by Brian FoxHow did you get your start in music?
I started out playing drums when I was a kid, and I thought of myself as a drummer for many years, playing in local punk bands and high school jazz band. After a friend gave me an old P-Bass for high-school graduation, I started playing whenever anyone needed a bass. Later, I had some formal training at University of North Texas and at Loyola University in New Orleans.
What carries over from your background as a drummer?
I think all bass players—all musicians, really—should learn drums. It helps you lock in, because you can better understand what a drummer is doing; you can speak the language and use those ideas on bass. All of us in Mute Math were drummers at one point, so we switch instruments onstage.
How did you start playing upright?
I’d always been into jazz and wanted an upright, but they were way too expensive. I grew up on the Texas border, and when I’d walk across to Mexico, I’d see these cheap old uprights. I bought one and took it to North Texas, but people wouldn’t stop laughing! I finally mustered up enough money and bought a ’50s Kay about ten years ago.
What’s your favorite amp for recording?
I’ve used Ampeg SVTs, but we got the best bass sounds using guitar amps. I used an old ’60s Maverick guitar amp, and for my own home recordings, I use a Fender Concert combo with four 10s. The grit and energy you can get from guitar amps seems to translate well on record. Live, I use a Mesa/Boogie 400+ head with a 4x12 cabinet. It’s somewhat like a guitar amp—I can turn up the gain to get some grit, and the 12s break up in a nice way.
What about basses?
I play mainly a ’78 P-Bass, and I also tour and record with the Kay. A New Orleans luthier named Sal helped me rig a P-Bass pickup at the end of the upright’s fingerboard, which really helps me get my live upright sound.
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