Global Bass Online July 2001
By Brent-Anthony Johnson
time we take a look at Long Island, New York Bassist, Composer, and Instructor
Mike Frost. Mike has released a
pair of stellar solo discs: 1993’s Inner
Voice, and 1995’s Tears Of Joy (both on Cat’s Paw Records) and has more recently
focused on his twin bass project with bassist Chuck Alder. Together, Mike and
Chuck are The Deep. Joining the Deep for their eponymous release and subsequent
performances is a virtual revolving door to the drum chair that includes
drummers Todd Turkisher, Frank Bellucci, and Neil Capolongo - who recorded the
disc. A long-time designer and player of Fodera bass guitars, Mike is heavily
involved with the design of Brickhouse custom
speaker enclosures, and also with Luthier Clifford Roi and his Roi Basses!
biography boast performances and recorded works with Manolo Badrena, New York
Voices, John Scarpulla, David Mann, John Miceli of Meatloaf and Todd Turkisher, amongst a long and growing list. And he
sites “Deep” band member, Chuck Alder, on his list of influences, which
includes Pat Martino, and Jaco Pastorius – who Mike was able to study with in
we’re listing things off… I’ll take a moment to mention that Mike is
amongst those players who have learned to make their own career in the broad
world of bassists and bass playing. I met with Mike over the telephone in April,
and our lengthy conversation was very positive and humor-filled. I also learned
a few ways to enhance my own efforts as both bassist and instructor!
We spent as much time talking about the fact that we both have
two-year-old children (and the inherent antics that go along with that
territory), as we talked about bass! So…
add Mike Frost to my growing list of influences – both personal and musical.
You’ve taught bass as long
as I’ve been a bassist (since
That’s impressive. What’s your general teaching concept, and which books and
materials do you require your students to get into? Also, what made you want to teach bass guitar in 1976?
main instructional tool is the Mike Frost Bass Method Book that I can’t seem
to finish adding to. I’ll usually
write out each lesson plan focusing on physical aspects; making sure both wrists
are relaxed and straight as possible, and a floating mute concept involving the
thumb of the pizzicato hand. For the
fingering hand it is essential to minimize the thumb pressure on the back of the
neck. In the initial lessons I will also focus on teaching a good pizzo
technique – this is an important aspect of producing a good tone, and often
make a deal with all of my students. If they learn some technique, theory, and
scales, they can bring any type of
music in during the lesson and I’ll connect it to the theory. This generates a
respect for the lessons. I never have to tell them to practice.
advanced lessons include: analyzing Jaco solos, fingerings and lines like “Havona,”
“Teentown,” and “Barbary Coast.” The key to being a successful teacher
is to go beyond the music and connect with the student in a much deeper sense -
as a music therapist perhaps.
studies include survival bass skills, top forty, disco, R&B, Motown, rock,
etc… Learning from masters like Jaco Pastorius and Victor Wooten is a great
vehicle to learn techniques; I feel one must study them and apply it in your own
way - making sure not to be a clone. Knowing when to apply them is key. When you
go on a club gig, that’s not the place for it. You won’t get the callback.
books include “Ray Brown Bass Method,” “Modern Reading Text In 4/4 by
Louis Bellson & Gil Brienes “,” Rufus Reid Evolving Bassist,
“Slonimisky Thesaurus of scales and Melodic Patterns,” and the Jamey
Abersold series. It’s all good stuff.
goal is to get the student to play what’s inside them. Get them to tap into
their “Inner Voice.” I’ve always enjoyed sharing ideas and concepts with
others. A natural progression to teach.
Man… I wish I grew up near a
dedicated bass instructor! I
stopped taking formal lessons the same year I started playing, as I couldn’t
find a true bass instructor!
was blessed with a true spiritual bass guide, Chuck Alder from the Illusion.
Chuck has a pure love of all styles of music. We work side by side in the
deep, with a deep-rooted connection.
been a great proponent of bassist’s education for quite a long time… Do you
have any comments about bassists learning from guitarist?
Learning music is greater than any
single instrument. Music is about expressing life experiences: love, joy, pain,
sorrow, birth, death… all of it.
BAJ: Let us have a list of your influences (bassist or
not), and how do you see those influences in your playing currently?
start at the top. The master, JACO PASTORIUS. JP JONES, PAUL MCCARTNEY, LARRY
GRAHAM, JOHN COLTRANE, CHARLIE PARKER, MILES DAVIS, RAY BROWN, SCOTT LAFARO,
NEILS PEDERSON, JIMI HENDRIX, PAT MARTINO, ANTHONY JACKSON, PAT METHENY, BACH,
far as influences, I believe everything you listen to influences you someway or
another take what you like and leave the rest.
on, Mike! You’ve covered “the Greats” in my book!
When is the next disc coming out and what will it entail?
The next CD will be with HART
AND SOUL - a four-piece R&B band. After that, my INNER
VOICE band should have something out by the end of the year. THE
DEEP will strike again early 2002.
BAJ: I guess the next obvious question is when are you
releasing a collection of written materials (as a book), and how can we get it?
It’s a work in progress that I hope will be finished
soon. I can be contacted through my web site www.mcfrost.com
or email me at mike AT mcfrost DOT com
employ chords, tapping, and several other right-hand techniques.
How did you get into that way of playing?
Mike: All techniques are tools for
expression. Practice them until they become second nature, then don’t think,
glad you’ve brought this up. That’s
a great point! Between bouncing between guitarist Ken Talves, The Deep,
and Keith Hart’s, Hart and soul on a regular basis... How do you keep it all
together, and how do you approach each project?
Versatility is key to my expression. There are four
melodic functions for electric bass in music. Bass, chords, melody and soloing.
The contemporary bassist must know the difference between them. Know your
BAJ: How did you meet, and begin playing with Chuck
Alder in the Deep?
Mike: Chuck was my first real
instructor. Our relationship quickly grew beyond student/teacher and developed
into a good friendship, and a work lab for contemporary bass. Thus the deep was
BAJ: What have you been listening to, musically, lately?
Mike: Well, I still love Weather
Report, Beatles, Led Zeppelin “I and II”, and Joni Mitchell’s “Mingus”
is still one of my favorites. I listen as much as I can.
BAJ: Any big plans for the next year?
try to get up every day…
plan to continue working on the projects I’m involved with now and whatever
else comes along.
us about Roi Basses, and how did your collaboration with him happen?
first met about 1980; we studied with the same acoustic bass teacher. I used to
carve wood and made a bass out of my mom’s old oak table. I showed the bass to
my teacher and Roi was in the hall waiting for his lesson. He was called in to
see it. We still talk about that. That’s where I got involved with bass
construction concepts. My dad was a wood worker. I worked closely with many
great Luthiers, Abe Rivera, Vinney Fodera, Dave Segal and now Clifford Roi of
Roi instruments. Clifford would come to see The
Deep perform - we would talk for hours about bass concepts. We saw eye to
eye on going where no one has gone before by freethinking
without the fear that limits other
makes pickups, bridges, pre-amps, and truss rods, all on an extreme level. I
feel that Roi is the Stradivarius of electric bass construction.
us about BRICKHOUSE Speakers, and how
that project got started?
been playing six string bass since 1982. It’s come a long way, but I’ve
always felt speaker enclosures fell short. Who better than a working bassist,
that doesn’t care about the cost of the product, or profit margins, only about
sound quality, and portability. Again it’s a tool for my expression, your
sound is IMPORTANT.
feel it’s over looked.
B string is at 30.865Hz. I use a
hipshot down to low A, (27.5Hz). Ten inch drivers roll off about 55Hz (open A),
12’s at 35hz,between (low C# and low D), 18’s at 25hz(below low A). These
parameters should be considered when choosing the correct enclosure.
BAJ: You obviously have a sort of “life plan” that
you’re following. Could you explain what that is, and where your heading?
Mike: To be a great musician you
must first be a great being, live life fully, experience as much as possible to
draw from. Sharing life experiences and music concepts with students gives so
much back to me - it’s the real deal. Recording, composing, teaching,
performing, designing equipment, sharing my music, being a great husband and dad
- it’s all part of the present and future plan.
I am most certain that we will be hearing a lot more about Mike Frost in the near future. Thanks Mike! Folks, visit Mike at www.mcfrost.com as soon as you’re able.
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