Chris LaBenne

Bassist, Composer/Arranger

Chris LaBenne on SoundBetter

Coastal NC bass guitarist with 12 years of experience in-studio and live, professional equipment, perfect pitch, and groove pockets as deep as the ocean. Specialize in rock, funk, and dance -- can play any other style, though. Very fast turnaround time due to experience and perfect pitch (enables very quick ear-learning). Let's collaborate!

I've been playing bass for 10 years, and have professional-quality gear (Fender and Warwick). I have been in many bands and have played over 200 gigs in the last four years. I can play any genre, and am skilled on both 4- and 5-string bass. Skilled with my fingers, with a pick, and am an adept slap bassist as well. Influences include John Entwistle, Flea, Jaco Pastorius, and Stuart Zender. I have recently done some session work and gotten very positive feedback, and am looking to keep the momentum going. I am capable of making my own recordings at home as well as join groups in studio, meaning that if your budget is low and just need me to overdub a bass line, I can do it from home and you will save money on studio time. I am classically trained in music composition, so I am very fluent in reading music notation (all clefs), lead sheets, and chord sheets. I also have perfect pitch, meaning that having me add a bass part to your music is as easy as sending me an audio file and saying how you want it to sound; I can figure it out from there in terms of key and chord progressions, meaning you don't need to spend a lot of time writing up lead-sheets or notated bass lines if that's not your thing. I want to make your record sound great, and I want it to be as easy for you as possible!

Send me an email through 'Contact' button above and I'll get back to you asap.

Interview with Chris LaBenne

  1. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  2. A: That playing bass is easy.

  3. Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?

  4. A: "Will this be on sheet music, or am I learning by ear?", "How quickly do you need it?", "MP3 or WAV format?", "Can I hear the end result?", "If I'm making up my own bass line, will I get a writing credit?"

  5. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  6. A: Know exactly what you need, and base your choice accordingly. If you need someone who is an expert in fusion jazz bass, it may not be a great idea to pick someone who says they're only skilled in punk or metal just because their price is the lowest.

  7. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  8. A: My Fender Jazz Bass, my amp head, a pair of good headphones, my multitrack mixer, and a really really really long extension cord that could reach across the water to power this stuff.

  9. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  10. A: I've been playing for 11 years. I started in some local punk bands back in high school, then landed a gig for a few years as part of a very successful wedding band. While in that band, I landed a sponsorship with DR Strings. I then reloacted to Wilmington NC, where my online session career began and I also started playing with the popular local band 40 East and NC country star Tony Barnes.

  11. Q: How would you describe your style?

  12. A: Versatile, specializing in funk-rock and dance.

  13. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  14. A: I would be honored to work with Daft Punk, Tenacious D, George Watsky, or Alanis Morissette. Four of my favorite artists!

  15. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  16. A: Know where everything should fall in the mix. There are so many times that bass, drums, and backup vocalists are snubbed sonically because the producer thinks that a guitar or synth riff needs to overpower the whole record. Even if the part is important, it's necessary to use the remaining tracks WITH it, not against it.

  17. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  18. A: I mostly identify as a rock musician, and most of my solo works and collaborations have been rock tunes. I'm also confident in playing funk (especially slap bass), dance, pop, Latin, hard rock, hip hop, and blues.

  19. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  20. A: My ability to learn very quickly. My turnaround time is usually just a day or two, and I find that I can figure out exactly what fits in a song within around an hour of first hearing it and playing along with it.

  21. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  22. A: I bring whatever the songwriter needs from the bass, along with a little of my own flavor.

  23. Q: What's your typical work process?

  24. A: It all depends on what the client needs. If they provide me with a notated bass line or a leadsheet, I will play along with the song with the notes in front of me a few times, then record it -- my sight-reading ability is pretty good. If they just send me a tune and give a few guidelines but no notation or leadsheet, I'll listen to the song and play along with it several more times until I am able to get a natural feel for what is best for the song. As a bassist, it's critical to know what fits where, and my experience with people just saying "Here's the tune, figure something out, make it sound right" gives me the ability to do just that.

  25. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  26. A: I run my basses into a Behringer BX4500H bass head as an EQ preamp, then line that directly into a Fostex multitrack recorder. I am then able to edit with GarageBand or Audacity, depending on whether I'm using my PC or my Mac. I also use Finale 2011 notation software very frequently for arranging, composing, and notating bass lines.

  27. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  28. A: I draw most of my bass playing influence from John Entwistle of The Who, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Jaco Pastorius. My other various musical influences include The Beatles, The Funk Brothers, Gustav Holst, Eric Whitacre, Mutt Lange, and the Youngblood Brass Band.

  29. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  30. A: I am frequently called upon my local musicians in my area to provide electric bass tracks for their albums. Many of them are done via the Internet, so I mostly consider myself an online session bassist.

  31. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  32. A: I'm currently working on some solo material, as well as laying down bass tracks for a solo musician from SC's upcoming album. I also actively compose and arrange for marching bands and wind ensembles.

  33. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  34. A: I've recorded both ways and I like them both. I prefer digital, but that's just because I'm more familiar with it.

  35. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  36. A: I promise that you will get the results you want from me, and with few to no re-takes.

  37. Q: What do you like most about your job?

  38. A: It's what I love to do. Can't get much better than that.

  39. Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

  40. A: The most common question: "How quickly can you get this back to me?" My answer every time: "As quickly as you need it."

Gear Highlights
  • Fender Jazz Bass
  • Warwick Corvette 5-String Bass
  • Behringer BX4500
  • GarageBand
  • Dunlop Super Brights Steel bass strings
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