Q&A WITH THE MAN WHO ONCE HAD A SKULL-SHAPED TAN LINE
It goes without saying that FBO's own bass players of the past -- including the great Mitch Newlin and Matt Babich – and we wanted to take a slot of our Bass Bi-Week to talk with FBO member, ex-Asylum bass player TERRY WASKA. It is well worth reading his tasty insights to the world of the bass.
FBO: Why bass?
TW: Like most bass players, I am actually a failed guitarist. In the early Asylum days we had 2 guitarists and no bass player, and they wanted me to make the switch. I angrily refused many times. Then one day I showed up for practice and there was a bass with a note on it sitting in front of my amp, and everyone turned and walked quietly out of the room, except for Stacy because he drew the short straw. I was so pissed I was ready to pack up and bail. But Dave drove me and it was a long walk home carrying my guitar and my Peavey Backstage amp. But then I discovered that I could take what little I knew on guitar and transfer it to bass and was better than a lot of bass players out there. Between stuff I picked up from Stacy and Steve Harris, I was able to keep it a little more interesting.
Some say the bass is the Canada to guitar's America -- thoughts?
I’m not sure that’s a sentence [now revised --ed]. However, Canada has free health care, and I (oddly enough) am a freelance pro-bono gynecologist. Feel free to make any “pro-bono” jokes here. Any female bloggers interested can submit a picture and other pertinent info for consideration. Someday I hope to be the Brazilian Waxer to the Stars. And yes, I treat Americans too. Does this make the roadie Mexico? Vive la Canada!
What irritates you about some bass players?
Hair metal bass players that held a single note thru an entire song and still nailed the hotties. And the bass players that stand in the back and you forget they’re there. I saw Judas Priest once and would completely forget they even had a bass player except for the occasional reflection I would catch off his pick guard. He just sat back in the dark, enjoying his anonymity. I think bass players should develop the reputation as the zany guy in the band. Singers are pretty boys, guitarists are pompous. Right now drummers are the zany guys and I blame Gonzo from the Muppets. The Muppet bass player was that blue jazz guy, which is kinda lame. If I was Jim Henson, I would have made the bass player the guy that was always getting Miss Piggy and Nurse Janet into a 3-way. And then there’s the bass players who are really good but waste their talents for a bigger check. Yes Robert Trujillo, I’m talking to you – Metallica is a waste of your talents. At least Buckethead had the good sense to leave Guns N Roses 2.0.
Can you write songs on bass? Have you?
A few songs have spun off from bass lines, but for the most part...no. Oh sure, people like Nikki Sixx have taken writing on the bass to another level. Motley Crue songs aren’t written – they are composed. The best way to write is to just jam until something sounds good. Then everyone has helped create the seed that the whole band sperminates, and eventually it festers into a beautiful tune. If I came up with something I liked and brought it to practice, I would probably want to control other peoples parts, and I’m not big on telling other people what to play. That’s what guitarists are for.
Does string-count, sticks or mic matter for girls most? How do bass players stack up against their bandmates in the labor del amore?
I did have a hot chick once tell me that she liked bass the best and asked if she could sit on my bass cabinet while I played a show. For the record, I didn’t get laid out of the deal. I’m sure the lead guitarist or singer did though. We bassists live vicariously through the penises of our band mates. Except for Gene Simmons, and if it wasn’t for the tongue he wouldn’t have gotten 1/2 of the girls he got.
BBPOAT -- best bass player of all time?
I’m not into the prodigy bass players like Billy Sheehan or Les Claypool because solos (all solos – guitar, bass, drums, xylophone, etc.) are pretentious and boring. I like bass players that can create tasty lines that fit into a song without following the root note of the guitar. I think some of the best bass players are the ones from some of the classic rock bands. Normally I would have said John Paul Jones from Led Zep, but after I saw his feathered hair and Seinfeld-esque pirate shirt he had at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a couple of years ago, I’m left hero-less. Since I grew out of Iron Maiden (do we ever really grow out of Iron Maiden?) I have been more into the sound overall rather than a particular bass player. Of course, had I listened closer to certain bass players, my musical growth might not have stopped in 1992. So, just to answer the question, I’m going with the 2 stringed slide bass player from Morphine. The fact that he died in his prime helps in a mystical/morbid way.
Would Asylum have made it if there had been two bass players?
Well, we never did shit when we had 2 guitarists. I think if one bass player got us the success we did get, then more bass players would have exponentially magnified our success. This is the kind of math that the people who made Beanie Babies used when they put out their value guides. If only the Beanie Baby people would have managed us. Why is it that Jerry Garcia got a Beanie Baby, but we didn’t get one? Bullshit. Oh well. Cynthia Plaster Caster is coming out with the Asylum edition in her fall line later this year. For an extra $10 you can get it signed. I’ve always wanted to be immortalized in prosthetic genitalia. I’m sorry, what was the question?
--> Terry Waska, we just want to thank you.
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY
**From March 22 to April 5, FBO is celebrating the forgotten, overlooked, abused or under-utilized bass by noting a handful of bass players you should know about.**