This is another video where I see if I can still play one of my old riffs. In 2009 I joined a very loud rock band called Small Machine, and I played the bass. I heard them on MySpace and I became a massive fan, so it was really exciting to get the chance to join the band.
In the video I play along with a Small Machine song called “Repeat”. Now actually the whole bassline for this song was already written when I joined the band. So it’s really Rob’s riff, but I always liked playing it and I think it’s a great melodic bassline which works in conjunction with the drumming to provide a really interesting foundation for the guitars and vocals.
Repeat was one of the original songs I first heard back from their first demo when I was just a fan of the group, and back then they were just a duo. But this version is from 2010 after Sam our singer and rhythm guitarist and I joined, so this has new guitar parts, new vocals, and my version of Rob’s original bassline.
I’m playing my Dean Evo XM bass. This is a 30″ short-scale bass which I modified by adding an active tone circuit called a Stinger, which you’d be right in guessing is a clone of the circuit found in a well-known bass from the 70’s. I used to play a 34″ long scale Westone Superheadless bass for much of my time in Small Machine, but I ended up getting tendonitis in my left arm from the very vigorous basslines I used to play, combined with the intense rehearsals we did and the many gigs we played. So getting a smaller bass where I didn’t have to stretch my arm out so far really helped me out.
The amp is a 200 watt Peavey Mark III 400 series from the late 70’s. It is actually my brother’s amp, but he left it behind years ago when he moved to another country, and I’ve kept it alive in the intervening years. It’s going into two Fender bass cabinets, a 2×10 and a 1×15. This was the amplification rig I used in Small Machine and those 200 watts were handy as I had to keep up sonically with two Marshall half-stacks and a drummer with a foot like a traction engine.
But, you don’t hear the whole rig in the video, as I recorded it using the line output which is that yellow lead coming out of the front panel. That’s going into my trusty and dusty old DAW which is capturing everything in Audacity.
As with the Vehicle Derek track I panned my bass playing to one side and the band to the other for a bit of separation. This sounds best on nice headphones or decent speakers, and it might struggle to come across on a phone with just a single tiny speaker. But – I have no idea where or how you are listening so just let it roll and see what you think.
I know it’s not perfect, but it’s not bad for something I haven’t really played in over a decade. As I rehearsed it I was surprised which parts seemed to be in my muscle-memory without even thinking about them, and which parts I needed to really transcribe and teach myself again from listening to the song. It’s a tough bassline to follow sometimes as it’s a far cry from 8th notes following the root of the chords – instead literally every note in each phrase is used in different melodic and rhythmic combinations according to which part of the song we’re playing.
I had a lot of fun playing in Small Machine and I think we’d still have been going to this day had life not changed for some of the guys and split us apart geographically. We still get together to play every once in a while and I usually take ear defenders as we are just always so loud.
Here are some links to some other Small Machine stuff – normally I’d just say “Google it”, but if you Google Small Machine you just get miniature sewing machines and drill presses and so on.