8 months ago

BassPlayer 2017-04

BassPlayer 2017-04

CS STING “Descending

CS STING “Descending bass lines work every time. The song becomes more intense and profound the deeper the bass line goes.” 32 / april2017

and bassists like James Jamerson and Carol Kaye— music where the bass has a huge effect. The same with reggae, which has always been in my ears because London was the center of reggae. I’ve always had an affinity for playing reggae bass, while American bassists tend to struggle with it. Overall, I was more attracted to the thick, thumpy bass in R&B and reggae. I didn’t care much for the thin, wiry sound a lot of English bassists had, brilliant as they were. And out of all of that came your ability to sing while playing an independent bass line. Yes, basically from trying to be a functional bassist and not get in the way of my singing. People say I leave a lot of space in my bass lines—well, that’s the way I sing! [Laughs.] But I do enjoy the puzzle of how to sing against a contrapuntal bass line. As we bassists know, it’s not the same as strumming four to the bar on guitar, while singing. It takes a bit of division of thought. But if you slow it down, break down the components, and speed it up gradually, anything can be played and sung at the same time. It’s just practice; there’s no magic to it, you put the hours in. It’s a skill I’ve developed. Is your ’57 Fender Precision the only bass you play on the album? Yes, it’s the only bass I want to play; I’ve had it for almost 25 years. I’ve got a backup ’57, but this particular ’57 has a growl that I can’t find in any other bass. It has a single-wound pickup probably wound by Mr. Leo Fender himself, and it has gouges and wear, but it has a spirit. I think the more music you play on an instrument, the more responsive and better it gets. I’ll pick up a new bass occasionally, but I’ll put it right down. I want an instrument with some history and character and feel. Bass Player had the opportunity to play Jaco’s recovered Bass of Doom. His famous lines seemed to almost play themselves; you could feel all the hours he spent creating on it. That’s remarkable. Speaking of his bass lines, I’ve been revisiting “Teen Town” of late, and I play it at soundchecks. Jaco recalibrated the whole idea of what it meant to be a bass player. His playing and his choices on that tune particularly still blow me away. And you knew him. Yes, I knew him personally; he used to come and see the Police down in Miami. He was a brilliant musician and a lovely guy. I miss him. His death was so senseless and unnecessary. I’d be fascinated to know what he’d be up to now, musically, had he survived. On both “Inshallah” and particularly the Berlin Sessions version of the song, your ’57 Precision sounds like an upright bass. The upright is something I aspire to; I love that sound and tone. I first played it when I was in school, and then over the years with the Police and on my records. However, unless you play it every day, you can’t keep your chops up, so I’ve had to leave it behind for the most part. But my Precision THE LOGICAL EVOLUTION OF BASS TECHNOLOGY WILLCOX SABER VL5 | TRANSPARENT NATURAL High quality woods and components, acoustically advanced design and boutique craftsmanship, combined with industry exclusive LIGHTWAVE OPTICAL PICKUPS, creates an instrument like nothing you’ve ever played before. Powerful and concise low end. Clear, sustaining highs. A vocal and detailed midrange... the true voice of the instrument at your fingertips. Come and HEAR THE LIGHT for yourself. Learn more at does have an organic growl, so if you’re hearing an upright bass, that makes me happy. For the bonus version of “Inshallah,” we went to Berlin and played with some Syrian refugees who’d found a home there, who were all from Aleppo. Aleppo was the music center of the Arab world. Musicians would go there to learn their craft. These guys told me their stories, how they escaped and got to Germany, their / april2017 33

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