Shinedown, Eric Bass: Jump Hard, Play Light

ERIC BASS HAD BEEN THERE AND DONE that.
By E.E. Bradman ,

ERIC BASS HAD BEEN THERE AND DONE that. He hadn’t exactly sworn off being a bass player, but the South Carolinian—who put in time on drums, trombone, and guitar before focusing on 4-string—had purposely left the touring life to be a producer and engineer. Not long after he opened Ocean Industries studios in Charleston, however, hard rockers Shinedown came in to write and record Sound of Madness [Atlantic, 2008], and things went so well that when the bass chair opened up, Bass (pronounced with a soft “a,” like the fish) was the logical choice.

Four years later, Shinedown’s Amaryllis [Atlantic/Roadrunner] has Eric’s fingerprints all over it. Bass co-wrote, produced, and engineered many of the demos on his mobile Pro Tools rig and at Ocean Industries, and his signature Dean 4-string rumbles authoritatively underneath songs like “Bully” and “Adrenaline.” Meanwhile, Bass is doing what he once thought impossible: balancing careers as a bassist, band member, studio owner, and producer. “Maintaining my connections, keeping my chops up, and working hard in the studio has paid off,” he says. “I get to do both studio and stage work, and it’s a real blessing.”

When you’re producing sessions, do you think like a bass player?

It’s the opposite, actually. As a bass player, I’m always thinking like a producer: What does this song need me to do on bass?

How was it being on the other side of the console from producer/A&R man Rob Cavallo?

Karma’s a bitch, man! I don’t know how many times I’ve had to sit there and tell bass players to do stuff they didn’t really like [laughs]. Being produced was painful sometimes, but I learned a lot from watching Rob work.

In tracking, you use a guitar amp rather than an overdrive pedal. Why?

Because somewhere in there, I’m gonna lose my low end. Having that separate guitar rig means that when I hit that “on” button, my bass tone stays the same.

Why do so many metal and hard rock records have such pitiful bass tone?

Not to generalize, but bass players who are ex-guitar players don’t think like bass players; they don’t play in the pocket, and they dig in too hard. If you play lightly and in the pocket, a good mixer or engineer will be able to make your bass sound enormous. It can be hard to remember on stage, but I remind myself before shows: Jump hard, play light.

GEAR

Basses Dean Hillsboro Eric Bass signature, custom Dean basses, Nash and Benavente vintage-style basses, Ernie Ball Sterling
Rig Hartke LH1000 and Kilo amps, two Hartke HyDrive 8x10 cabs; Dean Dime D100 guitar head and Dime 4x12 cab
Effects Ernie Ball volume pedal, EBS UniChorus, Digi- Tech Hardwire DL-8 delay, Electro-Harmonix POG Strings SIT Power Wound and Rock Brights (.050–.110)
Picks InTune, .73mm
Other Shure UR4+ wireless units, Whirlwind Multi- Selector Rack, DBX 160A compressor, Radial JX44, Radial SGI interface, Voodoo Labs power supply, Boss TU-3 tuner, Furman AR-20 II Voltage Regulator