So is it just you and the bass then?
You don’t use backing tapes?
What kind of music is it?
I would say the essence of it is the songs. And then because the bass is the band, that gives Single Bass a characteristic sound.
Do you do all that slapping and stuff then?
Oh yes indeed. Slapping, two hand tapping, harmonic chords, and I also use a delay effect on some songs.
Have you ever thought about adding just a little bit of percussion or something?
Obviously it’s crossed my mind, but I really like that magical thing of “One person gets up on stage and does the business”. There’s a connection you get with the audience in that situation which is different from what happens with a band.
I have done other things as well, but then I wouldn’t call them Single Bass.
Have you ever played in a band?
Yes – I had one band during 6th form, drums / bass / vocals / 2 guitars, and another one during college, drums / bass / vocals / guitar / keyboard. Both times, I did bass, lead vocals & songwriting. I’ve also done bass & backing vocals for Tom Robinson a few times, which
Did you start off on guitar?
No, I started on violin when I was 4 and took up the bass when I was 17. I still play violin occasionally.
Whereabouts do you play?
That depends. I can name certain things which may make it more likely I’ll play somewhere now:
- Being in the UK – as I’ve no particular plans currently to tour elsewhere.
- A venue which is fully wheelchair accessible and also allows children. (In the past, I’ve played lots of “upstairs rooms of pubs”, but I’m pretty reluctant to do any more of those now. I’d consider it if there was a special reason.)
- Several people from the same area wanting it to happen, especially if they’re offering some kind of help.
Some of the most exciting Single Bass gigs from the late-80s/90s phase were:
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe as special guest of Tom Robinson in 1998
- UK tours supporting “guitarist’s guitarist” Allan Holdsworth in 1993 & 1994, including the Jazz Café in London and Ronnie Scott’s in Birmingham
- London Astoria and Marquee, both supporting the Enid
- Live radio session for Bob Harris on GLR.
One of the very cool things about Single Bass is that it seems to fit with almost any other kind of music (e.g. rock, pop, world music, jazz, prog, folk), so I’ve also done a huge variety of support slots. Festivals have included Glastonbury, Cambridge Strawberry Fair, Glasgow Mayfest etc.
When are you playing next?
Any current gigs will be listed on the Gigs page. And/or you can also subscribe to the emailing list(s), or follow @SingleBass on Twitter. If you haven’t got email access, then I recommend enlisting a friend who has, if possible.
I did have a (now rather out of date) postal mailing list as well, but it got too big and expensive to use it for most gigs – sorry.
Have you done any recording?
Before these online songs, I did a CD in 1991, Be Your Friend. It had some highly enthusiastic reviews and sold a thousand copies or so, mostly at gigs or to people who’d previously seen SB live. It’s sort of deleted now inasmuch as I’ve got hardly any CDs left and no plans to press more.
I might re-release some or all of it as downloads in the fullness of time, though I think I’d have to rewrite the song Bad – it was written around 1987, when the idea of “safer sex” was in its early days, and so its allusion to sex & death sounds rather dated and erroneous in this day and age.
In general, I think the newer songs are better than most of those, anyway (and not just because people always think their newest stuff is better ::haha:: )
Are you putting more songs on the web site, and if so when?
I don’t really want to say “they’ll be out by a certain date”, because then I get stressed about the deadline and it doesn’t actually make me get the recording done any faster :-/
What I can say is that there is no shortage of songs :-)
Some people have been surprised that I can’t just bosh them off – surely Single Bass must be easy to record? It’s certainly a lot easier now that I’ve got digital editing. On tape (which is how we did the first album), one wrong bass note can ruin a whole take – nowadays I could just edit in a good one. But it can still take a while even just to be sure I’ve arrived at the right speed. I usually do a series of trial versions before going for the “real” one.
Are you doing another CD?
Maybe. But the immediate plan is to release pretty much everything online. Then if I want to do a CD later, it’ll be more of a “Select the favourites from what we’ve got” and less of an enormous project.
Are you with a record company?
No. I did have some interest before I did Be Your Friend, but in the end did it myself, partly just because I thought it would be a cool & exciting thing to do, and partly to avoid futile arguments about whether Single Bass was viable – having once been told in all seriousness by a record company person “Of course, you couldn’t have a whole album of just bass and vocals”.
Then after the first album, I went through a phase of thinking it was important to find a record company for the next one, but at the same time feeling reluctant to risk getting into a situation where Single Bass might get compromised.
Nowadays, though, record companies are entirely optional. So I’d only go that route if I got an offer that felt completely right – working with someone who’s as passionate about spreading the music around as I am about making it, and who’s willing to trust my sense of what Single Bass is about.