Every so often, a bass player will come along and will do something special to move bass playing into new, and exciting uncharted territories.
Jaco Pastorius, John Entwistle, James Jamerson and Squarepusher are a few that immediately come to mind. As of recently, Zander Zon and Nathan Navarro are some other ones doing interesting and inspiring things with bass guitar.
A few months ago, I was turned on to a bass player I had never heard of before but was doing some very interesting things with the bass.
I watched the YouTube video corresponding to the article and knew I had to reach out to learn some more about this very special bass player.
That 1 Guy is a one man show. Somewhere between a nursery rhyme, Captain Beefheart and an acid trip, lies That 1 Guy. A musician trained at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in jazz and classical music, Silverman took the role of bass player and pushed it to extremes that few have ever taken to – and still managed to get another gig out of it! Homemade contraptions and gadgets, beatboxing to his own bass playing, and more have put That 1 Guy in a musical category of his own: matched by none and marveled at by many.
Silverman’s main instrument on stage is an intricate, self-designed contraption called The Magic Pipe. According to one featured piece on Silverman, the Magic Pipe is,
“…a homemade, electronically rigged pair of machined aluminum pipes (previously steel in its first incarnation), connected by adjustable phosphorus bronze joints, with each pipe hosting an orchestral bass string. The harp-shaped instrument is roughly seven feet tall and features 13 trigger points, which can be mapped to various musical sound effects or samples. The front pipe uses a low C string, while the rear pipe’s string is used to achieve more tenor ranged notes. The pipes themselves are employed to produce various percussive sounds while That 1 Guy slaps, plucks, or bows the strings, as well as occasionally utilizing a drum stick to sound the strings and the pipes at the same time.”
Here’s it in action:
For a “strange” as Silverman might be, he’s gained considerable stage time and work with someof contemporary music’s most interesting figures. Tom Waits invited him to play saw on his 2006 release, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards and shared the stage with masked shredder Buckethead. Silverman has also played big name festivals including Big Day Out, Woodford Folk Festival and Pyramid Rock Festival (before it went defunct). His song, “Buttmachine” was used in an episode of the HBO series, Weeds (Season 3, Episode 9).
After getting in touch via email with Silverman and proposing a ‘How I Play’ segment feature, he accepted and below are his answers. Now, normally before posting a ‘How I Play’ feature I’ll do a little bit of editing to the story. Adjust some comma use, check for capitalization consistency -little things like that. But for this feature, I felt it was more appropriate to leave Mike’s answers exactly how he sent them to me – warts and all. I think the presentation of his answers does more justice to Mike as the fascinating musician that he is than if I were to ‘properly’ clean up the story.
Here’s Mike Silverman aka That 1 Guy’s ‘How I Play’ feature:
Where Are You Currently Located?
Las Vegas Nevada.111 degrees yesterday.
What is Your Current Gig?
What is One Word That Describes Your Playing?
Describe your Current Setup and What is Favorite Piece of Gear at the Moment?
the magic pipe in my favorite piece of gear and main axe if you will.One string and a lot of gizmos…man that thing can do it all…i run it into a matrix of processors and preamps, a/d converters, samplers and mixers, lights, lasers, n projectors.it’s kinda complicated.Butt it’s all about that string.It gets a big workout…
What is One Thing You Could Not Live Without?
a deck of cards.the art of sleight of hand is a serious passion of mine too…
What is Your Practice Space Like?
the workspace is an odd shaped room with a great view.Two giant white boards, and the gear.Everything is piled high and turned on.a beautiful mess…
What Album Are You Currently Listening To?
the new Kanye West Album called “yeesus”.Bought it yesterday and listened a lot last night and this morning.it’s a terrible record.Why did I buy it on iTunes?I read an interview where he and Rick Rubin talk about minimalism in art and music n stuff.Sounds good on paper right?but the album ain’t good, don’t bother…
What Book Are You Currently Reading?
The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero [William Kalush, Larry Sloman].Amazing stuff.
I’d Love to See ____ Answer These Questions.
my friend Jbot from “captured by robots”– we share similar roots in bass.He then went way down the rabbit hole as well.Highly recommended….
What’s The Best Piece of Advice You’ve Ever Received?
“Get out there in front of them and step on your dick.”When i was about 17 there was this really great jazz club in San Francisco (jazz at pearls) that served food so us youngins could go.They’d let up and coming jazzers like myself sit it.I never would cause these the older cats that held down the gig were so good, and I was too shy to ask.Still, I was there every week for a year just listening.Such great knowledgeable musicians these guys were.It rotated most weeks but the guys that showed up were tops, Vince Lateano, Collin bailey, Bruce Forman, mark Levine, etc….The bass player was this older guy with a white ponytail and black turtleneck.It’s crazy that I never got his name cause he was always there.He was such a cool cat and an encyclopedia of the tunes, styles, arrangements, etc….One night, between sets, I worked up the nerve to try and introduce myself and to tell him how great I thought he was.Hoping to maybe pick his brain for advice.He looked at me crazy cause he’d seen me there every week and he couldn’t believe that I never made it known I played bass.“Whats wrong with you kid?” he said to me….”how you gonna learn anything if you don’t try?”I told him that I did’t think I was good enough to hang with these guys. ..He said, “You gotta play every chance you get, especially when the musicians are better then you”Then he looked me square in the eyes, as he knew this was important for me to hear:“Get out there in front of them and step on your dick.”it still echoes….
Hear That 1 Guy’s song, “Buttmachine” here:
Follow “A one man band unlike any you’ve ever heard or seen before”:
How I Play is a new segment for Smart Bass Guitar where we ask bass players to introduce themselves, share their practice tips, rig setups, favorite music and more. Want to be featured as part of “How I Play”, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the headline, “How I Play”.