“Jumping Jacks & a banana” (feat. Nate Wood)

After finishing a long and very memorable 6 month cruise contract in 2017, I decided I was going to visit NYC before returning back to Australia. Legend has it, you just need to turn up, pick a venue, and you’ll get to witness your musical heroes performing in person. You may even get to meet them….Simple.

Well, I arrived, was introduced to a friend of a friend, who introduced me to her partner, and we really hit it off (we all remain friends to this day – click to see blog post). After a quick catch up/literally getting to know each other, I was asked a simple yet engaging question by this friend of a friends partner, which went something along the lines of, ‘If you could see anyone live tonight, who would it be?’….and instantly I replied ‘Wayne Krantz live at the 55 bar’ .

This friend of a friend, excited by my clarity an enthusiasm, promptly began clicking away on his laptop, and in what seemed like two seconds, turned and replied with joy (and of course a pinch of NYC smugness….) ‘He is performing……tonight…at the 55 Bar!’ This was the day I first got to see Nate Wood perform live, and got to meet him after years of studying his music. The legend lives on.

Chances are you already know who Nate Wood is if you’ve come here to read this interview. For those who don’t know Nate and his various musical projects, I will be linking to a number of them throughout the interview. I do sincerely encourage all of you to take the time to check out his contributions to music so far. Whether to refresh yourself or to begin your Nate Wood journey. To summarise a musician like Nate in a sentence or paragraph is doing an injustice to his contributions. Instead, you can decide for yourselves. In the meantime, here is Nates responses to an interview we had online focusing on Tigran, perfect pitch, musical memory, fOUR and more.


NOTE: This interview was originally a real time recording between myself and Nate for a university workshop. The questions and responses between myself and Nate have been transcribed and the remaining questions from students have been left out for privacy purposes. Unfortunately the connection was poor at times so the transcription may be challenging to navigate in certain sections.

When did you begin working with Tigran?

I began playing with him when he was about 17/18 [years old] that was about 2005/2006 mostly doing like jazz trio gigs with him and this bass player Harish Raghavan playing mostly Tigran versions of jazz standards

Were you given charts or audio to learn the drum parts for Tigrans music? 

Audio for me to emulate. He programs the whole song as he hears it in his head, with this old Roland Fantom keyboard that he’s had since he was like 14 years old and he knows how to use it perfectly. He just records all the drum parts and everything on this synthesizer into the Roland fantom player or whatever. He’s been doing that since I’ve known him. I actually just did a bunch of recording with him and he was using the same sound, the same way of demoing stuff. So he would demo parts basically exactly how he wants them. 

Does he provide charts with the audio?

I do it by ear, I’m not a great reader so I’ve never seen one of his charts. There’s a lot of freedom obviously but he’s very detailed in terms of like he hates eighth notes on the hi hat with the foot for instance. Like, if there’s going to be a hi hat it has to be implying whatever time signature he wants to be implied. If we are playing in five but he wants it to sound like it’s three he’ll say ‘play the hat like it’s a waltz here’ and then when we go to the five part, don’t play the hi hat or whatever. He’s not super “micro-mangageree”, he’s more like, it either lines up with whatever is in his head or it doesn’t. 

So rather meticulous?

He’s super meticulous, he just hears the whole thing. He’s very particular but again, there’s still freedom within that. I think now he’s even more meticulous than he used to be. I think in the past it was more “jazzy” and now it’s more hyper arranged. 

It sounds like that. When I first heard the Mockroot album that sounded very much like Arthur Hnatek (drummer) was really playing what was asked of him from Tigran…Potentially, I’ve never spoke with Arthur before. As opposed to when you were on the recordings. 

Yeah I was playing freer. The record I just did with him [Tigran] was more of that. It was more specific stuff. We recorded a bunch of songs and I think there was just one piano solo that was like ten bars long and that was it for solos. The rest is just through composed music. On his records he’s not hearing solos so much anymore. It’s more about composition. I did just play a series of live gigs with him a couple of months ago, and there is a good amount of soloing on the gig still. So they’re kind of two different things. 

Was that with Evan Marien on bass?

Yeah that was with Evan on bass. Yeah I just did two gigs in Winnipeg. One night it was with an orchestra and the next night it was just a trio gig. 

With regards to your playing on the track Vardavar, it sounds a lot like you were making variations to the groove during the recording. Can you talk about that?

Yeah, that was before we did Shadow Theatre and I mean again, the way I was playing with him was a lot freer than how he wants the drummer play now, and I learned the parts to that song (Vardavar) because originally it was going to be a drum machine. (At the time) I was mixing his solo record and he had done a version of it with his sequencer and he said ‘do you want to put drums on it’ and I was like ‘sure’. So I shedded it for a couple of days and then he came over and I did a couple of takes and we picked a take. But yeah there are very specific parts in that but that track I’m taking a lot of liberties (laughs) on that track. 

I’m just curious for myself and anyone who’s listened to it (Vardavar), is it all one through take?

I think that one pretty much is. The part in the middle where it goes to the hip hop thing, that’s just sound replacer. Like I just replaced his kicks and snares with my kicks and snares, but it was still live drums. 

It’s impressive when you listen to that with that knowledge knowing that in real time you had the headroom to be able to move with those variations at that speed. It’s really impressive. Because it’s an odd metre (The song is in 32/16 which is actually 4/4 but the “odd” feeling comes from the groupings of 16th notes 5,5,3,5,5,4,5 = 32)

Well the thing that helped with that was because I mixed an original version of it, I’d heard it so many times that when I went to learn it, it was like ‘I know this song so well now’. It was almost like I’d been touring it for six months of something. Ok there are the facility parts of it but really I feel like with most composers, when you learn a few of their songs, you kind of know all of them in a way. Like you do have to shed them. The internal logic is usually the same. 

What would you say is the internal logic for Tigran’s music?

Well the internal logic is that there’s like a handful of steadfast rules like don’t play eighth notes with your foot on the hi hat. Generally his rules are whatever time signature the song is in it never deviates from that. It will just be permutations over that time signature. So that song is in 4/4 (which is also 32/16 depending on how you count it) but then it goes to other permutations. And that’s pretty much what all of his songs do. If a song is in 9 in will go to a permutation where you’re in 5 for a minute, but superimposed. So things like that. Certain people just gravitate to certain rhythms and certain kinds of patterns and stuff like that. I mean, Tigran is always evolving but I do find that in terms of when you spend a lot of time with someone’s music it means you can generally digest new material faster. 

It still seems like you’ve got quite a quick upload speed. I saw a musician with you and the Australian musician Sean Wayland talking about that, how you use the guitar shapes for memorising material. Can you expand on that?

I can’t read notes like at all. I can read drum rhythms ok. If somebody puts a chart down I’ll probably blow it the first time but then the second time I’ll get pretty damn close so people think that I’m a good reader but not a great reader. I’m getting a little better because I’ve been working on rudimental exercises over the last month or so which I think has helped with my reading. In terms of bass and guitar I can’t read notes really at all. I’m kind’ve like (Nate does an exaggerated demonstration of how slow his recognition of notes on a page are)…. The way that I approach everything is through ears. I’ve always been shedding transcription even when I’m not with an instrument. I have perfect pitch so if I’m listening to something I’ll just try to map it out like on the bass fretboard or the guitar fretboard. I can kind of always shed it because I have the shapes in my head and then I just hear something and try to map it. Because Kneebody never wrote any of our music down, we all can learn music so fast. We have maybe 100 songs at our disposal that we’ve had to memorise that are super hard. Everybody in that band says they always can learn the song the fastest on the band stand when they are in another group. That works for me because that plays to my strengths which are ‘I have fast ears’ so that’s my strength which is I can hear something and learn it quickly. But I can’t sight read a really hard gig, just can’t do it (laughs). 

Have you given it a go before and fallen on your face? (Site Reading)

I have yeah totally. If it’s drums it’s ok because you can just play eighth notes on a ride cymbal and no ones really going to care. I toured with this Canadian musician who had like seventeen page charts where there were no repeats and every bar there was a new time signature. There was nothing to latch onto. I had to shed it really hard and it was just really hard. I chose to spend more time on my ears than on reading because that’s just what I chose. 

In regards to Kneebody with the “fast learning” of songs, obviously in your case there is a bit of nurture and nature because it’s your strength and also because of that band, but do the other band members have perfect pitch?

Adam has almost perfect pitch, Ben has almost perfect pitch and the thing that I’ll share about it is I think you can learn it. Like mine’s gotten better because I can shed it. The thing for me was I learnt what an E was, and then I just filled in the blanks. Now I can kind’ve wake up and hear a pitch and be like ‘that’s a D’ but it took me kind’ve a while. Ben has kind’ve been working on that too. We’ll be walking through the airport and he’ll be like ‘Is that a Bb?’ and usually it’s a Bb or it’s a B. Usually it’s within a half step you know. But he shed it and it’s gotten better. I think that’s something you can do. If you can memorise one pitch like the first note of like Body and Soul or whatever then you can kind of start working the pathways to get it so you can know what other things are related to that. Eventually that falls away and you can just hear pure tones you know. 

To be clear yours is pure perfect pitch, for your whole life?

Yeah I think so. My parents are both musicians and they said I had perfect pitch at a young age. They could see from my behaviour or whatever. But yeah, it got better. I did work on it. I think it’s a skill. I think there is seed of gift maybe, but a lot of it is skill. 

In other words you would encourage people to work on it?

Yeah people can work on it. You know what’s interesting? Sorry once you get me going I go on a lot of tangents but I’ve been watching a lot of drummer videos over the last few months or whatever but Elvin Jones has severe synesthesia. Like when he plays he hears colours, and I kind’ve have that too. He always sounded really purple to me, like the way he plays. I think that’s a little bit related to pitch because certain pitches have colours to me. G is very gold, C# is kind’ve purple so there is a bit of a synesthesia thing too and maybe that will help people who don’t have perfect pitch now if they have synesthesia that’s another way to attack it.  

Is it something you’ve been clinically diagnosed with or is it just something you’ve noticed?

No it’s just something that I’ve noticed. Again, there are degrees of all this stuff. Like my perfect pitch is not such that if something is 436hz it’s going to drive me crazy. Although in Europe if somebody plays a piano it’s usually like ‘Woah!’ It kind’ve makes my shoulders do that (Nate raises his shoulders) but I think it does that to a lot of people. It really fucked me up early on because if I wrote a song in a key I couldn’t really change the key because it’s like ‘That song is purple’ I can’t change it from C#. Even though it’s like a 5th too low for my vocal [range]. There was a long time where I was writing stuff way out of my range because I was like ‘That’s just the colour of the song, I can’t change it”. But eventually I was like it’s better if I learn how to change it, but it’s really hard for me. 

Right. What are the specific road blocks with regards to that?

It’s just like it lives in a certain colour palette when all the chords are related in a certain way and then the relationship stays the same but the colour changes then the whole song sounds really really different. So it was just having to re adjust to ‘Now this is a very “gold” song as opposed to a “blue” song”. It’s weird to talk about it this way but that’s how it was. So anyway, All this to say that everything has its pitfalls. There’s advantages to having fast ears but there’s the pitfalls of not being able to read really hard music. And there’s advantages to having certain aspects of perfect pitch but there’s also pitfalls too. 

If a student is listening and they would say the fall mostly “neutral” on the spectrum of advantages vs disadvantages. What would you encourage them to work on? Would you want a wide pallet or would you want to target one?

I mean, you know a wide pallets good. My whole thing in clinics used to be ‘Just learn as much as you can and you’ll be more employable’ but actually I think that’s wrong (laughs). It think it’s actually more employable if you focus. So lets say if you’re a drummer, and you shed your ears, so you do a bunch of transcribing and you do a bunch of learning songs on piano. Lets say you get a singer song writers music to learn right, and you learn it on piano first and then you learn it on drums, but you’re also working on your reading at the same time. That’s really what you should be doing. That’s the way that you’re most employable. So you have these super fast ears, but if somebody drops a chart you could still hang with it. That’s just the best way to be. Whereas my approach to life has been yeah I play the drums really well, yeah I play the bass well, I play guitar pretty well, yeah I mix and master and I kind of collect income from all these little things I do, I actually don’t recommend that anymore (laughs). 

That’s interesting because that’s coming from the horses mouth. Someone may look at you with potential envy because of the amount of skills you have and the high competence on all of them, but you’re saying that hasn’t been advantage and you wouldn’t encourage it anymore?

I wouldn’t encourage it in terms of if you’re trying to make a solid living and develop something specific. These are the kinds of things you’re not suppose to talk about but I like sharing everything I’ve learned. It’s good to have other methods of income because lets say you’re the worlds best drummer and you’re touring with James Taylor but now you can’t tour because of COVID-19. So that’s fine for me because I can mix and master records because that’s another way of making income for me. Or work on fOUR which is what I’ve been doing because I have free time. But for certain people if they lose that one avenue then they lose all the avenues. So I do encourage broadness within an avenue but to be completely all over the play is completely confusing for people and I’ve kind of learned that the hard way. Again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I want to keep getting wider and wider. I don’t care how people see that. Like, learning how to play the piano really well you know, shedding my singing and working on touring fOUR and developing as widely as I can. In terms of the pitfalls of things that might seem like advantages, there’s advantages and disadvantages to everything. The thing that I’ve found is if you can come out of the gate with a very good understanding of this thing, maybe the best at this thing, that’s employable, that’s just a great place to be (laughs). In terms of getting work. 

Do you have any thoughts on what would be a good idea of things to get “the best at” in today’s climate?

It depends on the instrument. A really good example of somebody like this is for me is Keith Carlock. Keith did my gig a couple of times – my band where I play guitar and sing. We played Rockwood [Music Hall]. I paid Keith like 100 bucks or something and he’s like going on tour with Steely Dan the next week, but Keith you know just wants to play. So we like show up to do a rehearsal and he has all of the songs perfectly memorised. The world has never seen as Keith played the first in the rehearsal of these songs that I wrote 10 years ago, you know what I mean? It was just like, he comes in with the drums and it’s like ‘That’s exactly what I played but he’s making it his own but it’s way better than anything I’ve ever done’. That’s how you be a professional. Take every gig like it’s a $20 000 a week gig. That’s the thing that I have to share. If you approach every gig like it’s the gig that’s going to change your career, then you will get hired (laughs). I used to be a little bit more cavalier about that because my ears were so good that I didn’t put as much time into working on the music as I needed to because I knew I could get through stuff. But I’ve since changed that because of that experience with Keith. I was like ‘Oh shit!’ That just like feels great as a leader when this guy has learned the shit out of the music. So that’s one thing that I can share that seems simple but it’s not simple. It’s easy to be like ‘Oh I’ll get it on the next gig but there might not be a next gig. 

Something that I think is pretty admirable about the band [Kneebody] is the longevity of the band and how you guys make it work for that long because anyone knows that being in an originals band is quite a demanding task. Maybe you could share some thoughts on people who are starting an originals band, what it takes to keep a band together for that long? 

We’re all really good friends. We rarely bicker (laughs). Everybody in the band is very even egos and I think that really helps. In terms of bands that I’ve played with, those are all the most level headed people that I’ve worked with, in that band [Kneebody]. Because it’s a complete democracy and there is no leader, we’ve just figured out how to make it work in terms of sharing responsibilities to make it last as long as it’s last. We all go back to college basically. So I’ve been playing with them since 1999 so that’s like 20 years now. 

Do you mind sharing if people have different roles outside of the band? Like someone does admin someone does bookkeeping you know? 

Yes. We didn’t have management for the longest time. Ben and Shane would just book the gigs. Adam would book the lodging and the tours and the flights. Kaveh would do the merch and do all the artwork and I do all the audio. I mix the records, record the records all that stuff. We just played to people’s strengths. When social media came into it, Kaveh has the most to do with that. So Kaveh kind of took the role as the social media guy. Our roles have kind’ve changed throughout time but basically it’s like we stick to what our strengths are. I’m still doing all the mixing and mastering. Shane is doing some of the bookkeeping. So yeah, that’s basically how it’s worked. In terms of my preference, I’ve done a lot of sideman work over the years and I just always found it less satisfying personally. To be a hired gun that goes out on the road all the time. I realised that that wasn’t my goal. It wasn’t my goal to be like ‘I got the best gig’. I’d rather just be in bands that last like monogamous relationships because I find them more interesting. But I think everybody in that band for the most part has that same feeling that they like having a place that’s home. So the band reflects the changes that everybody’s been going through and its this kind of evolving organism. But it’s really like a marriage you know. 

Totally. Most people even in college have had their fair share of bands they’ve been in and out of. 

Yeah and there are things I wish we had done early on I think if you’re really serious about your band you kind’ve have to take every opportunity and make every opportunity. Just early on. Just work as hard as you physically can. That’s really the way to make stuff happen. That’s another peice of advice that I would give. If you have a project that you care about, you kind’ve have to put everything into it and not expect anything back for like (pauses) 5 years….maybe 10 years. 

Is that the same kind’ve approach you’re applying now to fOUR?

A little bit. I can’t really say that I’m doing that because again going back to what I was talking about before I’m doing these other things to subsidize like mastering records, and that’s like good because I’m making a living but it does take away bandwidth that I could be figuring out how to use google ad words or booking gigs in Connecticut you know what I mean? If that’s what you goal is, you’re goal is to see that as far as it can go, (audio cuts out) treat it like a job that’s not going to pay you, like you’re an intern of your own project for like years. Something like that. But to answer your question I am kind’ve doing that with fOUR because I’m taking less and less sideman gigs such that when fOUR opportunities come up I can capitalise on them. 

That seems to be the unanimous response in regards to projects from various musicians if you’re going to do an original project, go hard on that thing. But there is always the debate on do you want to diversify, have other skills to make a living. All that classic stuff.  

Yep, I mean the classic case is how Snarky Puppy they just basically lived off a credit card for 10 years – Off of Micheals credit card and went into crazy debt you know. But they just toured balls and slept on couches and now they’re Grammy Winning. That formula works, it’s just really scary. That’s just (shrugs) it works (laughs). 

So you’re saying students should get out credit cards and go into debt?

Exactly (laughs). Yeah I dunno… From what I’ve seen, hindsight’s 20/20 that’s what seems to work. I never really wanted to do that and I’m kind of glad I didn’t because I just don’t have the disposition for roughing for years at a time. Because I was making good money as a musician since I was 17 [years old]. I mean like a living you know? (Audio cuts out)… so to throw that away and be like ‘No lets just go sleep on a couch for 10 years’…So you just kind’ve got to know what your limits are.

What would you say to musicians who are more in line with your opinion of not wanting to go into 10 years of debt, what would you say to them? Would that be to diversify? 

Yeah I guess so. I mean like taking up opportunities when they come. Basically what we’ve done [Kneebody] is like, If somebody gets a gig with some other band or something, there might be a way to bring that into Kneebody or to bring Kneebody into that project. So it’s like having Kneebody always in the centre of your mind kind’ve and seeing other projects coming after that. That’s the way that we’ve done it. It’s a very diverse band, we’ve backed up singers and done all this stuff based on our diversification. 

Since we’re running out of time, can we talk about how your experience with playing bass and drums at the same time came about?

When I was in L.A, which I moved to New York in 2010 so before that when I was in L.A the kinds of gigs I did was more like singer song writer stuff. I did a lot of like film session stuff, and Rock stuff and singer song writer stuff. Usually when I played with an artist I was play drums, bass or guitar with them. Like I would start on drums and then eventually they would be like ‘Oh I heard you’re a good bass player too’ and then I’d play bass with them or guitar or whatever. So one such artist is this guy Keaton Simons, and Kaveh and I both played as a rhythm section for a long time. Keaton had a gig opening for Robyn Hitchcock or something and he was like ‘I can only fit 2 people on stage, have you ever tried playing drums and bass at the same time?’ Kind’ve as a joke, I don’t think he’d ever seen anyone do it. We were at rehearsal and I was like ‘I’ll try it’ and I tried and was like ‘I can actually kind’ve do this!’.

So it actually came from his [Keaton Simons] idea?

It came from his idea, yeah. And so we did the gig that way and we started playing that way as the band, just started playing as a duo that way. And then I started doing it with another singer songwriter this guy called Richard Steckle (not sure if that’s the correct spelling?) who is kind’ve like my idol of songwriting that grew up with my parents. We started doing duo and trio gigs where I played drums and bass at the same time either Richard would play guitar or Adam from Kneebody would join us. And then Kaveh always had tours with other people because bass players are always the busiest, and a lot of times he would get a sub. Usually Tim Lefebvre would play or Sam Minaie would play bass, or Mark Guiliana would play drums and I would play bass. But a lot of the tours I just played both. Usually it wasn’t full tours. Usually it was two or three gigs where we would do it that way. So when Kaveh decided to leave the band, we just decided it would be best for me since I was doing the fOUR thing, to just invest in doing a quartet version of the band. As apposed to trying to like initiate a new family member, it would just be better to keep the family as it was. Also if Kaveh every wants to rejoin, we can do that. Also, it’s something that hasn’t really ever been done before with that kind of music. So we were kind’ve excited to see how our music would change. 

How do you find it, in terms of challenges compared to fOUR, where you’re composing for that type of set up (drums and bass at the same time) compared to reverse engineering already written music in Kneebody?

Yeah it’s different. The thing that’s the hardest about it is improvising in real time, backing people up. Like backing a soloist up, being like ‘I’m the bass playing and the I’m drummer at the same time responding to the soloist’. It’s one thing to play parts that you’ve learned, it’s another thing to be playing in a communicative band where anybody can cue something at anytime to change stuff. So that’s where the challenge is. And then, doing it night after night, and keeping it fresh and keeping the concentration on….like if I have a bad night, the band is going to sound like garbage because I play two instruments. So a lot more falls on me. We’ve being doing it now for about a year and a half and the first few tours I’d feel really good for about the first hour of the gig and then usually by the last half hour my brain physically hurt. And I kind’ve lost it a little bit. So I was really seeing how the muscle was developing. And now that doesn’t happen. Now I can do two sets and feel concentrated the whole time. That was the time that I really noticed it the most was with those Kneebody gigs because I was doing it enough nights in a row where I was like ‘What is this feeling? Why am I getting headaches? Oh it because my brain can’t quite process all the information!’ Then when I came back to do fOUR after doing those tours with Kneebody it was just suddenly much easier. And then I’d do a fOUR tour and then got back to playing with Kneebody and it would be much easier. So they kind’ve inform each other. It’s just that, it’s just doing it a bunch, because drums is kind’ve that anyway. Because it’s four instruments, you’re playing with your whole body, and you have to not fall over. And they have to work together (the limbs) and they’re kind’ve doing different things. This is just a much more extreme version of that of course, but there’s a relationship there. And I think that’s why, you know this is kind’ve a new field. The multi instrumentalist at once is like a new field. Like me and Josh Dion and Deantoni Parks and some other people that are doing it. They’re all drummers who are doing it first. Which makes sense because If you have a shitty, you band is going to suck. So if you’re a great keyboard player and a shitty drummer, your one man band is going to sound like shit. But if you’re a great drummer and a shitty keyboard player, your one man band is probably going to sound pretty cool. But then drummers are also used to multitasking in that kind of way so it’s easier for drummers in a way. 

Do you mind talking about the routing for your fOUR set up?

Yeah so, I have both of these synths (points to set up), and this is a bass synth actually (points to pedal – C4 sythns). It’s a monophonic bass synth. These silver ones (points to pedals) are on off switches. So I can toggle any of the instruments on and off, with these foot switches. Kind’ve like DJ style. This is routed to midi, to the monologue synth (points to pedal) so it receives time clock. This is a filter pedal so I can do like sample and hold in time with the monologue kind of stuff. This is my vocal processor that I don’t use on recordings but I use it live. It has presets and effects and all that stuff. And then everything is routed to this K mix which is a Keith Mcmillen thing. Its USB powered it weighs three pounds, it has eight inputs, its indestructible. I can be set up now in about twenty minutes. I’ve kind’ve got it so it folds down really neatly. I mean relatively, there’s still wires going everywhere. And here is the bass (points to bass), it’s a tiny bass. It’s an ibanez sound gear micro bass $200 on amazon. The main thing was my back was just getting sore playing a full size bass and I couldn’t get around the drums. I’m actually looking for a headless bass now because I want to just have the instrument be as small as possible so I can do as much with my left hand as I can. Some people might ask how high is the action? I don’t think it’s that high. It’s the same height that I play it when playing bass normally with my fingers. Sorry to name drop but Kurt Rosenwinkle so me play like a few months ago and and he played the bass after the gig and he was like ‘Man you must have really strong fingers, this action is really high!’. So he thought the action was really high but to me it’s not that high. It’s just like normal bass player action. The touch is completely different to when you’re playing the bass. It’s basically the exact opposite technique that you want as an electric bass player. Where you left hand is invisible and it slightly approches each note and you kind of tie it all together. This is opposite, it’s like, you’re like piano hammers. Each finger is a piano hammer. There is nothing legato. So it’s a completely different thing. 

Have you changed your pedal board setup because of the way you have to approach the instrument? 

A little bit. I have distortion on all the time, just a little bit of overdrive. And that is because I just want the project to sound a little bit more overdriven. It’s not really because I need that for the bass. A lot of the bands that I played in, in the early days I didn’t use pedals. So I don’t have to use a pedal. Any pedals to play this way on the bass. For this, it’s just an aesthetic choice to have distortion and then that gives it a little more intensity. But you don’t have to have it. The ways in which playing bass with one hand has helped my strength is of course, my right hand can get around the kit way faster now because I only have one hand so I have to be able to get to each instrument super quickly. That’s very obvious but it’s the same thing with the left hand. If I’m playing synth with the right hand and then drums with the left hand, my left hand is just stronger now. 

In terms of preparation for playing these multiple instruments at once…..Say you’re a drummer and you’re preparing for a gig, you may get on the pad or you’re a singer, you might sing some scales. You’re singing, drumming, playing bass, synths plus you’re setting all this up. You’ve got such a huge amount of responsibilities and choreography. How do you prepare for gig to make sure you’re ready?

Oh good question! You know, it’s still early on. I haven’t crossed the 100 gig mark or whatever (laughs). It’s not like a routine thing. But I’ve found the best thing to do is jumping jacks, do some practice pad work and do a 20 min vocal warm up. Then if I do that I’m ready. I don’t have to ever warm up on the bass with the left hand. That’s just always there. My keyboard knowledge is pretty rudimentary and the parts are pretty easy so, basically if I do those two things it’s going to be fine. The drums are the energy source obviously, and the vocals I have to be loose. So that’s what I do. 

Jumping jacks?

Yeah jumping jacks and a banana. Like a banana helps with blood sugar. Jumping jacks just helps to get the blood moving because the thing that I’ve found the hardest is when you’re a solo artist, you have to learn how to captivate a whole audience by yourself! Which, that sounds easier than it is. You have to learn how to read energy, and ride the energy, and know that you’re completely responsible for it (laughs). As apposed to when you’re in a band and you can kind of hard behind ‘it’s there turn to take the energy…’ it’s like ‘Nope! It’s you the whole time!’. So that’s been a real eye opener. I think it’s translating to the way I play with other people too.

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