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An Interview with Andy Irvine by Selina “The Fox” Metoxen

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Interview with Bassist Andy Irvine

An Interview with Andy Irvine by Selina Metoxen

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 andyirvine.ai@gmail.com 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.

Interview with Bassist Andy Irvine-2

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.


 

Interview with Bassist Andy Irvine-3

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.

 

Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

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Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

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IG &FB @bythethousands
YTB @BytheThousands

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Gear News: Bergantino Welcomes Marc Brownstein to Their Family of Artists

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bassist marc browstein

Bergantino Welcomes Marc Brownstein to Their Family of Artists

Bergantino Shares: The innovative bassist/sonic explorer/DJ Marc Brownstein discusses his life of touring with Disco Biscuits, the current tour with the new album “Revolution in Motion, and more!

By Holly Bergantino

Marc Brownstein is the king of “Trance-Fusion” – a subgenre that his band Disco Biscuits has been in the center of for the past two decades. As a founding member of the band from their days at UPenn, Marc has quite the experience under his belt, and each tour has gotten more and more exciting. Disco Biscuits is currently on tour with their new album Revolution in Motion, a full multimedia experience accompanied by a 25-minute animated film that tells a story of intergalactic travelers finding their way on Earth. 

D. J. Brownie! What made you want to be a musician and start playing bass and who drew you to it? 

I was drawn to music after John Lennon was assassinated. I was raised in NYC and the city was just going crazy. I was 7 years old at the time and my thought was, wow why is everyone freaking out so much, this guy must be really special. And so I started to check the Beatles out and that was the beginning of my journey with music.  

A question from one of your fans and fellow bass players Karina Rykman: “How do you keep your bubble of positivity intact and thriving”?

Well it’s funny she should ask. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the run of positivity we are experiencing now began right at the beginning of tour at the beginning of January 2023 when we had Karina opening for us for a week. I can say that her positive energy on tour definitely left its mark on the rest of our tour. Some people are so naturally happy and positive that it leaves you feeling that way, sometimes permanently! 

Besides the bass guitar, what other instruments do you play? 

I dabble with piano, guitar, and I can make my way around a drum kit if I get into it for a few weeks. I’ve played flute and saxophone as well at different times. I also play the double bass. But I would say Piano is my second instrument at this point. I play everyday. 

What is your favorite (and least favorite) thing about touring? 

The best part of touring is the 4 hours on stage with the band. But also getting to visit so many great places all of the time. That’s the silver lining.  The only thing I don’t love about touring is missing my family. 

Tell us about your first music teacher. What lesson did you learn from this person and still use today? 

My first music teacher, Mrs. Koslov, 2nd grade, I just was at her funeral a few weeks ago. I eventually became best friends with Mrs Koslov’s son and we stayed in touch for my whole life. She taught me a lot but really she was the one who gave me the courage to perform. My first public performance ever was a piano version of Eleanor Rigby. 

What was the first bass you had? 

This is tough. I think I had a standard Ibanez jazz style bass first. Within a year or two I got an American Fender Jazz bass. 

What are the basses you have and use now? 

My main bass is an Elrick 5 string by Rob Elrick. I also have a Q5 Modulus and an Alembic 5 as well. Oteil (Burbridge) sent me a Roscoe custom 6 during the Pandemic that I like to play. I also have a Sire Marcus Miller, a newer American Fender Jazz bass, a custom Ibanez SDGR, an Ibanez BTB and an Elrick 5 string Fretless bass which is my main bass at home. 

Who were the musicians who inspired you and what qualities do you admire about them? 

I was deeply influenced by Phish when I discovered them in college. I admired their ability to mesh jazz, classical and rock Improvisational styles. I was very inspired by classic jazz musicians. Miles. Monk. Coltrane. Dexter Gordon. Cannonball Adderly. Mingus. This is the generation of musicians that laid the groundwork for what we do now. 

You studied and started the band Disco Biscuits at UPenn. Tell us more about the origins. 

The band just sort of linked up in the quad (dormitory) and we started to set up our gear and jam for fun. Within a short time I realized the guys I was playing with were really talented and so I applied to the New School for jazz and went and spent a year crash coursing music at a high level so I could return to Penn and start a band with them. 

You have a new album “Revolution in Motion,” that you’re currently touring on. How is it going? 

The tour has been amazing. It’s one of the best tours we ever had in our career. We sold out more than half of the shows and are receiving really great feedback across the country. 

I watched the video on YT for Revolution in Motion. The Choreography, production, color, cartoon characters, and theme were so much fun. Space aliens and psychedelic art, pop ups like a comic book, and you in your alien jump suit with your baseball cap were amazing. Loved! How was this collaborated?  

We have a co-writer on this project named Joey friedman. He conceived of the concept for the album and he had a very specific vision for what the visuals would look like. He spent hours and hours with the animators (Blunt Action) and the AI animator (Todd Kushnir) working through each iteration to make it come to life in the way that it was conceived. 

How would you describe the music you create for Disco Biscuits? 

We always hoped that the music we created would be the weirdest and craziest music of all time but we describe it as Trance-Fusion, which was a name that was drawn from jazz-fusion, the mixing of jazz with rock and roll instruments. We found our own sound by mixing trance music with rock and roll instruments, hence the genre title. It was renamed jamtronica many years later by the folks over at SiriusXM who started a radio show called the Jamtronica show to highlight acts from our scene. I was the host of that show for the first 3 years. 

Describe the creative process when you write new music. 

These days the creative process is a team effort. Usually we start by combing through improvisational sections of music from the tours to see if we can find any melodies or chord structures that are song worthy. When we find it we bring it into our DAW (ableton) and creating a grid. This is easy for us because we often play to a time clock on stage. From there we start building out the structures of the new piece of music while Joey and maybe me or Aron or Jon will start working on some lyrical concepts. Within an hour or two we start to record some of these initial lyrics and melodies and Jon usually starts to adapt them and tweak them to make them comfortable for him to sing. Usually within a few hours we are able to walk away with a very advanced demo of a new song. It’s been an extremely fruitful experience that has left us with albums worth of the best material we’ve had in decades. 

The lighting for your shows is amazing. Who does the lighting design work and choreography for the tours? 

Our new LD is known as Herm, but his name is Alex. We know him as Herm though. He came to us from the band Twiddle at the beginning of this year and has totally revitalized the visual elements of the stage show. He’s a really great fit and we feel grateful to have been linked up with such a massive talent. It was luck and timing and some might call it fate. 

How would your bandmates describe you? 

My bandmates would probably describe me as energetic and talkative and headstrong but also they might notice that I’ve become really good at going with the flow and backing their creative instincts. They may further describe me as anxious and nervous but may also notice that these elements have been remediated of recent. Mostly I think they would describe me as loyal and dedicated. 

How did you find Bergantino Audio systems? 

I was first introduced to it by Ed Grasmeyer who I know as Mike Gordon’s tech in Burlington. I was playing a show at Nectars and needed a backline and Ed came and set me up with the ForteHP2 and I was blown away by the tone. I then noticed Karina Rykman was using Bergantino as well and that’s when I started to think I needed to get in contact with the company. Karina was opening for the Biscuits on Boston and that’s where I had the chance to demo the forte hp2 in the context of the biscuits stage show. I haven’t looked back since that night. 

Tell us about your experience with the Forté HP2 on the tour? 

There are so many things that I can say about it but the most notable is that I’m not struggling to hear the frequencies that I want to hear on stage anymore. I used to have to boost the bass everywhere. In an EQ pedal, on the preamp on the actual bass. But every time you add a little of those low frequencies in those other places you risk degrading the tone of the signal. With the Forte HP2 there is a punch button that gives me exactly the frequency I’m looking for. 100 hz. 4 db. It’s perfect. 

Did you think Jim talked too much when you met him in Boston? 

I will never notice when someone talks too much because chances are I’m out talking them. 

What’s your process for dealing with performance anxiety? 

I used to self-medicate for this purpose but I was recently in touch with a psychiatrist who has helped me regulate my own chemical imbalances and I have found that my performance anxiety isn’t really an issue when I have the proper amount of dopamine in the system! 

Imagine that you’re at a party and it’s a little stale. What’s the “party trick” (or hidden talent) that you’d bust out to liven the place up? 

Before the app existed I was known as a real life fruit ninja. I take a big knife and people throw fruit from across the room and I chop it in half in mid-air. It’s not the safest party trick anymore because I lost vision in my right eye a few years ago and I’m not as accurate as I used to be! 

What hobbies do you have outside of music? 

I love sports. I love reading. I love word games. I love gardening. I love hiking/running/moving. My biggest hobby was snowboarding for many years but I’ve grown injury prone and stay off the mountain these days. 

What is the most trouble you ever got into? 

Well, I managed to stay out of trouble until college. But before weed was legalized I had a series of run-ins with the law and spent a night in the clink in Amherst Mass during my freshman year fraternity pledge trip. Luckily this isn’t an issue anymore for those of us who don’t drink or smoke cigarettes but prefer a little of the wacky tabacky to cool down. 

What is the message you would give to your fans? 

Well I give them so many messages all the time but the most important one that I try to remember to keep constant is a message of gratitude. Thank you so much for sticking with us through thick and thin, through ups and downs, for decades now you have allowed us to live our dreams and have the most blessed lives possible. 

How do you feel social media has impacted your music? 

Social media is a double edged sword. It has allowed us to create a strong community where everyone feels like a family but for someone like me who gets addicted to things easily, I really have to be vigilant with practice and writing and other aspects of my life not to spend the whole day scrolling and wasting the time away. 

What is your favorite song of all time? 

Right now my favorite song of all time is probably a short and beautiful little ditty by Labi Siffre called Bless the Telephone. I would suggest everyone take the 1:29 to listen to it and feel the bliss. 

What did I miss for a question that you would like to share? 

Bass players don’t really get to play solo shows, at least not my style of bass, so I’ve had to learn how to DJ in order to perform by myself at times and I would suggest coming out to see a DJ Brownie show at some point. 

Last one! Describe your perfect meal! 

I love to eat great meals. I’m partial to Asian foods but the perfect meal to me is one slice of pizza from Freddie and Peppers on 72nd and Amsterdam in NYC. PERFECTION. 

Follow Marc Brownstein:
Instagram: @marcbrownstein
X (formerly Twitter): @marc_brownstein
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marcbrownstein4
www.discobiscuits.com

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Curly Hendo

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Interview Wity Bassist Curly Hendo

Bassist Curly Hendo…

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, bassist Curly Hendo has been super busy. Starting with dance from a young age, Curly took up bass shortly after and has been going strong ever since. She has collaborated with numerous acts worldwide and is an in-demand session/touring bassist and musical director.

Join me as we learn about Curly’s musical journey, how she gets her sound, and her plans for a very bright future.

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Bass Videos

Artist Update With Bassist Derek Frank

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Artist Update With Bassist Derek Frank

Bassist Derek Frank…

Many of you will remember the last time I chatted with Derek Frank was back in 2017. The main thing that impressed me was how busy Derek was and how he juggled playing with many huge acts.

Now, I am happy to hear that Derek launched a new album last March titled “Origin Story” where he digs deep into his roots and pays homage to Pittsburg.

Join me as we get caught up after all these years and hear the details about the new album, how Derek gets his sound, and his plans for the future.

Photo, Stephen Bradley

Visit Online:

www.derekfrank.com
www.instagram.com/derekfrankbass
www.youtube.com/derekfrankbass
www.facebook.com/derekfrankbass

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Graham Stanush

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Interview With Bassist Graham Stanush

Bassist Graham Stanush…

Return to Dust is keeping Grunge alive and well! They have a new self-titled album that went out on May 3rd, 2024 and will be super busy promoting this project in the near future.

Graham Stanush is the bass powerhouse driving their sound and adding vocals to the mix. Join me as we hear all about Graham’s musical journey, details about the new album, how he gets his sound and their plans for the future.

Visit Online:

linktr.ee/returntodust
instagram.com/returntodustband/
twitter.com/Returntodustbnd
youtube.com/@returntodustband
tiktok.com/@returntodustband

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