WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE “FUNK MACHINE?”
James Jamerson’s flatwound-strung ’62 Fender Precision and Marcus Miller’s modified Jazz Bass rank high on the list, but in the hands of Killers bassist Mark Stoermer, a dark-horse contender emerges: a flatpicked Hofner “Beatle Bass.” That’s Stoermer’s axe of choice for delivering Chic-like funk on “Joy Ride,” a four-on-the-floor disco romp that graces his band’s latest, Day & Age.
Why do you prefer picking with the Killers?
The even attack, and the grit.
How can you play pickstyle but retain the warmth that comes from playing fingerstyle?
You can turn the tone knob down, play softer, or palm-mute. I do a lot of muting, which I think I got from Paul McCartney and John Paul Jones. If you want a warmer tone, fingers tend to work better. Of course, it depends—people like John Entwistle can make their fingers sound like a pick. But to be honest, I wasn’t looking for much warmth in the beginning. Plus, a hollowbody played with a pick can sound warmer than a solidbody played fingerstyle.
In the past you’ve played P-Basses; why have you switched to Geddy Lee Jazz Basses?
They take a lot of punishment—I can hit really hard and the notes don’t die off.
What music do you tend to listen to?
I go in phases. A couple months ago I was really diving into Bob Dylan, listening to every record over and over. Newer bands I’ve come to like are Bat For Lashes and Mastodon. I’ve gotten into Fela Kuti, and I listen to a lot of jazz. It’s all totally different from the Killers, but that doesn’t matter. Everything you listen to affects you on some level, but you’re also limited by your abilities. Most players have their strengths and weaknesses, and gravitate towards their strengths. But sometimes you’ve got to challenge yourself.
HEAR HIM ON
The Killers, Day & Age, [Island/Def Jam, 2008]
Basses Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Basses, Hofner 500/1, Guild Starfire, Fender Tony Franklin Precision Bass (fretless)
Rig Two Hiwatt Custom 200 heads, two Hiwatt SE-1510 4x10+1x15 cabs (one rig with effects, one clean)
Effects Modified Boss BD-2 Blues Driver, Boss GEB-7 Bass EQ (for volume boost)
Strings GHS Bass Boomers