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QRD #74
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
about this issue
Featured Band Interview:
Bass Player Interviews:
Tony Zanella of  +/-
Channing Azure of Alpha Cop
Eric Baldoni of Colt Vista
Jeanne Kennedy Crosby
Rob Kohler
Derek M. Poteat
Guitarist interviews:
Campbell Kneale
Antony Milton of PseudoArcana
Nevada Hill of Bludded Head
Malcolm Brickhouse
Chvad SB
Scott Endres of Make
Label Owner Interviews:
Russian Winter Records
Moving Furniture
Basses Frequences
Saxwand Records
Comic Creator Interviews:
Richard Van Ingram
Tyler Sowles
JB Sapienza
Troy Vevasis
Victor Couwenbergh
Terry Hooper
Travis Hymel
Robert Hendricks
Dirk Manning
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Silber Records
Silber Button Factory
Silber Kickstarter
Jeanne Kennedy Crosby
Jeanne Kennedy Crosby
Jeanne Kennedy Crosby
Bass Player Interview with Jeanne Kennedy Crosby of Miss Massive Snowflake
July 2015
Jeanne Kennedy Crosby
Name: Jeanne Kennedy Crosby
Bands: Miss Massive Snowflake
Websites: http://missmassivesnowflake.com

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

Jeanne – A Samick jazz bass I got in 1995 for Christmas from my at the time boyfriend. He knew I really wanted a bass, so it was the best Christmas present ever. I still have it. I keep it at my parents’ house in South Carolina so when I visit them (I live in Portland, OR) I can practice. For a cheap little bass it’s nice, the neck is great. I had it set up at a good shop & it’s got Thomastik flatwounds on it, like all my basses.

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

Jeanne – Bass. I love the way my basses feel, so they’re fun to play.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Jeanne – I just recently got a Hovercraft Custom 200 Watt Elder Giant Tube Amp. It’s got a great overdrive sound option switch with wonderful sustain, but it also has a clean tone sound. I have two matching (metallic green Tolex) cabinets made over for it, one 18 inch reflex cabinet made with an old Acoustic 361 shell refurbished & as a smaller option, my old 15” Ampeg cabinet restored to match the head. They look beautiful on stage & the tone is what I’ve always wanted.

QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass?

Jeanne – I only play electric, but I will happily listen to a great upright player any day.

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

Jeanne – Fingers only, it never was required for me to use a pick for any gig or I guess I would try that. I’ve played guitar mostly with a pick.

QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?

Jeanne – Low tones, big sound waves, the vibration you feel standing in front of a bass speaker. I love guitar & I played guitar for years. I’d like to pick it up again, still looking for a guitar that I want to play. Bass is obviously less challenging in the beginning because it has four strings. I always thought guitar was pretty hard, but maybe I should have practiced more. I also like the place of a bassist that is generally not in front. I’m a little shy as a performer, so it was good fit for me right away. Playing bass has made me a much better musician because as soon as I got a bass I was ready to join a band & then I started playing a lot. It helped my confidence & self-consciousness. I don’t know if I’d be a performer now if I had tried to just find my place as a guitarist. Now I feel like I could go back to guitar & be more confident. As a bassist you get to enjoy someone else shredding guitar for you on the bandstand. My bandmate Shane delights me on a regular basis with his guitar playing & performance style. There’s one tune we do live, “Burn Baby Burn”, where he gets on his knees in front of me like I’m his muse bitch-goddess & he rocks out; it’s hilarious, goofy, & also touching because we’re such good friends. Somebody has to play bass, why not me?

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

Jeanne – The role as a rhythm instrument is more foundational. It’s the roots. You have to ground all that flighty treble-y stuff. I like listening to bassists who have solid rhythm, but also play melody & have a lot of expression on the instrument.

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

Jeanne – My 1971 Fender Jazz Bass is my main bass. It plays so great; you can feel the wood vibrating even when it’s not plugged in. It’s been played a lot, I’ve had it now 11 years & I’m the third or fourth owner & there’s a somewhat substantiated rumor that Stanley Clarke owned it originally. It’s not too heavy, it always feels great, & sounds like perfection with the new Hovercraft.

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

Jeanne – Why are they there? Only my first bass had that, brand new from the music store, I took it off right away because someone else told me to.

QRD – How many basses do you own?

Jeanne – Three! The old Fender Jazz, the Samick Jazz, & I also have a 1975 Fender Musicmaster. Also a sweet player, I had it modified a bit, Villex pickup, new bridge.

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

Jeanne – I don’t want to put it down. When I bought my Fender Jazz I knew immediately it was for me. It wasn’t for sale when I first saw it, it was in a guitar shop getting appraised or worked on or something, hanging on the wall behind the counter, the dealer/shop owner said that he thought maybe it would be going up for sale. He called me very soon after & said it was for sale; he gave me first dibs on it. I had some money to get a nice bass because I sold a vintage guitar that I’d had for a while for $1,400 specifically to get a nice bass & this bass was priced at $1,495.

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

Jeanne – I don’t know, the ones I tend to want are at least some hundreds of dollars; I paid $500 for the ‘75 Musicmaster. I like vintage basses & vintage instruments in general that have been played & the wood has already conducted a lot of sound. Loosened up. Instruments should be free for people who will play them well & often. I’m a music gear socialist. Musicians need subsidies. Playing music doesn’t pay well in the underground/jazz/anti-commercial art world where I like to hang out. I’ve heard people do amazing things literally with garbage.

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

Jeanne – I had a good run with the new amplifier with the knobs all just set the same for every song. Overdrive, baby. We just toured & did 18 shows on the west coast all in bass overdrive. Lots of good comments on the tone.

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

Jeanne – It feels good to not want anything right now.

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

Jeanne – Flatwound strings & low action set-up worked for me. My first bass teacher, Glen Moore, directed me that way. When I get a new bass it goes right into the shop. A good set-up is so valuable. It can make a cheap, made in China bass feel & sound perfectly adequate for a beginner to get hooked.

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

Jeanne – Usually some run in E, but I’m trying to get a new habit & start with Eb, then work my way down to E.

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

Jeanne – I started playing bass in my early thirties. I started playing guitar when I was twenty.

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

Jeanne – Both! Playing with Shane has really helped me hear bass as a compliment & response to his guitar lines. I get to take bass solos in this rock band too. The three-piece ensemble has always been my favorite for this freedom of expression.

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

Jeanne – I’ve gotten into learning some jazz chords on piano & singing standards. I like to just mess around on bass & find cool sounds & chord tones. I listen to Carol Kaye’s bass lessons on CD, they’re so good. Carol Kaye is my virtual bass teacher. I’ve had a lot of in-person lessons too.

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

Jeanne – Two or three hours a week is what’s happening right now. Between 10-20 would be awesome. Like when I’m on tour with Miss Massive Snowflake. Lots of band playing & performing on tour, but ideally I’d love to also practice an hour or two every day by myself also.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Jeanne – The Fender Jazz just had its strings changed for the first time in 11 years.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Jeanne – I’ve never broken a bass string.

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

Jeanne – My right hand is maybe the stronger of the two, it still needs the most practice to play fast. I’ve had to work on that.

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

Jeanne – Mechanical stuff. Keeping my left wrist too flexed, not having my thumb behind what I’m playing, stuff like that. Glen Moore is super into good bass biomechanics & being relaxed when you play, so I got a lot of good form from his lessons. Sometimes my elbows hurt when I start playing a lot, but it goes away as I get stronger. Also, just not being disciplined enough to keep regular practice & creative schedules.

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

Jeanne – Piano I think. I make up bass lines on my keyboard.

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

Jeanne – I’ve had great teachers, & I always say I’ve disappointed all of them! Not totally, but I never was the most disciplined practicer. Since I started playing bass it’s always been jazz musicians for my sporadic music lessons. The first time I heard Glen Moore I knew I found some jazz that I liked, which many people never do, & I saw him advertise for students a year or two later. He is so cool. He taught me a lot about good form & dexterity, he gave me some effective warm ups, he turned me on to Bill Evans & many great tunes, he got me listening to more jazz & more jazz bass, he showed me the value & intense beauty of simple, fat open string notes & playing in the low register, joyfulness in bass playing, I love that guy. I’ve also learned a lot from Don Corey, my friend Brian Healy who plays in great Brazilian combos, & I’ve had lessons recently from Dave Bones, who plays… jazz trombone! He’s so great, he helped my understanding of theory & I’ve had to work on reading Real Book charts, always worthwhile even though I still suck at it. Being able to read music is like being let into a secret world.

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

Jeanne – I am always rooting for all bands & musicians who are not mean jerks. A good bassist will hold my attention though & maybe they are helping the other musicians learn & get better? I think a lot of times in bands & combos musicians will rise to meet the level of the better players. Jazz has a good legacy, at least here in Portland, of being a teaching & learning genre. There’s seriously nice musicians here too in all types of music. Portland has very supportive & friendly music community.

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

Jeanne – I think I own one of Stanley Clarke’s old basses! He probably hardly played it. I heard it was possibly used in a recording session with Chick Corea.
Jeanne Kennedy Crosby

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

Jeanne – I always love what Mike Watt is doing; his artistry on bass, amazing tone & always doing something new, collaborating with people he meets touring around the world, signature punk rock & jazz style. His combo with two Italian musicians Il Sogno Del Marinaio was the last time I saw him live recently & it’s always worth going out to hear him.

QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work?

Jeanne – We have a new release we’re working on for this year 2015 I think, or maybe early next year, I think it sounds great, good songs to work with, also the 2014 Miss Massive Snowflake release So Sweet. http://missmassivesnowflake.com/album/so-sweet The 2012 release Like a Book has some rockers on there too http://missmassivesnowflake.com/album/like-a-book.