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Consequence’s Bass Week Celebrates Music’s Four-String Heroes

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Apropos of nothing, an old College Humor video popped up on my Instagram feed last week. It sees blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus addressing the The International Bass Players Association in a dark hotel conference hall. “Bassists, we need to talk about the problem,” he says. “We have to stop looking so bored when we play.”

Now, either that’s a bit of serendipity or proof that the algorithm is always watching, because we here at Consequence have been hard at work putting together our own Bass Week. Not because we felt the need to encourage four-string slingers to be more active on stage, but because of what’s behind the comedic sentiment in Hoppus’ speech. Bassists are without a doubt the most habitually undervalued members of band, their contributions often seen as necessary but ultimately “backing” elements.

That’s all just blatant misconception. The bass is more than backing low-end — it’s the backbone. They pluck out the rhythms and slap down the soul that give the flashier instruments their guiding light. You might look at the four strings of a bass and think it must be easier to control than a guitar or a horn, but using those limited, heavy strings to create the foundational groove of everything going on around them is no simple skill.

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And the ways in which that skill can be employed is as vast as music itself. From jazz and bebop greats like Charles Mingus and Paul Chambers, to funk masters Bootsy Collins and George Porter Jr., to prog icons Geddy Lee and Chris Squire, to alternative rockers Kim Deal and Melissa Auf Der Maur, to modern stars like Laura Lee Ochoa and Esperanza Spalding, bassists have helped further the sound of every genre. Some are revered sessions musicians (Carol Kaye, James Jamerson), and some rank amongst the most famous artists in the world (Paul McCartney). All are found on our list of the 100 Greatest Bassists of All Time.

These are the artists that give your heart something to pulse to, their licks becoming the EKG of music. Without them, you’ve got nothing but a melodic flatline.

So, sure, Mark Hoppus, let’s get the bassist up front some more to jump and thrash with the rest of the band. But let’s not leave that as the only way these fundamental talents get their spotlight. Let’s give ’em the shine they truly deserve. Let’s give ’em Bass Week.

Stay tuned throughout the first week of April 2024 for lists, interviews, games (play a mini crossword below!), and more, with participation from some of music’s most celebrated bassists including Death Cab for Cutie’s Nick Hammer, Blu DeTiger, Mr. Bungle’s Trevor Dunn, Sunflower Bean’s Julia Cumming, Chicano Batman’s Eduardo Arenas, and others. It’s all part of Consequence’s Bass Week, and you can bookmark this page and check back every day as we update it with links to the latest Bass Week content.

— Ben Kaye
Editorial Director

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