About The Torch: A monthly series, The Torch aims to help musicians of all ages and talent levels learn more about their respective instruments. Each issue features band members from around the world discussing their craft. They provide our readers with advice and insight towards their person experiences, as well as talking about the tool of their livelihood. Whether you’re an aspiring musician, beginner, fan, or expert, there’s something here for everyone. I truly believe it takes one generation to inspire another. With each issue, I hope we can motivate more and more readers to become the forces they admire.
Written & Produced by Meryl DeWitt | Edited by Rachel Rosell, Allie Beth | Photos by Jeremy Poland Photography, Jeremy Keeney, Broken Frame Pictures
Any other instrument you primarily hear, but a bass is something you feel. When it comes to the rhythm that hits us in our soul, it's no wonder I've brought three more bassists back to our pages. After our Beyond The Fallen interview dropped last year, they have been one of the most requested bands to return. Their axe slinger, Joy, is back to reek havoc. As well, we have Chase Martinez from Denver native band, Redlands and Kentucky band, Picturesque's Robert Mote!
Meryl DeWitt: How old were you when you got your first bass? What was your first bass?
Chance Martinez: I think I was like 2 years old. I got a little kid sized acoustic guitar! I just broke all the strings off I think. I was probably about 10 when I got a bass guitar of my own. It was a cheap entry level Yamaha black bass.
Robert Mote: I got my first bass for my 17th birthday. I don't even know. Rogue, I think?
Joy Widow: I was very old. Actually I started to play the bass when I formed my band, Beyond The Fallen. Before that I’ve always been a guitarist. Since I’ve always had a “bass approach” to my guitars in the past, I chose to change and finally play the bass. My first bass was an Ibanez GSR200.
Meryl: For anyone wanting to learn, what would you suggest as a starter bass?
Robert: Personally, I don't think it matters what brand/model you start on. They all make noise. Haha. If you are just trying to learn, go with a cheap, starter bass. If you have the money to spend and know you are sticking with it, go with a higher end bass.
Joy: Not the cheapest one, and not the best one. Probably a halfway is the best decision, IMHO. I believe that excesses, at the very beginning, are not good at all.
Chance: For bass guitar I’d suggest grabbing a used Fender P bass or Jazz bass off Ebay for like $300.00! I’ve been playing used guitars most of my life just because I can usually sell them for what I paid for it after a couple years of use… that way I never lose money on my investments, hehe, and they work just as good!
Meryl: Through trial and error in your career, is there any of your mistakes you'd warn young bassists to be cautious of?
Chance: Don’t depend on a teacher or school to skip having to practice, practice, practice…and get good, yourself. I see way too many musicians fall into that trap, and waste a lot of money. It’s through mistakes we learn the most, so I say try new things, and don’t be scared to get it wrong a million times ‘till it’s right. That’s how you get better. Always try to sound as good, or better than, the people you look up to, and you’ll get where you need to be to succeed!
Joy: Not really. Errors must be faced and solved alone. Only in this way a person can grow up. So, young bassists, search your own problems and do your best to solve them, you don’t need anyone’s advice.
Meryl: What's the biggest stage nightmare you've ever had?
Chance: I fell backwards off our “Ego Risers” about 5 years ago on our first song of the set, when I stepped backwards and sprained my ankle REALLY bad. Haha, I had a tennis ball sized bruise on my foot! In addition to that, I broke the nut on the Low E string so I had to transpose all our songs on the fly to the A string.
Joy: To be on stage and have some mysterious magical problems that nobody can explain, and that doesn’t let your bass work. Oh, and it actually happened.
Robert: During the San Antonio date of the Everything That Got Us Here tour with Secrets, everything that could have went wrong with me happened. The cable plugged into my guitar from my wireless pack shorted out a few minutes before our set started. I had to scramble to find out the problem and thankfully Zach, our guitarist, uses the same wireless system that I do and was nice enough to let me use his spare for the show. Then, 30 seconds into our set, the battery in my in-ear wireless pack died. I had to wait for a break three songs into the set to change the battery. It was a total nightmare.
Meryl: What is your current equipment setup for playing live?
Joy: This is a Beyond The Fallen secret.
Chance: I have a Geddy Lee Fender Jazz bass with a Drop D clutch! I play through a Swollen Pickle fuzz pedal, a Boss TU-2, Keeley 4 knob Compressor, and Sansamp Bass Driver DI. I currently don’t have an amp on stage as the whole band uses IEM monitors now. Although I’m thinking of getting a cab, and maybe a Fender Bassman head because I miss being able to feel how I’m playing.
Robert: Currently, I use a Sterling (Music Man) Ray 34 bass playing through a Tech 21 Sansamp RBI. I don't use any cabs on stage because of our in-ear system, hence the huge nightmare in the last question.
Meryl: Is your studio setup any different? If so, what is it?
Chance: I use the same gear to record and/or use NI Guitar Rig for amp modeling. I’ve been having a lot of good luck with that on our new record.
Joy: It’s different. I use a cleaner sound to study better the songs and to hear the harmony. Only after that and after the rehearsal I study another setup for the live shows.
Meryl: What's the best bass you've ever owned?
Robert: The one I am playing now, actually.
Chance: I like the Geddy Lee Fender Jazz bass I play now. It’s not expensive, but nails everything I’m trying to achieve.
Joy: My first one, ‘cause I learnt everything on it, and it was my standard, my normality.
Meryl: What's the worst bass you ever owned?
Chance: I’ve never really owned anything shitty… Buy nice or buy twice, right?
Robert: I wouldn't say "worst,” but as far as tone goes, the first bass that I have owned.
Joy: Again, my first one, ahaha. It was the first bass I ever had, so all the next ones were much better than it.
Meryl: What's your dream bass to own one day? (Custom, collectors, etc.)
Robert: For the longest time, I have wanted a Musicman Stingray. Lately, I have been researching Kiesel Carvin basses and I am leaning towards them.
Joy: There are too many and I like to change frequently, so I’m afraid I can’t give an appropriate answer.
Chance: I’d love to own some Gretsch guitars! I’ve always wanted a White Falcon!
Meryl: Do you name your basses? (If so, what are their names?)
Chance: I do not, unfortunately!
Joy: No. I find it very childish.
Meryl: What's the most extreme way a bass of yours has met her fate? (Ex: smashing on stage, getting stolen, being set on fire…)
Joy: None. I respect musical instruments and I never smashed any of those. To smash a
musical instrument is disrespectful and contradictory. Why to destroy the thing that made who
you are? It’s so stupid and pointless.
Chance: When I was about 10 or 11, I was really into “Guitar Spins”… I finally got the courage to do it, and didn’t know I needed to put some kind of ridiculous strap lock on for that! So the guitar smashed into a hardwood floor and snapped the headstock off.
Robert: I am very careful with my things, so I always try to make sure everything is safe and accounted for. If you call selling a bass to a random person on Craigslist "extreme”, then that is definitely it.
Meryl: A lot of bassists like to think they're the ladies men of a band. What do you think about that?
Robert: Haha, others may, but I have been with my girlfriend for almost a year and half.
Chance: Hell yeah we are! We got them heavy vibrations on lock! Haha.
Meryl: Who's your personal bassist hero?
Chance: I honestly don’t really follow anyone anymore, in that regard.
Joy: Twiggy Ramirez.
Robert: Victor Wooten.
Meryl: Finally, what is your favorite part of being a bassist?
Joy: The role itself. Crucial but undervalued. Which only the brainiest can understand.
Chance: I love the feeling of performing with a guitar in my hand, because it’s one of the few times you just have to be completely in the present moment of life. I think that’s what so powerful about playing music, is it forces you be present in time…something I need more of lately!
Robert: My favorite part of being a bassist is just playing. Thankfully, I have the opportunity to play music and travel the world with four, (five when Jeremy is around), of my best friends.
Picturesque's video for "Speak Softly"
REdlands' video for "Hollow Bodies"
Beyond THe Fallen's video for "Disconnected"