Touring the country with just a common cold; at least that’s what Andy Irvine thought back in the early part of March. So why not continue to tour? It’s just a cold, right? As weeks passed, he began to have complications with his breathing which lead him to believe he had come down with pneumonia, so he made a trek to the doctor. He was immediately admitted into the hospital where X-rays revealed that he was carrying fluid that consisted of a viral infection in his chest between the ribs and lungs. An operation to repair the damage caused to one of his lungs was inevitable. While awaiting surgery, Irvine made a short video of himself doing what he loves to do. “My little video I made playing the bass in my hospital bed got 133,000 views in 48 hours. I suddenly realized exactly how much reach my educational and inspirational goals with musicianship had achieved” he said. Many of Irvine’s friends donated to assist with his medical expenses and, as a token of his appreciation; he gave away copies of his DVD “Joyful Musicianship” for free. In mid-June, Irvine announced that he would be back on tour in the US and has since been touring overseas as well.
In 1982, at the age of 12, Irvine didn’t choose bass, he was appointed to play the bass by a local band in his neighborhood. “They needed a bassist, so they told me if I played bass, I could be in the band” Irvine said. So, he went and got a bass and fell madly in love with it. “I knew the moment I held my first bass guitar, within the first 20 seconds, it would be what I would do for the rest of my life” he added. Who would have known that one day, little Irvine would grow up to become an author, educator, band leader/recording artist, composer, MI product specialist and freelance music writer? “I live off my craft and have for several years now. It requires a lot of hard work and serious focus to make a living with music but it can be done.” He goes into detail explaining the steps he took to be able to do such a thing in his book “Passion and Action – A Musician’s Journey.” “Don’t be misled in terms of my earnings; it’s not glorious. I only make enough to live and enjoy my life in Colorado and that’s good enough for me.” says Irvine.
Five years ago, Irvine formed a life changing relationship with Warwick founder and President Hans Wilfer that started as a friendship and developed into an artist endorsement and unique business cooperation. “I brought some marketing ideas to him that were well organized and a passion he found interesting. My detailed grass roots – face to face workshop/clinic events both inspire and simultaneously offer great brand exposure” says Irvine. Warwick’s “The Sound of Bass” Clinic Tour featuring Andy Irvine launched in 2011. Since the tour has begun, Irvine has traveled to and toured throughout 26 countries on 6 continents around the world. “My events are always fun, educational and inspirational” Irvine says. His place in the Warwick family is far more than that of an endorser. Though he does not “officially” work for the company, Irvine contributes in many areas as an independent contractor including: making many demo videos, research and development of new designs, events management, and even project management such as the new Nashville Custom Shop showroom.
So, what has Andy Irvine been up to lately? We caught up with him to ask a few questions.
BMM: What is on the horizon for you in the next 6 months?
Irvine: I just released my first ever completely high quality bass course through True Fire entitled- Andy Irvine – Bass Mechanics – Crucial Groove. This bass learning course features 2.5 hours of content, a massive amount of technique and playing concepts, in addition to 12 play along tracks, with tabs and notation provided for all. I will also be offering online lessons on Skype. For anyone who is interested, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. December will be family time, and then January will bring the NAMM show with Warwick. The spring will likely include travel to Warwick HQ in Germany and also back to Nashville several times building up the Warwick community there. We’ll be making some cool new live interview/performance videos from the stage of our beautiful new custom shop showroom there.
BMM: What are your future long term goals?
Irvine: I will continue to strive and grow as a player, an artist, and as an educator. Or, at the very least, continue expanding my reach to inspire players how and where I can. I will certainly write another book. I also have a goal of launching a lecture series at the university level, talking to young musicians and artists about modern entrepreneurial creativity and building multiple revenue streams all within music and art.
BMM: Folks might like to know, what are your interests outside of music?
Irvine: When I’m not touring internationally, I love the quiet country life here in the mountains of Colorado. I enjoy my animals (dogs and horse, and mule) and time with my family. I adore Skiing in winter, and dirt biking, boating and just being outside in the summer. I love reading, writing and photography. I also enjoy working other jobs completely unrelated to music, like construction and landscaping.
BMM: Where do you find balance between the music business side of your craft and the artistic side?
Irvine: Working in the Music industry, in addition to being an artist/band leader, is the best possible situation for me. The reasons being: first of all, I like to stay busy, to make my own choices and moves, and I need to earn consistent “adult money” to finance and feed my insatiable creative side. Secondly, I really enjoy the business side of things, I love learning about manufacturing, marketing, sales, distribution, branding, public relations, and I truly love being part of a team. Music is extremely passionate, personal and sometimes intense; we all can burn out if we put too much pressure on ourselves to earn with only the playing part. I live to create, and to continuously improve the overall quality of the artistic works I publish. If people dig what put out there that’s great, but honestly I create for myself, simply to feed the muse that was magically born into me long ago. I strive to find a balance between creativity and business.
BMM: What drives the desire to improve and what type of regiment do you keep with practicing?
Irvine: These days my primary focus and interest is in grooming the creative side of my playing, I practice composing. I seldom spend time working on new techniques anymore. I’ve come to a place where I have established a personal style, and I like the way I play. Rather, I find it far more useful to spend what limited time I have for “practicing” on writing music. I start with a groove, then create some harmony and a chord progression for it, I begin to incorporate some melody, then I assemble my ideas into a song form with an intro, an A section, and a B section, usually a bridge and finally an outro. Then, I get it to the point where I can play it all from beginning to end without stopping. Next, I immediately record a live video performance of it. I post them all on my Youtube channel. Later, when I get set to record an album, I re-visit the many song sketches I’ve compiled and choose the best that fit well together, and tweak them to complement the flavor and instrumentation of the album project I’m setting out to produce.
Irvine has contributed much to the bass community. His biggest contribution is his YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/TheFreebasslessons where he posts free bass lessons and various performance videos on a regular basis. With over 200 videos and almost 10,000 subscribers, his channel has become very popular with musicians from around the world. He is also known for his generosity in giving away his DVD, book and CD’s from his website www.andyirvinebass.com . It goes without saying, Irvine is dedicated to helping others improve their bass playing skills and is willing to answer music and gear related questions when he can.