"" August 2011 | Tracy Walton Music

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interview with Tracy Walton

Instruments: Bass, guitar
Gear: Fender
Education: A.S. Northwest Connecticut Community College, Hartford Conservatory of Music
When did you start playing bass? When I was 10
When did you start to notice that your playing was different from everyone else's? When I started to play in clubs I noticed I had a different approach than most people. I really settled into myself in my mid twenties.
When did you find your voice as a player? When I started to play in clubs I noticed I had a different approach than most people. I really settled into myself in my mid twenties.
How do you keep your playing fresh? I try to keep checking out new stuff and revisiting older stuff. As I get better I always find something I missed when I first checked stuff out. I just revisited the 80's hardcore scene and had forgotten how good bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat were.
What do you do when you get stuck? Call a friend.
What do you still find hard to do? Sleep on the road
How often are you surprised by your playing, or what you're listening to, or music in general? I would say I cheer out loud at least once a week when I hear something that is really great. I screamed last night when I heard how far they dropped the tempo back on the verse of Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie and how hard it grooved because of this. Thank God they didn't use a click track!
Are there one or two core ideas that are central to your teaching that you make sure every student learns? Playing time and rhythmic vocabulary.
How do you approach practicing? I start with technique to get my hands warmed up. I try to analyze my playing all the time and see what needs work. Then I make a plan and have at it.
Is there a piece of equipment you can't live without? My P-bass
Do you find yourself returning to listen to the artists who inspired you when you first started to play? Thankfully I was turned onto great music early on that has stood the test of time so I am always revisiting stuff.
Does your playing change when you switch instruments? I think my voice is always there. It's just some instruments I am talking over a neuman and some I am underwater.
What music would you suggest for your students?Whatever they like. Preferably something with bass in it, yet I suppose that's not required. I will say though, that once you find something you like, go back and check out where it came from. It's hard to understand McCartney without checking out Jamerson, or Audio Slave without checking out Black Sabbath.
What are you listening to these days? Do you search out music that's new and unfamiliar to you? My students actually turn me on to a lot of music. I recently checked out the Decemberists and Arcade Fire, both of which I liked. In turn I get a chance to turn my students on to stuff and re-listen to stuff myself. Today I taught Freddie King's Hide Away Zeppelin's Out on the Tile's, Sing a Simple Song from Sly and California Uber Alles from The Dead Kennedys. Not a bad day. I recently got an ipod so I am headphoning everything lately. It's nice to have my collection at my fingertips. I just revisited some Zeppelin and Leonard Cohen among others.
How often, when you're playing, do you find those moments of pure music, when your head is clear, your fingers are working, there are no distractions, and it's just you and the music? I am lucky in a sense that I am usually lost in the moment so I can easily lose myself in music. This can be a hassle in other aspects of daily life, such as driving. It also depends on the players I am with. There needs to be some common ground where you can start to just relax and talk.
Do you have a musical wish list - other instruments to learn, people to play with, artists or styles to explore?That's a tough one. Usually if I wish I had something I start the process of getting it. In turn it's no longer a wish. I've always been pretty happy about being a bass player. I play guitar and drums, but I really only started playing them to help with my teaching.
Have you ever had a really great teacher? What made him/her so good?I studied with Dave Santoro. He's Italian, and he would make us sandwiches and pasta during our lesson. Something about good sauce and a nice sandwich with roasted peppers makes for good lessons. It didn't hurt that he is a monster of a bass player and teacher as well.
How do you learn best? I learn best if I take in a bunch of information and then run off and hide and process it.