What are your strengths and weaknesses beyond bass? Know your skills and bring your best self to the gig.
What’s your role at the gig and in the band?
- While this is a very broad question, it can help to self-define who you are, not only as a bassist, but also as a band member, and a teammate.
- Are you the reliable band member, the fixer (the Wolf), the extreme artist, the motivator, the booking agent, the administrator, etc.
- No better or worse roles, but the importance is understanding what you bring to the table, and maybe consider some roles you can take on to build your value.
- Paul, I think I can take a wild guess at the hats you wear, but tell me, who are you and what do you do?
- Opinion: Tie the rhythm section together, define the chord and the groove; and make room for the vocals
- I’m a manager, booking guy, sometimes musical director, planner, website administrator, and bad designer
- I bring a background as a manager and a technical guy, so at least it’s a good fit… but you have to remember your bandmates aren’t necessarily your employees
- Opinion: Bass is the liaison between the percussive and the melodic; Leading with diplomacy
- I use the same set of rules as a band member
- Reliability – Administrative, managing efficiencies, plan b preparedness
- Communication – Reminders, recaps, planning, marketing
- Motivator – Booking, creating times for discussions
- Helper – Loading in/out, carpool, offer feedback, Got your back
- Music can put people in a vulnerable/humble state – I try to remember that in my approach
- That being said, in real life, I make mistakes or lose focus of my role. Paul, can you think of a time where you fell out of character or common pitfalls?
- I remember a recent occasion where I ended up in a bit of a battle of wills with a guy we brought into the band. It was clear he had an agenda that didn’t agree with the rest of the group. Rather than settle that privately, we did it during a rehearsal and I think it could have gone better. If I’d applied what I know from my day job, I’d have done the “take it offline” thing.
- I find times where my over-preparedness is too much for some people
- There are triggers that will take me to dramaville – Impact on the band/music
- Paul, do you have any tools, tips or tricks on being the bassist?
- Know your part, even if others don’t. When the bass is wrong, or erratic, or missing, it’s much harder for others to recover. Be the foundation!
- I don’t know if all bassists are more inclined to organization and thinking ahead, but many that I meet are. Use that to your advantage, and help your bandmates plan ahead without making them feel bad if they miss something.
- You should be thinking about space as much as you think about notes. Fun thing to try: Don’t play during snare hits. Immediately the sunshine comes in!
- Keep lists, check calendar, keep a band calendar for vacations/personals
- I regularly ask for feedback and listen to the feedback
- Make time to be friends or at least friendly – organize get togethers – hospitality
- Mindful of bandmates strengths & challenges; salesman, absent minded, etc.
- We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but knowing those, building on your strengths, owning your strengths, and being cognisant of your pitfalls along with your bandmates will build your value as a practical bassist. Is everything I do for the purpose of making the band better? Am I playing for the song?