Miss 600 make Radio 2 playlist

Just heard that Miss 600 along with Mumford & Sons and Bruno Mars have made the BBC Radio 2 playlist for next week! Exciting news indeed! Its a big year ahead for Miss 600.

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The Aristocrats – Bad Asteroid UK

A friend has just sent me the link to this excellent video by The Aristocrats (ft. Guthrie Govan, Marco Minneman & Bryan Beller) which was filmed at one of the best gigs I saw last year. If you haven’t heard of them The Aristocrats are simply amazing. I’m not normally a fan of guitar led instrumental music, if fact I would go as far as to say I normally avoid it. But The Aristocrats are in another league, they play real music! You can check to their music here.

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Mark Bass Alain Caron 121 lite

A few months ago I switched to using a Mark Bass Alain Caron 121 lite combo. This amp replaced my usual gigging rig of a 500W head coupled to two 1 x 12 cabs. I still have bigger amps, however this tiny combo is now my main go to gigging and teaching bass rig. Gigging with smaller gear has been a bit of a revelation to say the least. This diminutive combo weighs 39 lbs which is 40% of the weight of my old setup! It’s light weight and huge sound coupled to its versatility has enabled me to walk into gigs with the amp in one hand and two bases over my shoulder (in a double gig bag) and a kit bag in my other hand. This has facilitated me booking more than one gig in an evening, which previously was a rare activity and now has become more frequent (and as such more lucrative). It’s a hassle free setup with a great sound. So far I’ve done about 60 gigs over the last few months, I’ll post a more in-depth review shortly. In the meantime here is a great video from Alain Caron himself to explain the design intention of the amp as well as some of its more cutting edge features.

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New Foul Body Autopsy EP

FBA Album cover

At the tail end of last year the one man technical death metal machine Foul Body Autopsy (or Tom as I know him) invited me into the studio to track some bass for his forth coming release on UKEM Records. This is the first time FBA have used a real rhythm section to support Tom’s already strong guitar playing.

So with some trepidation and charts in hand I headed down to SOAN studios in Nottingham . The drums and guitars were already tracked when I added by bass parts. Its a challenge in extreme technical/death metal to produce a solid bass part that supports and highlights the guitars. The original track was a shade over 10 minutes long and is a technical tour de force as well as an endurance test to play consistently.

From a geeky bass point of view (and this is very geeky) I tracked my bass on a down tuned Sadowsky vintage P bass wearing stainless roundwounds in passive mode through an Aguilar DB680 valve pre. This was then sent through an API channel and reamped via a Sansamp bass driver for some added grit. Very Geeky.

After the tracking I headed off to a Miss 600 gig in Derbyshire, this required a very different headspace to say the least.

Any way the Foul Body Autopsy EP came the other week and is available for immediate download in practically any format from Bandcamp and CD’s/T-shirts from UKEM records website.

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On the 20th gig of Christmas my true love said to me

This December has been very busy to say the least. I have been gigging with original bands, corporate covers bands, a salsa band as well as depping for a variety of acts. Busy would be an understatement! And now it all has stopped. January is looking very quiet for live gigs indeed (as it always does), but I am lucky though as I have been able to schedule in a number of studio dates to fill out my timetable. It’s good to keep busy and be able to fit gigs and recording sessions around the day job in education.

It looks like this year will be very busy as well, with further gigs and recording sessions for Miss 600, Foul Body Autopsy, We Are Avengers, Emily & the Martens, lick as well as a number of pick up band gigs that I have been booked for. All this and I get married in August! It’s certainly going to be a fun, if a little hectic year. Bring it on!

Mean while here’s the excellent ‘She Makes War’ new video

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We Are Avengers

Just back from a great dep gig with trip-hop band ‘We Are Avengers’. The support band Ujham were a fantastic mix of rock-steady and lovers-rock roots reggae. Stunning to listen to. I’ve been filling in with ‘We Are Avengers’ on a few dates recently. Its been great to play their deep soulful funky bass lines and really lovely to hang out with them. What a lovely bunch. Alas tonight was my last gig as their excellent bassist is back from his travels and (unsurprisingly) wants his gig back! Its been a fun few gigs though and thanks to the guys for looking after me.photo copy 3

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Depping is the new black

During my musical career I feel privalaged that I have constant been in the position to work with fantastic musicians. Being versatile, dependable and doing my home work has enabled me to take part in some excellent musical adventures. A desire to constantly learn and improve has pushed me to try and better myself and expand my horizons.

Right now I seem to be doing a fair few deps for all kinds of bands; from pro cover outfits through to pop bands like Miss 600 and independent artists. Although I continue to play with my own bands and projects I am really enjoying sitting in one one off and short term gigs. It’s a great way to improve and maintain my chops and keeps me on my toes. I also dig the flexibility that a non-monogynous career brings. I can do what I want and when I want to do it. Playing full time in just one band can some times end up becoming a very insular and monotonous process. Fifteen hours a day in a van with the same guys will do that to you.

Developing the skills and contacts to facilitate this career move has been a very natural process. I’m also very fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive partner who understands my need for a creative output.

As I’ve just been working with Miss 600 here’s a couple of their videos


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Doing what you want and being happy

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Juggling a busy teaching load, multiple music projects and a growing family has left little time for anything else.

The past 12 months have been a challenge; recuperating from severe bout of tendonitis and completing my teacher training has left me with the question of what do I ‘want’ to do with my time.

I’m sure this is a question most people face from time to time, certainly for me this is not the first time I’ve reached a metaphorical cross roads. My thoughts have been mainly focussed on the creative endevours that occupy my life. The outcome of this process that I have left several bands and projects that have been a creative drain on my resources. Although these projects make money, the impact of a full time teaching postion means that I don’t have to take every gig that comes my way. The only projects I’m working on right now are those that I want to do and are not guided by the economic realities of being a full time working musician. The up side to this is that I am now busier and happier. Also more importantly I am fiancial no worse off for only working on projects that interest me.

So what have I learned; fill your life with nice people, only work on projects that your care about and make sure that your haing fun. Theres not much point otherwise.

Just been listening to this track by Aaron Gibson called ‘Thousand hellos’ So so I thought it would be good to share:

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Invenzioni by Steve Lawson and Mike Outram

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Sipping a cup of tea sat in the clutter and chaos of the staff room I’m listening to the stunning music that that Steve Lawson (@solobasssteve) and Mike Outram (@MikeOutram) recorded in this very building just over two years ago.

During the half term of February 2010 we set our degree students a number of real world projects that would reflect the diverse skills required by audio engineers to build a sustainable career. Invenzioni was one of these projects and potentially the most exciting; two of the countries leading musicians recording two hours of original improvised music. The music that appears on Invenzioni had not been rehearsed or pre written and ranges from deep grooves through to sonic landscapes featuring heavy looped sections.

In the end Steve and Mike ended up with 3 albums worth of original material. These works have been sorted to provide the 5 tracks on the album, with two further albums to follow.

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TED LESSON Victor Wooten: Music as a Language

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