Feed Your Head: Inside the Mind of Pete

Pete says: 

So what is it? What are we doing? Where are we going? We've all got so many questions and no many answers in sight. At least not the ones we want to hear. 

Over the years life’s little curve balls can take their toll that's for sure. The defining decisions you'll have to face that can make or break you. The passion and desire that motivates and drives can sometimes feel like a burden and be discouraging. Do you always push for more or occasionally settle for what is given to you? It’s easy to end up in that grey area and feel no solution in sight. The question is how to get out of it. All of our ideas will differ. Things that seem so close can still be so far from your grasp and yet something else is right in front of you and you'll pass right by it. Most would probably think watching life pass you by is a waste. Go out and grab it, take what's yours. Live every day like it’s your last. We've all heard the clichés, but do we all have that inner strength to live with such drive day after day? When do you know enough is enough and it’s time to move on?

Just some of life's random thoughts and questions that rattle around in my head. 

Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong

Billy says:

Here's a quick list of six bassists that influenced me over the years.

Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver)

McKagan is most known for his tenure with Guns N' Roses from 1985 to 1997. His bass abilities featured on the band's debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was a major influence in my bass playing. One of the reasons is due to how the album was mixed because the bass is very audible and is the central backbone on all the songs. 

But a big resonance of his influence is McKagan's usage of thirds/fifths/octaves for bass fills; a song like Sweet Child O' Mine showcases his classic bass playing. A song like that, besides the very cool bass intro and being a guitar-centric song, is a good tune to learn basics from. Also a song like Rocket Queen displays McKagan's groove with drummer Steven Adler, which is partly based on older R&B songs that the two would listen too throughout the 1980's.

Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave)

One of the major reasons why I love Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave is the excellent rhythm section by bassist Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk, in which Commerford is central to that emulsion. Such songs like Bombtrack and Wake Up from Rage's self-titled album are a testament to that fact. A lot of easy bass basics can be learned from that particular album and the difficulty can range from easy to somewhat difficult. More complex rhythm movements are featured on Bombtrack or Freedom while more traditional and easier basics are featured on Bullet in the Head and Know Your Enemy (all featured on their self-titled album). 

Commerford's slapping abilities were showcased in the song Take the Power Back and somewhat in Know Your Enemy but after the band's self-titled album, Commerford stopped slapping because he didn't want the band to (in his own words), "sound like another Chili Peppers clone band." In addition, Commerford is known for manufacturing his own effects pedals, such as the verses in Calm Like a Bomb (which has a cool bass intro) and Township Rebellion.

Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Flea is synonymous with bass playing and he's very famous for his slap abilities. I only slap on very limited instances with Chaser Eight and the Chili Peppers' album Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the album that had the strongest resonance with me. On that album, Flea totally changed his bass playing approach and focused on "less is more". 

While he still slapped, it was only in limited moments on certain songs and he focused more on rhythm, tone, emotion and feeling. From that particular album, songs like Mellowship Slinky, Apache Rose Peacock and If You Have to Ask showcase Flea's stripped down playing yet still maintaining a hard line groove and feeling. Other songs like Emit Remmus (Californication) and Animal Bar (Stadium Arcadium) are other good and notable bass lines.

Various 1990's era punk-rock bands including Mike Dirnt (Green Day), Greg K. (The Offspring) and Mark Hoppus (blink 182)

As I began playing bass through the late 1990's, it's very natural to play to songs by bands you were listening too at the time. For me, it was punk-rock and I thought learning songs via that genre was essential because songs were structured easier plus you can learn the basics very quickly. Dirnt's bass playing has evolved over the years with Green Day and it was after their 2000 album Warning where his style changed to a more stripped-down rhythm. The first song I learned on bass was by The Offspring (All I Want from their 1997 album Ixnay on the Hombre). Including blink 182 and The Offspring, the two bands' styles through the 1990's were very easy to pick up on bass and to learn the fundamentals.

Are You There Guitar? It’s Me, Aaron

Aaron says:

I’m always searching for things to inspire me. Whether it be a new way of thinking or a new way to do something, I’m constantly searching. In this recent case though, I found a new inspiration in an old guitar I have been separated from for years. And I literally mean years. I think it has been about seven or so by my count. It’s a simple guitar, an old Alvarez acoustic. I bought it brand new for only a few hundred bucks or so, but it was one of the best guitars I’ve owned in my years as a musician. Now, I've been playing guitar since I was 12 and I’m…well I’m not going get into that, but it’s been a while. Anyways, this was a guitar that traveled with me from solo jams on the couch to weekend excursions in the Berkshires, but one of the more frequent places to play was my buddy Lucky’s house. Yup! That’s right his name is Lucky and it’s not even a nickname! It’s Lucky!

So, after countless jams over a few beers at his house or after beers at the bar with the numerous different characters/musicians that would find themselves there, we had a great idea to leave my old friend at his place. The deal was I would take his mandolin in trade for the while my Alvarez would have a new home. At that time, I’m sure I had more than one guitar and I knew a mandolin would be a cool instrument to learn. Mandolins are tuned in fifths, the same tuning as violins, and I thought that we be interesting to know how to play. Good trade, right? Wrong. It did not work out to be as great as I thought and I was down one favorite guitar. As time went on, the jam sessions faded as did the appeal of playing the mandolin. I didn't see Lucky as much and the mandolin didn't see the light of day out of its coffin like case and into my hands. And as life tends to happen, circumstances change forcing us to move on, figuratively and literally. What I’m trying to say is Lucky and I lost touch for years shortly after that and I was left only to think back fondly about my old friend.

However, in sake of not making a long story longer, we ended up finding one another again over the last year! We would always make plans to trade back our long lost instruments, but somehow still I was still down one favorite guitar. Then, this past Tuesday, that all changed. We finally met up and made the trade: I got my Alvarez back (Woohoo!). And this takes me full circle to the whole point of this post. I love playing guitar and, more often than not, I find a good, well-crafted instrument that feels good and sounds good inspires me to play more! I’m talking about getting lost in the moment as time is only relative to the tempo of the beat and the strums. I mean sitting down for an hour just strumming and picking away to whatever flows out of my fingers. So now that I've just restrung my long lost love, I plan to be inspired daily and just get lost in the time with my old friend. This is something so simple that inspires me. I hope you can find something simple to inspire you. And if you can’t, you may want to try and find a new paradigm, then search again.

So, search on my friends! Be inspired!