M ALCOLM BRU CE, SON OF FOE LATE JA C K , TA LKS ABO U T LIFE AT THE B A SS END
[W arw ick BASSES
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
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
Songs In The Key
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
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
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