Bassist Nathan Joiner – Bass Musician Magazine Q & A
Meet Bassist Nathan Joiner in this Bass Musician Magazine Q & A…
Born In What City:
Current Band(s) I Play With:
I play bass for Let It Happen.
CD’s I’ve Released/ Been a Part Of:
I have not worked on any other albums with other bands, but I have been a part of all three of Let it Happen’s EP’s, Pack The Van, Colors Changing, and most recently It Hurts But It’s Worth It. It’s been amazing to watch how our writing, our skills, and for me, my bass playing have progressed with each release and I’m looking forward to writing more songs and putting albums together in the future.
Describe The Way You Play Bass:
I have a jazz and piano background so I like to move around the scale a bit. The style of music that we play doesn’t really allow much for getting wild with the rhythms but instead of the bass lines remaining stagnant on one note, I try to move the chord progression along by using the scale. Octaves are another method I use a lot. Maybe if working with the scale sounds too busy for what were playing, I’ll stick to the root note and jump up or down an octave, and I love the texture that creates.
What Made Me Decide to Play Bass:
When I was a freshman in high school, I played trumpet in the school band. One of the guys in my class broke his trumpet and asked me if he could borrow mine that night for marching band. It turns out he was an idiot and left it outside in the parking lot overnight and it was just completely destroyed. It was rusted and on top of that, someone had run over the case so now it was completely bent and unplayable. He promised to buy me a new one, but needless to say that never happened. So the next day, I show up for my band class and the director was pissed because I didn’t have my trumpet anymore. So he’s passing out the music for the next piece that we were going to learn and it was a Steely Dan tribute. After he passed it out he asked if we knew anyone that would be willing to play bass guitar because it was essential to the tribute. Around that time I had bought a guitar and was learning how to play and I figured bass had to be easier than guitar and since I didn’t have a trumpet anymore, I might as well try it. That was an awesome experience because I had to learn how to translate the notes on the page to the neck of the bass so it forced me to learn all the notes (instead of saying 2nd string 5th fret). After that project, I was asked to play bass for other school functions and I hesitantly did it but the more I played the more I realized what the role of the bass was and how it was different from guitar and I ended up loving it. My teacher saw this and ended up hooking me up with some jazz programs at Northern Kentucky University and I learned a ton about how to play bass and the music theory behind what we were playing. From there I started playing with friends at school and other people I had met, but it was never anything serious (or good for that matter) and I kept doing that and learning the bass until I ended up joining Let it Happen.
As I mentioned before, I have a jazz background and I grew up playing piano and various other instruments. As far as genres and artists go, I listen to a lot of classic rock (I particularly like America’s bass lines) and really love how they arrange their instrumentals. In more contemporary and more relevant terms, I really like Weatherbox’s bass lines as well as The Swellers.
I have a Fender P bass right now. Our lead guitarist gave it to me because I am broke and had some really terrible equipment – ha-ha. I’m currently looking to buy a Stingray because aside from sounding exactly like what I want (we recorded It Hurts But Its Worth It with Bryan Beller’s), they feel amazing. My hands don’t get tired as easily on the neck. I also wouldn’t mind getting my hands on any kind of Fender Jazz bass.
My Amps and Other Gear:
I play through a Sans Amp that runs into a Hartke LH500 head that drives an Ampeg 8×10. I love my Ampeg even though it’s completely beat to hell because it has great clarity and power (not to mention it looks pretty badass to roll this huge amp that’s almost as big as me onto a stage). I want to get a new head but to be completely honest, the Hartke does not sound bad at all. It’s powering the cabinet at 500 watts and has a very clear sound to it and when the Sans Amp is dialed in, it produces a pretty phenomenal tone.
Best Bass Advice You’ve Ever Received:
The best advice I ever received was from one of the mentors I had at NKU. I went through that phase that most bass players go through while they’re learning where they play all kinds of crazy stuff that doesn’t really make any sort of sense musically. Pete (he never mentioned his last name) told me, “Cut out all the crazy shit, learn what the bass is for and how to play that role because right now all you are is a frustrated guitarist.” From there I did exactly what he said and “learned my place”. Every now and then I’ll start to fall back into that and all I can think is… don’t be a frustrated guitarist.
One Piece Of Advice For Other Bassists:
Listen to and learn how to play completely different genres of music than what you’re trying to do now because understanding how other music is played and written will influence anything that you do in the future. My background was in jazz and even though the music I’m playing now sounds nothing like jazz, it still has the biggest influence on how I think about playing and how I write my bass lines. Take it another step further and learn another instrument.
Favorite Quote or Life Philosophy:
SHIT HAPPENS… so roll with it.
Most Amazing Gig so Far:
My favorite gigs that we played so far haven’t been huge, career changing shows, they’ve been the ones where people are really in to the set and we get a lot of energy from the crowd. Recently we played a little show at a place called Club Soda. It was this little tiny venue that’s run by one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met. We played last that night and by that time people were leaving and getting tired but as soon as we started playing the energy just got amazing. People that were outside all came in to hear our set and everybody was completely into it and the energy that I felt (and the rest of Let it Happen) helped me play the best, and the most fun set we’ve ever played. We had a similar energy at one of our bigger shows with Hit The Lights at The Madison Theater in Covington, Kentucky. There were a lot of people there and they were just really enjoying themselves and us and created an awesome energy for us on stage.
Someday I want to play with The Foo Fighters. They are one of my all time favorite bands and it would be cool to have the chance to play with them, preferably in a stadium somewhere.
Most Embarrassing Moment on Stage:
We played at a venue that had these pretty big light boxes next to the monitors up front. They had these big, heavy-duty metal grates over the top of them so you could stand on them. I stepped over one of them (there was no stage built, it was on a floor so the crowd was standing on the other side of the monitors and light boxes) and when I stepped back over, I caught my jeans (I bought them the day before) and ripped them on the metal grate which also caught and cut my leg, so I played the rest of the set with ripped pants and a bleeding leg; I still have the scar.
Favorite Tip to Share on Traveling With Your Bass:
Unless you have a crew or tech travelling with you to take care of and set up all your gear (and you trust them and they do a good job), don’t let anyone else touch or set up your gear. If something goes wrong or something gets broken, you’re probably screwed, and it doesn’t matter who messed up your gear, it still looks bad on you.
What Would You Be Doing If You Weren’t A Musician:
Sitting on a stoop getting drunk at noon waiting for the mailman to bring my five kids and me my welfare check. But seriously I would be finishing out my degree in Graphic Design and trying to find some awesome way to make that work out.
The Question No One Ever Asks Me, But I Have Been Dying to Share:
Yes I do believe in Bigfoot. And yes we can go ‘squatching’.
What You Can Look Forward to From Me this Year:
More music! We’re kind of toying around with some songs right now which I’m sure will turn into another album here sometime in the future. You can also expect to see us playing some shows so check us out and come say “Hi” sometime.
Find Me Online:
Twitter: @nzjoiner/ @LetItHappenBand