11 questions for Derek Smalls: "The last time I changed my strings? The same time as I changed the oil in my motor. Which is never"

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He’s the bass player in the legends that are Spinal Tap but how will he handle the, erm… 11 questions we ask everyone?

1. What was your first guitar and when did you get it?

“A three-quarter size Japanese four-string - I don’t even remember the name they slapped on it. My dad bought it for me at a boot sale.”

2. Suppose the building were burning down, what one guitar would you save?

“I’d say the fireproof bass, which I don’t have, but since we’re supposing, I supposed I had one.”

3. When was the last time you practised and what did you play?

We finally recorded a proper version of Jazz Odyssey for 2011’s Back From The Dead, and I’m sorry to say I got a little too ‘experimental’

“I practise daily. I always start off with bass parts of obscure songs that drove me crazy till I learned them - Last Train by Allen Toussaint, the old pop song Green-Eyed Lady, George Porter’s classic bassline for Cissy Strut and Red Light from Fame. Weird bunch I know, but they get the old fingers moving, and then I practise my own stuff.”

4. When was the last time you changed your own strings?

“The same time as I changed the oil in my motor. Which is never.”

5. If you could change one thing about a recording you’ve been on, what would it be and why?

“We finally recorded a proper version of Jazz Odyssey for 2011’s Back From The Dead, and I’m sorry to say I got a little too ‘experimental’.”

6. What are you doing five minutes before you go on stage and five minutes after?

“Same thing both times - pissing my brains out.”

7. What’s the worst thing that has happened to you on stage?

“It’s in what I call the ‘hatchet job’ movie. Enough said.”

8. What song would you play on an acoustic guitar around a campfire?

“Can’t play guitar. Hate campfires.”

9. What’s the closest you’ve come to quitting music?

“Ask music. It’s come close to quitting me many times…”

10. What aspect of playing bass would you like to be better at?

“Can’t slap worth shit.”

11. Is there a myth about you or your bass-playing that you’d like to set the record straight on?

“Along with my bandmates, I’ve found my way to the stage 99.99 per cent of the time!”

Derek Smalls’ solo album Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing) is out now via BMG.

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