Canadian Musician May/June 2017 - Page 27

BASS Patrick Hansen is the bass player in Canadian alt-rock band The Treble. Since 2011, The Treble have been carving out their place in the Canadian music scene with engaging songs and passionate live shows. Patrick and The Treble have toured Canada extensively and shared stages with Hedley, The Lumineers, Capital Cities, The Trews, Dear Rouge, Sam Roberts Band, and more. www.thetreblemusic.com By Patrick Hansen The Importance of Influence M y first performance was a di- saster. It ought to have been warning enough that none of our parents would let us prac- tice in their basements, but after weeks of rehearsing Operation Ivy in the school band room after hours, we stood up in front of our middle school and embarrassed ourselves. At the time, I barely had a capable handle on the bass. I’m not sure why I thought I’d be able to tackle singing at the same time for my first “show,” too. To this day, I’m not certain what stung more – seeing my friends laugh or watching the teachers try to stifle theirs. To make matters worse, the timing was horrifying. The performance was part of an end-of-the-year celebration, so that meant I walked out of school for the summer carrying the weight of defeat. I remember climbing into my dad’s car. An accomplished musician himself, he politely asked how it had gone as a matter of courtesy. He knew. That summer ended up becoming the most important of my musical career. Look- ing back, I think it would have been much easier to call it quits – to say that music just wasn’t for me. But I went and did the oppo- site. I practiced. Hard. Every day. Prior to that show, music was about impressing girls and gaining social value with the guys. Everything changed from that point on. Where previously I had stuck to learning stuff I enjoyed, I started to explore music I didn’t necessarily listen to for pleasure. I learned to appreciate the subtle- ties of different styles and players. I became increasingly aware that a bassist’s approach to a song is a very personal thing. Distinct styles started to materialize where I had previously only heard a progression of notes. In short, I began to appreciate that a player and his/ W W W. C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N . CO M her style is what breathes life into a song – especially on the bass. Expanding Your Influences Once high school arrived, I jumped at every opportunity I could find to play with other people. One weekend might find me talking about the importance of good tone in a bad Pink Floyd wannabe band, and the next would see me playing Bad Religion-style lines in a dirty warehouse with guys who were way too old for me to be playing with. I cannot stress enough that this was the next impor- tant part of my musical journey. Collaborating with others, hearing their stories, and applying what I could to my own playing allowed me to improve exponentially compared to my previous, more isolated experiences. That’s when I realized precisely why we had failed only a few short summers prior. We were all playing our parts, but we weren’t listening. We hadn’t found our own styles be- cause we hadn’t been looking for them. We were bad because our practicing was bad. Our only influence and feedback came from ourselves. So, when I think about how I’ve become the artist I am today, I remember all of the hours I spent motivated by an initial failure. For that reason, I don’t regret playing through that nightmare; if nothing else, it made me ap- preciate the importance of finding influence and seeking feedback far earlier and far more than I might have otherwise. Because that’s what bass playing comes down to for me. It’s about studying those that came before and borrowing from their accomplishments and the ground they’ve broken. Over time, I held onto rhythmic and melodic ideas from an array of bassists, from Geddy Lee to Mark Hoppus, mixed them all together, and came up with who I am as a member of The Treble. Always Learning This desire for feedback and influence still serves me well to this day. During the re- cording of our latest release, Modernaires, I met Rob Wells (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande), a Canadian producer I already held in high regard. Rob asked me to look at playing bass in an entirely different way. He would skip through octaves with his lines and ask me to push slides and glissando into notes in a way I admittedly would have previously thought so unorthodox it would be wrong. He loved the tiny subtleties that would emerge as I ran from one pass and pushed into another with- out properly releasing from the fretboard. I learned to love them, too. When the bass tracks on Modernaires are isolated, they have an imperfect quality that, out of context, almost seems erroneous; how- ever, when they sit in the mix of the songs, these nuances help move the tracks in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Now, I have another tool/ idea to add into my approach to bass playing. I think the spirit of that experience with Rob is what is most important about improv- ing after you’ve reached a certain level of competence. It comes down to a desire to seek feedback, and an active search for new influences as you move forward. In the end, allowing yourself the freedom to look outside of your own playing style for new inspirations is what allows you to grow. And it might just save you from a sum- mer of mean MSN Messenger texts from your friends. C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N • 27