A must listen for fans of Prince, Pharrell, and Miguel. Having formed in 2007, Bad Rabbits are still relatively new to UK audiences. Their latest album, American Love, is fast garnering a global audience, though.And no wonder with funk pop tracks as infectious as Dirty, and Dance Moves.
Rabbits bassist Graham Masser is an especially groovy player, knowing exactly when to hang back, weaving amongst the drums and guitar, and when to step it up. Picking up the four string when he was just 13, he took lessons until he was 21 - mostly studying jazz style...
Why bass? What's so appealing about it?
“I started on flute and then oboe, but by the time I reached middle school that seemed lame to me. I wanted to switch to guitar. My friend Randy had just gotten a Fender Strat and once I heard it, I was hooked. One of the ensemble teachers at our middle school tried to persuade me to pick up the bass because there were so few bass players and they were always in demand. Randy already played guitar and my other friend Rubin played drums, so I decided to go with bass so that we could start a band.
“Our first practise I knew absolutely nothing, but the first thing we played together was Aneurysm by Nirvana. After I started to get the hang of it, bass seemed to suit me better than guitar. I liked laying in the cut and not being the lead instrument. I also loved how bass acted as the bridge between the drums and the guitar and filled in that low end space. It's really powerful to me.”
How would you describe your bass sound and playing style?
“Subtle and supportive. I was never a player who had crazy chops or licks. I like playing more of a supportive role in a band, and only playing what is necessary for the song. To me, it was always more fun to listen to what everyone else was playing and try to be the support underneath it, not playing over it. I also tend to try and make my bass lines have a simple melodic motive or sub-hook.”
Which Bad Rabbits bass line are you most proud of and why?
“She's Bad from our Stick Up Kids EP. We demoed this song originally as a much more upbeat, heavier, New Jack Swing style song. When we were in the studio recording the actual album, I had a more melodic idea for the bass line that I kept singing in my head. I hummed it out then started playing it. We tracked it and it totally changed the vibe of the song and tied it all together, in my opinion.”
What gear are you currently using?
“White on white Ernie Ball Stingray five-string that I custom designed with them. They did an amazing job on it. For amplification, I use usually use an Aguilar DB751 head and Aguilar GS412 cab. I use a Aguilar ToneHammer as a direct box and EQ. Right now I'm getting into the Line 6 POD X3 Live and programming some new patches for our live show.”
Bad Rabbits will be touring the UK for ten dates starting May 1, 2014, in Cardiff. Their latest album, American Love, is out now on Bad Records.