Musical Equipment Used
– Modulus Basses (6 string fretted and fretless and 4 string fretted), A Rick Turner 5 String Renaissance ‘Amplicoustic’ fretless bass, two Aguilar SL112 cabinets and 2 Aguilar Tonehammer 350 amp heads, Mark Audio AS602 powered speakers, the Looperlative LP1 for looping, Keith McMillen SoftStep controller, Lexicon MPX-G2 for processing, MXR, Darkglass, Aguilar and Markbass overdrive pedals, a TC Electronics HOF mini Reverb, MXR Bass Chorus Deluxe & Bass Fuzz Deluxe, Pedal Train pedal board an E-Bow+, Latch Lake slides, Dunlop Super Bright strings, East-UK preamps, Evidence Audio cables, GoGo tuners, a Korg Kaoss Pad KP3 and a MOTU Ultralite Mk III Hybrid. And I carry my basses around in SlickBag gig-bags.
1986 – got a bass and joined first band
1988 – broke arm, kicked out of first band, formed second band (EARS) – played first gigs
1989 – GCSE Music, Grade C
1991 – AS Level Music, failed – fine at composition, not so hot on history… :o) Somehow got into music college in Perth, Scotland. Teaching as head of bass at West Lothian Rock School.
1993 – left college, moved to Lincoln, tour with Canadian singer/songwriter Johnny Markin. Gigs all over Europe, played on three albums.
1994-96 – working as a pro in Lincoln, teaching, studio and live session work.
1996 – moved to London, more session work, including TV, Radio and theatre work, more teaching.
1997-99 – teaching at Drumtech and Basstech, West London.
1997-2000 – freelance reviewer/interviewer/columnist/gadget guru for Bassist magazine in the UK.
1999 – Toured Europe with Howard Jones. First completely solo gigs in London.
2000 – Released And Nothing But The Bass on Pillow Mountain Records. More solo gigs around England.
2001 – 2 Solo tours of California, including headlining the world’s first solo bass looping festival, and tour with Michael Manring and Rick Walker. Clinics for Ashdown Amps and Modulus Basses. Solo gigs in France.
2002 – Another tour in California, Released Conversations, duo CD with Jez Carr, on Pillow Mountain Records, 2 Major tours of UK Theatres and concert halls supporting first the 21st Century Schizoid Band then Level 42. Two shows at the London Guitar Festival. National TV and local radio appearances in the UK. Featured in the Sunday Times Culture Section. Released second completely solo CD, Not Dancing For Chicken. NDFC picked as one of the best CDs of the year by Aural Innovations
2003 – four week solo tour of California, gigs with Michael Manring and David Friesen, including the Anaheim Bass Bash, featured interview in Euphoria magazine, and review of NDFC in Bass Player (Feb issue). New recordings with Theo Travis, BJ Cole and Patrick Wood for future release. Duo gigs with Theo Travis. Gig at the barbican with orphy robinson. Recording in France with Vigroux/Cury/Rives for upcoming release. first italian solo gig and recording session in august. Duo CD with Theo Travis – The Arts Show, alongside Jenny Eclair and Barry Cryer. Acclaimed appearances at The Detroit Bass Fest and European Bass Day. Gigs in US and UK with Muriel Anderson. A second tour in England with Michael Manring in November.
2005 – another year another NAMM show, followed by a few promo gigs with Michael Manring in California. Dates with pedal steel guitarist, BJ Cole, and recording and gigs with singer Cleveland Watkiss, as well as more UK dates, the Edinburgh Festival and a trip to Italy. Started monthly music night, Recycle Collective.
2006 – back to California, NAMM again and some more dates and another day-long masterclass, Recycle Collective continues to be one of the best live music nights out in London, and features musicians such as BJ Cole, Cleveland Watkiss, Orphy Robinson, Seb Rochford, Todd Reynolds, Jason Yarde, Andy Hamill, Patrick Wood, Leo Abrahams, Julie McKee, Andrea Hazell. UK tours with Theo Travis, Muriel Anderson and Ned Evett. 4th solo album, Behind Every Word, released on Pillow Mountain Records. Recording in Italy with guitarist Luca Formentini. New duo formed with singer Julie McKee, for the Edinburgh Fringe. European tour in October, including EuroBass Day and European Bass Day, as well as an electronica festival in Italy. Behind Every Word makes a number of end of year ‘best of 2006′ lists.
2007 – guess where it started? Yay, NAMM!! Bass-Bash, two days of masterclasses, Modulus clinics and gigs both solo and with Muriel Anderson and Vicki Genfan. Much fun. First New York show too. European tour with Lobelia, including first time visit to Frankfurt Musik Messe and gigs in Italy, Spain, Germany and Denmark, 7 week tour of the US, 24 states, 7000 miles. Gigs at Greenbelt festival with Lobelia, Sarah Masen and Ric Hordinski. Recycle Collective relaunched in September. Playing on one track on Luca Formentini’s album, Tacet. First Amsterdam and Geneva gigs in November. Released live EP with Lobelia in December. Recorded improv album with Patrick Wood and Roy Dodds.
2008 – NAMM again, with Lobelia this time, playing the bass-bash and for Looperlative and Modulus. More California shows. Back to England, playing lots of ‘acoustic’ shows with Lobelia, London Solo Bass Night in March with Todd Johnson and Yolanda Charles, . Year ended with Lawson/Wood/Dodds album ‘Numbers’ released, and some LDW gig dates round London, followed by a whole string of house concert shows in England and the US with Lobelia. 2008 was also the year of social media – 10 years of running my music career online turning into a 2nd career teaching and consulting on how it all works, including Nokia flying me to Helsinki for their Open Lab, and working on the launch of Ucreative.tv at UCA in Rochester. Finished the year with a series of house concerts in the UK and the US with Lobelia..
2009 – …which continued into the new year on a trip that included a trip to NAMM, a masterclass at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and a series of masterclasses in bass, looping and ‘social media for musicians’ in various people’s houses. But I did miss the bass-bash for the first time ever. Back to the UK for more bass masterclasses and other University-based projects around the future of the internet… look out for a new solo album at some point this year!
2010 – the first half was spent looking after our new born baby, but at the age of 6 months, we took him to the US for a 7 week, 6500 mile tour of house concerts, that took us from Brooklyn to Milwaukee, Massachusetts to Lake Charles Louisiana, via Texas, Tennessee and Ohio. Lo and I recorded a live album on the tour, featuring Todd Reynolds and Neil Alexander, and while in Louisiana I recorded TWO duo albums with Trip Wamsley, released in September. The end of the year featured a sold out London gig with Michael Manring, and speaking engagements in the UK and Berlin at grass roots music industry conferences. I also released another live album, celebrating the 10th anniversary of my debut album coming out.
2011 – first half of the year was focussed on getting my first new studio album in 5 years finished. 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything was released and followed by a 2 month, 8000 mile US tour, which included shows with Julie Slick, Trip Wamsley, Tiger Darrow, Steven Guerrero, Darren Michaels, Neil Alexander, Trevor Exter and Catherine Marie Charlton. The trip also included me guest-performing at Victor Wooten’s Music-Nature Camp, teaching a bass masterclass in Virginia, and Lobelia and I being the only overseas musicians to be booked to play at the first Wild Goose festival. Oh, and I also co-produced, mixed and mastered Lobelia’s new record, Beautifully Undone. We started selling our music on USB Stick, which has proved v. popular. A move to Birmingham in the late summer promises all kinds of new opportunities.
2012 – the year started with the release of Believe In Peace, an all-improv solo record, recorded in Minneapolis. January continued with a return visit to NAMM, 12 shows in 12 days including duo shows with Julie Slick, Michael Manring and Daniel Berkman, a recording session with Steve Uccello and a playing-and-speaking gig at Stanford uni, as well as a masterclass at LA Music Academy. The shows with Julie, Michael and Daniel were all recorded, so mixing and mastering work on those took up a lot of the following months, as well as recording for Californian singer/songwriter Artemis. May saw the relaunch of Beyond Bass Camp, and the remastering of 11 Reasons… 2012 also saw the formation of #ToryCore – a project that coupled the evil words of the Tory govt with twisted avant garde metal. One of my favourite ever musical projects.
2013 – started with NAMM and another 8 shows with Daniel Berkman, and this time Artemis joined us on vocals at every gig. It was one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life to play with them both. Which is why a large chunk of the year was taken up mixing, mastering and releasing EVERY show we’d done up to that point. All 10 of ‘em. Went out to Frankfurt to the Musikmesse, more ToryCore shows & a few more gigs with Alvin Stardust depping for his regular bassist. Started teaching at Kidderminster College, and ended the year with a lovely joint tour with one of my favourite bassists – Yolanda Charles, and with a duo show with Andy Edwards on drums.
2014 – Another NAMM trip, 11 wonderful shows with Daniel and Artemis (part of a run of 14 shows in 13 days for me!). Just before NAMM I was invited to speak at the Microsoft Social Research Symposium in NYC, which was one of the most brilliant few days of my life. The duo project with Andy Edwards expanded to become ‘Andy, Steve + 1’ and we played a couple of gigs with Julie Slick, made an album with Murphy McCaleb and have further projects planned. I released a new solo album – What The Mind Thinks, The Heart Transmits. Playing at the London Bass Guitar Show and inviting Jon Thorne to join me on my set led to the release of that as a new album – Diversion.
Current Musical Projects
Solo gigs and recording -::- Duo gigs and recording with Lobelia -::- duo with Mike Outram -::- duo with Trip Wamsley -::- duo with Michael Manring -::- duo with Daniel Berkman
favourite artists. – “I’m a big fan of good singer/songwriters. Top of the list is Canadian, Bruce Cockburn, who in 30 years of recording has yet to release a bad album. also top of my singer/songwriter list would be The Blue Nile, James Yuill, Kris Delmhorst, Peter Katz, Rob Szabo, Emily Baker, KT Tunstall, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Kelly Joe Phelps, John Lester, Nik Kershaw, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Rickie Lee Jones, James Taylor, Jonatha Brooke, Randy Newman, Michael McDonald, Martyn Joseph, Julie Lee and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Other favourite artists include The Pixies, The Cure, Iona, Prefab Sprout, anything King Crimson-related, King’s X, Mike Watt, Michael Manring, D’Angelo, David Torn, Lewis Taylor. I love great pop music – good old fashioned POP, like Duran Duran, Wham, Chic, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper… I’m also a big Jazz fan, and top of my play-list there would be Bill Frisell (he’s my other huge musical obsession) John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Ralph Towner/Gary Peacock, John Patitucci, Bill Evans, Pat Metheny, Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Charlie Haden, Marc Johnson… Just getting back into ‘classical’ music, mainly Bartok string quartet’s and Olivier Messiaen’s bird song piano compositions.”
top 10 (or so) favourite albums – “In no particular order, and subject to change at a moment’s notice!
- Joni Mitchell – Hejira
- Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life
- Prefab Sprout – Steve McQueen
- Ryan Scott – Smoke and Licorice
- Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Crown And Treaty
- Jonatha Brooke & The Story – Plumb
- Emily Baker – All At Sea
- Pat Metheny – Bright Size Life
- Bruce Cockburn – Nothing But A Burning Light
- Bill Frisell – Ghost Town (or anything else he’s ever done)
- Talk Talk – Spirit Of Eden
- The Pixies – Doolittle
- The Blue Nile – High (or anything else they’ve done)
bass influences – “My current favourites are Tony Levin, Michael Manring, Julie Slick and Matthew Garrison but there are literally hundreds. I suppose, in roughly chronological order, those players that have influenced me the most would be – John Taylor (Duran), Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo/Iona), Chris Squire (Yes), Simon Gallup (The Cure), Pino Pallidino (everyone!), Doug Pinnick (King’s X), Ewan Vernal (Deacon Blue), Steve Swallow, Billy Sheehan, Abraham Laboriel, Jaco Pastorius, Scott LaFaro, Freddie Washington, Bernard Edwards (Chic), Ray Brown, Family Man Barratt (The Wailers), Verdine White (EW & F), Tommy Simms, Alain Caron, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Jimmy Haslip, Jaco Pastorius, Danny Thompson, Eberhard Weber, Mike Rivard, Marc Johnson, Kermitt Driscoll, Mo Foster, Todd Johnson, Doug Wimbish, Yolanda Charles, Trip Wamsley and loads more.”
Fantasy Band – “This changes all the time, but right now it’d me on bass (obviously), Lobelia on vocals, Nels Cline on guitar, Roy Dodds on drums. With guest appearances by Theo Travis, BJ Cole and Michael Manring. ..although, the duo shows with Daniel Berkman in California resulted in some of my favourite music I’ve ever played, so that duo may well be my fantasy band (album coming soon!)”
Favourite Books – “Oh, there’re loads! Current fave is Kristin Hersh’s book Paradoxical Undressing, but before that came everything by Douglas Coupland, Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Strength To Love by Martin Luther King, The Chronicles Of Narnia by CS Lewis, The Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be by Middleton and Walsh, Tar Baby by Toni Morrison, Cat’s Eye by Margaret Attwood, The book of Ecclesiastes in The Bible, The Tao Te Ching, The Road Less Travelled and Further Along The Road Less Travelled by Scott Peck, Life On Air by David Attenborough, No Future Without Forgiveness and God Has A Dream by Desmond Tutu, 45 by Bill Drummond…”
Favourite Films – ‘So I Married An Axe Murderer’, ‘Natural Born Killers’, ‘Pulp Fiction, ‘School Of Rock’, ‘The Insatiable Moon’, ‘Bugsy Malone’, ‘Barton Fink’, ‘Falling Down’, ‘Life Of Brian’, ‘Spinal Tap’, ‘Monty Python and the Hole Grail’, ‘the Wedding Singer’, ‘The Breakfast Club, ‘Pretty In Pink’, ‘Whale Rider’, ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’, ‘Fight Club’, ‘Muppets’ Treasure Island’, ‘Brassed Off’, ‘Lars And The Real Girl’, ‘Calendar Girls’, ‘Amelie’, ‘Spirited Away’, ‘Raising Arizona’, ‘Dodgeball’, ‘Team America’ ‘Zoolander’…”