Global Bass Online November 2000
Check out the GiveAway from BASSIX Studio
More than just another pretty face!
In the world of business and, for that matter, in the world in general, if you are thin and beautiful, the world is your oyster. You are more apt to be paid more, more apt to be hired or promoted quicker and you often are thought of as more intelligent and more interesting. People often roll out the red carpet as you saunter through life.
the world of Rock and Roll, however, particularly if you are a woman, things can
be completely reversed. If you are beautiful, an attractive package, the level
of skill in your craft is not taken as seriously, nor do you find the
opportunities that necessarily reflect your needs as a musician and as a person.
Most people can’t and won’t take you seriously. It doesn’t matter one whit that you have worked as hard, if not harder, than your male counterparts.
This bias against
women in musical groups tends to relegate women to the role of vocalist or
backing vocalist. Rarely do females, regardless of their maturity, their
intelligence, or their musical skill, find themselves in the position of guitar
player, drummer and even more so, bassist.
are rare exceptions, female players who are taken seriously for their skill
first and foremost. Musicians such as Tina Weymouth, bassist for The Tom Tom
Club and previously The Talking Heads. However, you can count the success
stories for women in the role of bass player quite literally on the fingers of
So what happens when that prejudice, that limitation built upon gender, is confronted by the likes of individuals like Rana Ross?
is a careful balance of tough and tender. Her speaking voice has the rough edges
of someone who has spent their life belting out vocals in smoke filled bars. But
that edginess is undercut by her innate intelligence and her sensitivity. This
is not a piece of trailer trash you’re talking to. That platinum blonde head
is full of attitude AND aptitude. She knows what she likes, what she wants, what
she expects from you and more importantly, from herself, and she is prepared to
do ‘the necessary’ to get it.
Rana’s case however we are not talking about backroom antics, catty behavior
or by back stabbing allies and friends to get to her goal. For this lady, we are
talking focused hard work, with years of working her bass guitar to the point
where she is finally being taken very seriously by her male counterparts.
She may be ‘perty’ but she sure knows her stuff!
recent successes have allowed her to find an acceptance in her field that she
has fought very hard for. She knew that things were starting to break when she
was invited to be part of a recent issue of Bassics Magazine. Finally she knew
that she was being welcomed into the hallowed and male dominated halls of what
she calls, The Boys Club.
see myself as part of the Boys Club and after making it onto the cover of
Bassics to me, I knew I was finally in.. I started getting e-mails from Billy
Sheehan saying “Hey, congratulations!” I’ve broken through the glass
ceiling! Is this really happening, yeah it is!
She also realized she was being
taken seriously because she had been approached by many companies and asked to
endorse their equipment, a sure sign you are making waves.
GB: Now you are actively involved in this series of endorsements,
including 9 years with Hohner. Please tell us a bit about that.
years with Hohner and people ask me, “Why”. I need to be really honest about
this. There are a lot of basses out there that are great. I own a Fodera, I use
it in the studio. I have no problems saying that. I have a Fodera medium scale 5
string that Vinnie and Joe (of Fodera of course) made for me about 8 years ago.
It’s probably the most beautiful bass I have ever seen. It would probably go
for about $6000 bucks. ( I did not pay that !) It’s bad ass… . It’s the
kind of bass you see in the music store that is covered with ‘Do Not Touch’
I also use the Hohner sometimes in the studio, but for me, it’s more of my stage bass. Other products I endorse are La Bella, SWR, Digitech, (I have had their stuff for years), LightWave Systems, who I just signed on as a full endorsee.
all these things, I am very much into the whole Karma thing. I’m very much
into the fact that the product has to be good enough…believe me, I’ve got my
stuff hot-rodded too. Anybody that endorses any company, has their stuff hot-rodded.
now I have a Hohner bass, it’s totally cool. I use the B Bass 5 and there is
only one version of the 6 string, which I have. They also handle a four string
acoustic bass, one of which I have. I used that once on a live radio show. The
thing with Hohner and Bob Cotton, my ‘rep’ at Hohner, he is a mentor, like a
Dad, he’s a really good friend. He saw something in me when I was 21 years
old, 10 years ago, and it was all by accident. I was at a NAMM show, I had just
moved to L.A., I didn’t even know what NAMM was, somebody invited me to a
show, gave me a free pass with somebody else’s name on it, saying “Here
Rana, go have some fun.”
I walked in there and I did what every new comer does at a show like this, ‘Oooing’ and ‘Ahhing’ at all the cool stuff. This is Disneyland for a musician! I went over to booths and I started trying out stuff. I looked up and I was starting to create crowds!
why Hohner? It’s about the company, it’s about a bass that is built just as
well and is as good as any other mid priced bass. It is a great workingman’s
and woman’s bass! For me, I really know that Hohner is about service. One time
I told Bob Cotton that I wanted to give a bass away after every show during a
tour I was on. He backed me up! That’s remarkable and that’s why I stay with
also use a Budda effects pedal. Budda is a new company, they have only been
showing at NAMM for about two years. I use an effect called a Phatt Bass pedal,
an analog stomp box. It is by far, and I have been searching a long time, the
best distortion pedal that I have ever seen made specifically for bass guitar. I
love it, it’s my secret weapon in my musical arsenal.
is the newest one that I endorse. I’ve got their preamp which I had put into
my Hohner Prototype.
With the wider necks of most 5 and 6 strings, do you find them hard to
work with yourself?
hands are small. I was able to get the formula of what would make up a flatter
neck like some 6 strings have, but incorporate that into a 5 string. By making
the radius a little different and putting thinner frets on it. I took my bass to
my luthier and sat down with him for about 3 hours. He had these tools that
would take the radius at Fret 3, Fret 5, Fret 7, Fret 12…We got it down.
You’ve put a lot of thought into this.
am a Tech Head. I love it and to tell the truth, maybe I am a little bit flaky
when it comes to things like the dreaded VCR, but I can program all my music
equipment. There are certain songs that demand certain sounds, and when I hear
them in my head, I need to be able to find those sounds in my gear, and I can.
The Glass Ceiling, that limits the growth and advancement of women in
many working environments, is alive and well in Rock and Roll. How do you handle
it and does it affect you still.
used to, up until a couple of years ago. When I told someone that I was a bass
player, the first thing they would say is, “Let me see your hands”, and feel
my fingertips to see how callused they were. I got that a lot and I did not like
it. But now I have a lot more respect, I am given a whole new level of respect.
Do you look to music as your sole source of income and have you ever been
tempted by the lure of joining an established touring band to make a regular
You spoke earlier of Karma, so you operate in the belief that you get
what you give, that it all comes around?
very recently, Rana was a partner and a member in a musical venture that was
catching a lot of peoples ears, a 4-piece band called Sinboy. They had been
working on a series of songs for a Demo and their CD was what she had sent our
offices before the interview. After 3 years with the band, Sinboy is on
currently on hiatus, but at the time of this interview she was still with the
She has her own compilation CD with 15 tunes, including the 5 recorded with Sinboy, but the other songs are, as she says. “Completely different things. Heavy duty funk, a song that’s almost Country, Aerosmith-type rock, to show my diversity” Recently at the summer NAMM show she handed out many of these CDs and signed tons of posters. She designed this CD to be given also to manufacturers and other people in the industry.
we asked her is she was getting any radio play with the CD, she laughed and
local radio sucks as far as rock radio. There’s one giant alternative station
and that’s actually the station would get airplay on. But, they are so
entrenched in corporate stuff that there’s no way that any local band would be
able to get airplay.”
Sound familiar folks?
If it isn’t safe, if they can’t sell ads around the music, it won’t
get airplay. It’s easy to forget that music radio is in the business of
advertising, not music.
and that’s supposed to be our ‘Alt’ station. The chance taker.
she decided to take a hiatus from Sinboy, her band of the past 3 years. She says
she has decided to take this opportunity to tart her solo effort. She says,
all the notoriety that I’ve been given this year, I though it would be foolish
NOT to set out on a solo thing. The cool thing is that I know so many people
that want to work with me, that I could call in for my sessions.” (Editor: In recording her solo work)
She says things are moving very quickly now. “Lots of my lyrics are already written. I’m waiting for my workstation to arrive from Peavey, and once I get that keyboard, then I can start transferring all the stuff that I have in my mind. I think it will end up sounding a little like a mix of Primus, NIN and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can’t wait to do this. I’m sooooo excited!”
also wants it known that even though she is actively working on her solo
project, she is still very much the free agent. She would entertain anyone
offering her a genuine opportunity that would further her career.
has picked up a new ad campaign with LightWave Systems, the cover story from our
last issue in Global Bass (see Archives). The remarkable pickup technology has a
lot of people
talking. As Rana says, “Who
would have every thought of infra-red to pickup vibrations? I am proud to have
an alliance with a company like this who dares to be different. Currently, my
Hohner is being retrofitted with a LightWave System.”
also involved in a series of ads for SWR’s Mo’ Bass in the very
near future. She says, “Richard
Ruse (of SWR) has come up with a smart, sexy, clever idea that I’m down with.
You will all just have to wait and see when the ad comes out.”
was recently in New York for Bass Day, which she says was “awesome”. She
performances were great. Gary Willis, Billy Sheehan, Will Lee, Percy Heath,
Oteil, Marcus Miller…and let’s not forget all my fellow bassists and friends
that I ran into”
is going to be a panelist at the RockGirl Convention in Seattle, where virtually
every woman in the industry will be. She will be speaking n the Endorsement
Panel, sharing the stag with Stephanie, the drummer from Kid Rock. She says it
will be “slammin’
Rana believes that the reason many women are not taken seriously in rock music is that they are not willing to do the work necessary. She knows that will raise some flack but she supports that statement by asking why it is that the truly great players are all men. So far.
sets Rana apart from the belief is that she is willing and focused upon her
goals. She wants to be thought of as a player first and foremost. No task is too
much for her determination.
love challenges. I love it when somebody says to me, “I don’t think you can
do that!” That’s the worse thing you can say to me, and the best thing.
Don’t doubt for a second that I am going to come back to you the next week and
have it done!”. I am the kind of
person where I have to always win, always prevail. I have to win for myself.
I can’t lose to myself. It’s never good enough, I am a perfectionist. It’s
a blessing and a curse.
Rana is where she is because she is
where she deserves to be, in a dynamic career built and maintained by skill, and
intelligence, not just because the camera loves her. Balance. There’s that
Karma thing again.
You can contact Rana
Ross by visiting her website:
this article in Spanish as translated by Sebastian Alejandro Caffini
Read this article in Spanish as translated by Sebastian Alejandro Caffini
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