DAMIEN “DEE” BONE IS A MAN ON THE MOVE. BOUNCING all over the stage with the Weeks, his scissors-like fingerstyle work creates perpetual motion. The wiry young Mississippian will hunker down on a particularly straightforward tune—he certainly plays closer to the vest in the studio—but even a quick listen to the Weeks’ new CD, Dear Bo Jackson, reveals considerable kinetic energy coming from the bass player in the unique Southern alternative ensemble.
“King-Sized Death Bed” is a fine example of your bass line propelling the Weeks. How did it come about?
That song actually started with the bass line, which is unusual. Sam [guitarist Sammy D] and I watched a documentary about Buddy Holly that inspired the bass line, and the song took off from there. I also hear a country influence, which surely comes from living in Nashville for the past few years. The rhythm section is straightforward and soft. I don’t play the same notes over and over, but you kind of feel like I do because even though there is a lot of motion, the bass line weaves in subtly with everything else.
What goes through your mind when you play such a line?
I think like a jazz player playing through changes. I try to understand the full chords Sam provides so I can come up with something interesting. I don’t purposely avoid roots or 5ths. That’s all I play on some songs, but I’m open to all possibilities. I look for opportunities to play passing notes—turnarounds are good.
You bounce between positions on the fingerboard quite a bit.
That comes from seven years of playing songs together. You learn ways to play the exact same thing in positions all over the neck. I can play all of our songs staying in the 1st position, but it gets boring night after night on tour. It’s more interesting when I move around and maybe even play something different. Why not?
Your fingerstyle plucking technique appears quite traditional and disciplined.
I studied jazz and classical music on upright at Belhaven University, where they taught me, “Don’t play the same string with the same finger twice consecutively— alternate.” I use my index and middle fingers. Once you can alternate fast enough, you can play just as well as with a pick, which doesn’t sound as warm.
Did you finish school?
No. We all dropped out of Belhaven together to do the band full-time after one of our best friends passed away. It was a make-or-break moment for us. We decided not to wait around to see if degrees would lead to jobs playing music. We made it happen.
The Weeks, Dear Bo Jackson [Relativity, 2013]
Basses Fender American Vintage ’62 Jazz Bass
Rig Ampeg SVT- 450H, Eden D115XLT 1x15 cabinet
Strings D’Addario EXL170 Nickel Round Wound (.040–.100)