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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
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 Monte Allen of Rollerball & Moodring
October 2010

Name: Monte Trent Allen
Bands: Rollerball, Moodring
Websites: http://www.silbermedia.com/moodring, http://www.silbermedia.com/rollerball
Listen to Moodring “Into the Doom”
Listen to Rollerball “Girls Hugging Trees”
Listen to Rollerball “Chi Town Cub”
Listen to Rollerball “Erzulie”

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

Monte – Fender Mustang; it was a loan, so I gave it back & bought an Ibanez 5 string. 

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

Monte – Bass, Orange Squeezer copy that Jesse Stevens made for me, Moog Ring Modulator, Boss Delay, Boss Bass Overdrive, DOD Envelope Filter, MXR Direct Box, amp. Sometimes throw in a Big Muff & a Digitech Delay/Chorus. 

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

Monte – The bass because it is the source of the sound. 

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why? 

Monte – Ampeg B2RE, it is solid state & has been really low maintenance & durable. 

QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass? 

Monte – Electric works for me. 

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

Monte – Pick & fingers/thumb. 

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

Monte – I like 4 strings because it is more simple/primal, but 5 or 8 might be fun. 

QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?

Monte – I started out playing guitar poorly & when I was ready to play in bands, it seemed as if there were a million guitar players & just a few drummers or bass players. So I switched to bass. 

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

Monte – The bass is more of a drum. The guitar is better for playing chords & bending the strings. Cake & frosting. 

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

Monte – Someone built my bass. It is neck through body, all of the hardware is brass. Bartolini non-active pickups & an extended scale ebony neck. I love it. 

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

Monte – I like it on the P-style bass. It could help in keeping a consistent sound with your fingers.

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

Monte – Long scale, not active, brass hardware, ebony fret board, XLR instead of 1/4 inch jack.

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

Monte – It would be a really small multi-fx with one knob & one button that did everything. I was going to say an envelope filter that has more options, but Electoharmonix solved that with the Enigma Q Balls. 

QRD – How many basses do you own? 

Monte – Two.

QRD – How & where do you store your basses? 

Monte – On stands.

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

Monte – No dead spots, no plastic tuning pegs. No orange. No purple. No pink. No active pickups. It should be made of solid wood, not particleboard.  

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

Monte – $500, of course we could spend a lot more if we got it. 

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

Monte – If it needs it. I always think the hip shot is a good upgrade. A low D is a good thing.

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

Monte – I would like to have a classic sound, but it really is dependent on the music. The bass needs to blend in, so whatever it takes. 

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

Monte – I like all the Moog pedals. Everyone should have an Ampeg SVT. My Whammy Pedal burnt up in Glasgow; it would be great to get another one. Someday, I will own a 60s Fender Jazz or P-bass. I like almost any pedal. 

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

Monte – Maybe a built in tuner. Full scale. No baby necks. Playability. It needs to stay in tune. If you play standing up, it should be somewhat balanced. 

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

Monte – One time Rollerball was on tour & I got a hold of a Peavey fretless. It had not one, but two 9 volts. I grew up in a town with one music store & they were big into Peavey, so I had a lot of Peavey stuff & had good luck with it. This bass was a poorly built piece of shit. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. That thing blew up speakers weekly. Now I hate active instruments. That fucking thing was $699 & that was after I talked them down. (It was marked at $1000.) I sold it for 85 bucks. Peavey is a joke. Oh well, I don’t need a fretless anyway. Danelectro pedals do not last because the jacks are plastic. My bass was the best purchase. Mae found it for $400 used with plastic strings. The neck was like new & it was 20 years old. That was a good day. 

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

Monte – I like Ampeg & Moog. Those red Crate amps are horrible obviously. Hartke is kind of wimpy for the money. 

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

Monte – An A chord. 

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

Monte – 19, guitar at 12.

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

Monte – I am still working on that. I am ready for a break through moment any time now. 

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

Monte – Mike Watt is one of my favorite bass players because he can do both of these things at the same time. 

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

Monte – Feeling is better.

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

Monte – I have dedicated a lot of my life to playing bass. It is a big part of what I am. 

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

Monte – Ally. 

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

Monte – Rob Kohler is a genius. Boyd Anderson is out of control. Ben Wright turns my world upside-down. Keith Brush has the work ethic. Matteo Bennici is a fucking animal. & on & on. Squarepusher takes it to another level. I love that guy in The Liars. 

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

Monte – One man’s wrong is another man’s right, but I think that I will leave the cheesy stuff like that for guitar players & Nascar drivers. 

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

Monte – Miss Massive Snowflake had a party at Northpole Records (true story I swear), Moodring was playing & I was a wreck. I surfed on my bass until the pick up fell out. Chopped a wood chair in half with it until my cable broke, & woke up the next day feeling pretty stupid. Jesse fixed it for me & I will never do that shit again. Hopefully. 

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

Monte – String skipping, chord theory.

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

Monte – About 12 or 15 hours a week. Maybe more during football season.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why? 

Monte – 40 to 105. DR is the brand. Handmade. Really great strings.

QRD – How often do you change strings? 

Monte – Not very often, maybe every six months.

QRD – How often do you break strings? 

Monte – Occasionally, but not as much as I used to. It helps to play with the amp loud & a light touch. My man Randall Dunn (Aleph Studio) taught me that.

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

Monte – My fretting hand is weak, so I keep it simple. 

QRD – What tunings do you use & why? 

Monte – Standard, I don’t have any extra instruments or I would use a lot of tunings. 

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

Monte – Tab, I wish I could read sheet music. I like to record my ideas because it is the feel that I am more interested in than the notes. 

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

Monte – Unwanted string ring. Is being tone deaf a habit?

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

Monte – Drums or piano. I am a big fan of cross training; playing music is always good for you.

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

Monte – Be-bop, walking bass lines at high bpm. 

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

Monte – Having a really good tone. 

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

Monte – Tapping harmonics or right hand slide. 

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

Monte – I did. Rob Kohler changed my life. He taught me how to listen. We worked a lot on improvisation & drinking coffee. He also turned me on to so much good music. “Music is Music is music is music” That is what Mr. Kohler would tell you.

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

Monte – I am not a teacher I am a player. Just play what’s in your head. 

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

Monte – Smoke about 10,000 bong loads & wash those down with a bottomless cup of coffee.

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

Monte – If the bass & drums sound good, I am a pretty forgiving listener. Unless the frontman is trying really hard. That for me is the big turn off.

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

Monte – James Jamerson. Yeah. Motown. Jaco’s Fender would also be sweet. 

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

Monte – Tom Jenkins (Squarepusher).

QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work? 

Monte – Moodring Scared of Ferret on Silber Records.

Other QRD interviews with Monte Trent Allen:
Couples Interview with Mae & Monte of Rollerball (February 2008)
Rollerball interview (july 2004)