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Artist Spotlight with Biscuit: Interview with Bassist Uriah Duffy

URIAH: I have definitely grown accustomed to seeing myself as a seasoned “Work horse” kind of bass player, and that you work for the “Job” and become a team player. However, I feel that my main style of bass playing lends itself more toward the R&B funk style. For my taste, anything that is “groove” orientated. I feel that the bass stands out a lot more in that particular style of music. In rock, bass often gets mixed down, and is not usually recognized as the heart of the song. But with R&B type songs, the bass can be the main “meat” of a song, like the old Motown, Jamerson sort of thing.

BISCUIT: How did you set out marketing yourself as a bass player on the circuit, and spreading your name? Do you feel it would be better to undertake this side of the business on your own, or have a manager take care of that side of the business?

URIAH: I feel management would definitely help, and I am working with a wonderful woman right now who has helped me out tremendously. I have always been a do it yourself kind of guy, and worked things out the hard way, and maybe the slow way too sometimes. I like getting a thorough knowledge of anything that I want or need to learn, but of course, that is sometimes the longer road.

I am now beginning to realize that delegating the workload enables one to focus on the music, which should be the primary job at hand. But to answer the first part of your question, as far as how did I get noticed, it was simply by just getting out there and playing, never saying no to any gig. I never to this day turn down any gig, irrelevant of the money…it doesn’t really matter. There is always something of value to be gained, such as exposure or experience.

BISCUIT: I think that is a very admirable approach, taking the positives and using them to your advantage. Many of the readers out there I’m sure will appreciate that kind of honesty from guys like your self. I believe you began playing the bass at a very early age, after seeing Geddy Lee of Rush, somewhere around 8 years old, is that right?

URIAH: Yeah. Seeing Geddy Lee perform was a big event for me, as I was kind of always interested in bass, perhaps because it was considered the “underdog” of the instrument world. My Dad played guitar and took me to see many concerts, but once I saw Rush live, that really did it for me. I came home and began playing his guitar like a bass, only using the four lower strings of course, actually, starting on only one string (laughs).

I eventually got my own bass. Then it was just practice, practice, practice. It didn’t feel like work to me though, it was just fun. Seeing Rush live and hearing Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Pink Floyd and all that music in the house, I was definitely raised on the classic and prog rock side of things initially. So I really got into Geddy Lee and Chris Squire, and then Billy Sheehan later on, which is of course more fusion Rock.

It wasn’t until school that I got in a Jazz band and began to hear stuff like Chick Corea and Miles Davis, and I really got into Jazz in a big way. A lot of people see now that I like to play funk and assume that I have always known about the great Funk bass players, but then are then surprised to hear that I have only been listening to Marcus Miller or Larry Graham, (my favorite bass player) later in my upbringing. I didn’t get into those guys until I was an adult.

BISCUIT: Isn’t it funny how you find those players later on and wonder how you missed them right at the beginning, although you seem to somehow understand their style of bass playing? Maybe that’s teaching a new dog old tricks, eh Uriah.

URIAH: You could say that, yeah.

BISCUIT: You were named after the rock band Uriah Heep, and your brother is called Yes, which I think is fabulous. Your parents must have been real Rock fans at that time. Was this your mothers or your father’s idea?

URIAH: A bit of both really, I guess they sat down and went through the usual names and I suppose they decided to go for a different slant. A joint effort I’d assume!

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