Cody W right does
that rare thing:
play funk with
a pick. Stuart
Clayton asks the
hows, whys and
wherefores
Pic: W ayne Em inger
О
very year the London Bass Guitar
Show plays host to some of the
world's most accomplished bass
players, both known and unknown.
The 2015 show was no different,
with several exciting new voices
heard alongside the more seasoned
regulars. One such voice was Cody Wright, who funked
up a storm at the Vanderkley and Elixir booths with his
monstrous plectrum groove work and assured soloing.
Over the last year Wright has been gradually catching
the collective ear of bassists around the globe, through
his work with the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra - an
indescribable trio built around steel drum player Scales
- and recent YouTube videos. A converted guitarist,
Wright only turned to the bass at the beginning of
2011. “My musical life began at 13, when my nephew
got a guitar” he recalls. “I had been listening to blues
and rock since I was three or four, so the sound of the
guitar was really in my ears: I could sing all the parts, all
those Hendrix licks. As soon as I picked up his guitar I
was able to hack away at it and play that stuff.” Wright
soon discovered legendary guitarists such as Stevie
Ray Vaughan, Scott Henderson, Shawn Lane, Nuno
"W HEN I FOUND OUT W HAT
B O B B Y VEGA W AS DOING, IT
W AS A TURNING POINT"
Bettencourt and Frank Gambale. As he explains: “I would
count all those guys as huge influences. That's where a
lot of my lines and technique came from.”
Fast forward to 2011, and Wright received a phone call
from steel drum player Jonathan Scales, also based in his
home town of Asheville, North Carolina. “He was doing
this really innovative band and running it professionally,
which are two things that stuck out to me as something
to aspire towards. My audition was on January 16,
2011 and I had to borrow a bass from somebody to do
it. Jonathan sent me the charts and I learned the set by
reading, listening and watching a bunch of videos to
make sure I was getting the right notes. I still missed a ton
of stuff, but he liked my intent and my attitude, and so I
got the gig.”
Wright initially considered switching to fingerstyle,
but everything changed for him when a friend
introduced him to the playing of session veteran and
plectrum guru Bobby Vega. “When I found out what
Bobby was doing, it was a turning point,” he confirms.
“I realised that I already had the technique, I just had to
learn how to get good tone out of it. Bobby had a bass
player's ear and sense of groove, but also a bass player's
sense of the role that the bass plays in the band. But it
was the hardest thing I ever did, really, to transition from
the guitar to bass: the band was definitely supportive, but
they weren't very forgiving - and I think that eventually
was a good thing because I got my act together as fast as
I could.”
Equipment-wise, Wright relies on Vanderkley
amplification, favouring the new Aurora head, and a
selection of Zon basses. “The first Zon that I owned is a
1997 Sonus and it's the one I had with me at the LBGS,”
he says. “It has a bubinga top over a swamp ash body, a
composite neck and Bartolini pickups. I also have a Zon
Sonus TJ Todd Johnson model that Joe Zon gave me at
the NAMM Show back in January. It's a beautiful bass
and has a couple of Hipshot tuners on the headstock
which are really fun to use with harmonics. I also have a
'94 Zon Legacy, which is probably the punchiest one: in a
lot of ways it's one of the best sounding basses I have, if
not the best.”
The future looks busy for Wright. A touring schedule
that averages 180 shows a year would be enough for
most musicians, but he's also busy working on a solo
album. 'The title is
A Bass Only A Mother Could Love”
he
laughs. “When I first started doing what I do with a pick, I
was still getting a handle on tone and groove, and people
were saying 'Use your fingers', or 'Get out of the higher
register'. That's where the title comes from, the fact that
some people didn't really dig what I was doing. The focus
of the record will be instrumental and based around my
songwriting in terms of riffs, being as melodic as I can be,
but first and foremost, having a good groove.' ■■
Info: www.codywrightmusic.com
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