ON SILVERSUN PICKUPS’ THIRD RELEASE, NECK OF
the Woods, Nikki Monninger crafts driving and droning bass lines that
inspire conviction to the band’s emotional, often volatile sound. Tracks
such as “Skin Graph” and “Busy Bees” depict Monninger’s grasp of
simplicity and the impact it has on orchestration. Having assumed
bass duties during the conception of Silversun, Monninger found her
identity with the instrument immediately, developing a steady pick
hand and venturing to adapt acoustic
bass guitar as an important element
in the band’s performances.
| SILVERSUN PICKUPS
How did you approach the bass
parts for this record?
When we showed up to the
studio I had the ideas for bass all
mapped out, but [producer] Jacknife
Lee took my notes, threw them
on the ground, and told me to play
what I was feeling in the moment.
It was hard, because I like the idea
of rehearsing something so that it
is polished. He also wanted me to
listen to a lot of funk bass before
we began writing, which isn’t necessarily
my style of playing. When
I listen back to the album, I can
definitely hear traces of it.
A lot of your riff s are driving ostinato lines.
I grew up liking bass lines that were repetitive, but I also
like when the bass is melodic, so I tend to combine those two
approaches. I like doing repetitive things and then throwing in a
little change here or there, because it becomes more impactful.
The band has been playing some acoustic gigs. How does that
change things for you?
It’s a little harder to play acoustic bass guitar.
I have mainly been practicing with acoustic basses
now because it’s like when baseball players swing
with a weighted bat; playing electric is much easier
after that. My first goal was to avoid feedback with
the bass, which is something I’m still working on.
Do you feel that women approach the bass differently
I think there’s a little less showboating with
females as musicians in general. We tend to play more
of a supportive role, which may be why a lot of girls
gravitate toward the bass. There are probably differences
with physical technique, but that changes from
player to player.
What are your main goals sonically?
I’m a traditionalist; I try to keep the low end my
first priority. Bassists definitely have the foundational
job within a band, and having a big low-end
sound holds that up. I don’t make the bass jump out
if it doesn’t need to.
of the Woods
Capitan IV Acoustic
Amp Ampeg SVT-CL head
and 8x10 cab
Effects Malekko Barker
Assmaster, Zvex Woolly
Mammoth bass fuzz, Boss