Barend Courbois, an award-winning Rock, Metal, Funk and Jazz bass player who has played more then 4,000 shows and recorded on more than 60 albums over three decades on both sides of the Atlantic.
Cover Photo: Florentijn
You may be familiar with his work with O.A., Blind Guardian, Michael Lee Firkins, Timo Somers, Andy James, Adrian Vandenberg (Whitesnake), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy), Walter Trout, Eric Gales, Atma Anur (Journey), Mike Terrana (Malmsteen), Andreas Kisser (Sepultura), Steve Fister (Lita Ford), Gary Barden (Michael Schenker), Donna Grantis (Prince), Vengeance, White Lion, Tank and many, many more.
He has won countless awards, including Best Bass Player in the Netherlands (1991), 2013 Best Metal Bass Player by Guitar Player Magazine, Best Metal and Best All Round Bass Player by Guitar Player Magazine NL (2014, 2015) and more.
This month I got to talk with Barend about getting started, technique and gear.
First of all thanks so much for this interview. Tell us, how did you get started playing bass?
Thank you Alberto and Bass Musician Magazine for asking me! As you may know, my dear father, Sir Pierre Courbois, is a world-famous Jazz drummer/Composer; growing up it was very normal for me to choose any kind of instrument I wanted.
I started on drums and all kinds of percussion instruments, especially the Indian Tabla; I then moved on to the Scottish Bagpipes. When I was 8 I decided that I wanted to change direction and play the mighty Bass Guitar; it was the Bass that inspired me to do my first live show at the young age of 11.
Which are some of your major influences?
For the bass it is O.A., Jaco, Stanley, Marcus, Larry Graham, Geddy Lee, Doug Wimbish, Stu Hamm and my Dutch hero Herman Deinum.
Tell us more about your experience with Blind Guardian
Yeah, this is like a dream come true situation! It’s a two and a half hour high-energy show, so it’s bloody hard work every night, but that makes the difference between a boy and a man.
Do you have other bands/projects right now?
Oh yeah man, here they come: Tank, LEAH, Quest, Arrow Haze, Tri-Head, Steve Fister band, Michael Lee Firkins band, Cour/Cour-Bois/Bois (duo with my father)… so in between the big Blind Guardian world tours there is plenty of things to do – ha-ha!
Are you planning to release a solo album?
Yes, I have been planning this for many years, but there are only 12 hours in a day… you know what I mean, always in the road.
You’re a quite versatile bassist but what’s your favorite technique? Finger-style, tapping, slap, etc…
I started out in the late 70’s with a pick; it was a normal thing back than, even for funk bass players, especially in the studio. Now I’m so glad that I worked so hard on that when I was a kid… Blind Guardian is so fast that it would be almost impossible without a pick.
And tapping I do it if I’m in a Van Halen mood, so that’s 24/7 – ha-ha!
I study the same licks/riffs and scales always with a pick, 2 or 3 fingers and my thumb, so in whatever kind of situation I find myself I can play the same thing in 3 different ways.
What gear are you currently using?
Fender basses, Markbass amps and cabs, EBS Black Label Pedals, Darkglass pedals, D’Orazio strings,
Do you have any suggestions for bass players and final thoughts?
Try to play different instruments and as many styles as possible; even if you don’t like it, you always learn something from it.
Keep playing that mighty bass y’all and Rock ’till you drop!
Thanks again for this interview, you rock!
Visit online at barendcourbois.nl