with Eric Baldoni of Audios Amigos
Name: Eric Baldoni
Bands: Well this will take some time… hopefully I didn’t miss any.
Tucson AZ 1988-2006
Headcheese (Punk Weird), Cortex Bomb (Genre Hopping?), Livestock (Noise), A.P.E. (Heavy Chaotic Instrumental), Barely Bi-Pedal (Psychedelic Folk Country), Caliche Con Carne (Southwestern Country), Transceiver (Post Rock Electronic)
Portland OR, 2007-current
Colt Vista (Post Rock), Lana Rebel (Broken Promises, Moon Trekkers, Love Lasers) (Country), American Friction (Punk, Post Punk), The Fall to Pieces (Country), Audios Amigos (Surf, Latin, Country, Instrumental, Soundtrack)
Websites: http://www.audiosamigos.com, http://www.etherbomb.com (my music/audio “blog”)
QRD – What was your first bass & what happened to it?
Eric – Electra Phoenix. Stolen.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from bass to effects to amplifier?
Eric – Depends on the band… currently with Audios Amigos I am mostly playing a Fender Bass VI (or my Nash PBass). I’ve tried a few effects with it, but mostly it’s just straight. I have a Fender Bassman 135 powering a custom 2x10 cabinet built by Rocket Cabs. In my more rock & experimental years I played through all sorts of crazy effects. My main rig back then was an Ampeg SVT with 8x10, it’s really the only bass rig for rock music right? I got tired of lugging it around anymore, so I traded it to Jim Waters at Waterworks in Tucson (you can maybe still use it if you record there, he’s the best). I also have an old Kustom Tuck & Roll 2x15 (I sold it to Lana Rebel in the 90s & she played it in Last of the Juanitas)… I bought it back a few years ago, it’s beat to shit, but it’s still a pretty tough rig.
(Sometimes I use either a first generation EHX POG or more recently a Pitchfork, to cut through the high end guitarists if I need to make a point.)
SansAmp VT Bass (distortion)
SansAmp Bass Driver (boost or tone simple adjustment)
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - bass, amplifier, or effects?
Eric – I would hope it’s me.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Eric – Currently it’s a 70s Bassman 135… because all the music I play now is loosely rooted around that time period seemingly. Tube amps!
QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass?
Eric – Two very different animals for two different situations. Upright bass is a beautiful sounding instrument, but it really takes daily commitment to keep your chops & fingers in shape. I recently got an EUB (KKBass & Ampeg Baby clone) which I really love.
QRD – Do you prefer to use a pick, fingers, or a bow?
Eric – I use fingers & a pick (I’ll occasionally hold the pick in my mouth & switch mid song if I need a more percussive sound).
QRD – How many strings do you think a bass should have?
Eric – From 1-6 (the fella from Split Lip Rayfield played the hell out of a home made one string bass).
QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?
Eric – I “play” both… I’m way better at faking it on bass though.
QRD – How is a bass different than a guitar other than being lower in pitch?
Eric – It’s not (unless it’s an upright). How you use it or your role in a song is different though.
QRD – What’s your main bass & what are the features that make it such?
Eric – I have a Nash 55 Pbass that is sort of my go to for any situation, but I usually choose them based on the project & how they fit in… .
Audios Amigos - Bass VI. We play vintage surf, latin, & other instrumental music. This is an interesting guitar that I ALWAYS get questions about, because it looks like a Fender Jaguar… but it is actually a 6 string bass, it basically just has string gauge in between what you would put on a guitar & bass. It’s fun as heck to play. Sometimes I’ll play my Tacoma Thunderchief, which sounds great on our Latin material.
The Fall to Pieces - I play either a custom EUB (Clone of an Ampeg Baby Bass built by an English fella named Kris Kedzior) or I also have a newer Fender Coronado, which is easier to transport.
QRD – What do you think of the thumb rests on some basses?
Eric – No idea what that is for… too small to rest a drink on.
QRD – If you had a signature bass, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Eric – Hmm well I like the classic look of Rickenbackers… or old Fenders. I don’t need additional features beyond volume & tone.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Eric – The feature would be you click it & the sound blows everyone’s mind (just figuratively).
QRD – How many basses do you own?
Eric – Beat to shit upright in need of repair, nice Ampeg Baby Bass clone (KK Baby Bass), Fender Coronado, Warwick fretless, Tacoma Thunderchief, Nash 55 Pbass,
Musician Stingray with a blown preamp so it is no longer a bass… it makes great noise though (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxN6s4SqigE).
QRD – How & where do you store your basses?
Eric – Nice try instrument thief. They are in a giant vault in a bank basement with armed guards.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a bass?
Eric – Will she make me breakfast… I like breakfast. I usually pick the bass I fall in love with, features may vary.
QRD – How much do you think a good bass should cost?
Eric – Very open-ended question… sort of depends on what you are looking for? I’d like them to all be free for me. $500-$1000? Unless it’s custom built?
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your bass or just stick with what you get?
Eric – I had to “customize” the Fender Bass VI because the intonation was horrible. I drilled a few holes in the bridge. Generally I leave it to the pros & no I don’t usually “trick” them out.
QRD – Are you after one particular bass tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Eric – I like to have two tones… normal & loud (or distorted). I’ll also mix it up a bit by switching to a pick.
QRD – What are some basses, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Eric – I’d like to replace the Rickenbacker I had stolen in the 90s. I was recently watching some videos of kids playing “dubstep” style bass using synth pedals (& some kooky thing on your thumb you wave around), I found that rather fascinating. I’d like to try the Bass VI through a Fender Twin with a 15” speaker… or one of those pedal steel amps, Vibrosonic I think was the model?
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first bass that aren’t always there?
Eric – A sticker that says “keep trying, music will be fun & important”.
QRD – What have been the best & worst bass related purchases you’ve made?
Eric – Hmm… well I’d say it’s good to experiment with different strings. I’ve recently tried some LaBella flats that really sound great. Generally speaking buy something you love, as you’ll enjoy playing it for a very long time… or you know you can always sell it (I have a hard time with that though, it’s always sad to see them go off to the post office).
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & bass brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Eric – Fender… regardless to what you think, they pretty much invented it right? Old Fender basses & tube amps are hard to beat.
Check out custom builders & support them… they are making the most interesting stuff, & following their passions.
EHX makes interesting & fun pedals.
I use two SansAmp pedals, both are very solid & have lasted a while despite my reckless abuse.
My 2x10 custom Rocket Cabinet is GREAT, & light.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a bass?
Eric – I wish I knew.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing bass?
Eric – Early 20s.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best bass playing?
Eric – I hope not yet… it still seems like I learn new things now & again.
QRD – Do you feel bass lines should echo & emphasize guitar & drum parts or be their own distinct elements?
Eric – Both… it can do that first part & then step out to show you something new or deeper in a song.
QRD – Would you rather people hear or feel your bass?
Eric – I’d rather they feel what the drummer & I are putting together & hear the melody of the song… generally speaking.
QRD – Why do you think a bass fits you more so than other instruments?
Eric – Because I am on the larger end of the human spectrum? I also love the interaction with percussion.
QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music?
Eric – At this time, after 25 years or so of on & off bickering, it’s mostly my friend… & we still find uncharted conversation to keep it interesting.
QRD – Who are the bassists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Eric – No one bassist in particular has influenced my sound… I’ve always been influenced more by the sound of bands as a whole. Starting I suspect with the Butthole Surfers. The American hardcore scene was what was going on when I started playing, so people like Mike Watt, Kira, Chuck, Klaus Flouride… but it was more about the bands & attitude.
I started out playing music in the small but vibrant punk community of Tucson, AZ in the late 80s… We were isolated due to being far from anything… so the guys who influenced me most as I developed were other players in that scene. Here are a few bands you most likely never heard of UPS, Blood Spasm, Blink Dogs, Haus (Bryan Giles of Red Fang was in this band), The Honky Tonks, The Pork Torta, FUCT, Weird Lovemakers… & many more.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their bass is natural or silly (e.g. naming their bass)?
Eric – I usually only do that with cars, mine is named Lafawnda.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a bass & how did you do it?
Eric – I chipped the headstock of my Rickenbacker smashing it into the face of a skinhead, while attempting to stop him from flicking lit cigarettes at me. Generally unless provoked, I try not to damage them. At a recent show I was a bit overenthusiastic & I jumped up in the air, when I landed my guitar strap snapped. The leather had actually simply worn out, I caught the bass before it hit the ground fortunately.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Eric – I try to write songs. I use Ableton Live & I try to program drums & percussion a bit.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play bass & how many hours would you like to?
Eric – Not enough (8-12 hours?)… much more.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Eric – All over the map.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Eric – Usually only when they break or if I have some recording coming up… or if I get inspired to try something new.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Eric – Rarely… knock on wood.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming/bowing hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Eric – No idea, however I am a lefty who learned to play right handed (my first bass was a gift to me) if that matters… . So with that in mind I’d guess my “fretting” hand is more proficient.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Eric – Traditional… Audios Amigos as a whole tunes down to 432hrz for cosmic clarity (http://audiosamigos.com/what-is-432hz).
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Eric – I prefer recording them as I am musically illiterate… iPhone works great & as mentioned previous Ableton Live.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Eric – All of them, I’m not really sure what my bad habits are specifically… but I am sure there are plenty. Who knows though, maybe they contribute to my unique style… if I have one?
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s bass playing?
Eric – Driving a car? It’s kind of your role in the band? Pay attention, listen, react… keep it on the road.
QRD – What’s a type of bass playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Eric – Doghouse slapping. I’m terrible at all kinds of “slapping”… but I actually love the way the country guys do it.
QRD – What’s a bass goal you’ve never accomplished?
Eric – Learning the math to effortlessly play walking baselines… I’m pretty good at faking it, but I play by ear.
QRD – What’s the last bass trick you learned?
Eric – Country music taught me to listen more & play less, to appreciate the space.
QRD – Did you ever take bass lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Eric – Nope.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a bass lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a bass teacher?
Eric – To take lessons from a professional, not me… or you know, get together with some friends & just bang it out, many good things have come out of that approach. Don’t be afraid to do the opposite of what you are taught. Have accidents, have fun.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Eric – Spend 25 years playing an instrument without any traditional musical background, just lots of enthusiasm?
QRD – If a band has good bass work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Eric – No… for me it is the sum of the parts, we’re all playing a song together.
QRD – What famous musician’s bass would you like to own & why?
Eric – Bootsy Collins… I mean no one can touch that guy’s style right… If I own one of his basses it will transform me into a funky space slap pioneer won’t it?
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative bass player & why?
Eric – As you might have guessed at this stage in the interview, I’m not much of a bass gear techie. The last bit of “bass” playing I was really captivated by was the band Do Make Say Think. They were writing some really interesting post rock type songs that seemed structured around or influenced by really thoughtful bass lines. I love the guitarist from Melt Banana, his complete reckless approach to playing his instrument is refreshing to me. I like the playing of Pascal Humbert (16 Horsepower, Lilium, Woven Hand) quite a bit, he has a very nice feel for what/where the bass should be in a song.
QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work?
Eric – Right now with Audios Amigos… in the past with any of the other projects, I always try to do my best.
QRD – Anything else?
Eric – Nope, I’m off to rehearsal.