M ALCOLM BRU CE, SON OF FOE LATE JA C K , TA LKS ABO U T LIFE AT THE B A SS END
GEAR
[W arw ick BASSES
EBS EFFECTS
Hartke
AMPS
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я
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really feel the concept of style is
som etim es overrated. It is good to
learn one's craft, styles, genres,
history and so on, but bass players
- and m usicians of any instrum ent
for that matter - w ho stand out are
those that have becom e them selves
on their instrum ent. The sam e applies to com posers.
Having said that, I really just try to find w hat is
appropriate to the form of the m usic in question. The right
balance of elem ents: musicality, not overthinking, and
certainly not overplaying - although I wouldn't call m yself
a player w ho sticks to the root notes. I am a com poser
and multi-instrumentalist, and approach any instrum ent
m erely as a tool for expressing the m usic. W ith the bass
in particular, I am looking for how it sits in the spectrum
of frequency, and how it w orks within a particular
arrangem ent. Som etim es the bass is supporting by staying
under the radar, so to speak, and other tim es it is a central
driving force of a groove. It is all, as they say, 'down to the
song'. Or, more specifically, dow n to the m usic in question.
I don't often play five-string b ecau se the tradition of the
four-string b a ss has stood the test of time. It can be good to
limit o neself a s well. M ore than four strings can be fun, but
it beco m es som ething slightly different from b a ss playing.
I grew up listening to M ark King. Slap is im pressive, but
it defines the sound too m uch in one direction for m e to
find it a useful technique texturally. Slap is sport. That said,
the sound of slapping the strings can be effective a s an
extended technique, especially in m ore creative form s.
The secret of playing b ass well is approaching it as a
m usician first and forem ost, fitting into the m usic. Listening.
Blistering chops are all well and good, but am azing technique
should serve the m usic, not the other w ay around.
I play W arw ick basses, which are amazing. I never have
any problem s with them, perfect intonation and consistency
and great tone. I'm also a Fram us guitar endorser: they're the
sister com pany of W arw ick. Thank you Hans Peter Wilfer!
Obviously m y dad has
been an inspiration, but
again, he w as not just a
bass player, and he always
approached playing from
his own, very personal
place. That itself has been
an inspiration: how to
balance having an intimate
understanding of tradition
with developing a personal
voice. I love other players
too, like Jaco, Pino, Ja m es
Jam erson and so on.
Charlie M ingus too, as a
great player and also as a
great composer.
Favourite b a ss tone?
W ow , n o w you 're really
trying to pin m e down!
There are ju st so m any
fabulous records with
fabulous-sounding b a ss
parts. I w ould ch e ck out
all the Stevie W onder
album s for a start, if
you w ant to be m oved
that is. Nathan W atts.
Start with the double
album
Songs In The Key
Of Life.
But tone is so
personal - it's really just
in the fingers.
The secret of great
b a ss playing? Learn your
craft. Learn the rules so
that you can transcend
them. Understand the
infinite potential that you
po ssess. Don't get too
caught up in w orshipping
others. Take care of
yourself. Nurture yourself.
Believe in yourself. Love
yourself. Oh yeah, learn
your harm ony and your
scales too. And the ability
to be spontaneous will
help immensely.
W hat am I up to?
I've been touring a lot
recently, including a world
tour opening up for Jo e
Satriani a couple of years
ago, and lots of gigging
with Eric Clapton's
nephew, and the
legendary producer Andy
Jo h n s' son, Will Johns.
I'm going to be releasing
a n ew C D later this year
and will be out promoting
and touring extensively
after that.
www.malcolmbruce.com
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