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QRD #44 - Bass Player Special
about this issue
Bassist Interviews with:
CJ Boyd
Monte Allen of Rollerball
Nicholas Slaton of slicnaton
Trevor Dunn of Fantomas
Jeffrey Roden
Phillip Palmer of Port City Music
Nat Baldwin of Dirty Projectors
Frank Alexander of Triplicity
Brian Preston
Jason Ajemian
Darin Depaolo
Jill Palumbo of The Torches
Jon Case of Irata
James Newman of Plumerai
Matteo Bennici
Tim Dahl of Child Abuse
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Bassist Interview with Jason Ajemian
October 2010

Name: Jason Ajemian
Bands: JA & the HighLife, Who Cares How Long You Sink, Daydream Full Lifestyles, Sun Ship, Day in Pictures
Websites: www.jasonajemian.com
Listen to “Soak Up the Sun”

QRD – What was your first bass & what happened to it?

Jason – It was an Acme. I had it for 3 or 4 years. & then I lost it in a match of Split the Kipper.

QRD – What’s your typical set-up from bass to effects to amplifier? 

Jason – Run it in there.

QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – bass, amplifier, or effects? 

Jason – I am the most important part.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why? 

Jason – I like a Peavey basic 60 with a 1970 Peavey 300 head - it really lets me feel it.

QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass? 

Jason – Depends on my biorhythms at the moment.

QRD – Do you prefer to use a pick, fingers, or a bow? 

Jason – Pick, fingers, bow, mallets, & a gar jaw when I need the extra grit.

QRD – How many strings do you think a bass should have? 

Jason – 4. But I can do it with just one or none.

QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar? 

Jason – Donnie told me to.

QRD – How is a bass different than a guitar other than being lower in pitch? 

Jason – Often two fewer strings. Storage issues. Not as great of an ego source.

QRD – What’s your main bass & what are the features that make it such? 

Jason – It’s a Fendt. We just work together - a symbiosis - we benefit each other.

QRD – What do you think of the thumb rests on some basses? 

Jason – Thumb rests are for suckers. My thumb never rests - too busy working it.

QRD – If you had a signature bass, what would it look like & what would some of its features be? 

Jason – I’m thinking something with flames. Solid. Maybe a mount for a 5.5 outboard.

QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be? 

Jason – I’m not sure if I would like that kind of responsibility. Maybe just a basic sampler, distortion, delay, & some sort of mellowtron effect creator.

QRD – How many basses do you own? 

Jason – 1.

QRD – How & where do you store your basses? 

Jason – In the case. In the white whale.

QRD – What features do you look for when buying a bass? 

Jason – Does it work?

QRD – How much do you think a good bass should cost? 

Jason – Free.

QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your bass or just stick with what you get? 

Jason – Try to keep it alive.

QRD – Are you after one particular bass tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot? 

Jason – Mix it up depending on the group/setting/situation.

QRD – What are some basses, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after? 

Jason – None. They lust after me.

QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first bass that aren’t always there? 

Jason – Discipline & freedom.

QRD – What have been the best & worst bass related purchases you’ve made? 

Jason – I bought a Stuart Hamm video once - ridiculous. The hard case though -magnificence.

QRD – What are some effect, amp, & bass brands you particularly like or dis-like & why? 

Jason – I like the Peavey amps. My uncle lives in Meridian, Mississippi & is a security guard at the factory. Peavey has been good to the family on many levels.

QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a bass? 

Jason – I like to warm up with an energy exchange for about 10 minutes minimum. Then often slide into Larry Grahaham’s “Just Be My Lady.”

QRD – How old were you when you started playing bass? 

Jason – 6.

QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best bass playing? 

Jason – Some time in the future.

QRD – Do you feel bass lines should echo & emphasize guitar & drum parts or be their own distinct elements? 

Jason – Sometimes.

QRD – Would you rather people hear or feel your bass? 

Jason – Feel it.

QRD – Why do you think a bass fits you more so than other instruments? 

Jason – Because I like getting low.

QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music? 

Jason – I don’t mean to get Jarreau on you, but “We’re in this love together.”

QRD – Who are the bassists that most influenced your playing & sound? 

Jason – Mingus, Glen Connick-Paris era, Uncle Mike.

QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their bass is natural or silly (e.g. naming their bass)? 

Jason – Depends on the bass. But yes - great idea.

QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a bass & how did you do it? 

Jason – Shot a hole in it. I had a really bad fever & was hallucinating that the bass was trying to kill me. So I grabbed this snubnose .38 & let it have it.

QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing? 

Jason – Getting down with the bonus, stretching, mind power, avoiding nerds.

QRD – How many hours a week do you play bass & how many hours would you like to? 

Jason – 12 to 14 seems to work.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why? 

Jason – I go heavy.

QRD – How often do you change strings? 

Jason – Whenever I can afford it/need to.

QRD – How often do you break strings? 

Jason – Not so much these days.

QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming/bowing hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style? 

Jason – I think my laying all over it is the most proficient.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why? 

Jason – I like tuning to F. it all goes back to Philosophical Logic formulas.

QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas? 

Jason – Autocad drawings.

QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break? 

Jason – Buying when I should be selling & thinking that there may be tiny people living under my fingernails. An obsession of sorts.

QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s bass playing? 

Jason – The penny whistle helped me a lot.

QRD – What’s a type of bass playing you wish you could do that you can’t? 

Jason – Well, I’m glad I never tried to play like that guy from Primus - that’s for the squares.

QRD – What’s a bass goal you’ve never accomplished? 

Jason – Gucci linen lemonades.

QRD – What’s the last bass trick you learned? 

Jason – Buy working a D flat into a constant drone alligators can be pushed over the edge.

QRD – Did you ever take bass lessons & if so, what did you learn from them? 

Jason – I went to school & all.

QRD – What would you teach someone in a bass lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a bass teacher? 

Jason – That bass playing is just a word - unless you feel it. & you got to feel it everyday.

QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style? 

Jason – Get a rabbit’s foot, have some spells cast, & pray to Donnie.

QRD – If a band has good bass work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good? 

Jason – Sure.

QRD – What famous musician’s bass would you like to own & why? 

Jason – Buell Niedlinger - who else has played bass with Cecil Taylor & Peter Allen?

QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative bass player & why? 

Jason – Sure as hell ain’t Mike or Kim Gordon. I’m impressed with Craig Keeney - he’s aggressive but caring & he’s got ears like bullfrog.

QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work? 

Jason – Wherever I’m playing.

QRD – Anything else?

Jason – I just do it for Donnie. Everything for Donnie.