with Channing Azure
Photos by Ashley N Warren Photography, www.ashnwarrenphotography.comName: Channing Azure
Bands: Alpha Cop, Static is a City
QRD – What was your first bass & what happened to it?
Channing – My first bass was a really junky Lyon (by Washburn). I think I tried to take the frets out & then it was basically junk & was probably thrown away or given to a friend.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from bass to effects to amplifier?
Channing – Typical setup goes from an American Standard Jazz Bass to my pedalboard to my Orange AD 200B. Pedalboard flow is Boss TU-3 Tuner, MXR Bass Fuzz Deluxe, MXR Phase 100.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - bass, amplifier, or effects?
Channing – I would like to say that they are all equal; but if I had to pick one, everything starts at the bass.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Channing – I’ve been using an Orange AD200B for a few years now. It’s amazing & I love it.
QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass?
Channing – I’m much better at electric.
QRD – Do you prefer to use a pick, fingers, or a bow?
Channing – I’m definitely a pick guy.
QRD – How many strings do you think a bass should have?
Channing – As many as you like is fine. I prefer four strings. It just feels right to me. However, I recently bought a Gretsch Jet Baritone that I love to play. It’s basically Gretsch’s Bass VI. So, I do like a good six string bass too.
QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?
Channing – Mostly because bass feels right. It’s easier for me to express myself on bass than any other instrument. More natural. I have picked up guitar recently. I’ve been taking some lessons for the past year & a half or so.
QRD – How is a bass different than a guitar other than being lower in pitch?
Channing – It serves a slightly different function in the band. You also don’t feel a guitar the same way you feel a bass. Few things are better than standing in front of a huge bass amp feeling your clothes shaking.
QRD – What’s your main bass & what are the features that make it such?
Channing – My main bass is a Fender American Standard Jazz Bass that I bought in 2001 or 2002. It’s so comfortable. Like an extension of your hands. It’s always in tune.
QRD – What do you think of the thumb rests on some basses?
Channing – Never had one, but I can’t imagine it’s all that useful for someone like me. They look sort of cool though. Probably not enough to leave it on the bass.
QRD – If you had a signature bass, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Channing – It would either be basically the same as my main bass or it would be a double neck bass with a four string neck & a short scale six string bass neck.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Channing – Something like a sub octave fuzz pedal would be amazing. If it could sound like Chris Squire’s Taurus Bass Pedal on all those old Yes albums, that would be perfect.
QRD – How many basses do you own?
Channing – Four that work, three more that need restoration, & my wife has a five string that I occasionally play.
QRD – How & where do you store your basses?
Channing – In stands or cases all over the house.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a bass?
Channing – At this point I just want more Jazz Basses. Ha. That could change at some point, but probably not.
QRD – How much do you think a good bass should cost?
Channing – As much as you want to spend. For me, I’d like to not spend more than $1000 the next time I buy a bass, but I don’t really see that happening.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your bass or just stick with what you get?
Channing – I basically leave it. I don’t know enough about all the options that are out there & I don’t have enough money to try a lot of things. I did swap out the antique white pick guard on my bass to a three-ply black pick guard.
QRD – Are you after one particular bass tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Channing – My ideal tone is a lot like a lot of the old prog rock bass tones. John Wetton. Chris Squire. Those are the two big ones. I do not like to change my tone. I am not a knob tweaker.
QRD – What are some basses, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Channing – Gretsch has a double neck guitar/baritone guitar that I would really like. I would love an American Deluxe Jazz Bass. I really want another AD 200B head & a Thunderverb 200 head; like I said, I really love Orange Amps. Pedals, way too many to name; but a few are the Factotum by Red Witch, the Hail Satan Deluxe by Abominable Electronics, & Blackarts Toneworks has some pedals that I want to look in to.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first bass that aren’t always there?
Channing – Good tuners, decent fret work.
QRD – What have been the best & worst bass related purchases you’ve made?
Channing – Best purchase was my Jazz Bass. Worst purchase was probably a Dean six string bass that I briefly owned.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & bass brands you particularly like?
Channing – Fender, Orange, MXR, Abominable Electronics.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a bass?
Channing – There are few things, “Quarantined” by At the Drive-In, “Master of Puppets” by Metallica, & “To Defy the Laws of Tradition” by Primus.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing bass?
Channing – 12?
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best bass playing?
Channing – I was around 25 I guess. I had a brief time in college where I mostly played upright bass & didn’t really progress on electric bass.
QRD – Do you feel bass lines should echo & emphasize guitar & drum parts or be their own distinct elements?
Channing – I think it depends on the song & the band. I generally do not excel at laying low. I like to be right in the front with bass lines that sort of set the structure of the song that the other instruments can play off of.
QRD – Would you rather people hear or feel your bass?
Channing – I had a friend tell me that there was so much low end at our last show that he felt physically ill. So ideally it would be something like that, but just a little bit less.
QRD – Why do you think a bass fits you more so than other instruments?
Channing – Not a clue. I wish I knew.
QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music?
Channing – Ha. Sometimes both. On our best days it is my ally. We do have our fights though.
QRD – Who are the bassists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Channing – Les Claypool was the first. Cliff Burton, Chris Squire, John Wetton, Geddy Lee.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their bass is natural or silly (e.g. naming their bass)?
Channing – Well, maybe a little of both. We do spend a lot of time touching these objects. But they are inanimate objects.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a bass & how did you do it?
Channing – I briefly had a BC Rich Warlock bass with a Widow headstock. I was playing in public with it for the first time & the guitarist of the band I was playing in jumped off the stage as I was swinging my bass upwards. They collided. His guitar had a large chunk taken out of it & the headstock of the bass broke in two.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Channing – Listening mostly.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play bass & how many hours would you like to?
Channing – Probably between 2 & 6.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Channing – I use a D’addario 45-130 Five String set & I throw away the E string. See below for the reason.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Channing – Not often enough. Probably once or twice a year.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Channing – Also, not very often. The last time I broke a string was November 2012.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming/bowing hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Channing – They definitely work together. I like to do weird strumming/picking patterns that correspond to moving & static notes being fretted.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Channing – My main bass is tuned to Robert Fripp’s new standard tuning. I heard about an upright bass player using fifths tuning while I was in college & decided to try it. I then began to use it on electric bass & discovered the guitar craft new standard tuning. It is low to high C-G-D-A. It gives me a really good mix of chords & melody that I love to use.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Channing – I usually get out my phone & make a voice memo. I almost never write things down unless I am trying to figure something out.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Channing – I don’t count very often. I generally just go by feel. Usually it works out well.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s bass playing?
Channing – Guitar. Learning chord structure & scales on guitar has helped both my ear & my playing.
QRD – What’s a type of bass playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Channing – I don’t think it’s all that useful, but I would love to be able to just destroy the bass like John Myung & those modern prog rock dudes.
QRD – What’s a bass goal you’ve never accomplished?
Channing – I still don’t have Moog Taurus Pedals.
QRD – What’s the last bass trick you learned?
Channing – It seems really dumb & basic, but I just recently started to bend notes on the bass.
QRD – Did you ever take bass lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Channing – I did for a month or less. I learned next to nothing. I was a horrible student though.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Channing – Tune in fifths.
QRD – If a band has good bass work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Channing – Sometimes. Not usually though.
QRD – What famous musician’s bass would you like to own & why?
Channing – Chris Squire had a triple neck bass that looks really ridiculous.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative bass player & why?
Channing – Juan Alderete is really amazing. He is always looking for the next pedal to use & coming up with really cool melodic bass lines that manage to support the other instruments & stand out on their own at the same time.
QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work?
Channing – Check out my band Alpha Cop. We have all of our records on our Bandcamp for free. alphacop.bandcamp.com
QRD – Anything else?
Channing – Nope.