An accomplished bass player who has been reshaping the landscape of what it means to be a bass player both as a sideman and as a bandleader, Steve is part of a new generation of bass players that are helping to take bass away from the background and bring it into the foreground with damning force.
The list of player’s Steve’s bass playing has helped to support is a who’s who of alternative rockers and jazz musicians. Acts including , Vernon Reid of Living Colour, David Fiuczynski, Screaming Headless Torsos, Cindy Blackman Santana, David Fiuczynski, Screaming Headless Torsos,Thomas Pridgen and DJ Logic are just some of the names at a glance. As a bandleader, Steve released his first album, mad science in 2004 to high praise from the bass playing community and beyond. In 2013, Steve released his second album under the name Steve Jenkins and the Coaxial Flutter of the same name, again, to critical acclaim from publications including No Treble and Bass Player Magazine.
I had a chance to reach out to Steve for a rapid fire 10 question rally about his current gear, favorite books and more in this How I Play segment.
1. Where are you currently located?
I am currently located in New York City. I live in Harlem.
2. What is your current gig?
Currently, besides freelancing, I still play bass with Vernon Reid for most of his non-Living Colour projects. I also have my project “Steve Jenkins And The Coaxial Flutter” and I’m writing material for another album. I also play with drummer Gene Lake doing his original music and there’s a really cool album I played on last year with a crazy prog. metal/jazz band called Stimpy Lockjaw.
3. What is one word that describes your playing?
Fluid. This is not a reference to technique but more in my ability to adapt and fit what I do to what other people are doing. Most (if not all) of this comes from listening and being mature about where I choose to play or not play. It also comes from having a vocabulary of sounds and ideas that can be molded to whatever the music needs.
4. Describe your current setup and what is favorite piece of gear at the moment?
Currently, I endorse Kiesel/Carvin basses. I partnered with them last year. They’ve really been making some great instruments as of late. I play their JB-5 basses and also have a Vanquish 5 string which is killer. I also play a Callow Hill OBS short scale (30″) bass. For amps, it’s been Aguilar Amplification for the past ten years. For me there’s nothing better for what I’m going for.
I string all my basses with Dunlop Super Brights. I use Mono Cases and straps.
I use a lot of different pedals. I’m a MXR/Dunlop endorser so I have the Carbon Copy Delay, Bass Crybaby, Bass Octave Deluxe, Bass Overdrive, Bass Chorus Deluxe, Envelope Filter and a WayHuge Ring Worm. I also have a Phase 90 (the EVH model) and a vintage Envelope Filter. I also use an Aguilar AGRO, Filter Twin, and Octamizer from time to time.
Besides all that I have a TC Electronic Ditto X2, HOF mini reverb, a Electro Harmonix microPOG, a Line 6 DL-4, and of course the ever popular Boss OC-2 Octave Pedal.
I also just got a Darkglass B3K and it’s probably my favorite piece of gear at the moment.
My favorite piece of non-bass gear is my Aeropress, which brews an excellent cup of coffee.
5. What is one thing you could not live without?
The one thing I cannot live without are my friends and family.
6. What is your practice space like?
My practice space is just a room in my apartment. Nothing fancy. There’s a window just in case I get so frustrated I want to throw something out of it (just kidding).
7. What album are you currently listening to?
There are 2 albums that I have constantly been listening to. D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” and “Fair Warning” by Van Halen. And I’d also have to include Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” which just came out last week and is excellent.
8. What book are you currently reading?
I just re-read Uncanny X-Men #94 which was the first issue that featured Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Storm as part of the X-Men team.
I’m an unapologetic comic book nerd.
9. I’d love to see ____ answer these questions.
I’d love to see Steve Lawson or Bryan Beller answer these questions
10. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I ever received was from someone who I believe had ties to organized crime. He said: “There are two…no wait…one thing that is certain in life.”
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 [email protected] with the headline, “How I Play”.
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