Jonathan Hischke On Being Game

February 11, 2011
<p><img style="width: 450px; height: 300px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="bp0211_bn_JH4_nr" alt="bp0211_bn_JH4_nr" src="/uploadedImages/bassplayer/articles/bp0211_bn_JH4_nr.jpg" />Proving there's no "right" way to land a gig touring with a chart-topping pop act, we present Broken Bells bassist Jonathan Hischke. How does an uberhipster retro/avant-garde/shredder/minimalist/ iconoclast land a pop gig led by James Mercer of the Shins and superstar producer Danger Mouse? &ldquo;I&rsquo;m most interested in finding compelling sounds,&rdquo; says Hischke, &ldquo;sometimes at the expense of convenience, playability, logic, and good taste.&rdquo; Just a glance at his effect list (Probability Of A Fax Machine?!) confirms his musical mission statement.</p> <p>Hischke&rsquo;s oddball journey started in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his dad was a professional musician. He visited New York to study with classical composers, went to South Korea with an avant-garde theatre group, hit Chicago and joined a hundred eclectic bands, toured worldwide with math/noise rockers Hella, tracked with the retro-garage band Agent Ribbons, fell in with the Mars Volta crew, made records with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Big Sir &hellip; and, skipping ahead another hundred projects, moved to L.A. in 2008 to form the futuristic groove-heavy band Dot Hacker with current Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who referred Hischke to Broken Bells a few years later.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think my enthusiasm for playing is the main reason I ended up in the band, and my sensitivity toward what they were needing from me.&rdquo; When you&rsquo;re getting calls from pop icons and absurdists alike, you must be doing something right.</p> <p><strong>What do you listen for in fellow bass players?</strong></p> <p>I&rsquo;m inspired by Jah Wobble, Tina Weymouth, Bernard Edwards, Eric Avery, Simon Gallup, Tony Levin, Rocco Prestia&mdash;players who find interesting and personal ways of sitting in their musical context. I&rsquo;ve always been mystified by synth bass tones, too. I&rsquo;ve spent hundreds of hours with my good friend Juan Alderete, nerding out about tones and sounds and effects. He has unquestionably been the most important direct inspiration I&rsquo;ve had in that department.</p> <p><strong>Given your vast instrument and pedal collection, how do you choose a tone for a project or song?</strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s always intuitive, and to me it&rsquo;s as important as the notes or feel. I try to find a balance between what the arrangement needs architecturally, what the fellow co-creators involved are hoping for, and exploring my own sometimes abstract ideas.</p> <p><strong>How have you ended up on so many different projects over the years?</strong></p> <p>I think it&rsquo;s mainly just because I&rsquo;m game! I am drawn to idiosyncratic artists, I make myself available to them, and I try my hardest to meet them on their terms, learning everything I can from them. I&rsquo;m often in way over my head, which is a good thing.</p> <p><strong><img width="125" height="124" style="float: left; margin: 5px;" title="bp0211_bn_JH1_nr" alt="bp0211_bn_JH1_nr" src="/uploadedImages/bassplayer/articles/bp0211_bn_JH1_nr.jpg" />HEAR HIM ON</strong><br /> Flying Luttenbachers,<em> Infection and Decline</em> [2010, ugEXPLODE/Karkia Mistika] (expanded/re-mastered from original 2002 release)<br /> Agent Ribbons, <em>Chateau Crone</em> [2010, Antenna Farm Records]<br /> El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez, <em>Cryptomnesia </em>[2009, Rodriguez Lopez Productions]</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>GEAR<br /> </strong><strong><img width="125" height="69" style="float: right; margin: 5px;" title="bp0211_bn_JH2_nr" alt="bp0211_bn_JH2_nr" src="/uploadedImages/bassplayer/articles/bp0211_bn_JH2_nr.jpg" class="design_selected_field" /></strong><strong>Basses </strong>&rsquo;65 Kay semi-hollowbody, &rsquo;80s Roland G-77/GR-77b synth bass, &rsquo;63 Hofner Artist, &rsquo;08 Fender Jaguar Bass, &rsquo;73 Fender Precision Bass, &rsquo;70s Oncor Sound Touch Bass<br /> <strong>Live rig</strong> Aguilar DB 751 head, two Aguilar DB 115 cabs<br /> <strong>Effects </strong>Tronographic Rusty Box, Aguilar Octamizer, Electronix Submarine, Blackout Effectors Musket Fuzz, Tech 21 VT Bass, DigiTech PDS 20/20 MultiPlay, DigiTech Space Station, DigiTech Timebender, Way Huge Swollen Pickle, Pigtronix Envelope Phaser, Pedalfile modded Mid-Fi Clari-Not, Montreal Assembly Probability Of A Fax Machine, Jacques Fat Burner, Tech 21 XXL Bass Edition, DOD Meat Box, Pefftronics Rand-O-Matic, and many more</p>
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