My introduction to Necro Hippie and the band Ash Lee Blade was by way of a friend of mine. His comment to me was, '...check out the Zakk Wylde of the bass guitar." In the email he attached a YouTube clip of a long blonde-haired dude rockin' out on bass with wah and distortion - a very Cliff Burton inspired moment if ever there was one. [If you haven't seen it yet - here's your chance:
Chi Barker aka. Necro Hippy of Ash Lee Blade wails the bass
I missed the opportunity to check the band out in a small club close to home, but somewhere in the back of my mind the seed for this interview was formed.
As luck would have it, both Ash Lee Blade and my band Omega A.D. would be a part of Molten Metal Mayhem. I got in touch with Necro and asked if he'd consent to this interview, and so it came to be. Necro (he refused to reveal his real name to me) took it upon himself to find me in the bar and introduce himself. He killed a few beers on the patio with his bandmates while I scoured the bar for a somewhat quiet corner where I could plug in my tape deck to document the occasion.
We sat down to talk about 'bass stuff'; me with my tape recorder, pen and some notes - Necro - with his shades on (the red record light on my recorder reflected in his lenses) and a beer in hand.
Bass Guitar Rocks: So, do you have a problem stating your real name and spelling it out for me?
Necro Hippie: "Necro Hippie" N-E-C-R-O H-I-P-P-I-E.
BGR: Okay, how long have you been playing bass?
NH: About sixteen years now, I've been playing since I was fourteen and now I'm thirty.
BGR: Who are your influences?
NH: I have three, in no particular order: there's Cliff Burton, Steve Harris and Geezer Butler. There's also little ones on the side like John Paul Jones, John Entwistle from The Who...a lot of seventies guys, but mainly Burton, Harris and Butler.
BGR: I saw a clip of you performing a bass solo on Youtube and I thought - "This guy is like Cliff Burton - but he's playing a Fender bass, so he's like - Cliff Burton meets Steve Harris."
NH: Yeah, I mean the Geezer Butler thing was more of an early influence with bands that I've done before. Cliff Burton is the one that got me going, Steve Harris is the one that inspires me even today. I met the guy three times, he's a great guy. I got an Eddie [Iron Maiden's mascott] tattoo of him playing bass on my arm. Steve Harris is almost my number one influence - but Cliff's the one that got me going.
The day I saw Cliff Em All I was like - "Holy fuck! How can I be like this guy? How can I be on stage and not just be some bass player playing? How could I be THE GUY. Then I found 'Maiden and even Geezer Butler and [Black] Sabbath - F'n Christ - these guys are amazing bass players!
BGR: I noticed that, like the guys you just mentioned, you play a four string bass...
NH: I've tried five strings and other basses - the feel of a four string Fender Precision... it's a great sound. The one I have has an extra pickup on it and it's a thick bass, a thick sound. There are other basses I wouldn't mind trying, and I'm not opposed to anything else, but I find the precision for me is an awesome bass.
BGR: Do you have any other basses?
NH: I have a Vantage bass that I got way back when I was fourteen. I love the neck on it. I have the action set a little higher on it because it's my training bass. I find if you put the action on a shitty bass [higher than the bass you perform with on stage] it'll give you a little more dexterity and stamina when you play on stage.
BGR: What type of strings are you using?
NH: I'm using .115 gauge ( I forget the brand) - I keep trying to get thicker but I don't feel like buying a five-string bass set and throwing out the extra string. I'm always looking for the extra thickness for a four-string bass.
BGR: Do you play in any alternate tunings?
NH: Just standard tuning - I'm all about the E-A-D-G. I have tuned down in other bands, but not with Ash Lee Blade.
BGR: How did you end up choosing to play bass?
NH: I've always been a metalhead. From a really early age I got into Bon Jovi, went from there to Guns N' Roses and Metallica. I always wanted to play, always wanted to be a musician, always had the dream of playing something. I had a couple of buddies in grade nine that played guitar, and I had two brothers that played guitar and drums. Something sucked me in from Cliff Burton's playing in his bass solo on Cliff Em All and I just decided that - you know what? I'm gonna fuckin' play bass! So, I went out and got my Vantage for $100 used, and just started playing.
-End of Part 1-