Rockstar 21, Bass, & Saxophone

Posted: August 21, 2013 in Local Music, My Music, Storytime
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve published a handful of entries about my last band 49 Fingers. You can expect many if you’re a regular reader of this blog, and this time I am telling you about the specific creation of a bass “solo” and how it went up against a very nice saxophone intro, plus the ensuing deliberations leading to which version appeared on the album. The song in question is Firehose.

Early on in my music-making career, I tended to be a perfectionist. Every note had to be just so, exactly the way I’d written it, performed in perfect time, and each bass line had to be recorded in one take – I did not like to comp my bass lines. That was me in the 90s and 00s. My album called Imperfect is the first example of me trying to break free from that, and it’s precisely why I called it Imperfect … there are many mistakes in there, but I am living my life just fine, and I bet few people can actually point out the mistakes.

One thing that always helped me calm down, loosen up, and accept my less than perfect playing is booze. I don’t mean getting stinking drunk (though it happened plenty of times), but I mean (a few beers) + (writing/recording a song) = (better chance of something worth hearing). During the Quo Vadimus sessions in 2006/7, the song Firehose was lingering without a proper ear-catching intro, so I stepped up to fix that.

One day I ended up at the recording studio alone. Well, it was me and a 4-pack of Rockstar 21s, which you could still get back then. Before the first sip, I had a clean slate. Before me was a chord progression that I had written in 1996 – there was nothing to learn there, so I decided I would try my hand at a tasty bass intro. Now, in traditional “solo” terms, this is no Flea-ridden slap n tap. In fact, it’s pretty much just rhythm-plus, if you will. Anyone who listens to music at the speed of Satriani will fall asleep, but Pink Floyd fans might perk up. After two hours, four Rockstar 21s, and countless takes, I had written and recorded the exact intro that you can hear on the CD today (also below).

What’s interesting is that we also had a saxophonist friend stop by the studio one day and play whatever came to mind along with the recordings, hoping we might find a gem to use. Turns out the best gem was his intro to Firehose. To anyone who is really familiar with the official recording, the sax may seem jarring, but if it’s your first pass on the song, it’s quite good. Even though I was the one who wrote and recorded the bass part, I was torn. The saxophone added an extra element to the song and album, giving it a more mature feel, I think. I was allowed to make the final decision about which part to keep (we couldn’t keep both – they trampled each other), since it was my part that would be headed for the chopping block. I opted to keep the bass part not because it was mine or that I thought it was better, but because we would be able to reproduce it live on stage, every time. And that was enough for me – no arguments from the band. Naturally, we kept the other version around, and you can hear it now. Cheers!

Firehose – bass intro
Firehose – sax intro


  1. Priya says:

    Both Intros sounds nice. I second the decision of ‘Bass’ intro as it flows with the song very well. I don’t hear Sax anywhere else in song other than intro. Song is pretty good either ways 🙂

  2. Epiphora says:

    I think he actually played sax throughout the song, but the intro was the only thing that sounded good.

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