other players wouldn’t.
Then there’s the musicality of it all. Cliff wasn’t just some dude, who’d show up, play the same tapping riff in every solo, collapse on the couch and sit there and claim he’s the best player in the universe. No, he was always the kind to believe there’s room for improvement, never saying “I’m best there is” and giving up trying to improve. Listen to “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRbZLSrrIo4 There’s a link, now you’ve got no excuse! Listen. Pay attention. How many other musician could sit there and write a piece that (minus the distortion) could possibly be mistaken for a Bach suite?
The changing time signatures, attention to the most minute detail with rhythmic work and use of chord formation and structure that most bassists would think “stuff that” and just play a few more root notes. In every single song, his parts are perfect. Never too loud, never too bossy and taking the lead only when necessary whilst still providing the anchor of a song with simple yet impressive groundings.
What put Cliff at the top of my list was his dedication. He’d rehearse for eight hours a day and was determined to be the world’s best bass player in tribute to his dead brother.
“…Cliff Burton: the major rager and the four string mother fucker” – James Hetfield
Hope you’ve enjoyed the read
Nathan Berwick – The Electric Mafia (Bass and Lead Vocals)
Stream our EP for free: https://soundcloud.com/electric-mafia/sets/the-electric-mafia-ep
We’re playing our 2nd gig for Designer Magazine on April 5th in Dry Bar with On The Radio, Hellbound Hearts, Timebomb, and The Wasted Youth for a top night of dirty ol’ Rock N Roll.
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All Interviews by Alex McCann unless otherwise stated
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