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Bassist Rob Calder’s Humble Approach to Playing, Recording and Enjoying the Journey

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Bassist Rob Calder is the ultimate freelance session player.

His resume includes playing live and recording studio albums with Passenger/Ed Sheeran, Matt Nathanson, Dope Lemon—even Kanye West. He has toured across the globe and spent much of his post-college life, where his love for bass was solidified, playing to huge crowds with Passenger and acts like Angus & Julia Stone and Irish singer/songwriter Declan O’Rourke. I spoke with Rob Calder about humble beginnings, finding joy in the craft of playing bass and the continued journey towards simplicity…

I happened upon you while talking with the guys from the alternative rock band After Planet. They were saying “you have to interview Rob!” So I had to go look up your website and when I realized who else you were playing with, it occurred to me how prominent your playing has been with Passenger as well as other singer/songwriters. My kids were singing “Let Her Go” (from Passenger) on the radio constantly–and here you were playing on it!

So how did you get started?

…How did I get started? I basically picked it up the instrument like at the start of my college career.

I was like every other kid. My story’s not unique at all. I started with piano and I didn’t really like it. And I was in orchestra for a time and I was so uninspired. I hardly practiced and then eventually I gave it up. And then as a goof, I picked up the bass just right before my freshman year started at Indiana University and I loved it immediately. It was, I mean, basically one of the very few moments where I had an epiphany… Oh, I’m going to do this for a long time.

Kind of a late start.

Yeah, a late bloomer, I think. I still feel that way. I don’t know.

So as a goof? That’s funny. Usually people have a hard time explaining this, because a lot of people will ask this question “Why did you pick the bass guitar?” There’s a lot of people who automatically think that guitar is this complex instrument and bass is so easy. And I think that people who are not musician types don’t quite understand how important bass is.

Yeah, people get attached to it quickly. I immediately was. I can say I was a bass player first. I wasn’t one of those people who started out on guitar and then switched because nobody else wanted to play bass. I actually loved it. But the thing is you are right, the bass is easy to play. I feel like it is… I don’t want to mystify it too much.

I think there are a lot of tasteful things you can do, and I hear that in your phrasing and the way you fill in space within the songs, much like Paul McCartney. I know that for me, I didn’t appreciate McCartney as a kid starting out on bass. I couldn’t appreciate him until I got older.

Same, I actually didn’t love Paul McCartney until later and then I became like, obsessed (laughter), I’m sure it’s obvious in my playing.

A lot of people wear their influences on their sleeve. Do you have anybody else who influenced you besides McCartney when you started out?

I tried to learn every lick that Geddy Lee ever played. I tried… and you know, I probably failed (laughs). I think I listen back to it now and I don’t quite hear it as much, but at the time it was pretty new to me and I loved a lot of that prog stuff, like Chris Squire and Tony Levin and anybody that was playing any song in 5/8 or 7/8 time. I was drawn to them initially because I thought that was cool. It is cool.

It’s ok to admit that today.

It’s back! (laughs)

How did you develop your style, sort of on the fly or did you actually start leaning towards something you liked? I noticed some of the live performances you were playing using all your fingers, thumb included on your picking hand. Do use a pick as well when it’s called for?

Yeah I use it as well. I do love playing with a pick too, as it brings out a completely different tone and approach. You know it’s like a different instrument with a pick, and I think that’s really good because otherwise I’ll get completely bored always doing the same thing. One of the great things about being a freelance bass player is you get to try something new every day with a new band. I know the fingers vs. pick debate, but I think that the way that you hit the string with your right hand whether it’s with a pick or with the side of your finger—any kind of different way that you touch those strings is going to have a huge impact on your tone. In fact, I think the entirety of tone comes from that point of impact. I think the more approaches you apply, there’s your pedal board.

And I love effects, but when you talk about style… I just… I don’t know if it’s a style, but it’s a concept that I really decided to focus on.

Seems to be working, you definitely attract a lot of artists just based on just your style of playing. 

What do you like in the way of effects, when you do use them?

My favorite effect is an overdriven amp in the studio—that’s my favorite effect, and I know it’s not a pedal board. Underrated. I do like distortion pedals and I’ve got an Electro Harmonix… not sure which make, I’m really bad with models (laughs).

I think you’re right. Very overrated compared with the ability to actually use a solid bass with good pickups and a decent amp.

Yeah, I think that’s the magic. I do think that’s the magic, but I do have a pedal board and occasionally I’ll plug it in. I’m not averse to it, but I’m usually—bass, cable, amp— let’s do this!

You have recorded with a bunch of different producers including Rick Rubin and Mitchell Froom, how adaptable were they to you in the recording process—were they hands-on or did they let you do your thing?

Their recording style, in my opinion, is once you get into the studio with those guys—pretty much all of them—they don’t tell you much. They’re happy that you’re doing what you’re doing; I think getting into the studio once you’re sort of like… trusted. The thought is: “Okay this guy can do what he’s doing”. Mitchell Froom was somebody who was notorious for being sort of hard on musicians that are related or brought in by the artists themselves. He had stories that  terrified me (laughs). But the interesting thing is the moment you sat down and you’re sitting there playing with (session drummer) Matt Chamberlain… he totally didn’t tell me anything. He was like, “Yeah, that’s good”. It’s like there was no direction—I didn’t feel like he was micromanaging me at all.

And that was an incredible experience. And for those producers, nobody looks at the bass player anyway— let’s be honest with how it is. (laughter)

Passenger has kept you very busy!

Yeah, we just got done with 2 years of touring and we keep recording records. I’ve done 4 records with him and then the touring. With his current tour, which is winding up, he went back to just him and his acoustic guitar. Then we will be convening again at some point at the end of this year, and he is really prolific—he writes so much music.

It’s interesting how you started out your freshman year at Indiana University and then… to be in front of those crowds. You must be thinking, “I couldn’t have predicted this!”

I certainly didn’t, but I’m definitely happy for the development. It’s been really interesting that with all of these artists I somehow managed to fall into… like connecting with… all these international artists… like the brother/sister Angus & Julia that are Australian, and then also Declan O’Rourke who’s Irish and Mike who’s Passenger and he’s English. It’s been very strange and I often have found that this is mystified much more than any career. How did I end up on this continent over here?

It’s wild. I’m really blessed.

I guess it’d just be something that’s normalized for you and you say “This is great, I get to do this!” whether it’s 500 people 50,000 people.

Yeah it doesn’t matter, at some point the size thing (is there), but much more importantly is the feeling of being blessed, you know? I appreciate it every day…the opportunity to do this for a living, because it does not come to everybody. And there are so many good players out there… great, amazing bass players.

Your bass I mainly see you play with is a P-bass that looks like you added a single coil to it or was it originally designed like that?

Exactly, it’s a P-bass that had a single coil attached to it. It’s a 1968 Precision, so that that would be worth quite a bit more if it didn’t have that pickup in it. So honestly that’s how I could afford it. (laughs)

And do you have other basses in rotation?

I have some backups but (the 68’) is what I use primarily. Yeah, if I have a choice I’m using this one, it’s my main instrument. I can get the most out of it and it’s really sturdy. But I also have a 64’ Hofner Club bass that I use a ton for recording and I’ve got a Harmony from the 60’s. That’s a real interesting one… I sometimes use an NS design upright. Those are kind of a little bit obscure I guess. It bolts on to like a fancy, retrofitted drum-hardware stand. It’s really interesting design and I’ll use that for recordings. If I’m lucky to do a full record with an artist where towards the end whoever’s in charge says, “Let’s make this (track) sound a little different,” that’s when I say, “Hang on, this is a weird one” and everybody’s like, “What the fuck is that?” (laughter)

How did you get hooked up with the guys from After Planet out there in California? Sort of a different style of music compared to what you mostly play.

I love bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Sugar. Earlier bands I’m way into. That’s the kind of music they do. And they wanted me to play with them. I am super enthusiastic about their style. I think their music is amazing. Yeah, so they’re out in California and LA and I’m based out there.

And you recorded with them on their new EP Prévisionniste?

Yes, depending on what you heard. I began recording with them and we’re slowly working through the tunes. So yeah.

For me, they definitely have a Failure-type vibe, and I always love those guys. After Planet is an extension of Failure’s classic Fantastic Planet for me. I definitely have heard your work in the songs. And I hear overdriven amp or effects—some gnarly stuff, whatever it is!

Depending on what it is, I mean, there could be some plugins going on. But yeah, to me it’s always the amp. If I can drive the amp, that’ll be the coolest.

As for amplification, what do you typically use?

I love the Ampeg B-12, not the usual 15, and I drive the shit out of it and just make it go as hard as it can. And that’s what sounds amazing.

More pronounced?

Yeah, but you have to put it in a padded room because it’s just gonna wail… nothing that you can do in the basement of your mom’s house! (laughs)

That’s when we have to remind the bass player that nobody needs to hear the bass player! (laughter)

Your band Schmetterling was probably the coolest of all the stuff I listened to on your webpage robcalder.com… It seems very indulgent. What started that and what’s the direction you’re taking?

Awesome. I’m glad that you’re into it.

It is totally indulgent. It started off with me just trying to familiarize myself with logic and I had been collecting these basslines and I dropped them in and just started creating these super-whack beats,. After that I tapped in some keyboard parts and next thing you know, I was making these “answer to no one” songs that weren’t destined for any like singer/songwriter anything, which I do so much… this will just be for me.

Then I started jamming with my friends, Steve Elliot (guitar player) and Brian Griffin (drums) and they were like, “What are we gonna play? We actually could do some gigs.” And very sheepishly, I got some of these demos and they’re really kind of crazy. I wasn’t gonna show them to anybody, but those guys interpreted my whack beats and my weird melodies and they made it super cool—made me realize this actually could be something. So as we speak it’s being mastered right now as a record for release!

Looking forward to it. It’s super cool. I love to put stuff in a category but I have no idea how to categorize it!

Awesome, I’m tickled you like it. I’m really stoked about it!

Check out Rob’s hefty volume of work @ robcalder.com/ including his hard to define, but exceptional band Schmetterling. And look for him playing live, coming soon to a continent near you!

Also, check out Rob driving his Ampeg B-12 hard with After PlanetIG @afterplanet on their upcoming EP Prévisionniste. 

Bass Books

Interview With Barker Bass’s Inventor and Writer Lee Barker

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Interview With Barker Bass's Inventor and Writer Lee Barker

If you are an electric bass player, this is an exciting time to be alive as this relatively new instrument evolves around us. Some creative individuals have taken an active role in this evolution and made giant leaps in their own direction. Lee Barker is one of these inventive people having created the Barker Bass. 

Fortunately, Lee is also an excellent writer (among so many talents) and has recently released his book “Plausible Gumption, The Road Between a Christmas Toolbox and The Barker Bass”. This book is a very fun read for everyone and shares a ton of details about Lee’s life in general, his experiences as a musician, a radio host, and a luthier. Now I am fortunate to have the great opportunity to gain even more insights into this renaissance man with this video interview.

Plausible Gumption, The Road Between a Christmas Toolbox and The Barker Bass is available online at Amazon.com 

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Features

Bergantino Welcomes Michael Byrnes to Their Family of Artists

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Bergantino Welcomes Michael Byrnes to Their Family of Artists

Interview and photo courtesy of Holly Bergantino of Bergantino Audio Systems

With an expansive live show and touring, Mt. Joy bassist Michael Byrnes shares his experiences with the joyful, high-energy band!

Michael Byrnes has kept quite a busy touring schedule for the past few years with his band, Mt. Joy. With a philosophy of trial and error, he’s developed quite the routines for touring, learning musical instruments, and finding the right sound. While on the road, we were fortunate to have him share his thoughts on his music, history, and path as a musician/composer. 

Let’s start from the very beginning, like all good stories. What first drew
you to music as well as the bass? 

My parents required my sister and I to play an instrument.  I started on piano and really didn’t like it so when I wanted to quit my parents made me switch to another instrument and I chose drums.  Then as I got older and started forming bands there were never any bass players.  When I turned 17 I bought a bass and started getting lessons.  I think with drums I loved music and I loved the idea of playing music but when I started playing bass I really got lost in it.  I was completely hooked.

Can you tell us where you learned about music, singing, and composing?

A bit from teachers and school but honestly I learned the most from just going out and trying it.  I still feel like most of the time I don’t know what I am doing but I do know that if I try things I will learn.  

What other instruments do you play?

A bit of drums but that’s it.  For composing I play a lot of things but I fake it till I make and what I can’t fake I will ask a friend! 

I know you are also a composer for film and video. Can you share more
about this with us?

Pretty new to it at the moment.  It is weirdly similar to the role of a bass player in the band.  You are using music to emphasize and lift up the storyline.  Which I feel I do with the bass in a band setting.  Kind of putting my efforts into lifting the song and the other musicians on it.

Everybody loves talking about gear. How do you achieve your “fat” sound?

I just tinker till it’s fat lol.  Right now solid-state amps have been helping me get there a little quicker than tube amps.  That’s why I have been using the Bergantino Forté HP2 –  Otherwise I have to say the cliche because it is true…. It’s in the hands.  

Describe your playing style(s), tone, strengths and/or areas that you’d like
to explore on the bass.

I like to think of myself as a pretty catchy bass player.  I need to ask my bandmates to confirm!  But I think when improvising and writing bass parts I always am trying to sneak little earworms into the music.   I want to explore 5-string more!

Who are your influences?

I can’t not mention James Jamerson.  Where would any of us be if it wasn’t for him?  A lesser-known bassist who had a huge effect on me is Ben Kenney.  He is the second bassist in the band Incubus and his playing on the Crow Left the Murder album completely opened me up to the type of bass playing I aspire towards.  When I first started playing I was really just listening to a lot of virtuosic bassists.  I was loving that but I couldn’t see myself realistically playing like that.  It wasn’t from a place of self-doubt I just deep down knew that wasn’t me.  Ben has no problem shredding but I was struck by how much he would influence the song through smaller movements and reharmonizing underneath the band.  His playing isn’t really in your face but from within the music, he could move mountains.   That’s how I want to play.    

What was the first bass you had? Do you still have it?

A MIM Fender Jazz and I do still have it.  It’s in my studio as we speak.  I rarely use it these days but I would never get rid of it.  


(Every bass player’s favorite part of an interview and a read!) Tell us about
your favorite bass or basses. 🙂

I guess I would need to say that MIM Jazz bass even though I don’t play it much.  I feel connected to that one.  Otherwise, I have been playing lots of great amazing basses through the years.  I have a Serek that I always have with me on the road (shout out Jake).   Also have a 70’s Mustang that 8 times out of 10 times is what I use on recordings.  Otherwise, I am always switching it up.  I find that after a while the road I just cycle basses in and out.  Even if I cycle out a P bass for another P bass.  

What led you to Bergantino Audio Systems?

My friend and former roommate Edison is a monster bassist and he would gig with a cab of yours all the time years ago.  Then when I was shopping for a solid state amp the Bergantino Forté HP2 kept popping up.  Then I saw Justin Meldal Johnsen using it on tour with St. Vincent and I thought alright I’ll give it a try!

Can you share a little bit with us about your experience with the Bergantino
forte HP amplifier? I know you had this out on tour in 2023 and I am pretty
certain the forte HP has been to more countries than I have.

It has been great!   I had been touring with a 70’s SVT which was great but from room to room, it was a little inconsistent.  I really was picky with the type of power that we had on stage.  After a while, I thought maybe it is time to just retire this to the studio.  So I got that Forte because I had heard that it isn’t too far of a leap from a tube amp tone-wise.  Plus I knew our crew would be much happier loading a small solid state amp over against the 60 lbs of SVT.  It has sounded great and has really remained pretty much the same from night to night.  Sometimes I catch myself hitting the bright switch depending on the room and occasionally I will use the drive on it.

You have recently added the new Berg NXT410-C speaker cabinet to your
arsenal. Thoughts so far?

It has sounded great in the studio.  I haven’t gotten a chance to take it on the road with us but I am excited to put it through the paces!

You have been touring like a madman all over the world for the past few
years. Any touring advice for other musicians/bass players? And can I go to Dublin, Ireland with you all??

Exercise!  That’s probably the number one thing I can say.  Exercise is what keeps me sane on the road and helps me regulate the ups and downs of it.  Please come to Dublin! I can put you on the guest list! 

It’s a cool story on how the Mt. Joy band has grown so quickly! Tell us
more about Mt. Joy, how it started, where the name comes from, who the
members are and a little bit about this great group?

Our singer and guitarist knew each other in high school and have made music together off and on since.  Once they both found themselves living in LA they decided to record a couple songs and put out a Craigslist ad looking for a bassist.  At the time I had just moved to LA and was looking for anyone to play with.  We linked up and we recorded what would become the first Mt. Joy songs in my house with my friend Caleb producing.  Caleb has since produced our third album and is working on our fourth with us now. Once those songs came out we needed to form a full band to be able to do live shows.  I knew our drummer from gigging around LA and a mutual friend of all of us recommended Jackie.  From then on we’ve been on the road and in the studio.  Even through Covid.

Describe the music style of Mt. Joy for me.

Folk Rock with Jam influences

What are your favorite songs to perform?

Always changing but right now it is ‘Let Loose’

What else do you love to do besides bass?

Exercise!

I always throw in a question about food. What is your favorite food?

I love a good chocolate croissant.

Follow Michael Byrnes:
Instagram: @mikeyblaster

Follow Mt. Joy Band:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mtjoyband
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mtjoyband

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Bass Videos

Artist Update With Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Artist Update With Mark Egan, Cross Currents

I am sure many of you are very familiar with Mark Egan as we have been following him and his music for many years now. The last time we chatted was in 2020.

Mark teamed up with drummer Shawn Pelton and guitarist Shane Theriot to produce a new album, “Cross Currents” released on March 8th, 2024. I have been listening to this album in its entirety and it is simply superb (See my review).

Now, I am excited to hear about this project from Mark himself and share this conversation with our bass community in Bass Musician Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Mark Egan

Visit Online:

markegan.com
markegan.bandcamp.com
Apple Music
Amazon Music

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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

Follow On Social

IG &FB @bythethousands
YTB @BytheThousands

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Features

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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