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When did you start playing your instrument/singing and why?
I started playing the electric bass when I was 12 because a friend wanted to start a band: he sang and played guitar and he knew somebody who was a drummer and so he asked me to play the bass. For my thirteenth birthday my parents took me to a guitar shop in Leeds where there was an offer where you could get a bass, an amp, a strap and all the various cables for £150. I sold that bass some 3 years later to a friend for £20 and there is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about it: I’ve been buying evermore expensive basses since as a means of trying to fill that void but to no avail.
That is a distinct lie.
What’s your musical background, broadly speaking (bands you’ve been part of in the past, formative listening)?
Family trips in the car showcased my parents’ love for pop music: we’re talking Oasis, Take That, M People etc. As I grew up, my friends’ tastes influenced my own and as such I started listening to bands like Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Muse. I developed a huge love for funk and soul in my mid-teens meaning that my mini-disc player was routinely pumping the sounds of Parliament, The Meters, The Ohio Players, James Brown, and Bootsy into my ears. Tom actually introduced me to Jamiroquai who have had a profound effect on my listening habits: their music alone is glorious but it lead me on to exploring the worlds of acid-jazz, jazz, and electronic music. Right now, I listen to a lot of soul and neo-soul, all things Green, Wonder, Gaye, Withers, Badu, Maxwell, and D’Angelo, and a sizeable slab of jazz, Bill Evans (piano), Pat Metheny, Herbie, Robert Glasper.
In terms of bands I’ve played in, I’ve always been really lucky to be part of various recording projects, student ensembles, covers and originals bands. I was really lucky to play with Quantum Split whilst I was over in America, which was an incredible experience. Lately, I’ve started working with the band Pneuma, who are ridiculous.
Which artists most influence the way you approach the TGB and how?
In terms of individual bass players, Pino Palladino and Meshell Ndegeocello are a constant source of inspiration: both are masters of understated playing and somehow manage to say a whole lot without bombarding the listener with a constant flurry of notes.
I guess the various bands of Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, and D’Angelo are also pretty high on the list: the fact that those guys can sit on a groove whilst a vocalist or a soloist does their thing really drives home the point that this whole music malarkey is about supporting each other. I think that a lot of bands feature musicians who are constantly fighting for the limelight, whereas the truly great bands, at least from my point of view, feature musicians who converse with their instruments, who work together as a unit rather than as individuals. I’m trying really hard to be a good team player.
What’s your favourite memory of being in the band so far, musical or otherwise?
Perhaps not an individual moment per se, but every time that we write new music there comes a point where we complete our first run through of a song and everybody stays quiet at the end: the excitement and happiness in the air is palpable. If I could bottle it up and sell it then… well, let’s just say I’d be writing this from inside a wing of one of my mansions rather than in a rented house in rainy Hull.
Out of the gigs you’ve done with the band, which was your favourite and why?
Both appearances at Cheltenham Jazz Festival hold pretty dear places in my heart. Both years the weather has been fabulous, the music has been great, and the audiences have been really warm and receptive.
Favourite TGB song to play and why?
‘Get Close’. The process of putting that song together and really, and I mean really, obsessing over every part of it means that that song is almost like a child to me. As a longtime eligible bachelor with no realistic prospects of marriage or creating a family of my own, that song is probably the closest thing I’ll get to experiencing true love.
Favourite part of the process? (Writing, rehearsing, gigging, recording, etc.) and why?
Recording. The experience is equidistant between unbridled joy and debilitating stress, but the sensation of arriving with nothing and leaving with something is incredibly rewarding.
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