But Seriously Folks...

WITH THIS ISSUE, WE LAUNCHED OUR questionable (but always entertaining—at least to us) practice of including April Fool’s items in the April issue.
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From April 1992

WITH THIS ISSUE, WE LAUNCHED OUR questionable (but always entertaining—at least to us) practice of including April Fool’s items in the April issue. In the New Gear column—by R. U. Seerius—we highlighted the Decibel Enterprises bass (“a 6-string piccolo bass with an unusual tuning: E, A, D, G, B, E”), the Sample- Tech background-vocal pedal (“onboard controls include duration and number of dudes”), and the Silicold transistor-emulator amp (“an all-tube bass head that simulates the cold sound of vintage solid-state electronics”). On the back page, we ran the Selfportrait with bandaged ear of Vincent Van Gogh (“He didn’t actually play bass, but he had a great ear”). The pièce de résistance, though, was Lumpy Fatt’s Product Profile of the entirely fictitious Wesco PeneTraitor, a “body-through-neck” bass that “emits crackling, distorted static that only gets worse as you tweak your tone.” We actually heard from people who wanted to know where they could buy one.

The cover story on Sting was dead serious, of course. It had taken months of negotiations to work out a deal for former Musician magazine editor Vic Garbarini to sit down with Mr. Sumner and get him to focus on bass playing rather than Zen or lute music or why the Police had broken up. (Well, there was some of that.) In the end, it turned out great and became one of the most high-profi le BP interviews ever. Here are some of the things that Sting had to say.

“It’s easier for the bass player to lead the band than almost anyone else, because you can lead without seeming to. It’s a very powerful yet very discreet instrument. You can control the music because you can dictate what the chord is—I mean, it’s not a chord until the bass player decides what the root is. I can pull the rug out from under everybody when things aren’t going right. No matter what the keyboard player and guitarist are doing, I can subvert the whole thing by changing the chord. I can also change the rhythmic feel of the song with the drummer. I manipulate these elements all the time.”

“When I need that extra bit of volume, it comes from my fingers. Not from cranking the amp to 11. If the volume is in control of you, you’re constantly fighting a battle with it—but if you’re in control of the volume, then you’re winning.”

“Paul McCartney was a model in terms of being a bass player/songwriter. He had a good understanding of the bass’s function, both melodically and contrapuntally. Anyone who plays bass and sings knows that most bass parts go against the rhythm. It’s a counterpoint, and if you’re singing on top of it you’ve got two lines weaving in and out of each other.”

The Wesco PeneTraitor

“I’ve never thought much about the bass parts while I was writing, to be honest. I just make them up on the spot once I’ve written the song, with an eye toward being able to sing at the same time.”

“The older I get, the more I like dissonance— that bitter harmony. There’s a b5 harmony that I play at the end of ‘The Wild Wild Sea,’ and a couple of the crew came up to me and said, ‘Hey, this is a mistake.’ I said, ‘No, it’s a b5. It has a bitter quality about it, that’s all.’ This is popular music and it’s pretty simple, but occasionally you can do little things that suggest something unusual. If I hear intervals that people fi nd horrendous, I love them. It demands a level of concentration that is very rewarding, but it’s an acquired taste—like Campari, which I love.”

“I just hope I have the courage to keep taking risks. Whatever comes next, I hope it will be surprising.”


Slap Happy From March and April 1991

PLAY BETTER NOW, PROCLAIMED THE cover of BP’s second bimonthly issue. Inside, we offered five technique-oriented features, ranging from a primer on tapping to a duet arrangement of Debussy’s “First Arabesque” for extended-range basses.

Platinum Plucker Jerry Wonda Duplessis: Wyclef’s Right Hand Man On Bass & Behind The Board

“BASS IS WHAT MADE ME WHO I AM,” PROCLAIMS JERRY “WONDA” Duplessis—a weighty statement considering the extraordinary path he has traveled from his humble Haitian village to Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, and co-owner of a top New York City recording studio, Platinum Sound. Cousin of one of pop’s most eclectic poets, Wyclef Jean, Duplessis has worked with a wide array of chart-toppers. This includes collaborating with “Clef” to co-write, produce, and play bass for such hits as Santana’s “Maria, Maria,” Whitney Houston’s “My Love Is Your Love,” Mary J. Blige’s “911,” Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Million Voices” from the film Hotel Rwanda, and the Fugees’ breakout classic CD, The Score. As Wyclef’s musical director and bassist, Duplessis really gets to stretch on his Pensa 5-string. During a typical marathon show, Jerry can be heard issuing imposing reggae lines that pivot provocatively between straight and shuffle phrasing, adding upper-register melod

Dan Briggs of Between The Buried and Me

As far as when we’re writing, we approach every song differently, but it's always just starting somewhere and not knowing exactly where the song is gonna go. Someone might have a part pre-written that is some sort of down tempo, boom-chuck-type thing, or a piano thing, and we'll be like “oh, that's cool” and it'll spark ideas for how to get there and how to get out of it.

The New Golden Age Of Metal, The Complete Interviews

Yes, there really is a cartoon character on the cover of the April 2010 issue of Bass Player. But that’s no ordinary animated dude; it’s William Murderface of the quantruple- platinum, über-brutal metal band Dethklok, an act so big that their record sales can affect the economies of major Western countries for good or ill.

Nate Newton of Converge

When I joined the band, we were actually a five-piece, and we had two guitarists, and so when we became a four-piece, I then had try to compensate at least for the sound of a guitar being there, so I started playing with a lot more distortion than I had before. And then using two amps certainly added to that. Also, I didn't start out as a bass player, I started out as a guitarist, and I basically started playing bass because Converge needed a bassist to go on tour with them one summer.

Bill Wyman on Making The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St.

“That the album ever came out at all was a complete miracle,” marvels Bill Wyman of the 1972 landmark Rolling Stones album Exile On Main St. Though critics initially overlooked the band’s provocative blend of American roots music with Brit-style rock (“Everybody slagged it off,” Wyman bitterly recalls), the album has since gained recognition as one of the Stones’ most potent statements. This year, Universal has re-mastered the seminal double album, reissuing it with a blistering batch of bonus tracks.