Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong

Billy says:

Here's a quick list of six bassists that influenced me over the years.

Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver)

McKagan is most known for his tenure with Guns N' Roses from 1985 to 1997. His bass abilities featured on the band's debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was a major influence in my bass playing. One of the reasons is due to how the album was mixed because the bass is very audible and is the central backbone on all the songs. 

But a big resonance of his influence is McKagan's usage of thirds/fifths/octaves for bass fills; a song like Sweet Child O' Mine showcases his classic bass playing. A song like that, besides the very cool bass intro and being a guitar-centric song, is a good tune to learn basics from. Also a song like Rocket Queen displays McKagan's groove with drummer Steven Adler, which is partly based on older R&B songs that the two would listen too throughout the 1980's.

Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave)

One of the major reasons why I love Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave is the excellent rhythm section by bassist Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk, in which Commerford is central to that emulsion. Such songs like Bombtrack and Wake Up from Rage's self-titled album are a testament to that fact. A lot of easy bass basics can be learned from that particular album and the difficulty can range from easy to somewhat difficult. More complex rhythm movements are featured on Bombtrack or Freedom while more traditional and easier basics are featured on Bullet in the Head and Know Your Enemy (all featured on their self-titled album). 

Commerford's slapping abilities were showcased in the song Take the Power Back and somewhat in Know Your Enemy but after the band's self-titled album, Commerford stopped slapping because he didn't want the band to (in his own words), "sound like another Chili Peppers clone band." In addition, Commerford is known for manufacturing his own effects pedals, such as the verses in Calm Like a Bomb (which has a cool bass intro) and Township Rebellion.

Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Flea is synonymous with bass playing and he's very famous for his slap abilities. I only slap on very limited instances with Chaser Eight and the Chili Peppers' album Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the album that had the strongest resonance with me. On that album, Flea totally changed his bass playing approach and focused on "less is more". 

While he still slapped, it was only in limited moments on certain songs and he focused more on rhythm, tone, emotion and feeling. From that particular album, songs like Mellowship Slinky, Apache Rose Peacock and If You Have to Ask showcase Flea's stripped down playing yet still maintaining a hard line groove and feeling. Other songs like Emit Remmus (Californication) and Animal Bar (Stadium Arcadium) are other good and notable bass lines.

Various 1990's era punk-rock bands including Mike Dirnt (Green Day), Greg K. (The Offspring) and Mark Hoppus (blink 182)

As I began playing bass through the late 1990's, it's very natural to play to songs by bands you were listening too at the time. For me, it was punk-rock and I thought learning songs via that genre was essential because songs were structured easier plus you can learn the basics very quickly. Dirnt's bass playing has evolved over the years with Green Day and it was after their 2000 album Warning where his style changed to a more stripped-down rhythm. The first song I learned on bass was by The Offspring (All I Want from their 1997 album Ixnay on the Hombre). Including blink 182 and The Offspring, the two bands' styles through the 1990's were very easy to pick up on bass and to learn the fundamentals.