Pick player Cody Wright is a hero in our world, taking bass into a whole new realm of groove. His debut album, Star Festival, takes the listener far beyond earthly skies...
Cody, we last caught up with you at the London Bass Guitar Show in 2017.
“I had a total blast! That show is such a great example of a musical community coming together and hanging out. There’s so much positivity and it’s really beautiful.”
What are you up to at the moment?
“Right now I’m preparing for a festival gig under my name with David Pastorius and Ghost-Note featuring MonoNeon. In March, I did a cruise called Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping The Blues Alive, and played with Devon Allman and Duane Betts. I’m also about to release my long-anticipated solo album, Star Festival, and I can tell you right now that the one and only Victor Wooten is a special guest on it. Sorry the album took so long!
“Finally, I’m heading to Los Angeles in May to film a telethon for Twitch TV for the new Toejam & Earl video game that I just soundtracked. Music in videogames is so important - imagine playing Super Mario with the volume turned down. Those tunes take you right back to a time and a place.”
You’re a Zon endorser. Will there be a signature model at some point?
“Yeah, they’re going to a launch a model with my name on it at some point. I want it to basically be the same bass that I use, with a split-coil and single-coil pickup setup and maybe a slightly deeper cutaway - but other than that, probably the same sort of instrument as I’m using now. I also endorse Dunlop, Bartolini, Gruvgear and Darkglass.”
When you pick up a bass guitar, what do you look for?
“The action and playability are the most important for me. I really want to hear the pickup character. If I’m on both pickups combined, then I really want to hear that burp. If I’m on the bridge pickup, I want to really hear that midrange honk. From the neck pickup, I want to hear that thump come out of it. If the action is nice and low, I can tap and pick.”
And the tones?
“I also like being able to really change your tones. I grew up playing Fender Stratocasters, and they’re still my favourite guitar because of the tonal variety. I try to think of my bass tone controls the same way: I always loved the ‘in-between’ pickup positions on Strats.
“The treble and bass controls need to be sensitive. I consider active and passive instruments to perform different roles; I like P-Basses to be passive, but for the Super J-style stuff, like my Zon Sonus or any other bass that I might do some tapping on, active basses are the way to go.”
What effects do you use?
“I love good envelope filters - I have some from MXR and EBS. They’re both totally different but very cool. I also have an Emma Discombobulator that I love, as well as a TC Electronic Ditto X2 looper, Helix Phaser, and HOF Mini Reverb for the solo bits. TC’s Sub N’Up is phenomenal, too, and I use a Darkglass compressor and Vintage Ultra at home.”
Who are your bass influences?
“Oteil Burbridge takes it really far in terms of playing bass solos - he can re-harmonise everything. Orlando Thompson, David Pastorius and Victor Wooten, too.”
Were you aware of players such as Bobby Vega, who has a similar picking style to you, before you started playing bass?
“No, not at all. My playing style was already there with the pick because of my guitar-playing style. The ghost notes and rhythmic playing came along after I’d heard Bobby, because I knew what it took to play like that. I had a lot of that technique already. I was a nutball; I’d play for 12 hours a day for seven years. I was completely obsessed with playing music. Bobby is always a huge inspiration, but I’ve got a long way to go before I’m anywhere near where he’s at!”