Interview for Martin Simpson’s ‘Why I Play Bass’ Book

Here is the interview I did for Martin Simpson’s ‘Why I Play Bass’ Book. Martin is a great guy and I’m really grateful to be a part of this book that features so many amazing musicians including Victor Wooten, Pino Palladino and Paul McCartney.

I started playing bass simply because there was no one to be Jason in what was basically a Metallica tribute band. I started out pretending to sing when my friends wanted to play Silverchair songs together. After my best friend bought some drums to jam with his brother who
played guitar, we decided that with two guitarists and
a drummer that I would have to play bass by default. I
started out playing Rage Against The Machine,
Metallica, Cypress Hill and all the Metal/Rock
classics at the time. I was always into songwriter type
music i.e. Ryan Adams, Ray Lamontagne but I
worshipped Metallica and I had to play with a pick
and be Jason. I spent the next 4 years from when I was
14 to 18 doing gigs playing in a Death Metal Band.
When I finished school in South Africa at 18 I decided
to start a new band and go to London, which is where
I live now. After playing in the same band for 3 years
and trying to ‘go for it’ I got over working on building
sites and playing pub gigs and almost went home to
become a beach bum again. Instead of doing that, I
decided that even if the band was over, I couldn’t stop
playing music and so I started studying Bass at The
University of West London. Going from playing
Metal and Rock my whole life, I learnt more on a one
year diploma course than I had ever before. I decided to carry on studying and have just finished a Bmus

Degree. Over the past 4 years of studying, I gave up playing Metal/Rock as I wanted to move away from that world and that mentality and immerse myself in everything else. I played in every band and with everyone I could. Sometimes gigging 7 nights a week with 6 different bands. With everyone I met, I learnt new ideas and approaches to music. Everyone was telling me different bands and artists to check out and my iTunes library got out of control. During the past few years I have learnt so much about music and tried to follow the tradition of the electric bass from Jamerson to Jaco and all the guys who played with James Brown. Everyone who you got to check out! As my ears and my eyes opened, I got into Double Bass and fell in love with the instrument and with the music – where I hear it the most, which is Jazz. At the moment, I’m still checking out Ray Brown and I’ll probably do that until I die. The reason I have been so in depth when it comes to what I have been doing since I started playing bass is because all of these things have made me understand ‘WHY I PLAY BASS’ which I feel comes from who I am as a person, or I would have given up a million times. I don’t like being the centre of attention, I love to support a vocalist or soloist and I’ll do that all day and night. I love the instrument and the sounds it makes. A low voice, the link between rhythm and harmony. And the instrument is young. James Jamerson was and still is the man and guys like Pino are carrying on that tradition of supporting the music but also having a strong voice on their instrument. I love that there are guys doing all the crazy stuff too and creating any sound you can imagine. I love Matt Garrison and Damian Erskine and I’m fully into learning the tech side of things and getting intergalactic with my own tunes. SO I suppose I love checking out the tradition and I want to push myself creatively just like Matt is doing! When it comes to melody I’m always checking out the great improvisers like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Miles, Coltrane etc and the fact that our instrument can support those ideas is amazing too. The possibilities are endless and that’s why I can’t really stop playing!

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