Canadian Musician - January / February - Page 27

BASS Tim White’s Twitter bio simply says: “Musician Of Ill Repute.” This is not only accurate, but also impossible to prove (or disprove). He is also the best bassist in iconic Canadian rock outfit Headstones. By Tim White What’s Your “Thing?” Like, with Entwistle, he stood very still, with his bass up high, and played with little or no expression. That was his thing. S o when Canadian Musician asked me to write an article for their bass column, I thought, “Yeah! I’ll do that!” Then I immediately thought, “Agh! I don't want to do that!” Because what am I gonna write about? I’m not super interested in talking about gear, or scales or pedals or strings or whatever. But then Trent Carr gave me an idea. He suggested not writing about bass at all, but writing about what it’s like to be a bass player in a band, spe- cifically Headstones. This led me to thinking about what I do on stage and if any of it applies to you. Here’s what I came up with… FLEA Flea of course, has a lot of different moves, but they’re all iconic. Other People’s “Things” I want to talk about performance. I’m not talking about doing a thousand windmills or scissor jumping off of the drum riser neces- sarily, but performance as in making yourself memorable by creating an iconic presence for yourself onstage. This is the thing that not only fans, but also agents, media, and labels all want to see in a show. I do too. Don't you? When you think of great rock bass players, there’s usually a visual image that comes with that. Whether it’s Flea or Entwistle or Lemmy, or (insert name here), if you watch their concert footage, they’re all doing some very specific things that are unique to them. LEMMY Lemmy, it was the Rickenbacker and that great stance, singing upward towards the mic. Doing Your “Thing” JOHN ENTWISTLE W W W. C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N . CO M The thing about their “thing” is that it’s consis- tent. We can rely on it, and really, we come to expect it from them. You want people to remember you, and more importantly, you want to energize the audience with your performance. I feel that this is my job. 1. Try not to mess up (rehearse) 2. Be present (listen) 3. Be watchable Make no mistake; they are watching you (un- less you happen to play in a band with a par- ticularly great frontman, in which case they’re watching you only some of the time). One of my things I used to do was take my shirt off at some point during the show. I started doing this because I sweat so much, but then it became a thing. I’ve asked fans what they thought of a particular show and they’ve responded with, “It was great, but you didn’t take your shirt off!” So it’s a double-edged sword, and I stopped doing it. Now my attitude is to get comfortable and just really listen and get into the music. A Headstones show is such a high-energy sonic assault anyway, so getting amped up onstage is easy to do. Also, I do some sensible stuff like stretch a little beforehand and stay hydrated. By the way, if you’re uncomfortable having people stare at you, just stare back at them. You do have the upper hand, literally and figu- ratively speaking. Try and remember they’re only staring at you because you’re up on stage being a total rock star. So you know, whether your thing is stum- bling around, or staring at your shoes, or gaz- ing up at the lights, make it your thing. You’re unique. Don’t be afraid to try stuff and stretch out a bit, performance-wise. It’s easier than you think and the only way to get there is by experi- mentation. Every gig, you can make some deci- sions about how you’re gonna try this tonight, or how that worked last night, so I’ll keep that again tonight, etc., and eventually, you’ll find what works for you. Before ya know it, people are saying, “Oh yeah, you know that bass player? He kind of leans up against his amp all the time?” Now that’s not my thing, but if it’s yours, own it! C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N • 27