WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE HOW BASS history might have been altered had the internet been available to peruse a teenage Jaco Pastorius in his Florida practice room, or a Wooten Brothers Band rehearsal circa 1980. In 2012, we know the kind of bass buzz web access to a trio in a Stockholm, Sweden studio has caused. Dirty Loops, featuring the soaring vocals and savvy keys of Jonah Nilsson, the dexterous drumming of Aaron Mellengardh, and the explosive 6-string bass work of Henrik Linder, has been a socialmedia sensation among musicians, thanks to YouTube clips of the band’s serious fusion/ funk remakes of Top 40 fare by Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and more. On their radically reimagined and reharmed cover of Justin Beiber’s “Baby,” Henrik issues taut, integrated finger and thumb plucks and slaps, with harmonics and chordal accents, before unleashing a well-paced melodic solo.
Linder started on piano at age 4, but shifted to bass at 13 after hearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song “Aeroplane.” Learning all of Flea’s early-’90s bass lines, along with the later influence of Gary Willis and mentoring from local bass guru Robert Sundin, set Henrik’s path through numerous bands. Along the way he met Nilsson and Mellengardh, and when the latter got the idea for the three of them to jam, Dirty Loops was born. The trio is poised to break even bigger, with four songs mixed for their debut CD of original music, and plans to appear in the U.S. in 2012.
How did you come to cover Top 40 songs, and who does the arrangements and reharmonizations?
That sort of just happened; we wanted to rearrange songs that had basic harmonic structures so we would have a lot of freedom to take them wherever we wanted. There’s not really a formula, but Jonah usually comes up with the first idea—maybe a programmed loop and some different chord changes. Then we begin working out our own parts, but together as a group.
How would you describe your bass approach?
Generally, I move between providing the lowest note of the chord to filling the spaces in-between because we’re only three pieces, so I kind of get to have a guitar and bass role at once. A lot of Dirty Loops grooves are based on orchestrating the 16th-note patterns between the kick drum, bass, and keys. Andy Pfeiler, a great Swedish session guitarist, introduced me to that sort of thinking when he was my ensemble teacher. Each song is different. The verses of [Lady Gaga’s] “Just Dance” have no keys, so it’s just me going nuts on a G minor slap groove. On “Prude Girl,” there were already keyboard parts, so I either played with them or off them. Aaron and Jonah usually force me to play even busier than I intend. They come up with wack stuff I have no idea how to execute—that’s why I have to switch techniques so much during songs!
Do you have any technique tips?
The technical side of my playing was the first thing I developed. I focused on lefthand finger independence and strength by practicing without resting my thumb against the neck. I also learned a lot of bebop heads and Bach Inventions. It was a good way to practice because I had to figure out my own fingerings and it was more musical and fun than doing exercises.
What’s your reaction to the band’s worldwide popularity through the internet?
The social media aspect has really worked for us. It’s kind of bizarre—we never promoted anything. We put up a few clips and everything started to occur by word of mouth on YouTube and Facebook. We’re very grateful for the support we’ve gotten; when we uploaded the first clip, none of us would have dreamed this could happen to a semi-fusion band in 2011!
Basses Mattisson Series II 6-string, Yamaha TRB6
Strings Elixir medium/long-scale
Rig EBS Fafner head and ProLine 4x10 or 8x10 cabinets, Aguilar DB 680 preamp (for recording)
Effects EBS UniChorus, DynaVerb, OctaBass, and MultiComp
“Gary Willis, Jimmy Johnson, Matthew Garrison, Nathan East, Hadrien Feraud, Melvin Lee Davis, John Patitucci, Anthony Jackson, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Tom Kennedy, and of course, Jaco."