Preston Crump: Barbershop Chops

PRESTON CRUMP HAS SPENT THE LAST two decades earning hundreds of studio credits (and millions of frequent flyer miles) with top acts such as OutKast, TLC, En Vogue, Curtis Mayfield, Raphael Saadiq, Destiny’s Child, and Dr. Dre.
By Jon D'Auria ,

PRESTON CRUMP HAS SPENT THE LAST two decades earning hundreds of studio credits (and millions of frequent flyer miles) with top acts such as OutKast, TLC, En Vogue, Curtis Mayfield, Raphael Saadiq, Destiny’s Child, and Dr. Dre. There’s just one thing that’s been missing from Crump’s otherwise stellar CV—an album of his own. Destination, credited to Preston’s Worldwide Funky Barbershop, fills that void. On his solo debut, Crump’s chops as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist make it clear that he’s far more than a mere sideman.

What led to you record Destination?

I always get ideas for riffs and melodies when I’m on the road or in the studio. Over the years, I’ve just laid them down and developed them. A lot of my songs start with a cool groove that goes through my head, and then I put the bass to it and see where it goes from there.

You began writing songs for this album back in 2001. Why did it take ten years to finish?

I had been so busy touring for so many years with different acts that I kept losing time to work on it. When I finally got back to it, I knew I had to do something different because so much was changing. By 2001, the whole Atlanta scene was shutting down because there were no more labels here, and I wasn’t working that much with OutKast. I knew it was my chance to get the music out that had been in my head. But I wanted to do it right, so I didn’t rush the process.

How did you decide to make a soulful and funky album instead of a more typical bass solo album?

I realized that I picked the wrong major when I attended Berklee College of Music. My major was performance, but in my senior year I figured out that I didn’t want to be a technique-oriented player who sought the spotlight; I just wanted to be part of a good band that made good music. In my senior year, I took a pop composition class and the teacher said, “You might have a knack for this—maybe you should’ve been doing this the whole time.”

Which of your past projects had the greatest influence on Destination?

This album is definitely most similar to my work with OutKast. We had a tight connection because I grew up on the P-Funk kind of stuff they were making cool again.

You’ve been a producer, bassist, singer, programmer, and keyboardist on other people’s projects. What was it like to do it all yourself on Destination?

It was good to have so much freedom, but it was hard, too; no one was there to say, “Yeah, that’s it. That’s the sound.” The only way I could ever really know when a song was complete was to put something down and listen to it later with fresh ears.

Do you have any advice for bass players thinking of recording a solo album?

As a bass player, you usually only have to worry about you and the drummer. On a solo record, you’re responsible for all the music. You have to focus in on every last detail and push yourself past what you usually do. You have to switch your ear from a bassist’s to a producer’s. I find that if you want to succeed, you’d better stick with your blueprint.

HEAR HIM ON

Preston’s Worldwide Funky Barbershop, Destination [Preston’s Worldwide Funky Barbershop, 2011]

GEAR

Basses Fender Hot Rod P-Bass, Yamaha BB5000, ’77 Fender Jazz Bass
Rig ’70s Ampeg SVT head, Ampeg 8x10 cab, Aguilar DB750 head, Aguilar GS410 cab
Strings La Bella Nylon Tapewound, Thomastik Flatwounds