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The Bassists of Worship: Quint Anderson, Part 1

by Steve Gregory –

Quint Anderson, the bassist for the Charlie Hall Band, is a phenomenal musician with a heart for worship. Listening to his work reveals bass lines that are infused with both passion and incredible ability; further, it is obvious that Quint has mastered the ability to listen to his band mates and find the perfect space in which to play.  Whether live or on recording, listening to the Charlie Hall Band is an inspiring experience that doubles as a clinic in playing worship bass.

I was privileged to meet Quint Anderson and see him play with the Charlie Hall Band in a recent concert hosted by the charity SafeWorldNexusA group with whom I am blessed to play, the acoustic guitar duo Dane & Taylor, works with SafeWorldNexus and was asked to open for the Charlie Hall Band on this night. After our opening, the Charlie Hall Band took the stage and played an amazing set that mesmerized the audience and led everyone into a place of intense worship.  Anchoring this experience was Quint’s bass work, which offered a firm foundation on which the rest of the band could rest.

When I was able to catch up later with Quint, he was gracious enough to give an hour of his time for this interview.  Our time was spent less as a short question and answer period and more as a conversation on Quint’s experience in worship bass.  I felt that the conversation was worth sharing in its entirety, so I have broken it into two parts.  This month, part one is featured.  In this section, Quint shares the way he started in bass, his experiences when beginning to play worship bass, and how he met and started making music with Charlie Hall.  There is also fantastic information on his view of the worship bassist’s role and his take on the importance of developing a relationship with a drummer.

I hope you enjoy this interview with Quint Anderson.  I would urge you to check out the Charlie Hall Band’s latest release, “The Rising”, which offers excellent examples of Quint’s abilities.  Next month’s installment will feature details about making that album and Quint’s approach to the bass lines found there.

Quint Anderson, thank you very much for joining us at Bass Musician Magazine!  I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.

No problem! It’s always exciting to get to share with anyone who’s willing to listen, especially in the rhythm department!  We always like talking about rhythm.

Exactly!  The new album is “The Rising” and there’s a ton of stuff I want to talk about with that, but before we get to that, let’s flip pretty much 180 degrees and go back to your background and sort of how you got into the whole bass thing to begin with.

My experience as a bass player kind of started out when I was a child.  My dad had a big set of speakers and when you’re, you know, a young kid, they’re about as tall as you are. My dad would play classic rock – Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and ZZ Top and just bumped that, you know, as loud as you could during the weekends.  It was one of those things where you don’t forget the feeling of music.  It’s different than having something through your small, two-way tape player or something that we had back in the day to listen to music; it’s like when you hear it from a massive stereo system, you know, it’s unforgettable and it really makes an interesting experience…you know…so much more.  So I really, kind of from a young age, learned that I wanted music to have meaning to it.

I’ve always wanted to be a bass player – that was the first instrument that I picked up.  I had to go through six months of cello to get there when I started out.  In the orchestra, I actually started on the upright bass…

Oh, wow!

…and they wouldn’t allow sixth graders to play the upright bass because it was too large of an instrument for sixth graders, so I had to wait until I was in seventh grade. So I had to endure a time of cello before I got to be a string bass player.  But it was great; from there I did the classical side of things just through high school.  I played in jazz band and doing some things with that for show choir, all the musicals for my school, so I got into that. But I think one of my first memories is when my parents were so excited – they bought me my first bass guitar, which was like, I’m going to have to check the model number, but it was like a Yamaha RX250…

Right!

…that was a standard P-Bass. So they bought me a guitar and they didn’t buy me an amp!  And so I was kind of trapped with me and my stereo, because I had about a three foot cable that ran from my stereo to the guitar, in the auxiliary input, so I could play through the radio, play to tapes, play to CD’s…

Wow!

…and so that was kind of how I learned to play to rock and roll, was just by sitting down, because I couldn’t go any further than three feet from my stereo.  And so from there, I had to save up and buy my first amp, like a Laney 112. And then when my parents figured out I was serious and wanted to play more, you know, they kind of allowed that and helped me and financed me a little bit, just to get to where I needed to be.

My very first band was a Nirvana/Tom Petty/Jimi Hendrix cover band and the first time we practiced we had the cops called on us!

Nice!

Yeah, that was like seventh/eighth grade, my first band and moved on from there…

It sounds like it was all over the place, in a good way – meaning, you had the classical side of things and you had, you said the jazz band, and you had the rock stuff going on all at the same time.

Yeah, I pretty much dived straight into music.  Fortunately for me, there was a lack of bass players that had a car big enough travel.  I had my mom’s Chrysler sport wagon and was able to travel and actually haul other band members, which I think that sometimes was the only reason I was in some of those bands, because I could take other people with me.

*laughter* Whatever it takes though, right?

Yeah, yeah!

At that time, were you into who the bass player was or was it more the bass sound, or how did that go?

Like, I can remember just from listening to classic rock when I was starting I always wanted to play Dire Straits.  You know, I was always into the “Money for Nothing” song –   I was playing air guitar to it all the time.  When I actually learned how to listen to the bass, when I like really realized what was going on there, I realized that it was one of the most simple songs ever…like three notes…

Right!

..the whole song.  It kind of changed my world a little bit – this song feels so great, the bass part is really simple, but without it, it couldn’t do what it was meant to do, which was kind of shake your hips…you know, bob your head a little bit.

So again with that theme of sort of feeling the music and looking back to the big speaker feel.

Absolutely.

Very cool! So at what point did worship music enter into your scene?

Well, I would imagine it was probably around when I started in high school.  I got saved when I was in eighth grade, kind of going into my eighth grade year.  I already started playing music; I was already playing rock and roll.  I was already doing that and the church needed a bass player.  They had a youth band and so… I wasn’t in right away, they had to be patient with me just because I had no formal training in any sort of worship-style music.  You know, back then…I say back then…it was still kind of a struggle, and I know the church still struggles with it today, but what role music has in a church.  You know, of course our church was a little more progressive, it’s where they did allow a full band, drums, you know, and other types of instruments.  I’ll extend on that in a minute…  So I started off that way.  I actually, in that church that I played for, met Dustin Ragland, who is our drummer for Charlie Hall, so we’ve been playing together since I was you know, probably 13…or probably 14 years old. So we’ve been doing stuff together.  It’s been a great journey for both of us, just to be able to look back on that and see our own individual stories, but we’ve always been able to enjoy music while walking along side each other.

So, when I was in high school I played for FCA – we had a friend that wanted to be a speaker, so we were doing these “5th quarter” kind of things after the football games in small towns, in “Nowhere, Oklahoma”.  We’d kind of be the entertainment for the night. So even in high school I was traveling throughout and going places which is always fun.  And I used to always be the youngest guy in the band when we did that kind of stuff, so it was kind of good to be around other people who had been doing it longer to kind of share a vision and share how to be responsible with your talents.

So, that’s how high school kind of got me started.  You know, I didn’t grow up with a Christian music background at all: my parents, when we were kids, took me to a Disciples of Christ church which was all hymns – there were no other instruments except the church organ there.  So a lot of people’s history with Christian music and maybe their history I didn’t have, except maybe we were too loud for the church or something like that. You know, that was kind of the only kind of complaints we ever got.  It wasn’t the style of music was wrong or this is written this other way, you should do it this way.  It wasn’t until I started going back into more rural towns in Oklahoma that those issues, that I guess have been around a long time, I was first made aware of.  It’s a learning journey, because you still have to be sensitive to those people that need that kind of worship musician and serve both the church and your purpose of pulling people towards God. It’s kind of like problem solving and just being a good listener.

Absolutely.  So, that’s through high school…how much time, or what’s the period between high school and meeting up with Charlie Hall?

Well, here’s how I met Charlie Hall first.  When I was in high school, I was in charge of putting on a battle of bands.  We had a quote-unquote largest high school of the bands in the state of Oklahoma and so I needed a judge that would actually be able to do music, know music, and judge fairly.  My friend had introduced me, he was like, “Hey, there’s this guy Charlie Hall, you’ve probably seen him play music before” and I had known Charlie just through reputation before, so I actually had him judge my high school battle of the bands – like five years before I ever played music with him.   So he barely knew me through that, he barely remembered me through that.  So when I started college, I was playing in about six bands, you know, all nights of the week. I was literally gone almost every night playing music somewhere. At that same time, I had switched from the church that Dustin and I had led in high school.  Since I was in college I moved to a different church that Charlie was the worship pastor at the time. And so I got on the worship team there and through that had a relationship with Charlie.  I was able to play with all the other worship leaders there and just kind of get familiar with that whole church and those people.  So it was my junior year of college when I actually got the invitation to play music with Charlie.  He asked me, we were setting up for my sister’s wedding, which was at our church we went to, and he was like, “Hey, I’m thinking of having you out on the stage this summer, let’s look at your schedule and see what you can do”.  And he had said that to a couple of other bass players that summer and was going to try them out as well.  I think the first show I ever played with Charlie was in Delaware – I left school on the weekend and came back on a Monday and it was kind of weird:  it was really exciting, but it was like, you know, I went away and came back to school and no one really knew what I did.  You know, it was almost like a separate life in a way, because it was away from my family, you know, away from all my friends.  So I really enjoyed it, we had an opportunity to play over the summer for Charlie and at the end of the summer 2004 Charlie asked me to go on their fall tour with them, which was about 65 days on a tour bus.  So I had to tell my parents, I had to ask them, if I could drop out of college.

How did they take that?  Were they supportive?

Yeah, the initial, “Mom, Dad, I think I’m going to drop out of college” thing doesn’t ever really go well.  It’s never going to be like, “Oh, finally! Thank you!”…it’s never that good conversation.  And I had also been offered by two other bands to, at the same time – it was weird that it all happened at the same time – two other bands had asked me to go on tour with them as well.  So I kind of came to my parents at this crossroads kind of place of like, “I have all this opportunity, but I’m still in school.” And the whole plan for me even getting into college was never to do what I wanted to do, like I knew I wanted to play music for a living, but I wanted a college degree to fall back upon. And so I went to college knowing that I was going to go 100% at college and then as soon as I got done, I would kind of try to make something happen.  Well, in the middle, this opportunity came up. And so, through some counsel and some people at my church that really encouraged me to, “Hey, take this time.  It’s only one semester, if you don’t like it you can always go back to school“.  So I took it, I took the job and I was on a tour bus for three months with thirteen other people. Me and Dustin being the only single guys, everyone else had wives and kids. I was the youngest band member and adult there.  It was pretty wild – we did our own sound, our own lights, we hauled it in, set it up, hauled it out, every day.

Once that happened it seems to be a huge turning point – it seems like everything you thought, “This is what I want to do, this is where I want to go” sort of fell into place.  Is that how it felt on that tour?  Did it solidify all of that for you?

Yeah, it was great. I love being able to do it. The cool thing about this deal was I was kind of walking in to songs that were already written, but on this specific tour it was set up to where they were going to do more of acoustic show so I got to travel with my upright bass and actually add the songs’ bass parts with that. And so while I came in I was not just replacing somebody, I was able to actually make a part my own.

Actually, that leads me, so before I get to this next question which leads off of that – I take it that the Charlie Hall Band, from that point forward, was your gig, is that right?

Yeah, from then on…I’ve been the bass player for Charlie for six and half years.

It’s been a great run too, and much more to come, I’m sure.  And one thing, you just touched on it: Charlie is known for his songwriting, among many things, but really a great song writer.   It just seems to me, and I guess this is more of a question, it seems that there’s a lot room that given to you for creating your bass line and finding where you fit…is that the case?

I think you’re right there.  The kind of philosophy that I learned when it comes to songwriting and brainstorming – if you have time to do it, this is a conditional statement – it’s basically the brainstorming principle that you put everything in your pocket that can go down and then you kind of go through the “Keep – Scratch”.  You go through it later and analyze what’s on the “Keep – Scratch”.  So when we song write, we’ll put every idea down and go through it later. And the same thing with bass parts: I’ll go for it, I’ll do for a line that I’m really feeling, and then I’ll get a chance to listen to it later.  Or even Kendall (Combes), our guitar player, he was actually a bass player before he was Charlie’s guitar player, for MercyMe, so he’s got a great set of ears to kind of help me figure that out.  Or I might have to have the conversation with Brian (Bergman, keyboards) because we all have to be aware of the ranges, since I’m dealing with a keyboard player…what frequencies we’re going to play at, what ranges, especially that we’re not stepping on anyone’s toes.  So as I joined the band, we’re all just learning to discover this about each other – giving each other space to go do what they need to do, but also trying to be as creative as possible in the process.

Sure, and that comes across I think in really great ways.  You touched on this:  do you find it challenging, because as you said, you have guitar, you have keys, Dustin’s an active drummer, Charlie also plays guitar, so you have this sonic space that’s already quite full before the bass arrives.  Do you ever find you have to pick and choose where you fall in that lineup?

Yeah, sometimes.  It all goes back to at least what I understand my role with the Charlie Hall Band is:  my job is to be the peanut butter between the drums and the melody. I have to kind of hold everything together and I also have to respect other instruments. I think if you’re going to be about a  band that’s sole purpose to not just do music, but also allowing to people to connect and hear the message of the music and really be able to just jump in and go along with it, sometimes you have to offer some things and also know that you have to lay back a little bit – you don’t want to be really distracting with overplaying or trying to be just too wild up there, when it’s not appropriate.  The good thing is we have a set list that allows for time to be creative and then there’s songs to be more introspective and reflective, so I have to  serve my band members in that way, to make sure we’re all going in the same way.

It’s great to listen to because I think that you have this incredible skill for doing that.  When I listen to your playing I’m really blown away – you can tell that this part is a driving part so I’m going to lay this pedal line down, or I have more freedom to create a melodic hook here, it seems like you’ve really honed that skill of when it’s time to pull back, when it’s time to support, when it’s time to add some melody, so it really comes across that way.

Glad somebody’s listening! It’s one of those things as, being younger, like I did, I tried to play every trick and pull everything out of the book and put it all in one song to be like, “look at me”. That was the thing before I was playing with Charlie, you know, just use all the tricks. Because you’re playing for bands that sometimes want that, you’re trying to lure the people, but when you’re playing worship music, I think your goal is different. I think it’s important to understand that – I think that a lot of worship leaders, those are lessons that they learn as they continue making music.  I don’t think I’m done yet, even learning that.  I think it’s a struggle that all of us, for a lot of worship leaders first getting into it and even when they’re hiring new band people to come play in their church or if you have a good band, but I can definitely see those patterns because this is your chance, you got to do it right or they’re not going to let you do it next time.  It’s one of those lessons that you learn – that not everyone is listening for the most talented bass player; they’re looking at the heart behind the musician so that they can enjoy that journey together.  So everyone’s saying, “yes” to the same thing – it’s more important than having one flashy guy that you have to tell to calm down.

Right! You just touched on relationships with other musicians and understanding your role – one relationship that I wanted to ask you to expand on, and now we know it goes back quite a while, is your relationship with Dustin. Why I say that is first, it’s a really important role to work together with your drummer, but you and Dustin really have this sense of communication with each other, or conversation with each other, where it sounds very much like you are both so comfortable with each other’s playing that you know when the other one’s going to go forward, or pull back, or give each other space and I just wondered if you talk for a second how it is working with him and how that relationship matured.

Yeah, I think that being able to have Dustin as my foundational drummer has been nothing but good for me, because Dustin strives to be as creative as possible, without, again, being too distracting.  If you listen to Dustin’s parts, like it almost sounds on a drum take that he’s doing, he’s recorded that maybe three times and played drums on it three times differently.  He’s trying to stretch himself out and just put little interesting rhythms in there that most normal people would be like, “Hey, that’s kind of cool”, but when you actually sit down and practice it’s…it’s unreal.  And I’m fortunate because I’m playing with someone who is wanting to be creative, more than anything else.  I mean, if you listen to Dustin, it’s like that’s what he wants, he doesn’t want to play the “4 on the floor” and get people motivated, he wants to provide his abilities to create the best part of his worship. And so, having that connection with him is great.  We also tend to listen toward the same kinds of music, which kind of helps us celebrate a common bond, just you know, even with a vocabulary, like saying,  “oh this part, when this moment happens, that was really cool”.  We go see shows together – he used to drive me around… before I was driving.  I could watch bands play, but he would drive me around to concerts and stuff.  So, just being able to enjoy music with him kind of allows you to learn. When you spend that much time with any musician outside of music, playing music, you know whether it’s hanging out, or whatever, it allows you to listen to them better when you are actually playing music. Kind of like a poker game or something, you know their tells, you know their reads.  As with drummers I’ve played with in the past that aren’t Dustin, sometimes it has to be as noticeable as like, I have to physically look at you and give you eye contact to let you know that this is the next change, or this the next part, or I want to go here with that, but Dustin and I have been listening together for so long that it’s almost instinctive.  I actually can just listen to him and know where he’s going to go most of the time.  That just takes time.  Not everyone is as privileged with that kind of relationship, but on the other hand, if I didn’t play with so many other drummers , I wouldn’t be listening and listening to that, because you do have to figure out how to relationship with every drummer and how to connect in that way.  Maybe your drummer needs eye contact, or maybe your drummer needs the “bull kick” is what I call it – you throw your shoe back and let them know the next part is coming up. You have to figure out some way to communicate with your drummer while you’re on stage.  If anything else, just to make sure he’s ok…

*laughter*

… and he’s not having a heart attack or something like that.  It just makes it fun when you’re able to connect and like say, “Yes, we’re doing this together”.  And also to have fun with each other and it keeps the groove.  Dustin works real hard to make sure we that don’t play the same song the same way every time, which keeps things interesting and kind of keeps you alive as you’re playing maybe the same song for years.

In part two, Quint will talk about “The Rising”, the latest album from the Charlie Hall Band.  Until then, I hope that your bass playing is blessed and that you can bless others through your bass playing!

Visit online at www.charliehall.com

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