ERIC AVERY IS NO STRANGER TO BEING
from landmark bands. After co-founding Jane’s Addiction in 1985 and
next six years to assemble several albums’ worth of memorable bass
departed and headed out in search of new projects. He worked
on solo material, movie scoring, and even producing before he began getting
calls for tryouts from Metallica, Tool,
and Smashing Pumpkins. Avery kept course with his own material until he
a call from Shirley Manson of
Garbage in 2005. The bassist clicked with the famed electro-alternative
rockers, and he immediately joined them
for their Bleed Like Me tour.
This year, Avery is back on the road with Garbage in support of
Your Kind of People, reconstructing the
tracks of Justin Meldal-Johnsen and reinterpreting the tracks he himself
contributed to the record. Avery is also
busy working on his second solo album and partnering with Brent Hinds
(Mastodon), Ben Weinman (Dillinger
Escape Plan) and Jon Theodore (the Mars Volta) to form GTO, which is fusing
mathcore roots with Avery’s own
“simple is better” sensibility.
How are you making these Garbage bass lines your own in
I’ve never been one to focus on what the kick drum is doing, but
so much going on in Garbage’s music, Butch [Vig, drums] and I have
fetish of what the kick does with the bass, and we find ways
to get them together or keep them separate. But really, the Zen art to me is
choosing the notes that I don’t play.
Are there any parts from the album that you’ve
There are parts in Garbage’s music where the bass is very jazzy
is not my thing—I’m not interested in creating more of that
in my playing. So I
had to figure out how to change it and make it my own. I decided
to approach the jazzier songs in a dub way that has a round sound with no
What is a Garbage show like from your
I occupy an unusual space, both figuratively and literally; the bass player is
the one person who isn’t an original member. So I’ve found
myself performing to
not get in their way. But at the same time I want to step it up and bring my
best game to the performance. And that’s
true musically, as well.
Describe your writing technique.
I don’t really have much technique with a capital T, because
self-taught. I just modeled
myself from the English bassists from the ’80s—
primarily Peter Hook from Joy Division. Ironically,
I’ve found out that guitar players wrote a lot of those
bass lines. I think that really sculpted my melodic
approach as a bass player.
How did your time with Jane’s Addiction shape
you as a bassist?
Playing with Steven [Perkins, drums] and Dave
[Navarro, guitar] all those years was very formidable. If I hadn’t
guys who play like that,
my bass playing would probably be a lot busier now-
adays. Both of them play so tastefully, it forced me
to find a few notes and repeat them just to lock it all
down. And that kept us all in line and kept us away
from fusion land. They always pulled Perry and me
in a rock direction, which made me more of an ath-
letic bass player.
What’s your take on the importance of music
theory in a rock setting?
I have learned a lot in terms of formal music
theory, and I feel I’ve done a good job of not letting
it take away from my natural way of writing. Luck-
ily, my bass strap isn’t fastened high up near my neck
yet. You have to have an understanding of theory as
a bass player, because if you do something weird like
throw in some strange inversion, it’s going to make
the whole sound misshapen. I always just come back
to focusing on the principal of bass.
What makes your playing so influential to
I believe people cite me as an influence because of
the band I was in, and the role that the bass played
in that band. I learned early on that less is more,
and I knew to stick with it. I always used to say that
I write bass lines that I could teach my mom how to
play. And some rock songs are unidentifiable if you
play the bass parts on their own. I want mine to be
distinctive even when they’re isolated.
How did GTO first assemble?
We all converged out in Austin, and we jammed
together and then left and never really followed up.
About eight months later, Brent did an interview
and mentioned it. That got a lot of attention, and
the idea was exciting people. So we decided that we
should probably pursue it. We have a pretty sub-
stantial amount of material now. It’s challenging for
me, because it’s a lot of weird time signatures, and I
have to keep up with those guys and their mathcore
Not Your Kind
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