In the second interview of the Bass On Broadway, Nashville, TN series, we speak with Zach Sturms. Zach has been part of the Nashville scene since he moved here in late 2007 and is one of the many fine and talented bassists on the scene.
What influenced you to choose bass as your main instrument?
Prior to picking up bass at 13, I had been playing guitar and piano for several years. I made some new friends at school and they wanted to start a punk rock band. The only issue was there were 2 guitar players and a drummer, so i picked up the bass and the rest is history.
Do you play any other instruments?
I play “at” the acoustic guitar. I really enjoy finger picking every now and then and it’s also great practice for some of the right hand techniques I use on bass. My most recent hobby has been teaching myself lap steel. I’ve been stealing licks off of youtube videos and listening to some old Ernest Tubb records.
The lower Broadway scene in Nashville is very active. How long have you been performing gigs there?
Since late 2007 when I moved here, but it wasn’t consistent for me until spring 2008. I had to do tons of networking and sitting in. I had to get to know the guys that work the scene and pay my dues.
Are you performing with your own groups, subbing, or both?
Both. I tour nationwide with my brother Nick Sturms. He is a staff writer for Sweet Renegade Music and as an artist signed to William Morris Entertainment and they keep us pretty busy. When I have gaps in my schedule I always try and fill my schedule with in town sub work and random pickup dates.
How much do you work on lower Broadway compared to other gigs, sessions, etc?
Quite a bit my early part of the week is mainly Broadway and sessions. I would say i normally play a minimum of twice a week right now on Broadway and 4 to 5 when i have a weekend off from touring, sometimes more especially during tourist seasons. I think my record for Broadway shifts in 1 week is 17 gigs. I am also part owner of a small production company called “inside the outbox productions” and we do everything from songwriter demos, ep’s , up too full custom albums, radio jingles, source music for TV and movies, karaoke tracks, theme park shows, all kinds of stuff. I would say on average we do a couple sessions a week.
Any insight on basic etiquette, what to bring to the table?
Well, I think Michael Pisculli hit this spot on, but I’ll give it a shot. I was once told by a very, very successful musician, “it’s 90% who you know and 10% talent”. To me that means first and foremost, check your ego at the door, be a great HANG, make friends, constantly network, and building new relationships with people that have the same common goals, to be able to do what you love and make a living doing it. Now after you have done all that when you get the call to step up to the plate that’s when you show them what you got. I think if you follow these steps you’re bound to have a solid career in this business they call music.
How do you handle gigs when you are called to fill in on short notice?
K.I.S.S. it , ” keep it simple stupid”! Those are my favorite kind of gigs. You see, I’m a big follower of the “A” team session guys and the records they play on and the licks and grooves they play. I like to use those last minute gigs as a challenge to see how close i can come to emulating that player’s style. If someone calls a Keith Urban , Carrie Underwood, or Blake Shelton tune I think what would Jimmy Sloas do? Dierks Bently, what would Jimmy Carter do, Toby Keith, Craig Morgan, Brad Paisley, Jamie Johnson, what would Kevin Grant do? George Strait, Miranda Lambert and about 5000 other artists, what would Glenn Worf do? Etc.
Who are some of you influences?
Wow, that list is limitless! Jimmy Sloas, Glenn Worf, Kevin Grant, Michael Rhodes, Larry Paxton, Larry Graham, Tony Lucido, Craig Young, Lee Sklar, Will Lee, James Jamerson, Chris Squire, Dave Larue, Guy Pratt, Chuck Rainey, Jaco Pastorius, Jeff Berlin, Hadrien Feraud, Dominique Di Piazza , Pino Pallidino, Bob Babbit, Chris Channey, Ron Carter, Neils Henning Orsted Pedersen, and many, many more. Wait, one more big one. All 454 members part of the Nashville bass hang! I get inspiration from each and every one of these guys and gals when i get out to see them play.
There is a great line in the movie “that thing you do”. Dell Paxton is talking to the drummer “guy” in a jazz club, and he says “ain’t no way to keep a band together, bands come and go, you gotta keep on playing no matter with who”. When I heard that as a kid, I took it to heart, and if there is any advice I could give to the readers , it would be to aspire to be the best musician you can possibly. Choosing music as your passion and career is a lifelong commitment. That means expose yourself and open yourself up to any and every style of music you can possibly get your hands on, that way when doors open you can be ready for any and every opportunity that presents itself.
Check out Zach on his facebook page at facebook.com/zach.sturms?fref=ts
Also check out the studio “Inside The Outbox Productions” insidetheoutboxproductions.com