Hunter Burgan : On Changing Horses - BassPlayer.com

Hunter Burgan : On Changing Horses

ABE LINCOLN AND TOWER OF POWER have both advised against it, but Hunter Burgan is swapping horses midstream. For the last 13 years, Burgan has delivered A.F.I’s gut-pounding low end with his favored Fender Jazz Basses, but the agile bassist has found a new voice in the Fender Precision. Hear Hunter on A.F.I.’s latest, Crash Love, and on Sainthood, the new release from Tegan & Sara.
Author:
Publish date:

ABE LINCOLN AND TOWER OF POWER have both advised against it, but Hunter Burgan is swapping horses midstream. For the last 13 years, Burgan has delivered A.F.I’s gut-pounding low end with his favored Fender Jazz Basses, but the agile bassist has found a new voice in the Fender Precision. Hear Hunter on A.F.I.’s latest, Crash Love, and on Sainthood, the new release from Tegan & Sara.

How has your approach to tone changed recently?

I’ve recorded a number of albums, and I’ve always looked for that perfect Fender Jazz Bass sound. For this album I wanted something different, so I switched to Precision Basses. Also, I’m using effect pedals for the first time. I’m having a lot of fun with that.

How do you select the pedals for your rig?

After a lot of testing in the studio with our producer, I went out and bought a bunch. A lot of them sounded cool, but weren’t quite right. When we geared up to go on the road, my tech Vince Dennis— who plays bass with Body Count—brought a bunch of his pedals for me to try.

How do you write your bass lines with A.F.I.?

Usually a song will start with a basic melodic chord structure, and we’ll hash something out in our rehearsal space. There’s usually an incubation period where I’ll keep my ideas loose; I want to make sure that when I lock it down, it’s exactly what I want to be playing. After all, there’s almost an infinite number of ways you can approach a two-chord song structure.

How does your writing collaboration with Tegan Quin work?

We basically charge each other with finishing each other’s songs; she’ll send me vocal tracks, or I’ll send her a complete instrumental. When she sends me vocals, I’ll listen to figure out which sounds are going to work well. A lot of that takes place in my head—if I start banging away at some instrument, it’s going to color what I’m hearing. I try to keep it as open-ended as possible.

Aside from bass, what instruments do you play?

I grew up playing bass, guitar, keyboards, and drums, in order to start bands and keep them going. I play piano the most, because for me it’s the most relaxing. With the piano, all the notes are sitting right in front of you, and you can play as many at once as you want. With bass, you can only play four—but maybe you shouldn’t! Playing one instrument for a while and then switching certainly gets you to think in a different way.

What music are you listening to these days?

When I hit the road, I’m actually a little disconnected from music; I’m basically left with a snapshot of wherever my music exploration was when I left home. But I’ve gotten into the new Phoenix record, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix [V2, 2009]. I’ve also found a record with Buddy Rich and Max Roach where each drummer is panned to a different speaker [Rich Versus Roach, Verve, 1986]. On some tracks they’re soloing back and forth—it’s amazing.

What’s the story behind your solo project, Hunter Revenge, and what do you like most about it?

It started out as an homage to early- ’80s dance pop music, but has evolved into an outlet for anything I want to do that’s not A.F.I. It gives me a chance to get sexy onstage [laughs].

HEAR HIM ON

A.F.I., Crash Love [DGC, 2009]; Tegan & Sara, Sainthood [Sire, 2009]

ON THE WEB

Follow Hunter at twitter.com/tranquilmammoth

GEAR

Basses Custom Fender Precision Basses tuned EADG and EbAbDbGb; D’Addario XL Nickel Round Wounds
Rig Ampeg SVT heads and 8x10 cabs (x3)
Effects Fulltone Bass Driver, Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron, Electro-Harmonix Bass Micro Synth, Boss CEB-3 Bass Chorus

Related

The Killers Mark Stoermer On Playing With A Pick

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.

Norm Stockton On Versatility

WHEN IT COMES TIME TO ORDER business cards, Norm Stockton must face some tough choices. Fact is, the Southern California groove guru has such a varied skill set—as solo artist, sideman, clinician, producer, and all-around swell guy—he’d have to choose between microscopic typeface and super-sized card stock. Having recently released Tea in the Typhoon, an inspired solo release that features guest spots by John Patitucci, Michael Manring, and Etienne Mbappe, Norm basks in the beauty of having the kind of career that has him rocking eighth-notes with contemporary worship artist Lincon Brewster in one moment, and shredding beside buddies Patitucci and Manring in the next.

Jonathan Corley : On Melodic Maneuvering

THERE’S A LOT MORE TO GEORGIA than peaches and crunk; The college town of Athens has birthed its fair share of rock royalty (REM, the B-52s), and now the capital city of Atlanta has become a hot spot for up-and-coming indie bands. Leading the charge, Manchester Orchestra tempers its post-adolescent aggression with melodic hooks borrowed from the British Invasion. On bass, Jonathan Crowley links singersongwriter Andy Hull’s tuneful excursions with drummer Jeremiah Edmond’s youthful bombast, carving a cavernous pocket speckled with melodic gems. The band plans to tour through the new year in support of its latest, Mean Everything to Nothing.

Ted Dwane: Babel On

BELA FLECK LIBERATED THE BANJO FROM HILLBILLY stigma when he—with the assistance of a Wooten or two—proved its potential as an apparatus of art on par with anything played on the world’s finest Strads and Steinways.

The Cribs' Gary Jarman On Melodic Punk Rock

LAST YEAR WAS A BUSY ONE FOR Cribs frontman Gary Jarman; his melodic post-punk brood with brothers Ryan and Ross released its fourth album (featuring “newbie” bandmate Johnny Marr on guitar), he married his girlfriend Joanna Bolme (bassist for Quasi and Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks), and he went under the knife for a surgery on his vocal chords. Yet judging from his band’s demanding tour schedule, the Yorkshire native (and Portland resident) shows no signs of slowing. On a recent stop in San Francisco, Gary took a few minutes to talk punk rock, warming up, and the joy of a well-crafted countermelody.

TAB On The Rocks?

Coke or Pepsi? TAB or … TAB Diet? The debate surrounding tablature is nothing new to Bass Player; we’ve been debating it on staff, with columnists, and with readers for years.

Jerome Harris On Acoustic Bass Guitar

IT WAS ON A EUROPEAN TOUR WITH SONNY ROLLINS in the late ’80s when Jerome Harris first got turned on to the acoustic bass guitar. Jerome had been playing a Fender Precision Bass with the legendary tenor saxophonist, but after encountering the warm, round tones of the acoustic bass guitar one afternoon in Amsterdam, Harris was inspired to acquire one for himself. “I wanted something I could play on a straightahead jazz gig without getting the hairy eyeball,” says Harris. “That’s generally how straight-ahead cats would look at me when I’d pull out my Fender P-Bass. I’ve certainly studied upright jazz style, but I’ve never taken that beast on,” says the native New Yorker. “I thought about getting a double bass when I was studying at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, but I couldn’t find one I could afford. Since I was already playing guitar and bass guitar, I figured I’d have to drop something if I were to seriously study double bass. For me, the acoustic