BILLY SHEEHAN - Riding With ZZ Page 2
by Martin Popoff
Affirmative - but I also wondered if a bass player has to sort of overcompensate, work harder to strive toward music that is accessible, given that the bass isnt' a) much of a writing tool or b) meant to be a lead instrument.
"Hmm, I never really thought about it, but I think, I hope, there's a natural little filter editor guy in my head somewhere, that kind of lets me know when we're in a part of the song where you need to just play the bass part, or we're in a part of the song where you can take it up a notch, or we're in a part of the song where you can go out of your mind, OK? And whenever I work with a band, I usually know when to pull back and when to push forward. And hopefully there's this natural thing that happens. But I've never really necessarily looked into... like, in 'Make It To Another Day', I knew there wasn't going to be some wild-ass bass in the song, because it's not what the song is about, whereas 'Cell Towers' or something like that, it's built around a bass thing designed to go off, so I don't know, I kind of do the songs one at a time; each one had a different requirement to it, whatever that requirement was, as a bass player, playing along with the other guys, who I hear coming back out of the speakers."
And I suppose, moving your sound and vibe and tone a little bit closer to a guitar might make it more accessible as well...
"Well, my bass tone has always been... the criteria I use to bring that tone about is, can you hear the notes and hear what I'm actually playing? To me, whatever note you're playing, it's what's in harmony with whatever else is going on. So rather than just be this nondescript hum, keeping the low-frequency thing shaking, I prefer to have an identifiable note. And that requires a bit of midrange so you can see what the note is. But never to get in the way of everything else. And the midrange frequencies are ones that are out of the way of the guitar, so you can hear the guitar as well. And the drums... it's locked in with the drums as well. And a lot of that came inadvertently as well too. As I explain it as the years go by I figure it out, but I never sat down and thought about it first and went for it. And as the years went by I said, 'Hey, I can hear the notes.'"
BILLY SHEEHAN - Riding With ZZ Page 3