MusicRadar caught up with John Myung on DREAM THEATER’s US tour and they chatted about all things bass, of course. See below for an extract from the interview and keep your eye’s peeled for a shout out to label mates, RUSH:
Currently wrapping up the first US leg of Dream Theater’s knockout A Dramatic Turn Of Events tour, Myung sat down with MusicRadar in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida the other day to talk about how he’s strengthening his commitment to the bass, the ways young people can be inspired on the instrument, what playing with Mike Mangini is really like…and why Death Cab For Cutie totally rules.
We talked about this a little before the interview: What do you think might make a young person pick up the bass these days?
“I think it boils down to inspiration. Young people have to want to pick up the bass – or any instrument, but we are talking about the bass here. There has to be that moment when choosing to play an instrument and really devoting yourself to it becomes a true passion. “After inspiration comes motivation. A person has to stay interested, which is the only way one can excel on the bass. Motivation can come in many forms. As for myself, I’m always trying to make the most of my time when it comes to practicing, whether it’s for one hour, three hours or all day.
“Recently, I came across something in one of Mike Mangini’s books, an exercise called the C & C Limb System. To break it down, it’s pinky-index, pinky-middle and pinky-ring. Then it shifts to index-ring, index-pinky and index-middle. After that it’s ring-middle, ring-index and ring-pinky. Finally, it’s middle-pinky, middle to ring and middle to index. “Now, you can apply this chromatically or to a scale to have more intervallic jumps in-between positions. I just started checking it out today, but I think it could be a pretty good workout because it’s constantly changing, and it’s changing in ways that could eliminate the physical barrier. To me, this could keep somebody motivated. Systems are good for daily practice; they provide structure. Also, this could definitely keep your hands in shape, which can inspire you to take on more challenging songs.”
But what made you gravitate to the bass? Most people choose the guitar, drums or keyboards. A bass player is a different kind of individual.
“That’s true. I think it’s just in the way that you hear music. When I was growing up, and even now, the first thing that I hear is the bass. It doesn’t matter who the artist is or what the song is – I hear that sound first.
“With some of the bands that inspired me – Rush, Yes, Iron Maiden – the bass was a critical element. The bass wasn’t there just to bolster the rhythm; it set the tone of the music. Everybody is different, of course, and they react to whatever hits them first or has the most dramatic affect on them. With me, it was always the bass.
“There’s a serendipity to it, too. I didn’t plan on becoming a bassist, but once it called out to me, I really knew it was what I wanted to pursue. But like you said, it is a very different instrument, and not everybody wants to play the bass. I’ve always found a lot of satisfaction in playing bass. It works off the drums and the other instruments in its own unique way, and it really allows you to get inside the music.”
Read the full article over on MusicRadar’s website here and check out DREAM THEATER’s UK tour dates in 2012 by clicking this link.