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The Adam Phillips Interview: Bass Players United – Then and Now

If you’re a bass player, you’ve likely seen this branding around the Internet:

bass players united logo

The brand belongs to a company called Bass Players United, a website devoted to creating one of the most comprehensive and supportive bass playing communities around.

The site was started back in the early 2000s by bassist Adam Phillips with a mission to start a community that was devoted entirely to bass players.

Anything to do with the culture of bass playing, the learning of bass guitar and beyond, Phillips believed, would have a home at Bass Players United.

Since the site began, Bass Players United has grown enormously and boasts a massive social media presence. Content from Bass Players United’s Facebook page receives comments, shares and Likes in the mid hundreds and keeps the bass playing community engaged and connected to one another – whether through video, article or shared photos of gear.

While lots of shares, comments and engagement is nice, the intention, message and goal of Bass Players United is abundantly clear: community.

I had a chance to touch base with Bass Players United’s founder, Adam Phillips for an interview about how he started as a bass player, where he sees Bass Players United in the landscape of online bass communities and what’s coming (very soon) for Bass Players United.

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Mike Emiliani (ME): Talk a little bit about how you got started with bass guitar. Who were some of your earliest influences, and what were some of the albums that resonated with you the most?

Adam Phillips (AP): My earliest influence was my father. My father was a bass player, and gave up a huge music opportunity to adopt me. Finding that out later in life, and the chance to learn from the master himself prompted me to pick up the instrument. I think I was around 14 when my parents bought me Queen’s Greatest Hits. It wasn’t long after that that I started finding out more about John Deacon, as I was digging his sound!  A few other albums that really have stuck with me: “Heavy Weather” from Weather Report, “Emergency On Planet Earth” by Jamiroquai, and The Game from Queen.

ME: What prompted the decision to start Bass Players United?

AP: I have often thought that sometimes people forget about us bass players. We are constantly laying down that foundation. My goal with BPU was to start building something where we could support one another, hence the last part of the name.

ME: I asked this question to Andrew Pouska of StudyBass when I interviewed him and plan on asking it to Thomas Risell aka MarloweDK of PlayBassNow, but pertaining to StudyBass and PlayBassNow respectively: What is the goal of Bass Players United?

Where does Bass Players United fit in the bigger picture of online bass guitar community? When I first saw Bass Players United I remember seeing a lot of things in once place. Gear demos, lessons, discussions – all kinds of things.

At first pass, BPU seemed like a one stop location for bass players and much of the content is generated by users. Was this the intention when developing BPU?

adam phillips bass players unitedAP: As I mentioned, my initial goal was to build almost a hangout for bass players where we could share knowledge, and ultimately support one another. My friend Nate jumped on board to help build a great website, where we could start doing articles, album reviews, and lessons for bass players. It wasn’t to long after that where gentlemen such as: Damian Erskine, Stew Mckinsey, Andy Irvine Arran McSporran, Jerry Phillips,  Adam Nitti, Aram Bedrosian, Leslie Johnson, and others  jumped on board and started helping with lessons. I can’t thank those individuals enough for their support! I truly treasure each team member of BPU.  We also have a great team of content creators, who are constantly contributing to make BPU a great place!

Bass Players United has recently shut down the website to re-vamp. We will be releasing some huge news for our community very soon!!  

ME: I can imagine that BPU attracts bass players of all skill levels. What are the most common subjects that keep coming up among beginner bass players that you’ve noticed and how would you/have you advised to address those concerns?

AP: The great thing is that BPU does attract all skill levels. We do get many requests for lessons. We have been addressing these needs with lessons. The great thing about the facebook group, is that you’ll see a beginner ask a question, and an advanced coming along to help out. Mike Toren has done a great job with the group, and seeing these bassists coming together to help each other out with their playing, and everyday walks of life couldn’t make us happier!

ME: Players including Adam Nitti and Damian Erskine have been very prominent teaching figures on BPU. How did they come on board to BPU?

AP: Adam Nitti and Damian Erskine and are great guys, and amazing bass players. Damian had jumped on board early with BPU to help out, and I later reached out to Adam to help out.

ME: In your interview with Basslyum.com, the topic of your interviews for BPU came up. Of those you’ve interviewed for BPU, what were some of the most interesting interviews?

AP: Being able to do an interview with many of these bassists in the past has been an honor. Being able to find out more about each individual and their playing is truly a treat for everyone. We have also done interviews with luthiers as well, which I found most interesting. In this we could find out more about the building of your favorite bass guitar.

ME: I’ve noticed that, at least on social media, pictures are massive. Photos of gear – whether submitted by followers of the site or found on Google – memes, and inside jokes acknowledging the culture of bass players are massive and receive thousands of shares, comments and really do get people involved with BPU and the community of bass players. Why do you think photos, especially those of gear, resonate with bassists so much?

AP: It’s very true. I think bassist love to look, and talk about gear. Not only about what works for them, but what potentially could be theirs.

ME: Are you a full time musician?

AP: No, most of my time goes into helping other bassists.

ME: You mentioned in earlier emails that there are a lot of things on your plate right now both family related and with the upcoming unveiling of the new BPU. With regards to practice and playing out, how have you noticed bass guitar change in your life from when you first started playing to now?

AP: The great thing is that, there are so many bass heroes out there now. Sadly growing up we didn’t have all the resources that bass players have now. This is a huge step for bass players, as we are easily exposed to new bassists, with new concepts and theories. We can all learn something new regardless of what stage we are at, the important part is to be open minded, and what could we apply to our playing.

ME: Someone comes up to you and says they’re really interested in learning bass guitar. They heard ‘YYZ’ by Rush and are now inspired by bass guitar.  What would you say to this person? Where would you suggest they start learning and what advice would you give to them?

AP: Firstly I would encourage them to pick up the bass! YYZ is a great song! There are so many resources for learning now. I would ask them how they respond to learning. Do they prefer a teacher one on one, or would they be willing to take lessons online?  If they went with the second one, I would recommend Danny Fox Bass Cyber Academy, Adam Nitti Music Education Program, or Scott Devine’s bass lessons. All three of these bassist have been making huge strides in teaching the bass community!

ME: Of all the lessons, reviews, interviews and features on BPU what are 3 links in particular you would direct a new bass player to?

AP: Honestly I was always telling bassist to check out our website and what we were up to. There was something there for everyone.