Joe Lally - Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Why Should I Get Used To It (Dischord Records, 2011)
I used to play bass. Not in any big bands, just garage and (post) punk bands, before I went to art school. I love music, playing and listening, though I have done more of the latter since the last band I was in. Technically, I still pick it up now and then when at home, alone at night, with headphones. Who knows, maybe someday again? I still do love it, though my chops betray me. Oh, well. Riding a bike.
It might be very revealing of my age to list the bass players that I am most inspired by and who affected my perspective on how to approach the instrument: Geezer Butler, Aston "Family Man" Barrett, Mike Watt, Leonard Hubbard, Chuck Dukowski, Matt Freeman, Klaus Fluoride, Eric Avery, Joe Lally.
Of all of them, Joe Lally is the one.
It's what he plays. It's what he does not play.
That's the open air secret of brilliant bass playing that is most challenging to master. It's hardest to play the negative spaces yet to not come across as lazy or uninspired, than anything else. Triplets, ghost notes, harmonics over chords, tapping, slap, all challenges to dexterity and strength. But it's that space, that silence, that makes great bass playing. That, and knowing when to play with simplicity. Simplicity and the desire to sit back, hold it down and let everyone else shine in the light, until your solo, if there ever is one.
It's all about Joe Lally.