Will This Really Get You Fired as a Bass Player?

Henrik Linder

Breaking free from all the rules

By Jon Liebman
Week of April 29, 2019

As musicians, bass players especially, we’re admonished, repeatedly, to do just what we’re called upon to do: Lay down the groove. Don’t overplay. Keep it simple. Just give the music what it needs. Serve the song. If you play too much, we’re told, you’ll get fired. When you’re in the studio, especially if you’re playing on someone else’s project, you need to play what’s expected of you, remembering why you got called in the first place.

On the other hand, there is a place, apparently, for breaking free of all the so-called “restrictions” placed upon us, finding a way to express ourselves on our own terms.

But be careful.

Case in point, our interview with Dirty Loops bassist Henrik Linder, published this week, addresses that very sentiment. Trying to classify Dirty Loops into a nice, neat style or musical genre can be all but impossible, given their penchant for injecting elements of jazz, funk, rock, pop, fusion… whatever, into their songs. What’s more, in addition to their own compositions, they’re known for doing covers of songs of everyone from Justin Bieber to Adele, but very much on their own terms.

“We were session musicians,” says Henrik, “and we started the trio so that we could do everything that people told us not to do in sessions… all of those things that would get you fired from a normal job.” Not exactly the same mindset as Abraham Laboriel, Leland Sklar, Neil Stubenhaus or any of the other studio moguls have when entering the studio, no doubt. But those guys don’t have the same mission in mind when they walk in the door.

It’s important to understand your role as a musician, a bass player, and to provide what’s needed in each particular setting. If you’ve just gotta break the rules in order to feel liberated and express yourself, there may be an avenue for you, as there is with Dirty Loops. Just be sure you don’t forget where you are and the goal you’re setting out to accomplish.

Have a thought on the subject? Leave a comment below. I’d like to know what you think. In the meantime, check out my interview with Henrik here.

Comments on Will This Really Get You Fired as a Bass Player?

  1. Bob Burnham says:

    I was “fired” by two Detroit area cover bands for being “me.” The first band I thought I was giving a nice full bottom to the overall sound, but the guys wanted a thin 1960s sound, and the drummer’s brother, another bass player wanted in. They claimed they told me to “turn down” but I wouldn’t. The leader of the band, however was a good friend a great musician and preferred my style because I played more melodic, but he was overruled. In the second band, the leader was disappointed I was not EXACTLY replicating the original record. We got along OK, but when the fellow I replaced wanted back in — even tho he did not get along with some of the other members — I was still gone! Having sat in with some of the finest Detroit area musicians I still feel like I’m the better player than those I replaced and won’t waste my time with mediocre players!

  2. Mick Holland says:

    after many, many years of “play what you’re told!”… I started my own band and adopted the Ian Anderson inspired attitude “you can play what I tell YOU to play, or you’re more than welcome to leave… actually worked out better than I thought it would.

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