Connect with us

Features

Metal Bassist – The Making of The Dan by Allee Futterer

Best known for his work as the bassist for progressive metal sensation, Between the Buried and Me, Dan Briggs is probably the most sought after bassist in the metal scene.

Before gaining his reputation as an electric bassist, he was a guitarist, and an upright bass player. He started his studies at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania studying classical double bass. Due to the harsh northeastern winters, it was not uncommon for his private instructors to miss their weekly lessons with him. During that time he would memorize the previous week’s repertoire so when he went in for his next lesson, he could focus on bowing techniques and musicality in general as opposed to working on the fundamentals.

In December 2004, Dan was ready to take the spring semester off in order to prepare for transferring to University of The Arts in Philadelphia, where he could finally study electric bass. Edinboro lacked a commercial music program. Shortly after making that decision, future band mate Tommy Rogers called to offer him the spot in Between the Buried and Me.

Dan has been touring the world with BTBAM for the past 8 years. Compared with most seasoned touring musicians, his perspective on touring is surprisingly optimistic; “It can be tough, but for the most part being on tour means I get to travel, so it means I get to see my friends who are spread out through out the world.”

As most fans know, Dan is vegan. While some people make the road complicated, Dan continues to be optimistic…“One of my favorite parts about touring is discovering new restaurants in different cities and then getting to go back and visit them every year. The only downside is there are times I’m sitting at home and randomly get a craving for a quinoa-onion ring burger from Fresh in Toronto, or something from Native Foods in LA.”

At this point with BTBAM, touring is much more like a vacation where the only real concerns are staying healthy and playing an hour and a half set each night. In a side project called ORBS, Dan assumes the role of pseudo tour manager and booking agent, finding new venues if gigs fall through, etc. The hands-on-role is obviously tiresome, especially when nearly three quarters of the year is consumed by BTBAM. This past year, he managed to squeeze in two ORBS tours and start a second side project called Trio-Scapes, who will be recording this fall!

Back at Edinboro, Dan also had the opportunity to study piano as part of his major. This has become increasingly useful as he writes with Ashley, the keyboardist of ORBS. Usually their songs are composed in a two-step process, Ashley shows Dan a riff, and Dan develops the idea into a song. As the guitarist in ORBS, it’s easier for him to manipulate the harmonic and rhythmic structure of Ashley’s ideas. The writing combination “seems to make for really wild songs that start off so innocently and simple.” ORBS’s writing style is actually not so different from Trio-Scapes, though their instrumentation is just drums, bass and sax. Most of their musical influences come from the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and other progressive fusion acts.

While most tunes have been written by just “jamming out”, some have been shared riffs, and some have been harmonic rhythms and melodies placed over drumbeats. Excited about the new project Dan said, “We’re about to make a whole lot of sound for a three piece”, referring to the wall of 24 drum pads that Trio-Scapes drummer Matt is building in tribute to Bill Bruford!

After the fall tour with BTBAM, they are scheduled to go into the studio and write a new album. Writing happens a number of ways, mostly via file sharing, someone sending a minute or two of a song, and the others adding to that with an open mind. Up to his ears in music, Dan took on some session work for Adam of ORBS, working on his new record “All Human”.

Even with his full time touring career, he has dreams of doing more session work and even continuing to explore double bass. When he left school, he was working on a few Bottesini concertos and states, “I’m probably pretty out of shape on the upright, and I’d love to dig back into those.” Aside from classical music, the upright bass lends itself to jazz and contemporary improvisational styles, which is probably why Dan’s writing style contains so much color. Famous for his melodic and outside the box playing, Dan surprisingly doesn’t spend much time laboring over parts in the writing process. His method of writing for bass is similar to that of jazz musicians on good solos…“Let all your influences and everything you know and have heard just wash over you.” He usually goes with the first idea he hears, and then improves on it.

With the bands outwardly progressive demeanor, ORBS was probably not too much of a surprise to fans of Between the Buried and Me. Trio-Scapes will hopefully have a similar reaction considering the high skill level of the group. Like most great musicians, Dan has an affinity to boundary pushing bands and players of the past, present, and future, in the style of Edgar Meyer, Tony Levin, and Michael McIvor. Currently on his playlist, Dear Hunters new nine 10” records, filled with 36 songs. Ironically BTBAM has a history of releasing lengthy album’s, unfortunately, none come close to that length. This may be excessive to the average listener. But Dan, filled with excitement, proclaimed, “Most over the top release ever, and it’s amazing!”

Over the past eight years the metal scene has taken a completely new route, and a lot of that push for better music and more meaningful content has been because of Between the Buried and Me, and similar groups.

For more information on tour dates or where to catch Dan next please visit: www.myspace.com/betweentheburiedandme
www.facebook.com/orbsband 

Dan Likes:

Fresh

147 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
(416) 599-4442
www.freshrestaurants.ca 

Native Foods
1110 1/2 Gayley Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 209-1055
www.nativefoods.com

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Features

To Top
×
Subscribe to Bass Musician
Expect Cool Bass News