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Bassist Interview with Jason Ajemian
Name: Jason Ajemian
Bands: JA & the HighLife, Who Cares How Long You Sink, Daydream Full Lifestyles, Sun Ship, Day in Pictures
Listen to “Soak Up the Sun”
QRD – What was your first bass & what happened to it?
Jason – It was an Acme. I had it for 3 or 4 years. & then I lost it in a match of Split the Kipper.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from bass to effects to amplifier?
Jason – Run it in there.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – bass, amplifier, or effects?
Jason – I am the most important part.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Jason – I like a Peavey basic 60 with a 1970 Peavey 300 head - it really lets me feel it.
QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass?
Jason – Depends on my biorhythms at the moment.
QRD – Do you prefer to use a pick, fingers, or a bow?
Jason – Pick, fingers, bow, mallets, & a gar jaw when I need the extra grit.
QRD – How many strings do you think a bass should have?
Jason – 4. But I can do it with just one or none.
QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?
Jason – Donnie told me to.
QRD – How is a bass different than a guitar other than being lower in pitch?
Jason – Often two fewer strings. Storage issues. Not as great of an ego source.
QRD – What’s your main bass & what are the features that make it such?
Jason – It’s a Fendt. We just work together - a symbiosis - we benefit each other.
QRD – What do you think of the thumb rests on some basses?
Jason – Thumb rests are for suckers. My thumb never rests - too busy working it.
QRD – If you had a signature bass, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Jason – I’m thinking something with flames. Solid. Maybe a mount for a 5.5 outboard.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Jason – I’m not sure if I would like that kind of responsibility. Maybe just a basic sampler, distortion, delay, & some sort of mellowtron effect creator.
QRD – How many basses do you own?
Jason – 1.
QRD – How & where do you store your basses?
Jason – In the case. In the white whale.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a bass?
Jason – Does it work?
QRD – How much do you think a good bass should cost?
Jason – Free.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your bass or just stick with what you get?
Jason – Try to keep it alive.
QRD – Are you after one particular bass tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Jason – Mix it up depending on the group/setting/situation.
QRD – What are some basses, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Jason – None. They lust after me.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first bass that aren’t always there?
Jason – Discipline & freedom.
QRD – What have been the best & worst bass related purchases you’ve made?
Jason – I bought a Stuart Hamm video once - ridiculous. The hard case though -magnificence.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & bass brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Jason – I like the Peavey amps. My uncle lives in Meridian, Mississippi & is a security guard at the factory. Peavey has been good to the family on many levels.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a bass?
Jason – I like to warm up with an energy exchange for about 10 minutes minimum. Then often slide into Larry Grahaham’s “Just Be My Lady.”
QRD – How old were you when you started playing bass?
Jason – 6.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best bass playing?
Jason – Some time in the future.
QRD – Do you feel bass lines should echo & emphasize guitar & drum parts or be their own distinct elements?
Jason – Sometimes.
QRD – Would you rather people hear or feel your bass?
Jason – Feel it.
QRD – Why do you think a bass fits you more so than other instruments?
Jason – Because I like getting low.
QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music?
Jason – I don’t mean to get Jarreau on you, but “We’re in this love together.”
QRD – Who are the bassists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Jason – Mingus, Glen Connick-Paris era, Uncle Mike.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their bass is natural or silly (e.g. naming their bass)?
Jason – Depends on the bass. But yes - great idea.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a bass & how did you do it?
Jason – Shot a hole in it. I had a really bad fever & was hallucinating that the bass was trying to kill me. So I grabbed this snubnose .38 & let it have it.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Jason – Getting down with the bonus, stretching, mind power, avoiding nerds.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play bass & how many hours would you like to?
Jason – 12 to 14 seems to work.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Jason – I go heavy.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Jason – Whenever I can afford it/need to.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Jason – Not so much these days.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming/bowing hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Jason – I think my laying all over it is the most proficient.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Jason – I like tuning to F. it all goes back to Philosophical Logic formulas.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Jason – Autocad drawings.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Jason – Buying when I should be selling & thinking that there may be tiny people living under my fingernails. An obsession of sorts.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s bass playing?
Jason – The penny whistle helped me a lot.
QRD – What’s a type of bass playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Jason – Well, I’m glad I never tried to play like that guy from Primus - that’s for the squares.
QRD – What’s a bass goal you’ve never accomplished?
Jason – Gucci linen lemonades.
QRD – What’s the last bass trick you learned?
Jason – Buy working a D flat into a constant drone alligators can be pushed over the edge.
QRD – Did you ever take bass lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Jason – I went to school & all.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a bass lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a bass teacher?
Jason – That bass playing is just a word - unless you feel it. & you got to feel it everyday.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Jason – Get a rabbit’s foot, have some spells cast, & pray to Donnie.
QRD – If a band has good bass work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Jason – Sure.
QRD – What famous musician’s bass would you like to own & why?
Jason – Buell Niedlinger - who else has played bass with Cecil Taylor & Peter Allen?
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative bass player & why?
Jason – Sure as hell ain’t Mike or Kim Gordon. I’m impressed with Craig Keeney - he’s aggressive but caring & he’s got ears like bullfrog.
QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work?
Jason – Wherever I’m playing.
QRD – Anything else?
Jason – I just do it for Donnie. Everything for Donnie.