Dougie Poynter: “Each song by INK. features a different bass, and one song has two different basses”

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(Image: © George Karalexis)

The band Ink, stylised as INK., bless ’em, is a trio made up of bassist Dougie Poynter, vocalist Todd Dorigo and drummer Corey Alexander. They’ve just released a debut EP, Heaven, which you should check out if you’re into rock of the dark, atmospheric kind.

Poynter, a thoroughly likeable fellow, has a stadium-sized CV with youthful punk types McFly and a supergroup of similar ilk called McBusted, winning the reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2011 and acting in films here and there. Let’s have a word with him.

How are you, Dougie?

The Music Man Sterling is my absolute go-to instrument and has been for years now. I have them all

“Really well, thank you. I’ve been doing some writing with [Radio 1 presenter and former 'A' bassist] Dan Carter, which might seem a bit odd, I suppose, given how different our music is, but it’s been great. I’ve always found that British bands really help each other out.”

Dan’s a rock guy, so given the dark nature of the new EP, it makes sense.

“It does have that darkness to it, but that was never intended. It just kinda happened. One of the songs started with a bassline on loop, plus a very simple rhythm, and then we layered the rest of the song onto it. The bass stays the same throughout the song.”

What are the basses this time?

“The Music Man Sterling is my absolute go-to instrument and has been for years now. I have them all; there’s the single H, the HS and the HH variants. Each song by Ink features a different bass, and one song has two different basses. There’s a Sterling in drop-D which runs through a weird analogue pedal that we found, for example.

“I’ve also made my own ones where I’ve taken out the pickups and put Seymour Duncans in. They’re Precision-style pickups, but I flip them round so the upper half is closer to the bridge. I learned that from my friend Mark Hoppus from Blink-182. I have a couple of basses set up that way, and they’re useful because they push up all the mids. They sound incredible.”

Sterling job

What is it that you like about Sterlings?

“Music Man basses are so versatile - you can get a vintage sound or a modern pop-punk one with the flick of a switch. The Stingrays are too big for me, because I’ve got small hands, hence the Sterling. They have a slim neck, a small body and massive pickups, which is why they work for me. Martin Sims does the LEDs in the necks; I’ve worked with him for years. He’s just made a new scratchplate for one of my HHs, because it was cracked. He did a Union Jack bass for me too. There’s nothing that guy can’t do.”

What amps do you use?

I wanted to play in as many bands as possible. They all needed a bass player

“I have an Ashdown ABM head and three or four Ashdown cabs on stage, and I run an Avalon DI through the PA. Ashdown have always been super-cool to me, and I play everything through them. I also like Kempers for the studio.”

How did you get into bass?

“Everyone at school played guitar or drums, and I wanted to play in as many bands as possible. They all needed a bass player, so it just made sense, and that’s how I joined McFly. My first bass was a black Squier Precision, which I added a red scratchplate to; I was into customising basses as far back as that. One of the later basses I bought was a red Fender Jazz; I got that with my first paycheque. That had a little active button, and the neck was really good too.”

Who influenced you on bass?

“Blink-182 sounded like they were having fun; they made you think that you didn’t have to be cool to be in a band. That was my motivation. There was a whole bunch of bands who were in that genre, and once I got really into bass and wanted to get better, I started listening to Paul McCartney. I started playing with my fingers and using less clank in the tone, which is again why I love the Sterling, because it took all of that out and I could get a nice subby tone with my fingers. I loved the Beach Boys as well.”

A fine Pino

Any modern players?

“I was obsessed with Pino Palladino’s playing for a very long time. If you really listen to it, he doesn’t do too much, but what he does do is great. He builds a song without you really knowing. His stuff goes almost unnoticed, without looking for the spotlight. He’s definitely one of my bass heroes.”

Do you play slap?

No-one really knows what’s going on with McFly. It’s not over, that’s for sure. We all still talk pretty much every day

“I was taught to play slap bass, because I really wanted to learn to do it, but it’s only really for show-off pieces by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and so on. There’s one bit on McFly’s last album where I had a moment, and used to really whack it live, but there’s so much percussion going on that you can’t really hear it.”

Are McFly on hiatus at the moment?

“Honestly, no-one really knows what’s going on with McFly. It’s not over, that’s for sure. We all still talk pretty much every day. I grew up with those guys, after all.”

Congratulations on being the only bassist to win a reality TV show, as far as we know.

“Yeah, I’m representing! I’ll fly that flag. I only did it because we had some time off and I thought I’d be in and out and that no-one would even know I did it.”

Did you buy a load of cool bass gear with the winnings?

“Unfortunately you don’t get any money for winning. I wish!”

Heaven is out now on Black Ink Records.

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