EARL GREYHOUND SINGER-BASSIST KAMARA THOMAS doesn’t fit the typical bass-player profile; she’s completely uninhibited and blissfully unaware of bass mythology. Comparisons to Jack Bruce or dug Pinnick are certainly valid—all three combine low-end thunder with vocal prowess—but Thomas didn’t spend years shedding on anyone else’s bass lines. Thomas was an acousticguitar toting singer-songwriter before she picked up the bass, and she only learned how to play it in order to manifest guitarist Matt Whyte’s vision of a badass power trio. Together with monster drummer Ricc Sheridan, Earl Greyhound creates a sound that is steeped in classic rock, yet full of fresh, explosive energy.
When did you start playing bass?
I picked up the bass when we started this band about eight years ago. It was a major undertaking, but you fake it until you make it, you know? I felt that way in the beginning because I was trying to work on my stage performance at the same time I was trying to build confidence on the bass, and it was not always there. They’ve risen up together, and I couldn’t do one without the other. I’ve played the same 1971 P-Bass the entire time, so I feel like I’m growing organically with the instrument. It taught me to move in certain ways that I never would have with an acoustic guitar.
What do you dig most about it, and how do its particular qualities inform your playing?
It’s actually Matt’s bass, although I’m very attached to. I like how heavy the Fender is because I have a simple theory: The bass provides the low frequencies, so instinct tells me I’ve got to be really grounded. I keep my feet on the floor in order to dip and sink, rather than fly around like a guitar player. The heaviness of this bass may give me sore shoulders, but it’s worth it.
Earl Greyhound’s new single, “Shotgun,” starts with you playing a rumbling powercord progression. How do you approach it?
I approach that part as if I were playing electric guitar. I use a pick, and make it as chunky as I can. I enjoy playing chords on the bass. It’s like, “You want a power cord—I’ll show you a power cord!”
The band’s album and live performances have an epic vibe. What are your thoughts on songcraft and presentation?
You’ve got to be willing to go all the way—you can’t be afraid to rock out. We’re dedicated to reaching as many people as possible, and we might need to make some big gestures onstage to draw attention. I like to say that you should play like you’re in an arena—then you’ll always be pushing the boundaries of whatever space you’re in. Being onstage can feel like being on an island; we want to make sure the people in the airplane passing by can see us on the ground.
HEAR HER ON
Earl Greyhound, Suspicious Package [Independent, 2010]
Bass ’71 Fender Precision Bass
Rig Peavey Mark IV head, Ampeg SVT 8x10 cabinet
Strings Rotosound Light Gauge Set
Picks Dunlop 1.00 mm