What’s your signal chain like?
Do you run a wet/dry mix or have any other tricks to get your bass sound live?
I like to run two channels of bass to FOH, one line that is largely clean and unprocessed through octave pedal that can be kicked in when needed and then into my Avalon U5 DI (?) and another that splits to run through a distortion pedal / reverb and into a Darkglass Vintage Ultra-DI for a slightly dirtier/grittier tone. The blend of these two provides plenty of sub and clarity and lets me cut through the mix when needed.
What are your thoughts on Bass effects?
Do you think they muddy the sound or are essential for a bass rig?
I love experimenting with pedals. They’re definitely not essential because the fundamental thing is to hold down the groove and solid bottom end but used effectively they can really enhance a performance, albeit subtly. I love to throw a bit of reverb on some of the more percussive or exposed parts to sweeten things up but used all the time and you could end up with a bottom end that isn’t tight and punchy. A little bit here and there really works for me, even if most people may not notice it!
Do you use a compressor pedal? What’s the best way to set it up?
I use an Origin Effects Cali 76 to lightly compress my bass signal before it gets to FOH. The great thing about this pedal is the built-in hi-pass filter which means I can compress the higher frequencies and tame the more percussive higher notes without squashing all the energy out of the lower notes. Going down to a low A on my main live bass, this is super important. I run a relatively low ratio with a slow-ish attack and fast-ish release to keep most of the dynamics in my playing.
What does your practice regime look like?
Do you prepare in different ways for stints in the studio compared to playing live?
Unfortunately, I’m pretty terrible at practice when we’re out on the road. I never find the right space or time to do any. I have some default warmups I like to do before going on stage but I often feel my playing only really improves when I’m home for a decent amount of time. I find youtube channels like Scott’s Bass Lessons a great way to throw something new into your playing and work on existing issues so if I’m ever feeling uninspired to work on something I’ll head over there to get me started.
What’s the songwriting and recording process like in Don Broco?
It varies from song to song but on the whole Simon (guitarist) and I come up with some music and Matt and Rob (our singers) see what they can come up with vocally to sit on top. If nothing is working, often we’ll just move on. The vocal is key so it doesn’t matter how much we like the music, if we can’t find a great top-line then it’s time for a new idea. We used to have to go into the studio with the entire song demo-ed perfectly but we’ve become a lot better at just going with the flow when we get in there and trying things out – you can get some great ideas when you loosen up, have fun and experiment.
The vocal is key so it doesn’t matter how much we like the music, if we can’t find a great top-line then it’s time for a new idea.
What’s the best way for a bass player to improve their natural groove?
I’d say imitation. There are some amazing players out there, and if you can nail what it is about their playing that makes them so groovy then you can copy it and incorporate it into your own playing. In terms of songwriting ,I think it’s important that the bass and kick drum work together for a solid groove – that doesn’t mean that every kick drum needs a bass note on it but if you can largely work together then you’re onto a winner.
Why did you choose Spector basses as your main weapon of choice?
I’ve been playing Spectors for around 10 years now. Aside from the aesthetics (especially of the natural wood models!), I love their tone and the onboard preamp gives you a huge range of possibilities. They aren’t the cheapest but the built quality is great and after the number of gigs I’ve done on them, they’re still going strong so it’s a great investment.