Tim Lefebvre: Bicoastal Badass

TIM LEFEBVRE MAY BE BEST KNOWN for his blistering work with New York guitar wizard Wayne Krantz—or for his deep soul drive with trumpeter Chris Botti and groovalicious dishing on the Analyze That, Oceans 12, and The Departed soundtracks—but his dexterous electric and upright work make him impossible to pigeonhole.
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TIM LEFEBVRE MAY BE BEST KNOWN for his blistering work with New York guitar wizard Wayne Krantz—or for his deep soul drive with trumpeter Chris Botti and groovalicious dishing on the Analyze That, Oceans 12, and The Departed soundtracks—but his dexterous electric and upright work make him impossible to pigeonhole. Now that he’s relocated to Los Angeles, the Massachusettsborn musician is bound to trigger thunderquakes on both coasts. One listen to his recordings with Krantz, Jamie Cullum, Til Broenner, Rudder, or on his pop-electronic project Domestic Blitz confi rms what his live fans have known for years: Lefebvre (pronounced “la-fave”) has serious skills.

What’s key to covering your diverse gigs?

It’s about getting to know the music well enough so you can insert your own thing. That requires repetition. The more you play a gig, the more naturally different ideas will come to you. You become confident enough to make things happen.

Wayne Krantz’s music involves complex arrangements. What advice would you give a bassist on that gig?

The same thing I would tell my students: Wayne’s music has a high note density, so you have to be willing to sacrifice that complexity and play big notes. You could play a half-note with Wayne and Keith [Carlock, drummer] and it will sound great, because there is so much interaction on top of it. Sometimes the suicide pill in that band is to play 16ths with everyone else; you can play a lot of notes, but not in a Rocco Prestia kind of way. Wayne also tells us not to play anything we know. He wants to keep the music fresh.

Why did you relocate to Los Angeles?

I’ve done a lot of gigs in New York that have been very “jazz” and very “downtown.” I’ve subbed on Saturday Night Live and for Will Lee on the Letterman show. I’d like to do more of those gigs, but there aren’t many left in New York. There are more recording and headline opportunities in Los Angeles. I want to gravitate toward that, but not disown what I’ve done in New York.

What’s your approach to cracking the L.A. scene?

Some people will look at me and think, “What is he here for?” Well, I’m trying to work. Luckily, when I pick up the bass, people notice. I try to have a good attitude. Also, one of my goals is to sound more anonymous. It’s healthy for me to tuck my thing behind, to not be noticed, and to just play really simply.

What have you noticed about bass on the West Coast?

There’s an encyclopedia of rock bass styles in L.A—the John Entwistle approach, the Paul McCartney approach, etc. They’re worth studying just as much as, say, Anthony Jackson’s style. In L.A., people like my friend Jenn Oberle [Five For Fighting] know millions of pop tunes, while guys like Chris Chaney can tuck themselves into soundtracks on electric and acoustic and sound totally amazing. It’s unbelievable.

HEAR HIM ON

Christopher Jackson, In the Name of Love [Yellow Sound, 2011]; Wayne Krantz, Krantz Carlock Lefebvre [Abstract Logic, 2009]; Jamie Cullum, The Pursuit [Universal, 2010]; Til Broenner, At the End of the Day [Bam Bam, 2009]

GEAR

Basses 1965 Fender Jazz Bass, ’77 Fender Jazz Bass, Moollon P & J Classic basses, CallowHill OBS-5, Sadowsky 5-string, 1940s Mathias Thoma upright
Rig Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 head, Hamhead 1x10 and 2x10 cabinets
Pedals Moollon Overdrive, Electro Harmonix Frequency Analyzer, Boss OC-2 Octave, MXR M-82 Bass Envelope Filter

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