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Interview with Bassist Peter Baskovich, Theme & Scene

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Peter Boskovich is the delightfully profound “evil” composer/bassist behind the instrumental power trio BISONwar, which combines a unique blend of bone crunching unison lines and sublime chordal interplay that stretches the staunch and closed definition of any single genre.

In short, BISONwar is doing well to establish its own voice into the lexicon of music: played well. 

At the core of the band’s two releases is Peter’s churning plectrum driven 5-string (with High C-string). So… Thanks to the accessibility of the band via the inter-webs, I decided to ask him about his utterly cool approach to the bass guitar. My very first conversation with Peter yielded this response to playing with “the pick”.

“Picking is a relatively new technique for me! I started using a pick when I first started writing music for my own projects, around 3 years ago. I was inspired by Chris Thile’s mandolin playing —  because his technique is unbelievable! I still enjoy playing pizzicato, but the plectrum world has been such a new sensation, including completely new physicality and challenges! I’m trying to improve constantly, and I enjoy the idea that playing with a pick changes the way I write music. I have to physically pick each note, which forces me to choose and decide upon certain patterns — so as to make each phrase feasible.”

Naturally, my response was, “People need to know more about this player!” So… here we are! This summer sees the release of BISONwar’s second release, Tribes. Once again, Peter, (Guitarist) Joe Gamble, and (Drummer) Nate Taitano grind and dance through a series of very well-written tunes that are played with a seamlessness rarely heard within the idea of “rock music”. That may be because none of the three players in this band are “average”. Each musician engages in this amazing conversation.

See BISONwar here: 

bisonwar.bandcamp.com/album/bisonwar 

soundcloud.com/bisonwarband 

facebook.com/pg/bisonwarband/videos/?ref=page_internal 

canthisevenbecalledmusic.com/bisonwar-bisonwar/

BAJ: Hey man! Thank you for taking a moment to chat with Bass Musician Magazine. I am honored to hang out! Let’s get started… Tell us about your childhood! (Laughter)

Actually, tell us about your earliest forays into music.

You have a very good sense of harmony. Have you studied other instruments that have helped develop you musicality?

PB: I took piano lessons from the age of 8 for four years, as well as played Cello for a few years before taking up Bass. Played drums when I was a kid too. My siblings all played piano as well and my Mother played a lot of Classical and Opera music in the house.

BAJ: What is your overall concept for composition? Do you hear the entire piece in your head? Or, do compositions “come together” over a period of time?

PB: I don’t really have one… other than stumbling on an initial idea, and then seeing how my ear wants to develop it and try my best to have it flow and develop into the various sections of the piece. I’m still learning about my own musical instincts, but the more I write I find I’m getting better at paying attention to any suggestions my ear might be giving me. Sometimes the music will flow very logically and easily, other times I’ll intentionally try to make the music take an unexpected turn.

BAJ: What “story” are you trying to tell to your listeners?

PB: No story as such. The listener is free to interpret the music in any way they see fit.  I’d be content if the listener had any range of emotion, anything from enjoying it to being completely confused.

BAJ: Do you have a particular favorite piece from either of the releases? Or, does that matter change from time-to-time?

PB:  ”Seasons” from our first record is a strong candidate for being a favorite.  ‘Misery’ from Tribes is a fun one to play. “Void” from Tribes is a great one to end a set with, its pretty rocking.

BAJ: You recorded the tunes for both the eponymous BISONwar release, and Tribes, at the Los Angeles College of Music, where you teach. How long have you been there, and what is your role there?

PB: I’m lucky enough to be Faculty in the Bass Department for about 5 years now.  The Department Head, Jerry Watts Jr., is one of the deepest musicians I’ve ever seen. It’s an incredible program with amazing faculty members like Tim Landers, Steve Billman, John Avila, Mark Browne, just to mention a few.

BAJ: How many students have “converted” to plectrum playing since you began working your ideas through that medium? 

Your playing incorporates a lot of polyphony — which is very cool! You also killed the introduction of the tune “Wolfpack”! Can you take us through a couple different “pick techniques” you are use to define your sound?

PB: The simplest way I could describe it is not much different from how a rhythm guitarist might approach playing, which is essentially what I’m doing. Mostly alternate picking, some sweep picking if needed. The “Wolfpack” riff involves some hammer-ons happening just after the pick has struck the string. Not dissimilar to a ‘double-thumb’ technique.

BAJ: Since we mentioned teaching earlier, what is something you wished every student understood when they begin studying with you?

PB: Great question, not one I spend enough time considering with each student.  I’ve always loved practicing, and really trying to explore where I can take my musical vocabulary to new areas. I’m not a fast study, so I’ve always had to work at it consistently. Some students have a natural musicality and talent that is a challenge to try and teach.

Others need to really put in the time like I had to in order to be able to really navigate changes. If that’s the case, I would only say put in the work.  Prepare as much as you can on your own, and then get out there and play with different people in different settings. Also, don’t be afraid to ask other players how they approach certain harmonic structures that you might be struggling with. I’ve gotten a lot of great ideas and advice by just asking players how they were approaching a certain section of a tune while on the gig.

BAJ: What other gigs are you playing beside BISONwar? How is the gigging world in the Los Angeles area, these days?

PB: Aside from all the different bands I’ve played in over the years, the most gigging I’ve done and still do is straight-ahead jazz stuff. LA is full of top-notch players many of whom are doing their own music and writing really great music.

BAJ: What are your current musical goals? Also, are you practicing anything that’s punishing you, lately?

PB: At this point, I really want to continue writing as much as possible. I have another band called Volpi with whom I’m finishing our first record. I’ve got about 20 new songs that I’ll be splitting up between both Volpi and of course BISONwar.

BAJ: Let’s also talk about your interests, outside of music! 

PB: Um…I like food a lot! 

BAJ: Is there anything else that you would like to add to this interview?

PB:  I’d just like to say thanks to you for this great opportunity, and thanks to anyone who checks out our music. We hope you enjoy it!

Peter, thank you for taking a moment to talk with me! I can’t wait to hear more music! 

Opening Photo Courtesy of Florian Borgeat Photography

Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Travis Book

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Interview With Bassist Travis Book

Interview With Bassist Travis Book…

Bluegrass music has had a very solid following over many years and I am always happy to hear from one of the pioneers in that genre.

Travis Book plays bass for the Grammy award-winning band “The Infamous Stringdusters” and has recently released his first solo album “Love and Other Strange Emotions”. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Travis also hosts a podcast, Plays a Jerry Garcia music show with Guitarist Andy Falco, and is constantly gigging locally in his neck of the woods.

Photo, Seyl Park

Visit Online:

www.thetravisbook.com
www.thestringdusters.com
FB @ TheTravisBook
IG @ travisbook

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Bass Videos

Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Malcolm-Jamal Warner…

I am pretty sure that everyone is aware of Malcom-Jamal Warner’s work as an actor. What may be less known is his work as a director, poet, musician, and most importantly for us, a bass player. With four albums of his own, Grammy nominations and wins, as well as a sizable amount of ongoing live gigs, Malcolm is dedicating a serious amount of his attention to his music.

Join me as we hear about Malcom’s musical journey, projects, his gear choices, and plans for the future.

Here is Malcom-Jamal Warner!

Photos: Dwain Govan @dwain_go / Conrad Montgomery Mckethan @eyeconimages

Visit Online:

malcolmjamalwarner.com
IG @malcolmjamalwar
Twitter @malcolmjamalwar 
Facebook: Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Bass Videos

Interview With The Labex Funk Project

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Interview With The Labex Funk Project

Interview With The Labex Funk Project…

Time really flies when you are having fun! Just over a decade ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michel “Labex” Labaki for our July 2013 cover.

At that time, much of our conversation concerned his personal approach to bass playing and his techniques. Fast forward to now and I am pleased to discover Michel’s new endeavor, the Labex Funk Project.

Join me as we meet the band:
Kynion Lanier on vocals
Pablo Batista on percussion
Jake Brightman on Guitar
Daniel Gonzalez on Drums
And Michel “Labex”Labaki on bass

As a bonus, we have the band’s producer Phillippe Dib in on this video chat as well.

Here is the Labex Funk Project!

Visit online:

michellabaki.com
www.facebook.com/MichelLabexLabaki/
www.instagram.com/michellabaki
www.youtube.com/c/MichelLabaki
FB @LabexFunkProject
IG @ Labex Funk Project

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

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Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

Bassist Tony Newton…

I am always learning new details about Bass history when I get the opportunity to talk with seasoned players like Tony Newton. Tony, a Detroit native, came up in the golden years of Motown and laid down the low end for countless performers and studio sessions; he has performed on over 25 gold and platinum hit recordings.

As time went by, and the whole Detroit scene dwindled, Tony relocated to LA where he worked a busy schedule, even going back to school to learn about music theory and composition.

Over the years he performed on many historic hit recordings and tours with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson(music Director), the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, The Funk Brothers and more, as well as working with veteran rock guitarist, Gary Moore in the British group G-Force.

Presently, Tony is super busy and on the verge of releasing a movie titled “Mars Quest” among his numerous other projects.

Join me as we get to enjoy all the history and knowledge that Tony has to share along with the details about his new Signature bass from BITE Guitars named “The  Punchtown Bass”.

Here is Tony Newton…

Photos: Mary K. Brand, Mitch Snyder, Haneefa Karrim, Hans Adamsen

Visit Online:

tonynewtonmusic.com/
FB @ TonyNewtonMusic Artist
YTB @ antoniotonynewtonmusic

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