UTILIZING A 6-STRING BASS AND AN ARRAY OF TECHNIQUES that include tapping and arpeggio sweeps, Andreas Blomqvist is churning it out for a new generation of head-banging bass players. Unlike many other bands in the progressive metal genre, where the guitar is the primary source of material, Blomqvist is forging a path not only as a virtuoso bassist, but also as one of the primary songwriters in his band, Seventh Wonder.
What’s your approach to recording bass?
On The Great Escape, we used a blend of the line out from my amp and a mic on the speaker cabinet. I always throw in a direct signal, as well, just to give whoever does the mix something clean to work with if he wants to re-amp.
When in the process do you cut your bass tracks?
On the first album I did it straight after the drums. Since then, we do drums, keyboards, and then bass, then hit the rhythm guitars. The benefit of having the keyboards there, especially when you do as I do, playing a lot of stuff up high on the neck, intonation can be tricky. With the keyboard pads or chords in place, you can make sure you’re spot on, intonation-wise.
When you talk about intonation, are you playing fretless?
No, I’m not. In my experience, especially with a 6-string, you can be more in tune with open strings, but out when you’re up noodling up high. And if you’re trying to pick chords and you want them to ring through, it’s not always perfect. Sometimes I end up re-tuning in the range I’m playing. But that’s been less of an issue with my MTD.
You have a unique approach to playing arpeggios.
I never liked what I heard anybody doing on bass in terms of arpeggios. I think it sounded too much like strumming chords or dead notes; I wanted to sound fluid and clear, so I spent a lot of time developing my own technique. I’m playing something that looks a little more like classical guitar technique in my right hand. If I’m playing an ascending A minor line with two notes on the first string, I’m using a downstroke with the thumb to pick the root note, then a hammer-on to the 3rd, then continue across the strings ascending with my fingers and then rake it back down. So I always start the sequence with the thumb.
Who is your biggest influence?
Thomas Miller, who plays on the first Symphony X album. His bass is very audible, and you can clearly hear it and distinguish what’s going on. The things that he did, in my mind, had never been done before. I’m still surprised to this day I don’t hear more people mention him. He was definitely a big foundation for the way I play today.
Seventh Wonder, The Great Escape [Lion Music, 2010]
Basses MTD custom 6-string, fretless MTD Kingston 6-string
Rig EBS Fafner head, EBS ProLine 4x10 and 1x15 cabinets
Strings EBS Stainless Steel, .025–.125