Anthony Johnson has been with GB as a writer almost since the Beginning. I was
hesitant to use of our own writers as our feature article only because it could
be thought of as favoritism. After thinking this over for quite some time and
having listened to his newest CD, Sleep Drum,
many times, the truth of it was that he deserved this position of honor in this
issue. I had to set aside that concern of using someone on the inside to give
him the chance he is due.
is an exceptionally talented sideman, writer and player in his own right and
with this release, he joins the ranks of the very few, an elite if you will: He
gives us a bass album laced with both great playing AND great song writing. All
too rare... All of us have CDs on our shelves by shredders with nothing to say.
has been the source of many well-written articles and reviews. He has provided
us here at the magazine also with one of the sharpest wits we have come across
yet. The man is funny!
still have copies of one of the many voices and characters he has created on my
answering machine. Many's the time I have sat and wondered where this stuff
comes from and whether anyone has ever recommended medication to this guy! ...
of Brent's characters includes a demented character that I think of loosely as
José. Brent as José calls from time to time, leaving long and rambling
messages, which if carefully tabulated, all add up to nothing. Nothing is said
in these messages, but it takes 4 minutes to say it. But that character does
contain one prominent aspect of Brent's personality...It is a joy of life and a
love for those around him.
emotional altitude touches everyone he deals with. You cannot leave a phone call
with this man without being doubled over in laughter at least twice.
humor, this sensitivity, successfully shines through in this newest release from
Brent and his associate Chris Ball. As said earlier, it is filled with more than
just top drawer playing; this album has also paid careful attention to one of
the downfalls of most albums released by bass players today: Brent has exhibited
a refusal to rely on just the playing itself and has instead insisted that the
song writing be as strong as those players.
fact, in conversations with Brent in the past, as the album was being developed
and recorded, he clearly expressed more than once that he felt the need to put
his own playing on the back burner, sometimes sacrificing the desire to really
tear it up, in the effort to create an album that would not just be played once
or twice by a listener and then shelved.
is also an album designed to be enjoyed by more than bass players or other
musicians, for that matter. It was carefully crafted to appeal to a broad range
of music lovers, including aficionados of jazz-fusion, funk, rock, and with even
a nod to Celtic. Sleep
Drum breathes. It pulses with life, it ebbs and flows. That life demanded this Cover Story.
Begin by giving a bit of history about yourself and your
career. Where did this ride begin?
I was born a poor, bl... C'Mon,
man! You asked for that!
Anyway, I was born to really young (and intelligent) parents and raised -
for the most part, or most important parts - in Western Illinois.
I find saying this makes things flow better than giving the gory
details... I spent a few stints in the Southern United States, as well.
But my parents and younger brother still live in an area called The Quad
Cities. So, that's where I'm
"from", as much as anyplace else.
As not to bore you with niggling details of my past...
to say, that's where I went to High School and that's where I began playing gigs
and sessions - at age 15. By that
young age, I was hanging with musicians 15 years my senior... Fortunately, most
of the guys were really patient and I learned a lot about playing with horn
bands, playing jazz, and playing behind lounge singers, and singer-songwriters.
My childhood was a lot of fun, really.
But I wanted to leave that area by the time I was 17, or so.
Something there felt oppressive to me. Y'know, I've never figured out why
I dislike that area so much... I
visit my folks every year, and I always want to get out of there within 4 days,
To escape the QC’s, I went to a private,
all-white Bible College, in the early 80’s – that was a smart move. YIKES!
I met a lot of B.S. there – politics, and small-minded people from all
over this big ol’ US. I learned a lot! I
learned the art of forgiveness. I
also learned when to get out of Dodge! (laughter)
People, are amazing…
college, I went on the road with a couple different funk and rock groups.
I eventually found my way to bigger and better bands - which culminated
with touring with fusion group Azure and seeing some of the world.
It was cool! After
touring with Azure I relocated to Boulder.
I met my wife here and we married in 1988.
my sideman career began providing me with enough to live on, I spent a lot of
time teaching and playing on the worship teams of some of the larger churches in
and around Denver, and Boulder. I
also played with many of the area’s singer-songwriters, and also with some of
the more ‘out’ musicians in the area. Through
meeting other players on the gig, I began getting session phone calls in the
early 90’s. By that time, I was
looking at relocating to NYC or L.A. Somehow,
I managed to stay in Boulder, and to see the opportunities present in this area!
By the mid-90’s I was doing a little movie score work, and working in a
straight-ahead jazz group. You’ve
eluded to my ability to amuse myself… It’s
evident in my ability to hang here! The
Denver Metropolitan area worked out, and this is a good place to come home to.
What brought you to playing bass originally and what keeps you here?
Wow. Uh... I don't have any
other marketable skills to speak of... Utterly unemployable
most people, I've never felt that I was given a fair crack at the whip, as far
as choosing certain things that have happened in life!
For instance, I would be a saxophonist, if not for a raging life-long
case of TMJ: myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome related to the
Temporomandibular joints that connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the
skull. I also spent a year playing
trumpet, just to be sure what I was feeling was severe pain!
So I decided upon the bass.
an early age, I think I understood that bassists were really in charge -
regardless of what the guitarist had stuffed into his britches, or however he
(or she) wiggled about, or however much they grimaced musically.
I rather liked being in charge! So,
I thought I should try this bass thing.
early on, I noticed that there were bands without guitarists (UK – post
Holdsworth), or full-time keybordists (RUSH), and many jazz groups that weren't
actually led by a guitarist... But, most bands had bassists!
Also, I noticed that tunes I really liked (Free's "All Right
Now", Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4", Yes' "Roundabout", and
others) had great bass lines.
was a lot to learn, that I believed I could learn, right off the bat! So, the
entry-level desire was there – without the entry-level jitters. Though, I’ve never thought playing bass was “easy”, by
any means. Guitar seemed more of a mystery to me and I didn't like keyboards
because you couldn't get them onto your body - at that time. Maybe, the bass
chose me. Far less ethereal than that... I just thought the bass guitar looked
cool! The Jazz Bass is a baaaad
machine, baby! There’s nothing
prettier than some of the bass guitars I’ve seen.
The first time I saw an Alembic, in the mid-70’s, I thought I had died
and gone to heaven!
still play today because I love the feeling of the acoustic contra bass and the
electric bass guitar in my hands! Man,
nothing feels better to me. I
imagine it's that same feeling that people who love to drive feel, when they
finally get on the road, and out of traffic... and there's nothing there but
them and the wheel! You know?
It feels "right". I've
never played bass and thought, "I shouldn't be doing this."
never happened. How many things can
one say that about?
You have told me that the songwriting needed to be strong on this
album, that you wanted it to be more than just another solo bass album. Do you
feel yourself that you achieved this?
I do, indeed! I think Chris and I have an incredible chemistry.
I’ll mention him throughout this interview because there's no way I
could have written some of the things on the disc without him.
He is a far more accomplished keyboardist than I am and he approaches
them with a definite affinity that I lack.
He's "the good cop" in this scenario.
He also provides me with instruments I wouldn't even know to purchase!
would much rather manipulate, squeeze, strangle, and punt some poor keyboard
sound, something other than a good piano sound that is, than learn to actually
play the sound or learn the tact and etiquette that a keyboardist uses to
feature a particular sound! When
Chris and I write together, I will inevitably say something like, "I
want that to sound like a choking goat! That sound needs to be there!"
when it comes to songwriting, I manage get reasonable sounding chord sequences
to line up. More than anything,
that's just time spent on the planet... Paying attention to the function of
other instruments. I enjoy playing
piano a great deal and it's been the tool I've used to get my ideas onto paper
for quite some time. So, as we wrote the material on a single keyboard, and in
the same room, either he would come in with part of a tune and I would finish
it... Or, vise versa.
think, too, that we share similar tastes, albeit from completely different life
experiences. For instance, the tune
is mostly Chris, with little additions from me - whereas, the title track of
this disc is predominantly me, with little additions from Chris.
Sto (Ebonics for “liquor store”) is what happens when you leave
Chris and I alone in a room together.
of the things we share is a really bent sense of humor!
Our wives usually hide, watch, and pray for us without ceasing.
They're good people... and we really need prayer!
My nine-year-old daughter (who did the art work for the disc) is our
biggest fan, so far. She gets it
more than most... (laughter)
Now that this album is finished and ready to be released, have you
looked back and thought at any time, ¨If only I had done this or that...if I
had just tweaked it a bit more¨, or are you happy as it is now.
Well... records are never finished... they're released.
Right? So, it was time to
release this one, so we could threaten the world with yet another!
I think Sleep Drum is a really good first
disc, but I've also already heard the stuff we're coming up with next!
There's a natural progression of how Chris and I write together, and what
we have to say as we look at the world through shape-altering glasses...
wanted the disc to sound like friends got together, and played music. That's
what happened, and I think we portray that idea!
So, in that aspect, and from the standpoint of a writer of tunes... I'm
is the first time I've produced myself as a leader, and I found that to be the
most difficult of all the tasks inherent in recording a disc.
Chris and I - with the invaluable help of Mike and Sue Shae at Rave'n
Recording in Lafayette, CO
- also engineered and mixed the disc. The
entire venture was more than a little homegrown – our close friends also
played on the disc, and I live within walking distance of Rave’n.
Humorously, as when we mixed the material,
Chris would lean across the desk and turn me up, and I would lean across and
turn him up. It's a good working
relationship between Chris, Mike, Sue, and myself.
Also, Mike was there to keep everything on the ground. Now that we've
done this, I guess we'll have to do another one to see if we really work that
well together! Never can be too
There is a strong presence of wind instrument players and voicings on
this outing, do you feel that these instruments compliment the bass voice
Chris, plays soprano and tenor sax, E.W.I. and Low Tin Whistle on the disc. His
brother, Tom, plays trombone and wrote the horn arrangement on Lookuh
Sto’. The section is
rounded-out by the fantastic trumpeter Derek Bannoch - who also plays a great
Harmon mute solo at the end of that tune. Other'n
that... I've always liked woodwinds, and I think they compliment the bass voice
very well! There’s something
conversational about our dialogue on the disc.
I wanted to take solos, and I wanted to make certain that the guitarists on the
disc - Joe Gamble, John Cittadino, and Chad MacCluskey - also had solo
opportunities, without the disc sounding like a bunch of solos stacked one against another.
Tell us a bit about the players you chose to guest on this record. Are
these folks people you have worked with before?
The guys that played on the disc are dear and long-time friends of mine,
for the most part. Derek Bannoch is a well-known trumpet player in Denver, and
he personifies "cool" - without all the silly musician’s ego stuff.
Also, he can (and will) play anything! The only cat I hadn't met before
the session is Chris younger brother, Tom. He's in the process of getting his
Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado.
He's an amazing player and writer.
first guy to sign up for the group and for the sessions was drummer Joel
MacCluskey, and he plays the lion share of drums on the disc.
The only tune he doesn't play on is First
Light, and the reprise of that tune, Second
Light. That drummer is
met Joel in late 1987, when I stole him from a group he was playing in at the
time. We've played together often,
since then. His brother, Chad
MacCluskey, played guitar on most of the basic tracks, and played a solo on Mertyl By Flashlight.
They're my brothers, and we get together whenever we can.
Chad, is one of the most able straight-ahead guitarists I’ve met, and
he can go waaaay outside at the drop of a hat.
He’s also a plain good human being.
Everyone that played on the disc is special.
But Chad is just… good. Good
heart. I’m particularly thankful
Killian and I met when we played on a church worship team, in 1990. Dean, Chris,
and I were part of this huge worship team at a large church in Arvada, CO
(Denver suburb), and we played together often between 1990 and 1992. Humorously, both Chris and I had told him that he would
definitely play on the first disc we made as a leader.
Of course, at that time, Chris and I had no idea that we would be working
together, necessarily! So, Dean played on the first disc! His, is a completely different style than Joel's... But, he's
got a great feel. He was playing
with Chad in a group that broke up last year, and we got back in touch just
before the disc to discuss a recording project that may still take shape in the
future. Dean is also a great
Gamble and I have been friends for a long time. Joe
also taught and worked at that music store the music store John and I taught out
of. He’s been teaching guitar
since he was a teenager. I relate
to that! I met him through his
mother, when he came in to see her, one day.
So, there's a lot of history there.
Joe is one of my favorite guitarists on the planet. Period.
He's incredibly talented and he had to participate in this disc.
I just recorded four tunes with Joe at his home, for his forthcoming
disc, a couple weekends ago. His
album should be out this year!
Peter Eissfeldt and I have known each other for a long time, too.
We met through the Boulder music scene, and we ended up working together
in a call center (along with Joe Gamble's mom) in the early 90's. I later hired
him for a revolving band that featured a Sierra Leonian singer-songwriter named
Thomas Honey-Wova Rogers, and we were in that band together for years.
He's played in a number of bands around Boulder and he's a wonderful
player. Very musical... And the
sounds his hands make are ridiculously good.
Peter, is also one of the most laid back people I've ever met. Reeeeeeaally mellow. He's
Cittadino and I used to teach at a small music store in Longmont CO, and we
would get together between students and play standards and talk about music.
He plays the beautifully tweaked solo on the title track!
John is one of the easiest folks I've ever worked with and he lives for
the tune - which, I find, is rare for guitarists.
We had to make him play at the sessions!
Whatta guy! John’s sense
of humor is most like Chris’ and my own, and we talk about any, and everything
from that point of view. I love all these guys very much and they're all
incredible musicians, and they’re all incredibly easy to hang out with.
it stands, the band is currently Chris, Joel, and myself.
We haven't completely settled on a guitarist yet and I don't know who
we're going to find to work with us. You
see... a lot of this has to do with the fact that many of my friends are also
very talented writers and they have a voice of their own.
Which is cool. But, I'm pretty determined to write the material in this band
with Chris... and that's it. That
can make it difficult for anyone as opinionated as most of my good friends! HA!
Which, is why they're my friends…
Were you integral in writing out parts for the songs or did you give the
players latitude in what they contributed to the project.
You know me well! Chris and I spent
from March through May 2001 demo'ing
the tunes we'd written between December and February. Sleep
Drum happened in late April and it was the last thing written for the
disc. But I had most of that tune
in my head for a while, so that was easy to lay down.
write in Cue Base, at Chris' house - where the cool keyboards are - and we
sequenced drums for all the tunes there. I
had a couple things in my Yamaha QY20, but I think we just recreated them at
Chris’ house. I’ve since put a
couple new tunes in the QY20 and those will see the light of day on the next
only wrote out a couple things out during the writing process, and most of that
was for either Chris or myself! My
line from Lookuh
Sto' with the horns (Chris wrote that for me), had to be written out,
and the swing section head from the same tune (I wrote that for Chris) was also
written. Otherwise, we wrote charts
and gave them to the players.
than anything, there were specific players in mind as we placed the solo
sections and that's how we did it. When
everything was finished, we gave the demo CDRs to the players and said, "See ya' in the studio inna month!"
core unit of myself, Chris, Joel, and Chad rehearsed for about an hour once, at
Rave'n - during drum set-up – the night before we started cutting basics.
After the basics were laid Joe, Chad, and John played guitar parts and
solos, and finally Peter came in and laid down percussion.
the morning of 9/11/01 we cut Chris' tune Little
Web and then we recorded First
Light with Dean, that evening. Both
tunes are first takes and they are a beautiful document of what we sounded like,
in light of the tragic events that will forever scar that date.
Chris plays a chromatic harmonica E.W.I. patch and the most soulful solo
on the disc.
Okay, Sleep Drum exists, what's next?
Will you be attacking a full
marketing plan, or is this a business card, a door opener for you? Will you shop this around to larger labels or are you going
to tackle this yourself?
I dunno... (laughs) Back to
your place to drink chai, I suppose! The
next thing is to get the disc's e-commerce website up and running, and start
rehearsing to play live. Fhoot!
Records will release the disc in mid-February, and if the disc isn’t out
by the time we run this article, I’ll send in an update with a link.
guessed it... Chris and I are Fhoot!
We're currently looking for management and then to perform as much as
possible - before we return to the studio in September of 2002 to record the
next disc. We’ve also decided to
release a live version of the disc, once we’ve settled upon a guitarist, and
after we’ve played the material for a Summer.
also encouraging other members of the group to talk with the press and tell more
folks about the disc. So far,
everyone is just hearing my side of things… and that can't possibly be a good
told, I think Sonal Anu will just be what it is,
and I'm more interested in doing that than doing anything else, right now.
As one of the chief writers, I don't have to seek out solo opportunities
for myself and it seems to work, at this writing.
of my students recently asked, "what if no one buys this disc?" I
responded, "Well, we'll definitely
make another disc, and go on tour again." I think that's where I'm
So now that you have the product, if the gods be willing and tour
interest begins to mount, will you take that path.
would really have to put serious prayer into taking whatever path presents
itself – beyond the band. So, I
can't really answer that with a blanket statement - though, Lord knows, I’ve
tried to be as irreverent, and stinky, as possible...
most interested in making music with people I dig and supporting my family via
that means. As a husband and
father, I like spending time with my family.
So, I'm not interested in bouncing around in a van for a solid year!
But, I would be very interested if Japan, Europe, and/or South America
are interested enough in the disc or the group to bring us 'round.
I'm also interested in paying for my children's school expenses, and for
those things that provide my family with a good home. I have no interest in
being a "star" of any sort. I
just want to play my basses and feed my family.
you ever see me wiggling about with some scantily clad, obnoxiously implanted,
scank-weasel... kill me! I will have gone too far at that point! Thank you.
still playing with Bruce Fleet’s electric band, and I may begin playing in the
acoustic outfit – now that I have a beautiful new acoustic contra bass that
I’m working out on. I had taken a
few years off – due to the difficulty in keeping a nice instrument in this
climate and altitude… and due to the fact that I was being lazy.
already mentioned that Joe Gamble’s disc will come out this year, as will
earlier recordings with Honey-Wova, and possibly the tunes I recorded with Amy
Sapp a while back. I think
there’s something planned with keyboardist Steve McDonald for 2002, and
vocalist Hollie Smith’s brilliant disc, that we recorded in July 2001, should
come out in the next several months. I’m
beginning to schedule clinics again for Status Graphite and Wayne Jones, and
also for Aguilar. The first clinic of 2002 will be in Seattle, in March… Further updates as news warrants! There are also a few singer-songwriters that I’m producing
with Chris, and we always play on those projects.
I’m looking forward to performing and recording with singer-songwriter Keith
Rosenhagen. Keith is an incredibly talented man, and he’s a good friend of
mine. I’m playing in his trio
(with a percussionist), and I’m trying to talk him into using a full band with
drummer Randy Amen, and Chris. All
this stuff should keep me as busy as I’ll want to be - outside of the group.
Naturally, anything could happen…
Will any of the musicians on this album travel as part of your band or will
you create another touring band to chase your fortune?
So far, Joel has signed-up for the long haul, and, naturally, I'm not
going anywhere without Chris. So,
there's already a trio, if nothing else! That’s
the trio you hear on the break-down of the disc’s title track.
reason Chris and I played all the keyboards on the disc is because I feel that
they generally take up too much bandwidth – pun fully intended. I am hoping
for a more open sound in the live interpretation of this material. Really, I'd rather have a guitarist comping, than a keyboard.
Chris will focus on woodwinds and E.W.I., while playing a bit of keys here and
there – when he, apparently, has nothing better to do! (laughter)
that said, we're looking for a guitarist who can handle the chords and who can
also solo without an enormous bed of sound beneath them.
That takes a lot of courage and I know guitarists who don't do that well.
Maybe I'm putting the future guitarist of this group in that place all
bassists have experienced... "Bass
solo! Everybody take 5!"
I'm hoping for a good player who is also a cool enough person to hang with
Take us on a journey through this album, title by title, and give us an
idea of why you chose things like harmonica (very successfully as a counterpoint
to the bass), why you chose the first track as your first track and what the
heck you were thinking in the last song on the record!
Track 1: Hymn - Chris and I lifted those
chords from a wonderful female singer-songwriter and built the tune around them.
Beside the title track, this is my favorite tune on the disc - because
it's the first thing we played together as a group.
I also liked my solo on that tune a lot.
Lot's of emotion, and a good performance, and Joe Gamble's solo is
beautiful. This is my writing,
2: Mertyl By Flashlight - This is Chris' tune,
and I came up with the open middle section.
Mertyl isn't as pretty as the Stella of "Stella By Starlight"
fame. She looks like Popeye.
I really dig the break down of the tune where Chad comps guitar and I
solo over the middle section I wrote for the tune.
Very pretty. Chad plays the
guitar solo on this tune.
3: Little Web - This is Chris' tune all-through
and we recorded this on 9/11. I get
goose bumps during his solo. YEAH!
This is Chris at his finest. Peter
plays incredible shaker and congas. Understatement
at it's finest, I think.
4: Lookuh Sto' - It's "the acid-jazz
jam" on the record. Anyone
who's ever been tipsy knows how this goes... As I'm not a drinker, and I've
played bar gigs from a young age, I have many experiences with tipsy people.
Chad plays the bent-up guitar solo and Derek Bannoch plays a solo.
Chris plays the swing section with a lot of cool swagger! The sense of
humor running through the tune speaks of the attitude we took into the sessions.
Lot's of laughs!
thing about this tune... Chris played the organ bass, beneath my solo, and he
plays the line in a strange way. Epiphany! We kept it!
In all, the tune swings its butt off. This tune is a complete
collaboration between Chris and myself. I
wrote the head... and off we went!
5: First Light - This is predominantly Chris'
tune. Once again, I add the part
that includes the cool Japanese wood flute, in the middle of the tune. This tune is a great example of how our writing styles work
together. Dean Killian plays drums
on this one and Joe Gamble plays the guitar solo.
6: The Right One - This is my "Portrait of
Tracy" - as that's my wife's name. I
used to joke to myself, "wouldn't it be strange if I married a woman named
Tracy?" I did.
I play the harmonics and bass line at the same time and the tune
functions well as a quartet with Chris, Joel, and Peter.
Peter brought in a HUGE "Samba Drum" that you can hear toward the end
of the tune. I decided against
soloing on this tune as I feel the main body of what I'm playing suffices nicely
in that regard. This is the only
tune I didn't collaborate with Chris on – as I wrote the tune when Tracy and I
were dating, nearly 14 years ago!
7: Selah - Beautiful tune! Chris plays low whistle.
He hasn't been playing very long... But he studies hard.
So he had this together in time for the disc!
Joe Gamble plays the comping guitar and really tears it up. This tune is
the most delicate on the disc.
8: Sleep Drum - This is predominantly me.
It's also the track that features my "boxing glove" piano track
beneath the drum out take and first guitar solo.
Loved that! Also, this tune
goes from the guitar solo and breaks down into a trio - Chris, Joel, and myself
- during Chris' tenor solo. That
part, and the end of the tune, are some of my favorite things on the disc. John Cittadino plays the guitar solo on this one.
E solo sounds like something from a David Lynch score!
Very cool! As usual, John
doesn’t use a plectrum on this solo, and he employs his whammy-bar
“butterflies” a la Jeff Beck. Cool.
9: Second Light - That's drummer Dean Killian
yelling, "Agaaiin!" as the
tune heats up. We just faded during
my sparse solo and put this section of the tune at the 'end' of the disc. Also, I wanted to hear more of Dean’s drumming.
So, I dropped my solo out in order to feature him more strongly. I also
mixed the track a little differently and got good results. Chris plays
particularly cool piano fills here.
So after the tour, after you are back home and settled in, what is next?
Will you go back to working as a sideman or if success dictates, will you pursue
a continued career in Sonal Anu? Do you have a 5 year or a 10 year
Good question! I’ve gotta remember this one for the folks I interview in
all the 5-to-10 year plan stuff has very little to do with Sonal
Anu – though, that is where I hope to find myself - and more to do with
my life as a husband and father.
recently resigned from teaching bass at Naropa College in Boulder, in order to
see the most positive opportunities for the group into fruition… But, beyond that, things about the group slow down a bit.
I mean, as much as for the group, I quit teaching in a college atmosphere
to focus more on writing my instructional books, and seeing if a video deal will
eventually raise it’s head. I
still teach privately. But, it’s
a very select group of people – friends, mostly.
also want to guarantee that my time at home centers around my wife and two
children. As I mentioned… I
don’t expect that I’ll pursue an outside “solo” career – as I am one
of the chief writers in the group. This
group concept will always be a part of what I do.
I am, however, hoping that Chris writes a collection of his material that
doesn’t work for this group, so I can play on that!
Also, I’d like to do a disc and book with another bassist.
I want to keep writing bass-oriented material, and I want to publish that
material. That’s where my
ultimate goals lie. Though, I think
that may be because I’ve just finished a disc and that experience was
completely exhausting! I both look
forward to, and dread this Autumn, when we’ll record another disc!
Maybe, I could better answer the question after a nap!
The bass voicing you have chosen for this album if somewhat rolled off
at the top, almost a fretless or double bass sound. Was this intentional, was it
a choice, is this the sound you seek whenever you play live, or do you just not
have a treble pot on your bass? Just kidding about the treble pot! Ow!
Don't hit me!
Why I outta...! No. I think as long as I'm getting a clear sound, I'm pretty
pleased. I think the sound of my
hands comes through on any instrument I play.
So, that's it. My sound
varies from the sound on this disc, to something a little more trebly.
But this is what I heard, this year.
all but Right One,
I used my fantastic Status Graphite 6-string basses. On the aforementioned tunes, I used a Tobias Custom 6 that my
good friend, bassist Jon Baron, gave to me this past year.
think, too, that the sound of 6-string isn't really in the ears of people yet,
per se. Not that the 6-string bass
guitar is, by any means, ‘new’…
But, most people hear 4-string and 5-string basses more often than not.
intentionally don't go for the, "let's
try to make it sound like a 4-string" -thing, in my recorded tone.
Though, I do sound 'deep', and I have a really big sound, I've manage to avoid
sounding muddy. I think that is the
sound of the 6-string. It's a bigger instrument (more neck. More body. More…
butt!), ya know? I can get a clear,
throaty, big J Bass sound on the Status fretless.
Maybe next disc I'll feature that more...
as I use graphite instruments, I’m more conscious of my own bias toward
non-wood instruments and the inherent sound of synthetic materials.
If anything, the bass doesn’t sound like graphite, but it is very clear
in each sonic range. I dig that a bunch!
Tell us a bit about the equipment and effects you chose for this
use different things in session, than live.
But, I don’t think of the gear I use as ‘different’ from place to place… as its all my gear.
Come to think of it, I focus on using the Line 6 Bass POD Pro and
FloorBoard whenever appropriate in either setting.
Here's a gear-list run-down:
Graphite S2 Classic fretted 6, Status Graphite S1 Classic Fretless 6, Tobias
Custom 6, a pair of Fender J Basses, Aguilar DB750, Aguilar DB350, Wayne Jones
WJ bass enclosures, Countryman Direct Boxes, Czech acoustic contra bass.
Now we have talked about your sense of humor, including your genuine if
oft-times futile attempts to be serious for more than 5 minutes. Track 10 is a
perfect example. A sensitive and often poignant album right up until track 9,
you hold it together all that time, and then this!
If you think I can (or will) explain this, you’re crazier than you
think I am! (laughter) Folks will
just have to hear it...
very last thing on the disc is a ‘reprise’ of Lookuh
Sto’ that features a commentary by the
tune’s main character. The idea came from hearing out-takes on other people’s
discs – Scott Henderson’s discs come to mind!
It’s not as off-the-wall as Randy Brecker’s thing, either.
It’s… funny, and I think this particular character and all his ‘friends’
will show up on other discs. The
voices are what Chris and I came up with together.
The voices that aren’t me… are him!
That’s all you’re getting’, folks…
Are there people out there who think you should be institutionalized or
they relegated themselves to just letting you be the froot loop you are, as long
as you don't hurt yourself or anybody else?!?!
Yes. But, I'm too busy screaming, "If
you're scared...stay home!"
When you are rich and famous will you still write for us? Will you even talk
to us? Brent?
Brent! Are you still there?
Oh yeah... I was just beating a roadie for letting a couple green
M&Ms slip into the batch of brown ones.
I love those! So, after I finish with him (peasant) I'll take a yak milk
and virgin oat bath, and have a facial. You
know me... gotta look like a caramel fudge square. My analyst says I'm special, unique, one-of-a-kind, and right
sexy... just like everyone else.
think part of my life’s ministry is to say things that folks don't dare think.
By the same token... No one, save God, owns my soul.
I'm completely free, and shakin' my rump about it!
you, Warren, for everything. You’re
a good friend, and a good man in a storm. Truly,
I think the first thing I'll probably do after the tour, is find someone else to
interview for this magazine! Global
Bass is fantastic and that's why I work here!
I want to thank people for the great emails I’ve received through my website: www.myspace.com/brentanthonyjohnson
favorite people on Earth include Warren & Marty from Global Bass, Matt
Garrison, Mark Peterson, Fima Ephron, Kai Eckhardt, Michel Alibo (I just like
saying that (“Aaaaaaaalibo”)
Rob & Dawn Green, PJ at Aguilar, and the people who have written to say, “Good job on the article!” Thank you all! Peace,
Love, & Sooooul...