Kenneth “Gizmo” Rodgers, Bass Musician Magazine Q&A
Bass Musician Magazine Q&A with Bassist Kenneth “Gizmo” Rodgers…
Kenneth “Gizmo” Rodgers
Born In What City:
Current Band(s) I Play With:
Currently I am putting a lot of time in with my own band. A lot of the people were on the record. We are preparing for some shows and the release tour which will start off in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston at the end of September when the record comes out. I’m really excited about performing a lot of the record live. The reception so far has been amazing. Can’t wait to share.
Former Bands I Have Played With:
I’ve played with a few bands over the years, but most recently I’ve had the pleasure of playing with the Miguel Atwood-Ferguson ensemble. He is a crazy violinist and arranger from LA. We’ve done festivals in LA, NYC with artists like Bilal, Talib Kweli, Meshell Ndegeocello, Quadron, Zap Mama, Pharoahe Monch, Karriem Riggins, and this is all on one bill! Music is arranged with strings, harps, horns, etc. I’ve also music directed an ensemble at Berklee College of Music where I’ve arranged shows with Lalah Hathaway and Bilal. I’m actually arranging a show now for the Beantown Jazz festival on September 29.
CD’s I’ve Released/ Been a Part Of:
I’m releasing my first solo record, “Red Balloon” in late September. I’m playing bass, singing and playing some keys and percussion. It was co-produced by Derrick Hodge who is an incredibly bassist and musician. It features Derrick, Casey Benjamin, Jamire Williams, and about 20 other amazing musicians and friends. The single came out last week. It took a couple years to work on, but the product is definitely honest and a good representation of many musical influences.
Describe The Way You Play Bass:
I play bass from my spirit. Emphasize on reacting to the musicians around me and trying my absolute best to service the song(s). Always groove oriented. I try and provide a strong foundation above anything else. My style isn’t particularly technical, I have a slightly raw sound and incorporate some different had positions to produce the different sounds I want.
What Made Me Decide to Play Bass:
I tried to play drums in elementary school, but the teacher said my hands were big so I should play bass. Later in life I saw a Victor Wooten concert, and that was that!
Meshell Ndegeocello, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Richard Bona, Gil Scott Heron, James Blake, Tracy Chapman, James Taylor, Ambrose Akinmusire, Deantoni Parks, Stevie Wonder, Nick Hakim, Daniel Woods, Joy Daniels etc.
Favorite Musical Styles:
It’s hard to really narrow things down in favorites for me. There are so many musical influences in me. I grew up playing jazz and hip-hop, but loving the sounds of blues, Rnb, Latin, Folk, Soul, and Rock music. It’s all relative. Primarily though, I like music that either provides a lot of atmospheric textures and colors and/or provides a solid interesting groove (regardless of specific genre).
- MTD six string custom
- Fender 5 string jazz bass
My Amps and Other Gear:
- Aguilar DB 750/751 head
- 2 4×10 gs410 cabs
Aguilar Amplification, Dean Markley, MonoCase, Levy Leathers
I’m really thankful to these companies for their support. They are amazing. Special thanks to Aguilar. Dave and the crew are like family. They look out beyond belief and I honestly think that their amps are the best in the world.
Best Bass Advice You’ve Ever Received:
Don’t think too much. Work hard, and play each note with love and respect. -Derrick Hodge
One Piece Of Advice For Other Bass is:
Make the music feel good. Learn the lyrics to the songs you are playing. It makes a difference!
Favorite Quote or Life Philosophy:
“I must feel the fire of my soul so my intellectual blues can set others on fire.” -Cornel West
Most Amazing Gig so Far:
A year or so ago, I music directed a Meshell Ndegeocello tribute show with students at Berklee College of Music. It was an incredible growth experience on so many levels beyond music. Extremely inspirational.
My dream gig would be to play for Coldplay. I think they are an awesome band and their connection and vibe is out of this world.
Most Embarrassing Moment on stage:
I had a show in Boston with Jazmin McCray, a dope singer. I was playin with a pianist and drummer. During the gig, the keyboards stopped working and we played the whole show with just bass, drums,and vocals! Turns out afterwards that I had unplugged power chord multiple times with my feet!
Favorite Tip to Share on Traveling With Your Bass:
Regardless of your “zone”, get on the airplane first or ask the attendant ahead of time. Do whatever is necessary to not have to check your bass whenever possible. Use MonoCase.
What Would You Be Doing If You Weren’t A Musician:
One of my biggest goals in life is to open a private high school. I would love to teach English or History in high school. I believe that education is very important and very undervalued. I would like to hopefully help to make positive change in society regarding this matter.
The Question No One Ever Asks Me, But I Have Been Dying to Share:
Nobody ever asks about preparation for shows, and I would like to enforce the importance (at least for myself) of being mentally prepared and centered. I started practicing some Buddhism a year or so ago, and the quality of my performance, bass playing, singing, and comfortability grew exponentially. Even aside from religion, it’s important to feel comfortable and balanced before making music, especially if you believe in what you are doing.
What You Can Look Forward to From Me This Year:
I’m planning the album release and tour. Playing bass on a few amazing records that will be coming out within the next year or two!
Find Me Online: