by Steve Gregory –
In part 1 of my interview with bassist Quint Anderson, Quint shared how he began playing the bass, his thoughts on playing worship music, and how he joined the Charlie Hall Band. In this second part of the interview, Quint talks about the making of the most recent Charlie Hall Band album, “The Rising”. After he discusses his work on this fantastic record, Quint shares his thoughts on gear and offers great advice for worship bassists.
Let’s jump now to “The Rising”, which is the newest album, just out a few weeks actually. It’s a fantastic album – just a really, really great album. The very first thing, as soon as I sat down to listen to “The Rising”, was that this is not a bass-shy album at all! In fact, as soon as the first track, “Rising (A Song of Ascent)” kicks in, there’s lots of bass right there. It’s exactly what we’ve been talking about with this harmonious relationship with the bass being able to be melodic and yet driving and these different pockets. As soon as I flipped open the booklet, I see “Music by Kendall Combes and Quint Anderson”, so again, it seems like this record gave you lots of opportunity to play really interesting lines and lots of freedom to do that.
Yeah, this record was more written by the entire band than any record that we’ve done so far. We don’t have a practice space in the sense that we practice every weekend. We’re kind of an unconventional band in the sense that, for this album, we set up our stuff probably four times over the year and just for a couple of days sat down and just dumped out ideas. Kind of the “keep-scratch” thing that I was going on earlier, just dumping out ideas. Just keep going and if we like it, we’ll talk about it, and just make sure that we capture every moment. And then there would be large spaces of time between those ideas to where we could all go back and listen and see if anything was cohesive and could be a propellant to something else, or make some magic happen, so to speak…if there was anything that just really landed. And that was also one of the deals that Charlie doesn’t usually show up with lyrics on the first day. He’s got his journal of lyrics, but he likes to listen to the song and pull his lyrics into that. So a lot of times, we’re just trying to write music. We have tons of songs that no one will ever hear that we just got through it just to write, just to have a good time. So, I really enjoy that kind of creative process – it doesn’t feel like it’s forced, it doesn’t feel like we have to make something new every week…
That song, “The Rising”, the initial idea was written, me and Kendall had been talking one day, “Hey, we should sit down and write something, we haven’t written anything, basically in a while together”. He had just finished this new studio, so I went over to his studio and we sat down for about 20 minutes. He was like, “We have about 20 minutes before I have to leave…what do you got?” We just started making up some music and the original idea didn’t have any sort of bass effect on it because I just went direct into the computer. Once we had it, we were able to share it with the rest of the band and they could add their spices to it. I was able to play with the bass fuzz and we kind of added that ingredient in the studio. For that song, “The Rising”, we used the intro we had, the bass fuzz, and had a tremolo that speeds up to the BPM of the song just to add a little bit of extra fun. Just because…kind of accelerates the rest of the record.
It works well! I would like to ask you to share your thoughts about building bass lines for a couple of the songs on the record if you don’t mind. “Let the Earth Awake” is my favorite cut on the record and definitely my favorite bass line. I really enjoy the added bass movement in the chorus right after the bridge, which is slightly different than the other choruses. So could you talk about that song and how that came about and how you came up with your line?
I can talk about that but you probably aren’t going to be too happy with my answer. That song was written by Kendall Combes and so most of the bass line he had already tracked as far as the demo goes, before it got to the album. So I played the choruses and verses and then there’s that breakdown on the bridge that’s kind of the funky bass part and we had wrestled with that bass line – we tried to get the keyboard to play the bass line, we tried to get multiple bass playing to get that part and we just couldn’t stick anything. He was just like, “play this, play this part” and we’re just going for it and we couldn’t get anything out of that. So I started playing something and he’s like, “Yeah, that’s it, let’s play that!” and then I’m like, “Man, you’ve got the ear for it, why don’t you just put it down”. So I took off the bass and gave it to Kendall and Kendall just pumped it out like it was nothing. So, he’s got a good ear for rhythm… So that part was all Kendall, it just took a collaborative effort to allow that to happen. I don’t think if we hadn’t done the 100 trial and errors that the 101 take would have been as special as it was. And that’s part of writing music: we try to write from different angles, whether you hear a sound from the keyboard, or you hear something from the bass. I was able to write some of the guitar parts on “The Rising”. We all share into the process. If you have a band that’s willing and open enough to let people come over to your territory it helps out, I believe, for the goal of the album. You know, Kendall’s a fantastic bass player; I definitely receive any sort of input he’s got when that stuff happens. But “Let the Earth Awake”, Kendall wrote that and we all just jumped in after he presented it to us. I don’t know if that really answers your question, but that was one of the first songs we had for “The Rising”. Because we had written it, we actually played it for Passion 09, but it didn’t really go anywhere. I don’t even know if they released it live. So we just worked on it, we had about 4 or 5 months before it landed on the album. So we let it rest and figured out what it needed.
[NOTE FROM STEVE: after this interview was sent into the publication phase, I spoke with Quint. He said that he was talking to Kendall Combes about the story above and Kendall had a completely different recollection of that day in the studio. Kendall is certain that Quint laid down the take that appears on “The Rising”! Quint explained that, when writing in the studio, it is not at all unusual for him and Kendall to switch instruments, thus the confusion. While we can now correctly attribute the bass playing to Quint, perhaps it is most notable that the members of the Charlie Hall Band successfully employ such a selfless manner of writing.]
Another great tune is “King of Heaven”. What got me about that, and what wanted to ask you about, is that the bass is almost alone in carrying the verses in that tune. It also sounds like there’s some synth on there – is that effect on the bass or are you doubling some synth stuff?
It is – yes to both. It’s a sub octave bass fuzz. It comes out of a bass pedal that has a synth on it and so it’s pretty cool because you can actually dial in how much “digital-ness” you want. So that song was actually written in fuzz, like, I wrote that bass line as in, “Hey guys, just turn on the recorder, I got this idea real quick” and so that’s kind of how it was. We were sitting at a practice and I just threw it down real quick and we all started jamming to it, but I wrote that from day one with the fuzz pedal turned on, just because that’s how I heard it. When it got recorded on the Passion 08 CD that came out, I actually recorded it with fuzz and, I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but the powers that be took the bass fuzz out. So if you listen to the Passion 08 CD there is no bass fuzz which there was bass fuzz intended for that song. So it’s still me playing, when I recorded that part it had a dual signal – a lot of times when I record I like running a line splitter that sends out the fuzz on one channel and just my direct signal on another that was in case there was any loss of low end you can blend the two in post-production and that’s pretty much what happened: all of the fuzz was taken out post-production.
At least it made it on this one!
Yeah! There’s actually a really high harmonic part and the beginning of that song too, that kind of compliments the intro and that’s also some bass fuzz, but it almost sounds like a synthesizer because it’s a much higher pitched sound. I was happy to have the freedom to make some bass fuzz, fuzziness.
The next song I wanted to talk about is a little bit different and is an example of what we’re talking about where sometimes you lay back and support a song in the most simple ways and sometimes you go forward. I wanted to talk about “Deeper in Love”, which is song written with lyrics and music credited completely to Charlie (Hall). The bass on this carries that “3” feel the whole way through and sort of propels it. I wanted to see your take on that.
Yeah, that song actually was around, it was never really recorded, that was the first time it has been recorded, but had been around since I went on tour with Charlie. We brought that song out during the acoustic set on the tour bus so I was actually first playing that song on upright bass and I just had this real thud kind of pizzicato feel to let the space in between there because you know, playing an upright bass with a bass amp you have to allow time for those notes to resonate, otherwise it’s just gonna sound like mud. So that style of bass was in my head already, I just transferred that to bass guitar. And the ability to get those low frequencies with the 5 string, you know there was just some really good space in there. It does have a 3 feel; I count it in 6, that’s probably just how I count my 3. The fun part of that song is that it’s real simple up front then we get to kind of work it around when each entrance starts building. It’s a pretty simple song, so I had to try to make every pass on the back end just a little bit different to where it wasn’t…you know, a bass player’s not going to be able to play, if they were ever playing it live, “this is just four notes of boring-ness”. I wanted to move a little bit to where they were learning the song themselves, or listening to the song themselves, they enjoyed the little subtleties that I put there.
You’ve talked a little bit about this, but I wanted to see what kind of gear you are running now. You talked about some of the different effects and stuff, but what’s the gear you’re with now?
OK, my gear list – I’m not paid by any of these people so it doesn’t matter, but my gear list is, starting from the guitar: it’s a Zon Mosaic custom 5 string and that’s Zon guitars. I use a Radial JDI DI with all my stuff, I actually go DI first before I go to the amp so the amp on stage is just for my reference. That way, wherever I travel my sound is congruent. Whatever amp I have to have, if it’s not my own, I’m still sending the sound guy the same quality. As far as the amp goes, I’m using a Gallien-Krueger 1001RB-II and I use 2 NEO212 cabs. I use D’Addario EXP strings, coated, I love coated strings, they just keep my fingers from being shredded. On my pedal board I use a Line 6 M9, Ernie Ball volume pedal, and a Korg Pitch Black tuner and a Bootzilla bass fuzz – it’s by Snarling Dogs – it has a wah and fuzz…it’s kind of the secret synth sound to a lot of that stuff you heard on “the Rising”.
And that was your basic set up for that record as well?
Yes. I actually had the M13 for that record, but it’s the same sound as the M9. I had to scale down just because the difference between the two was eight pounds which is what allows me to fly with it, because you have to be conscious of that as well. For my ears we use Aviom monitoring and I’m hard wired in with Shure E5’s.
I know we’re coming close to our time limit for now, so I just wanted to say as a last question: what advice would you give to other worship bassists out there, whether they are playing in a worship band on the road or they’re there doing the weekly church worship – what sort of wisdom would Quint Anderson bestow upon them?
Sure, the first thing technically, or maybe not even technically, but gear-wise: there are 3 three things in a bass player’s toolkit that they should always have: one being a pedal tuner, good cables, not standard cables – good, quality cables, and a good DI. You owe it to yourself to be in tune and you owe it to your sound guy to give them the best possible sound you can give them. You don’t want to short change your instrument by having unsatisfactory equipment. And I understand that not everyone can afford that, but work toward it. Those are the three major things in your toolkit right away. As far as being a bass player, I tell people don’t limit your music styles, learn every type of music whether you think you’re going to play it or not. If you hate country, learn a country song; if you hate metal, learn a metal song. Just do something to learn yourself. Go back and listen to the top 100 Motown songs from the 70’s and learn every single one of them, that’s probably the best way to practice. From a worship leader standpoint, from the actual side of the heart and making music with other people to point them towards God: just remember that you are in a band that should be a group of friends, should all be going toward the same purpose. Get to know every person in your band outside of the band. So that way you can help them out, you can know what’s going on so that when you actually offer music on the stage, it’s authentic. It’s not manipulated or fabricated, it’s a group of friends doing the best that they know how to bring people towards God. That will make playing music so much more worth anything, its worth more than any paycheck, its worth more than any notoriety or fame – to say “yes” to the journey, it will make your life full knowing you are pouring into other people and allowing them to pour themselves into you. That will have you be accountable to yourself and to your band and to your music.
Great! Thank you very much and thanks for being such a blessing to all of us bass players with all of the playing you’re doing, all of the worship you’re creating, and thank you for blessing us today with this interview, I really appreciate it!
I would like to again offer a huge “thank you” to Quint for his time and allowing me to conduct this interview. If you haven’t yet bought “The Rising” from the Charlie Hall Band, I would strongly suggest that you do so – the record is excellent and Quint’s playing is superb! Also, seeing the Charlie Hall Band live is a fantastic experience, so check them out when they are on tour and make sure you say “hello” to Quint after the show!
Until next time, I hope that your bass playing is blessed and that you can bless others through your bass playing!