I've been a professional bass player for over 30 years working with bands, singer songwriters and producers. For me the bass is all about feel and locking in to that drum track. Even if the drums are programmed and dead on the beat, a bass track with human feel makes a massive difference to the piece of music.
The highlight of my recording career so far is the 2018 release by producer Tony Lowe’s ESP Project - “22 Layers of Sunlight” on which I played bass guitar on all tracks. The album featured Mark Brzezicki of Big Country on drums and Peter Coyle of The Lotus Eaters on vocals. Working with Mark Brzezicki was great! He described me as a great "pocket" player. High praise indeed from the man! I also recorded bass on the ESP releases that followed: "Three" & "The Rising".
I also work with my wife, singer/songwriter Fran Clark, and have engineered and produced 3 albums for her - "To Fly" (2007), "Beautiful People" (2013) and "Sketches (2020). I also arrange the music with Fran and play bass and six string guitars on the recordings.
My solo project is "Glasshouse" and I have just released my first EP - "Elements" on BandCamp.
As a tribute band musician I am used to emulating the sound of many great bass players and I have a great arsenal of bass guitars and equipment to create those sounds. In particular the Line 6 Variax Bass and Bass PODxt Live combination.
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Interview with Pete Clark
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I am a big fan of John-Paul Maunick from Incognito. I love his production style. He uses some amazing bass players too, Randy Hope-Taylor and Julian Crampton for example. I've been influenced by so many bass players over the years it's difficult to single any out but James Jamerson and Bernard Edwards are right up there among the greatest in my opinion.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm very proud of the work I did recording bass for Tony Lowe's ESP Project. Tony is a great producer who knows exactly what he wants. He writes all the bass lines in midi and wants them played as written. It is probably the most challenging work I have ever done and I am very proud of the results.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on one of my wife's latest songs at the moment.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: None of the musicians I know have recommended SoundBetter to me so I guess they are not on the platform.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I love the warmth of analogue but digital plugins are getting better at emulating that sound all the time. Like a lot of things it often comes down to what you can afford.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I'll do my best to get the results they want to achieve in a reasonable time frame. I'll keep them informed all the way.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I just love creating and performing music. It feeds my soul.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How soon can you get this done? As soon as possible, I'll keep you informed.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: The biggest misconception is that playing bass is easy.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: First of all I ask for examples by other artists that best represent the sound they are looking for. I ask as many questions as I need, to make sure I understand what they want from me. From a more practical point of view it is very important to know what audio resolution they are working at and what type of audio file they want.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Have a clear idea of what you want and be prepared to give examples of the results you want to achieve by referencing songs by other artists. Look for a versatile player that works within your budget.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: An acoustic guitar, a double bass, a drum kit (does that count as one piece?), a tenor sax and a flute. Basically a bunch of acoustic instruments that I could play for enjoyment.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been playing bass for 41 years and I've been a professional musician for 30 years. I started out playing in original bands and a couple of them nearly made it. All the time though I was also playing in function/cover bands as well, earning money to keep a roof over my head and buy music gear to record my music. I've also done a fair bit of touring with tribute bands playing in theaters around the UK which was a blast.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'm a groove player at heart. I can play in many styles and play fast complicated stuff but for me it's all about the groove.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: John-Paul Maunick of Incognito. I've been a big fan for many years and love his production style and songwriting.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Unless the piece of music is instrumental, it's all about the vocals. Every part of the music is there to serve the song so everything has to compliment the vocals.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: It all depends on what work comes up really. Lately I've been recording a lot of prog rock stuff emulating people like Chris Squire, Mike Rutherford and Greg Lake. I also do a lot of work with my wife who is a singer songwriter that works in a lot of different genres.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My ability to concentrate for long periods of time.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I have spent many years as performing musician playing cover songs. When you transcribe as many bass lines as I have, you develop an understanding of how great bass lines are constructed.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: When I'm recording a bass part that has already been written, I like to have both a midi file and an audio file of the part to speed up the process. I then learn the part and play it through a lot as I work out how and where on the instrument I want to play it. I then go for 3 takes and compile. When I'm composing a bass line, I'll record a lot of scratch stuff as I improvise over the track then listen back to see what works best until I have written the part. Then I go for 3 takes and compile.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I'm an old school guy, as I cut my teeth on reeI to reel tape with an Atari synced up, so I still use a fair bit of outboard gear. My DAW is Cubase and my audio interface is a Presonus Firepod. It's basically a project studio as I work from home.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Recording bass guitar for all types of project. Either playing a line that has already been written or creating one. I have also done a lot of vocal comping and tuning which takes a lot of concentration and a good ear.