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Recording Bass for Remote Sessions with Steve Cook

Transcript
Hey everybody, this is Steve Cook. Welcome to Pro Mix Academy. Welcome to my home studio.

Today, we are going to listen to a song called, “Leave a Light On For Me.” This project has been like, a hundred years in the making. I wanted to do an R&B, Soul kind of thing, so I would come down here late at night, and tinker, and come up with a bass line, come up with this, come up with that, and I had this idea to do a solo project.

No solo project is truly one person by themselves. There has to be at least one other person doing something. A guy came out on the road with us just to kind of hang out, and they were running over a song — we were running over a song to play that night, and I heard him sing like, two bars, and when we got to the venue, I took him aside, and I said, “Aubrey, what are you doing? Where are you playing, what’s going on, talk to me about your career.”

He’s like, “Well, I’m just doing acoustic stuff in Nashville, and I’m just trying to figure out the next step.” And I said, “Well, in the mean time, please, please, please let’s get together and let’s figure some things out.”

So we got together, and we worked on a couple of songs, actually, we worked on a bunch of songs, but we’ve tracked two of them, this is one of them, it’s called, “Leave a Light On For Me,” and it’s just — we’re pretty proud of it. It’s come together great. Aubrey is a force to be reckoned with. We’re actually going to put out a full record.

So I have setup the bass configuration for this particular song, which is — I use the Hofner club bass. The triple pickup through the Noble DI. I’ve also got the 1965 B18-N in the sort of iso booth back here, and the beautiful thing about this closet is it actually has power, which a lot of closets don’t, so I was gassed to see that, which is another reason that the studios down here, just a little bit more flexibility.

Here is Leave a Light On For Me, Presonus Studio One, and if you’re not familiar with it, the layout is really simple. It’s a lot of drag and drop, especially for the effects, or if you’re working your loops, your libraries, but for the very top, we’re going to go ahead and I’m just going to solo what we started off with, which is scratch piano, and scratch vocals, and we’ll play that just for a minute, and then we’ll kind of build the track slowly but surely, starting with the drums, so let’s just hear what we’ve got.

[piano]

And this is Aubrey playing the piano, and he’s admittedly not a great piano player in his time, but he really is a great piano player, and he plays guitar as well, but this is where we started.

[mix]

So again, a very simple bass track, very simple arrangement. I think the star is Aubrey, the singer. Not the bass player. That’s really how it goes. Just kind of pepper it a little bit and do your thing, and hopefully, you’ll have some great results.

So I’m going to take you to the process of an internet session, and it’s really not as daunting and as crazy as it sounds. Somebody sends you a file called a 2 Track, which is a mix, and it could be anything as simple as a scratch vocal, an acoustic guitar, to a fully produced sort of session, just minus the bass. Your guitar could be — or in your instance, it could be guitar, or whatever, but this track was sent to me by my touring drummer. He’s not really my touring drummer.

He’s the drummer I play with on tour, and he’s also a producer, and so basically, what I’ve done is he DropBoxed me the track. I’ve dropped it into Studio One, set the tempo, and with Studio One, you can just do a tap tempo as you listen to the track, and it will sort of get it close for you, and then I setup my bass track, which is just the Noble DI into this, and we’re going to track bass.

So we can — I’ve listened to it, I’ve listened through, and sort of picked out some parts that I think might work, and the song is a pretty straight ahead song. A couple little quirky kicks. Again, I didn’t chart this one out, so I’m going to make mistakes, but in the interest of time, I’m not going to sit here and chart it out for you.

So this is the ’83 P-Bass through the Noble DI into Studio One Pro, and we’re going to hit the record button, and have a little fun.

[mix]

Alright, so obviously, there were some mistakes in there, and that is my first pass through. So I — you know, getting into the groove of the song, it felt good, I know — you know, kind of form. If I charted this thing out, obviously the kicks would be there, and it would go a little bit faster. But I didn’t chart this one out, so I did make mistakes, and you should notice, as I made the mistakes, I looked up, because you sort of take mental notes to know where they are.

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So we’re going to listen through, and you’ll hear the ticks, but all in all, not a bad first go around on this track.

So this is something that I picked up by accident, as far as technique. About a year and a half ago, I was getting ready to do a show, and there’s 10,000 people out there, and we’re throwing a football before the show, and the worst thing you can do before a show is throw a football, because what happens when you’re a musician and not an athlete? You’re probably going to break something. I broke my finger. About a half hour before we had to play.

You can see right here, there’s a nice little bump on this finger, but when I look down, my finger was at an angle like this, and when you’re a bass player, using your right hand and your fingers look like this, this is not good. So I tried to kind of pull it back,and it didn’t go back, so I played with my finger at like, a 45 degree angle, and that’s pretty much my main digit, because I start — I start everything with my middle finger, just about. I’ve just developed that for speed and sort of dexterity.

So I had to keep playing. I mean, I played that night, but I had to stay on the road, and I had to keep my gig, basically, so I learned very quickly to use other methods. So I turned my hand over, immediately, and instead of playing like this, I was playing with my thumb.

What that did was over the next four, five, six months, is it got that dexterity up, and now I find myself live playing both ways. And so…

[bass]

So if you notice, I’m only using these two fingers, because that’s all I had for a number of months, and so I learned to play…

[bass]

I learned to play like that, and now I can play…

[bass]

But what it did is it expanded my arsenal, because now I have sort of this fun palm mute thing that I can do for different songs, and it can lend itself in some really nice places — some ballads and some different things, where I can just…

[bass, palm muting]

And be able to do some different things that I — tonally that I can’t necessarily get out of a finger, because you have more meat back there, more fatty stuff on the thumb.

So anyhow, so you don’t have to break your finger to learn how to do this. You can turn your hand over, and you can kind of train yourself, or you can do what I did for awhile and have these two taped up, and start using these fingers in a different way, and you’ll find yourself playing things differently with your left hand as well, just because you don’t have that string skipping dexterity if you’re doing it this way, or you can work up to your string skipping dexterity.

But I’ve heard of, you know, stranger things, where people take off strings of basses, or they retune them, or you just do things just slightly different to grow and learn as a player, and that was one thing that happened to me by accident that I don’t wish on anybody, because I had to get it like — you have to keep this completely immobilized for like, three months, which means no popcorn with this hand.

But it’s just one of those things that happened to me, and it happened in a great way, and so I made some lemons out of lemonade.

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.

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