As I’ve been looking into bands and bassists to shape my development as a bass player, I tend to listen to a TON of podcast episodes talking about a bassist’s journey.
What made them pick up a bass?
And what bands/bassists inspired them?
I realized that the bands I’m currently listening to the most are NOT the bands that I grew up listening to and likely had the biggest impact on me musically.
I found that odd.
I know that musical tastes change as we all do but I found it funny that if someone interviewed me, and asked how I got here, I’m not sure how I could answer it.
So, here’s the experiment:
You’re a pro bassist for “X” band that you’re in. You’re a guest on a podcast and they’ve asked you:
What bassist/band influenced you most into the player you are today?
If I look back at what I would consider were my most formative years musically (I’m 42 and I’m looking at my teens), I’d have to say:
Metallica, RATM, GnR, GRUNGE in general, The Mars Volta, Coheed and Cambria and a sprinkling of FUNK.
If I look at this list, maybe only Flea (by way of Mars Volta) and Tim Commerford from RATM would be direct influences on my wanting to play the bass.
Hooky, no question. Followed probably by Simon Gallup.
Interesting… 311 made me want to play drums and 20 years later made me want to play bass. But the player I am today is mostly influenced by The Cure’s Simon Gallup, Mark Hoppus from Blink 182, and Hunter Burgan from AFI. I didn’t even know who Hunter was until after I started playing bass.
I still want to play like P-nut from 311, I’m just not there yet.
The reason I asked, is that I’m currently looking at bassists like Phil Lynott and Duff.
When I listened to GnR in my youth, it was definitely not for the bass playing lol
And I only recently got into Thin Lizzy as a result of taking the bass seriously.
If anything I should be looking into Robert Deleo from STP since Grunge feature heavily in my formative years.
Yeah I get that - I went deep on Chris Wolstenholme for a while.
For me? Easy. 1985, 14 year old me was introduced to Rush, and I discovered Geddy Lee. Game, set, match. He is the PRIMARY reason I own a bass now. Just took me 40 years to get one.
Well, first was John Deacon from Queen. Then after that it was Steve Harris.
I listen to all kinds of music and the music i listen to most is not the music i play most on guitar and neither of those are the kinds of music i usually play on bass
I used to play trombone and bassoon, after playing guitar for several years and not loving it i got a bass and discovered that bass is just my thing. On bass, i play songs that have good bass lines, that’s pretty much the only criteria
Hoo boy…gonna have to reach back much farther than most.
I began playing bass just after Christmas 1965. Six months later I was the bassist and lead vocalist in a rock band. For many of us our biggest musical influences came from the Beatles so at inception it would be McCartney.
Whom I am now and have been for many years would come more from those bassists known for their work in R&B/Soul bands and recordings like Jamerson, Jermott, Duck Dunn, Bob Babitt, David Hood, Nathan East, George Porter Jr, etc. But also guys like Leland Sklar, Randy Meisner, Tim Schmid who were well known in Country Rock circles. I’m a huge melting pot of bass influences.
I’m new to bass, and regret passing up earlier opportunities. I played tuba thru Jr High and High School, had a lot of fun. Later in my 20’s, a friend wanted to start a band, told me he would play keyboards, I could use his PB setup and that it was easy to learn. Didn’t do it, and don’t know why.
Skip ahead 30+ years… Covid hits, and I teach myself guitar at age 57 using Steve Stine’s youtube vids. Three years into guitar, I watch the documentary where Rob Trujillo joins Metallica, and I buy a cheap Fender acoustic bass and blow through the Bass Buzz course in about 40 days.
I always liked the idea of being a guitarist, but frankly, the bass feels completely natural to me. Also increases the odds of playing in a band. I recently bought a MM Sterling Stingray 34HH, and am shopping for an amp…
So here I am.
I am so grateful for the long tradition our instrument has.
I’m continually in awe at the musicianship that early players had on the bass.
There’s a lot to “steal” from them as most of the time they aren’t doing anything crazy in technique-wise but in terms of musicality, it’s tough to beat.
I relate a ton to this.
I was incredibly influenced by guitar players growing up. And it’s almost like it was against my will - they are always front and centre, the market is much bigger in terms of options and brands, and they tend to be way more famous.
I felt like the guitar always fought me though. No matter how much time I spent on it, the courses (oh gosh the money…), I never felt like I was a guitarist. Someone that played guitar sure but nothing I could truly identify with.
I can honestly say that every time I pick up the bass, something new happens. Almost as if I can finally express my ideas musically.
If you think back on it before rock bassists were playing upright basses that to a large degree limited what they were able to play. So with maybe the exception of Be Bop jazz bass lines were fairly structured and simple.
The electric bass gave a bassist the freedom to play it more like a guitar and expanded the whole world of how much more important a role the bass began to play in recordings. I think James Jamerson who had formerly played upright bass was one of the first to take advantage of this at Motown.
Another example would be how Paul McCartney’s bass lines on early hits were fairly simple then expanded and became more complex and often far more melodic later on as did the Beatles song writing skills.
And I agree with you that with maybe the exception of Jaco more technically challenging stuff on bass came along much later whereas in inception we were simply serving the song propelling it along as the tie in between melody and rhythm. We’ve come a long way with virtuosity since then.
I am a melting pot of influences as well. 80s rock to heavy metal. Through the years my tastes were everywhere except funk, maybe i havent heard more of it as I dont really seek it out. Main reason for wanting to play bass was
I don’t reach back anywhere near as far (although rapidly approaching AARP age) but I do love the Animals which definitely do go back to '65, then there’s Velvet underground which came around a year or 2 later and I’ve loved them most of my life.
The Animals original bassist Chas Chandler who went on to become a well known producer is often credited with having “discovered” Jimi Hendrix. That band was and still is one of my favorite British Invasion groups.