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Interview with Mo Foster

session legend geezer

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#1 Rich

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 11:02 PM

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Mo Foster is a legendary session bassist, producer and composer. In over 40 years as a musician he has played on and produced countless albums, singles, and film soundtracks. He is a published author and occasionally teaches at music seminars all over the UK. He is also an absolutely thoroughly bloody nice bloke and was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

OK, let's get the inevitable gear question out of the way. What basses, strings, backline do you use?

My present working instruments are:
Fender Precision Bass
Fender Fretless Jazz Bass
Fender 5-String Jazz Bass
Fender Bass VI
Rotosound Swing Bass strings
SWR Baby Blue (2x8 plus 1x5) for studio
SWR (4x10 cab and 900W top) hired for small gigs (I don’t lift)

Any effects?

I used to have every pedal imaginable because on sessions you were expected to create new and exciting sounds. I had one of the first MXR Phase 90 pedals in the country (bought in New York in 1974). The Mutron allowed bass players to start sounding like a synth – perfect for replicating the intro to Herbie Hancock’s ‘Chameleon’. I used an MXR Flanger on the ‘Minder Theme’. I still use a Boss Tremolo with the Bass VI for Duane Eddy impersonations.
But I’ve sold all my effects now — I change sound with different hand positions and finger pressure. I like things simple, like an amplifier with a red light, an on/off switch, and a volume control.

What was the DFA pedal and do you still have it?

There used to be a regulation between the Musicians Union and the studio players that if you played a second instrument on a recording session you would get an additional ‘doubling’ fee of 25%. Great for guitarists that might come to a session with a mandolin and guitar but bass players were being a bit left out. With the proliferation of effects pedals in the 70s players soon realised you could use a fuzz or a chorus pedal to play a second part and get the 25% fee. Well, again, bass players didn’t have as much choice as guitarists so I had this pedal made for me called a DFA pedal: it was shiny with big letters embossed, it had an input, an output, and a switch, and nothing inside. So I’d ask an idiot producer if he’d like some DFA effect on a track, switch it ‘on’, and get my 25% fee! It appeared on quite a few tracks.

You were a dab hand with a soldering iron and a fistful of capacitors back in the early days of 'needs must'. Can you tell us about some of the homebrewed gear you used to make?

I assembled an electric bass guitar (I made a pickup from the innards of a pair of bomber command headphones, and fixed them inside a plastic soap dish, with holes cut for the four pole pieces. After fixing this pickup onto a £2 Egmond Frères acoustic, I removed the top two strings and tuned the remaining four down by an octave. When plugged into the ‘gram’ input of my parents’ radio, a huge wooden edifice made by Murphy, the result was interesting, if not exactly musical. It resembled a deep flapping fart with pitch). I also built a bass amplifier, a spring reverb unit (using the elements from an old heater), a tremolo unit (from a circuit in Practical Wireless), a mixer (four TV pots in a toffee-tin), a transmitter (with a range of three feet), a tape recorder and a bass-reflex cabinet (my dad did the carpentry), plus I was able to cut records in the kitchen using part of an old 78, an electric gramophone, and a Bunsen burner.

What sort of electronical tinkering do you do these days, if any?

Very little — electronics is far too compact now to have fun.

Was there a single catalyst that drew you to the bass? Was there one particular lightbulb moment when you thought "Yes, that's it, THAT's what I want to play"?

It was a gradual drift into the role. My little school band — The Tradewinds — originally featured four guitars, but since I knew the fewest chords, I became the bass player by default. Somehow, somewhere, I’d heard the phrase ‘Electric Bass Guitar’. It had a resonance: it sounded longer and more important than just a guitar, and I liked it. It all began to make sense when I caught my first sight of a Fender Precision Bass in the movie Because They're Young, featuring Duane Eddy. Seeing this awesome instrument proved to be a transcendent moment, but for me to be connected in some way to this world seemed impossibly far away.

Who were your early influences?

My first influence on bass was Jet Harris of the Shadows – I loved his sound (he had the first Fender Precision in Britain). And he played the first solo on a bass guitar — a 1961 Shadows album track called ‘Nivram’. I went to his funeral this year.
At University – when I swapped to drums and played in a jazz trio — I listened to upright players like Ray Brown and Ron Carter. It was only afterwards when I joined my first pro band Affinity and went back to bass-guitar that I began listening to players like Paul McCartney, Carol Kaye, James Jamerson, and Jack Bruce. Bass styles had changed enormously in four years. Later I listened to players such as John Paul Jones, Steve Swallow, Stanley Clarke, Larry Graham, Jaco Pastorius, Jimmy Johnson, Marcus Miller, Anthony Jackson, Chuck Rainey, and Leland Sklar.

You started out as a pick player and then switched to fingerstyle. What made you switch? Do you ever use a pick these days?

When I started session work I noticed that the good players were playing mostly with their fingers, and to help me to learn to play this way I designed the Bass Practicer. It consisted of a 6" piece of wood, one string, one tuning peg and a jack plug casing for a bridge held in place by two nails. It fitted perfectly in the pocket of my ex-Swedish army officer's coat, and as I rhythmically plucked the solitary string it definitely helped me to develop hard calluses on my finger tips. I had to be careful though, since the repetitive motion of my hand inside my coat could easily have been misinterpreted!
I still use a pick if I’m impersonating players such as Paul McCartney, Anthony Jackson, or Duane Eddy.

I've heard you slap on a couple of recordings (e.g. the Minder theme); what is your opinion of it as a technique, is it one you like or do you generally try to avoid it?

It’s a great technique if it’s right for the song. Mark King does it beautifully.

You are well known for your fretless work in particular. What (or who) first turned you onto the fretless? Was there a Jaco-esque "yeah, let's do it!" sudden ripping out of the frets, or did you gradually come to it?

1976. I was at the Paris Olympia for a series of concerts with singer and pianist Véronique Sanson (at that time Mrs Stephen Stills). One afternoon a journalist friend invited drummer Simon Phillips and me round to his apartment for lunch. During the afternoon he placed an LP on his hi-fi and said: “I think you’re going to like this” and a moment of magic ensued – the sounds were mesmerising. I asked who the artist was. “Jaco Pastorius” he replied. It was a life-changing moment.
Inspired by these exquisite sounds I enlisted the help of symphony-bass repairman and craftsman Neville Whitehead; it was his suggestion that he should remove the entire fingerboard of my beloved Fender Jazz Bass, frets and all, and replace it with a 100-year old piece of ebony that he'd removed from an old upright. It seemed like a good idea. He went through three plane blades. Each visit to his workshop felt like I was being fitted for a suit. The finished bass was amazing and although the neck was a little fat, front to back, that soon ceased to be a problem. The main thing - the 'sound' was there - the growls, the singing. The neck was pure black with no lines, no markers, and I struggled like this (and played some sessions on it) for six months even though I had great difficulty knowing where I was on the neck. I finally rationalised that I should have helpful fret-lines put on and entrusted luthier Dick Knight with the task. He did a beautiful job. Some time later the body was stripped to plain wood and I replaced the bridge with a Badass. EMG pickups were added in 1982. This instrument has become my 'voice'.
You have to have a sound in your head and aim for it. My fretless sound is a composite of the timbre of a bassoon (I use the bridge pickup only), the envelope of a euphonium, and the vibrato and glissando of a cello. I also try to emulate the fabulous growling sound that double-bassist Ron Carter achieves on the low notes. The pressure of the left-hand fingers can determine the sustain of a note. And I almost caress the strings with my right-hand plucking fingers: by rotating the whole wrist it’s possible to use the side of your finger like on a double bass. I discovered this when I had to re-learn my technique after I’d hurt the tendons in my wrist.
For me, it's a voice, much more expressive than the other instruments, because first of all you can play with a vibrato like on a cello. It can be as wide as you like, and you can slide between notes — 'glissando' — which you can on a double bass but you can't really on a fretted bass where it's a distinct set of little leaps. I've got a terrible voice, my singing voice is just hideous and this allowed me to sing, because I can play fairly high up on the instrument and make it sound emotional. With the way you play it, the way your fingers attack the strings and the pressures and so on, you actually create the note, you're not just hitting it. You actually have to spend a couple of decades figuring it out until you and the instrument become one, and you make this sound which you hope someone else likes!
When I began playing bass guitar seriously there were no instruction DVDs, books, or colleges. I needed to develop a logical system of fingering and reasoned that as the bass guitar has qualities of both double bass and guitar – the scale length is halfway between the two – then the fingering should reflect this. I used double bassist Ray Brown’s tutor to learn Simandl technique (the system double bass players use where the finger spacing is wide — 1.2.4). I also learnt one-finger-per-fret-guitar fingering, and I worked through session bass guitarist Carol Kaye’s books for sight reading. Combine these techniques and you can play anything – in tune. On non-fretted instruments your ears also play a big part in accuracy. I’m amazed that many current bass guitar magazines do not teach fingering at all (probably because they don’t know what it should be?). And that wretched tablature teaches nothing.

I know I've already asked about strings, but where do you sit in the roundwound/flatwound debate? Is there any specific reason for your choice?

There is no debate. They each make different sounds, both of which are valid. It depends on what you want — what you hear in your head. I’ve been using Rotosound roundwounds for over thirty years. They make the sounds that I want.
In the early days in Britain you played what you could get. The contents page of The April 1957 catalogue and price list for General Music Strings Ltd of Glamorgan (who made MONOPOLE strings) lists strings for an unbelievable range of instruments, ie: Violin, Viola, Violoncello, Double Bass, Mandolin, Mandola, Mandolon Cello, Hawaiian Guitar, Spanish Guitar, Plectrum Guitar, Skiffle Guitar, Banjo, Tenor Banjo, Ukulele, Harp (where the strings are described as being ‘waterproof’), Zither, Auto Harp, and even the A’oud – but no Bass Guitar strings! It may help to realise that in the UK there were, of course, no bass guitars either at that time.
My first proper bass (ie: I hadn’t made it myself) was a Dallas Tuxedo with flatwound strings that I bought from a shop in Wolverhampton for £16. It was the only bass on display. Fenders were unavailable until 1960.

You've played quite a number of instruments including a few five-strings, but your workhorse basses are good ol' Fender fours. Any particular reason why you've stuck to them, despite picking up many different basses over the years? Are your Fenders stock or modified?

I like Fenders because they look beautiful, feel comfortable, and sound great — they just work, there’s no effort. Leo got it right — first time. In 1979 I happened to be in 48th Street NYC — where all the music shops were. I couldn’t resist buying some Schecter replacement parts for my Precision (which I had originally bought new from a store in Atlanta, Georgia in 1974). I’m embarrassed to confess that my shiny new scratchplate was inspired by the one that I’d seen on the bass Phil Lynott was playing on Top Of The Pops.

Have you ever played a six-string bass? I know you have a Fender VI but I'm thinking in terms of the 'modern' six-string. If you've played one, what did you think?

I have, but it’s not for me. The extra upper string allows you to play harmony — as well as the bass-note — fairly easily. This would only be useful if your band had no guitar or keyboard.

What are your views on the new generation of multi-stringed Extended-Range Basses? Are we ever likely to see you dabbling with a nine-string monster?

The instruments look beautiful — modern luthiers are incredible. The trouble is that these instruments are very expensive but you won’t earn any more money by playing one (unless you are a solo act). And I know of some bands who will even fine a player for each extra string beyond the basic four.

To my ears your first solo album Bel Assis was definitely a bass-as-bandleader affair, with a lot of melodic bass work and some lovely soloing. On your next album Southern Reunion you seemed to take more of a back seat and let your colleagues shine. Was this a conscious decision, and if so why?

The improvising part I'm actually not that good at. That's why I wrote some tracks and then employed formidable improvisers such as Iain Ballamy, Frank Ricotti, and Ray Russell to play on them. So, I set up the framework and they had a bit of fun on top! I was very happy to let them do that, because they're better at it than me! It also helped that they are my friends.
In the 80s drummer Peter Van Hooke had set up a new label called MMC (it was meant to sound impressive like the German label ECM, in reality it stood for Music Minus Crap — Pete’s philosophy). He asked me to write a studio album for the label and this became Bel Assis, released initially as a vinyl LP. It was subsequently released on Relativity, InAkustic, and finally Angel Air Records. I have now transferred all of my albums to this label (www.angelair.co.uk).
In the mid-90s I persuaded guitarist Ray Russell and pianist Simon Chamberlain — and sometimes Dave Hartley, Sting's pianist — to help me experiment with the idea of playing without a drummer. We had a virtual residency at Blues West 14, a small basement club in Kensington. It was perfect for trying out new pieces, and we played many fun nights down there as a trio. I later added Gary Husband and Ralph Salmins to the live recordings and this became my next album, Blues West 14.
I took this idea one step further and spent two days recording in the wonderful acoustic of a church in Oxford. It was just bass, acoustic piano, acoustic guitar, vibraphone, and soprano sax on a couple of tracks. It was very, very hard because you have to focus on the pulse, on the meter, almost Zen-like, so that you don't speed up or slow down. That was Time To Think.
My most recent album for the label is Bass Themes — a collection of my bass-related library music tracks from the last thirty years.

What is your approach to composition? Do you write on bass, guitar, piano? Do you have a particular procedure that you follow, e.g. starting with a melody idea and fleshing it out gradually?

I tend to work out an idea on either bass, guitar, piano, double-bass, or mandolin — whatever instrument is nearest. But it’s also useful to be able to write down an idea with pencil and paper — in either clef. Transcribing other players’ parts can help you. And you should be able to write out a chord chart, with easily understood repeats and signs.
I was walking across Regents Park on my way home from a meeting in Soho. Suddenly — from nowhere — a fragment of melody entered my head. I knew that if I didn’t write it down quickly I would forget it. Equally suddenly — and with dreadful timing — I experienced an overpowering need to go to the toilet to avoid a terrible accident. What should I do —run home and risk losing the melody forever, or hurriedly write down the tune on a scrap of paper and possibly sh!t myself? A passing taxi resolved the conflict. The tune became a successful library music track, and it was also recorded on a CD by Survivors (a band put together by drummer Brian Bennett).
I now wish that I'd done more writing, because with writing you get royalties! I've done a fair bit of library music and my own solo stuff, but it's never enough. I came up the wrong way! I studied to be a physicist and the playing came afterwards, the reading came later than that, and the composing came even later that! I discovered each one in turn. It was just a sequence of historical accidents.

I know it's a bit like asking which of your kids you love most, but are there any of your own compositions of which you are particularly proud?

Ray Russell and I wrote a piece called ‘So Far Away’ (for me it represented a view of unknown lands from a 747 at 35,000 feet.) Jeff Beck was first to record it at Townhouse Studios with Me, Simon Phillips, and Tony Hymas, but it was never released. Sometime later Gary Moore began recording an album at the same studio and an engineer played our tape. Gary loved the tune and sought my permission to record it. I later popped into the studio to show him the chords. In fact Gary never recorded the track for an album but he did play it live on tour – as a prelude to his ballad ‘Empty Rooms’. It’s a stunning performance and it appears on the live album We Want Moore. Ray and I have since both recorded the tune on our own solo albums.

Sight-reading -- how much of a benefit has it been to your career and in what ways? For the average amateur/semi-pro player, would you say it's just a handy skill to have or absolutely essential?

First you must develop you ability to listen — to hear harmony and rhythm, and understand what is required of you (when we recorded with Gerry Rafferty we would listen to him playing a new song on the piano and try to figure out what chords and inversions he was playing). And on even the smallest gigs or rehearsals you must be able to read and interpret a chord-chart — to invent your own bass-lines. The ability to read music will allow you to learn tunes and bass-lines more easily — it’s really a set of instructions for you to follow.
Sight-reading — where you are expected to play a piece of music that you have never seen before — is a much harder discipline and you will only be able to do this after years of practice. It can be daunting. I was once booked to play a concert at the Barbican theatre with the London Symphony Orchestra. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences (hearing the incredible racket an orchestra makes on the inside), and also one of the most terrifying (trying to sight-read a long and complicated piece by Leonard Bernstein). I sat – and felt very small – between eight double basses and nine percussionists.

The way you describe the session scene it sounds like a lot of fun. Surely it also was demanding work and a lot of pressure?

It was fun – between takes the humour could be very sophisticated. But when the red light was on you had to be creative and totally focused. I think the humour acted like a safety valve for the massive tension of recording.

But it's also easy to see how the session scene is a shadow of its former self. I guess everything has to evolve, but do you feel the UK music biz is lesser for its passing? What, if any, do you feel has been the most detrimental aspect of this change?

You no longer have the chance to play with three or four different sets of players in one day anymore. And music had more soul when several people played together.
At the peak of session work (1970s to 1990s) there were ninety-two studios in Central London. As a result of collapsing record company budgets, and the rise of the digital Mac-based home studio, there are now sadly only five major studios remaining. Who knows how long they will survive?

Which bassists particularly float your boat these days? Do you prefer to hear soloists or groove-players?

I like players who keep good time, swing, and have an interesting sound. Ezperanza Spalding caught my attention on YouTube playing upright bass in a duet with Bobby McFerrin. What an inspiration — sound, pitch, groove, voice. And a dress that would never fit me! ‘Freedom Jazz Dance’ as you’ve never heard it before.

Your CV is immense and there are a lot of big names in there. I know you have fond memories of many of them and have made some good friends along the way. Can you tell us about any one session, tour or gig that stands out for you as a particular career highlight?

I had been a fan of Jeff Beck for a long time — his playing is so emotional and original — so I was thrilled when Simon Phillips and Tony Hymas recommended me to audition for the band. John Paul Jones and Rick Laird were also on the short-list.
Stanley Clarke had been with the band for a while but, as lovely as his playing is, he unfortunately doesn’t play proper bass parts — there was no bottom-end.
The first piece I recorded with Jeff for There And Back was ‘The Pump’ and it locked instantly. I just remember that the material was incredible: Simon and Tony had made some amazing demos and I was aware that I’d have to work hard to contribute the right parts. For one track – ‘Space Boogie’ - I approached the session with excitement and fear. I had to overdub my part while standing in the control room of the legendary Abbey Road Studio 2. As far as I can remember Jeff had not yet played on the track. Tony had written out a guide part, which covered several sheets of manuscript sellotaped together balancing precariously on two music stands. With the time signature changing from 4/4 to 6/4 to 7/4 I had to play the piece in sections. At the end Simon and Tony very wittily drew out scorecards for my performance from under their seats!
We rehearsed at Nomis Studios at Shepherds Bush and then went on the road — two separate tours of the States, a tour of Japan, and a tour of the UK, finishing at Hammersmith Odeon. The last night was an emotional event, especially when Jimmy Page joined us onstage for the final encore.
Another highlight: two years later I was on tour in USA with Phil Collins when I got the call to tour the UK with Gil Evans and be part of his British Orchestra. It was a dream come true. I had been a fan of his orchestration since his work with Miles Davis on Sketches Of Spain in 1960.

Likewise, the law of averages says you must also have come across your fair share of gits. Without naming names, can you give us an anecdote of the worst egomaniacal tossbaggery you've ever witnessed from someone you've worked for or alongside? Five quid says it's a vocalist.

It’s a vocalist!
We had a three-hour rehearsal during which we tried to learn 80 songs. The next day we flew to Holland for a one-hour live TV show from Hilversum prior to the start of a tour of Germany. The following morning we wandered down to have breakfast and waited for the car to take us to the airport for the first flight. The man did not appear, and we only realised that the tour had been cancelled when we made phone calls and discovered that he had caught an early flight and was already back in London. It’s fair game to treat the music business with disdain, but it’s a crime to treat musicians badly.

And is there any artist or band that you would dearly love to have worked with but have never had the opportunity?

In a career that has lasted for over 40 years I’ve been privileged to have recorded with almost everyone I’ve ever wanted to. One, I never can now, that's Miles Davis.
Still left on the list are: Joni Mitchell, Gary Burton, and Sting.

If an aspiring young bassist asked you for some words of wisdom in the form of two "do"s and two "don't"s, what would they be?

Do learn to play a harmony instrument such as guitar or piano so that you will be better equipped to talk to other musicians.
Do be aware of good posture, and avoid possible repetitive strain injury in areas such as the wrist.
Don’t learn bad fingering habits.
Don’t lift heavy amplifiers by bending over — learn to bend at the knees. (I’ve had bad back problems all of my life since I once helped to carry a Hammond Organ up a spiral staircase).

You've gone into print before with 'Seventeen Watts?' and you have a new book out...

I have always loved stories: they are the centre of a musician’s life. Over my professional career I’ve collected more than a few, and although it has taken me a very long time I have finally gathered them all together into one book: British Rock Guitar —the first 50 years, the musicians, and their stories.
My book — which was published in September 2011 — is a meticulously researched history. It took twenty years to gather all of the information, and a further two years to collate and write it. Its strength is that it is an insider’s perspective — no journalist could have written it in such detail. It’s also very funny.
The concept of the book was entirely my idea, and it developed simply from countless conversations with my musician friends. As far as I know, no one else has recorded this period — certainly not the session scene — in such intimate detail.
We had a terrific launch party at Dingwalls in Camden. It was a wonderful evening, and I was thrilled by the number of old chums who turned up to support — Brian Bennett, Bruce Welch, Bill Wyman, Colin Green, Paul Jones, Ray Russell, Tom McGuinness, Chas McDevitt, Frank Allen, Rob Townsend, Alan Hawkshaw, Linda Hoyle, Andy Brentnall, and many more. I had to give a speech in front of that lot — it was both exhilarating and just short of terrifying.
I’ve started promoting the book with radio and magazine interviews, and by giving illustrated ‘talks’ — the first was for the Hungerford & District Community Arts Festival 2012. Good fun.

...and you're quite the raconteur. Have you considered going the whole hog and following Guy Pratt into stand-up?

I did a speech at the launch, and a talk in Hungerford — that’s the tour so far. It was fun. I should do more.

...And Finally, a couple of throwaway questions...
Tomorrow morning you are to be executed for leading a brave but ultimately doomed coup d'etat in some despotic little country. What's your last meal?

That’s a stupid question...

Yeah I know, sorry but I couldn’t resist.

...but I once came back from six weeks on the road in the USA and all I could think about was beans on toast.

And it's Desert Island Discs time.
One record...

I suppose it's a toss up between A Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, and the Shadows’ first album. Or even The Baskervilles Reunion 2011 — a recording of a concert in Brighton. This University of Sussex band — a precursor of Affinity — reunited last September for a fun dance. Linda Hoyle flew from Canada to join us onstage. It was a great evening, even though we hadn’t played together for 46 years!

...one non-bass-related luxury...

Actress Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory TV comedy show.

...and one book.

Harpo Speaks – the biography of Harpo Marx.


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#2 JimBobTTD

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 05:26 AM

Interesting and inspirational - thanks for this.
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#3 Gareth Hughes

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 08:50 AM

Thank you very much indeed.

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#4 PTB

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 09:26 AM

A great read, many thanks.

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#5 wombatboter

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 10:38 AM

Thanks, such a great player !

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 11:23 AM

Sounds like a thoroughly lovely chap! Kaley Cuoco is also an excellent choice.

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#7 wateroftyne

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 11:40 AM

Ta fer that.

'..music had more soul when several people played together.'

He's right, you know.
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Posted 30 July 2012 - 10:45 PM

What a superb interview! Rich, you should be very proud of that mate. Thank you.

#9 paul j h

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:08 AM

Hi All,

I have Mo's book 17 Watts! which is a great and humerous read, i recomend everyone of a certain age who's interested in music should read it. I'm a huge fan of Bel assis to which has my favorite Gary Moore guitar solo ever on it and fantastic fretless playing from Mo. All round a great player and an inspiration who produces some very tasteful stuff. Cheers Paul.
"Music can and will change human conciousness" - Edgar Froese


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#10 scalpy

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 08:01 PM

The DFA pedal. Wonder what that stands for!
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#11 merello

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 06:10 AM

Really enjoyed that!
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#12 lowdown

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 06:04 AM

That's a great read thanks.

You can't forget Mo's great line on the 'Bergerac Theme'




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#13 OliverBlackman

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:17 AM

was that really what old TV was like? I'll take Family Guy songs over that all day long.

#14 Happy Jack

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:26 AM

View Postpaul j h, on 31 July 2012 - 11:08 AM, said:

I have Mo's book 17 Watts! which is a great and humerous read, i recomend everyone of a certain age who's interested in music should read it.

Damned right - a really excellent book.
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Posted 17 August 2012 - 10:55 AM

Some interesting insights there. I'm guessing he doesn't have a GAS problem - it's all about the music.

View PostRich, on 29 July 2012 - 11:02 PM, said:

I used to have every pedal imaginable because on sessions you were expected to create new and exciting sounds . . . . .
But I’ve sold all my effects now — I change sound with different hand positions and finger pressure. I like things simple, like an amplifier with a red light, an on/off switch, and a volume control.

View PostRich, on 29 July 2012 - 11:02 PM, said:

I like Fenders because they look beautiful, feel comfortable, and sound great — they just work, there’s no effort. Leo got it right — first time.


View PostRich, on 29 July 2012 - 11:02 PM, said:

The instruments [6+ string basses] look beautiful — modern luthiers are incredible. The trouble is that these instruments are very expensive but you won’t earn any more money by playing one (unless you are a solo act). And I know of some bands who will even fine a player for each extra string beyond the basic four.

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#16 socrates

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 01:26 PM

This is fascinating, wonderful stuff. One day when I have more time I am going to do a spotify playlist of 'great British session players' of this era - Mo, Herbie Flowers, Dave Richmond, Les Hurdle etc . . the bass lines that we grew up listening to when we largely had no idea who they were!

There is already a ton of KPM session stuff on Spotify featuring these players, including some comps under Herbie Flower's own name such as:

http://open.spotify.com/album/1rMfmR7TzRvhfNPcxCUxhx

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#17 Etienne

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 06:46 PM

Just got round to reading this- great interview! :)

#18 AnalogBomb

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 12:44 PM

Great read this - although I did first read the title as 'Interview with Mo Farah' and I thought, what's that got to do with playing bass?! How silly.....
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#19 TheGreek

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 01:34 PM

Sorry...only posting as AnalogBomb's avatar does my eyes in when I'm on the Home page...

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#20 Bassworm

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 06:49 PM

Lovely interview, thanks for that. I once met Mo at the old Bass Centre in Wapping, a genuinely nice man, great to talk to.

#21 miles'tone

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 12:32 AM

View PostBassworm, on 04 December 2013 - 06:49 PM, said:

Lovely interview, thanks for that. I once met Mo at the old Bass Centre in Wapping, a genuinely nice man, great to talk to.

I met him once too when he came to give us a lesson at the M.I. above the old Bass Centre in Wapping ('95 or '96) he was great, showing up at 9am on a freezing morning full of enthusiasm and happy to share his knowledge with us.
He had his trusty P bass and fretless jazz with him.
After he had floored us all with his fretless playing (so melodic, so beautiful - it did sound like singing) I was so amazed that I just blurted out, " OH MY GOD, IT SOUNDS JUST LIKE A KEYBOARD!!" (I was young and had never seen or heard anyone play a fretless in 'real life' never mind a player as accomplished as Mo)
I will never forget the look he gave me. He looked quite miffed and speechless in a 'the youth of today - we're doomed' kind of way. He didn't say a word though and was brilliant for the rest of the lesson.


Sorry about that Mo, and thank you. :)

#22 merello

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 10:02 AM

Watched classic albums recently and it was Phil Collins Face Value. Some nice footage of Mo playing live fretless.
My ain wee feedback bit!

#23 Mickeyboro

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 10:20 AM

He's doing a one man show on 9 Jan at the Powerhouse Studios in Chiswick. I may well attend...
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