What a good question.
Growing up, music was everything. Those in my family who couldn’t/didn’t play instruments were hard-core audiophiles. Music was all around me, almost all the time. But I was a bit of a weird kid. Tall and uncoordinated, I’d play D&D on recess instead of whatever team sport was in season, and write Commodore 64 programs after school instead of running around with the neighborhood kids. And I embraced it, too. I knew I was a nerd, and I was OK with that.
So when it came time for my folks to ask me if I wanted to take music lessons and, if so, on what instrument… it was only natural for me to think of Weird Al Yankovic and saddle up with the accordion. I took… two years of weekly accordion lessons at the local Milton Mann Accordion Studio, and I still have my accordion today; it’s a mother of pearl, 120 bass Contello purchased through the studio where I was being instructed. I love that thing, it’s the only thing of import I still have from my childhood.
Of course I finally grew into my body and put the accordion down for BMX and cars and girls, but music was always one of my main interests. I went to high school during a time where the metal fans hung with the metal fans, and the punks with the punks, and the mods with the mods, and the new wavers with the new wavers. They all called me a “poser” because I didn’t fall into one of those groups; I dug Metallica just as much as I did the Sex Pistols and DEVO, and I often wore my checkerboard Vans (a BMX racing necessity as well as a hallmark “headbanger” shoe) to school on the same day I’d wear a Siouxsie and the Banshee’s t-shirt.
Anyway, it was about that time that my brother started playing guitar. I hadn’t thought about playing music in a long time, but seeing him play really sparked up the drive to play again. I couldn’t get into guitar, of course, because that was “his thing” and neither of us were mature enough to realize that guitars are big enough for the both of us. I couldn’t pick up the accordion again… that would be TOO nerdy, even for me. So I started thinking and I realized that when I hum music, or hear it in my head, it’s the bassline I’m focusing on. Not the lyrics, not the guitar solos or melodies, but the basslines. At that point I said, “if ever I get another instrument, it’s gonna be a bass”.
A few years later, bands like Primus and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Infectious Grooves started popping up, and I knew I was hooked. I didn’t want to play that style of bass then - and I still don’t now - but I knew that an instrument that could go from something like Linda Ronstadt’s Blue Bayou to Primus’ Tommy the Cat was an instrument I wanted to play. I went to Guitar Center and got myself a white Epiphone Accu-Bass, and it’s all been downhill since then.
There have been a couple of times that I’ve “gotten out” of playing bass, where I’ve sold off my stuff only to buy new stuff later (like, my original Epiphone Accu-Bass and 20w Fender combo amp was sold, later I bought a Yamaha RBX170 and Carvin 300w combo amp, which I later sold and re-bought an Ibanez SR300 and Hartke 15w combo amp) but bass has always been something I’ve followed and been enthused about.
And there you have it. All sorts of details you didn’t need or want to know, to answer the “what inspired me to play bass” question.