BASSISTS
ANDY PEARSON, THE BEAT
Is Two-Tone the coolest music for bassists of all? Quite possibly,
if you ask the Beal's bass player Andy Pearson.
Interview: Andy Hughes Pics: Yad
Jaura
ndy Pearson is a Coventry
native, which means that he
grew up with the movers and
shakers of the 1980s' Two-Tone
movement. For newcomers,
Two-Tone was the description
- taken from the record label
which released music from the genre's main bands -
for a revival of ska music, the upbeat reggae-based
Jamaican sound imported into the UK by a large
immigrant population from the West Indies and
boosted with the energy of punk. Although Pearson
now holds down the bottom end of the sound for
revitalised ska-meisters the Beat, who hail from
nearby Birmingham,
growing up with the
boys who became the
Specials meant that he
was always going to be a
ska musician.
“It sounds like a real
cliche, but honestly I
have never wanted to
do anything else but
be a musician,” Pearson
confirms. “I was given a toy guitar when I was about
three and I never looked back. I lived in Coventry,
which was the home of the Two-Tone explosion and
the huge revival of ska music. It all took place around
a centre of about four streets - so if you were there,
you grew up like I did playing in local bands and
being good friends with the Two-Tone crowd.”
In a fast-paced dance style like ska, you need
nimble fingers - or maybe just one nimble finger, as
Pearson explains. “No matter how complicated the
music is, I always endeavour to play with just one
finger, using a second finger if I really have to. My
inspiration there is Jerry Scheff, who played with
Elvis's touring band and with the Doors: he played
with one finger. That's not to say that I don't play
fast: some lines do need two fingers. There is a fair
amount of muting goes on with the left hand, too: in
Beat songs, I can go from a poppy ska beat straight
into a hard reggae beat, and there is no time to re-EQ
everything, so you have to know how to get different
sounds using your strings and hands.”
He continues: “Sometimes I put my thumb over
the pickup and that will generate a nice sound. If you
move towards the neck, that gives a thicker, more
meaty sound. Sometimes I use my thumbnail as a
pick: I can't remember where I first saw that done,
but it might have been Randy Jackson. But even
T SOUNDS LIKE A REAL CLICHE, BUT
HONESTLY I HAVE NEVER W ANTED TO DO
AN YTHIN G ELSE BUT BE A M U SICIA N "
though I don't use a pick, I fully appreciate that they
are needed for some styles. I saw Anthrax not long
ago, and I watched Frank Bello using a pick, which he
needs to get that speed and power into the notes he
plays on one song: their cover of Joe Jackson's 'Got
The Time'. So, I use my thumb for the thicker lines.”
Drums drive any band from the bottom up, a
dynamic that Pearson understands extremely well.
“I love working with our drummers,” he says. “Fuzz
Townshend, who also plays for the Wonder Stuff,
and Oscar Harrison, who plays for Ocean Colour
Scene, are filling the drum chair now, and I'm very
lucky to have them as they're both great drummers.
BASS GUITAR MAGAZINE
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