Following the topic of live bass solos, I have to reach back into the Racer X archive and bring out my solo on Extreme Volume. For me, the best thing about this is to see my evolution when put under the improvised solo spotlight. The main difference between this solo and the solo I posted last week is this one has drums backing me.
I can promise you I never wanted to do an unaccompanied solo – but when you came up in the 80’s, Eddie Van Halen made sure every hard rock band had to have at least an unaccompanied guitar solo in the set. Paul Gilbert could kill on a live solo but when our drummer, Scott Travis started doing one, Bruce Bouillet started doing one also, so I had to come up with one as well.
At the time we all started to take solos, Paul had added the drill with the drill bit having picks glued onto it, somewhat making fun of the speed factor in all our solos. This was the era of Racer X where I had to come up with something entertaining but also a little ridiculous. I remember trying to do an unaccompanied solo but I didnt have the speed they had and I just wasn’t really designed to do one. I decided to have Scott play with me during my solo and what we did was stretch out a Racer X song’s groove (Rock It) and I would solo over it’s Hot For Teacher type swing groove. It was a tough beat for me to play over and that groove got old fast for me so I switched it up.
My next solo, Scott and I worked it up and I decided to put in some special sauce to aid my solo. This solo had me shred while Scott played a fast beat (he always played faster than I wanted to!) but my arm would puff up with blood so I needed to install a break of some sorts into it to give my arm a rest. That is where a little Led Zeppelin came into the performance.
Half way through my bass solo, Scott and I cut into the Whole Lotta Love guitar breaks and I would start riffing like Jimmy Page would in-between the drum hits. This idea provided me the needed relief from the fast playing and gave the audience a break from all the swirly notes I was ripping on. Scott would then give me a drum fill and I would go back into the speed until the end of the solo.
I wish I could claim that my burning desire to play an unaccompanied bass solo stemmed from dreams to be placed next to Jaco Pastorius in the bass player hall of fame, but it wasn’t. My decision to put myself through this exercise was because everyone else was. I am not saying I am not proud of this performance, it just didn’t come to me naturally. The genre Racer X existed in kind of required it and I can honestly say I still, to this day, have no desire to rip a solo by myself (but I am glad I got better at it as proof of last week’s post!). I can dig doing a bass passage in a song but I never saw myself as a soloist. I’ll leave bass solos up to guys who can murder them, like Richard Bona.