Necro Hippie of Ash Lee Blade Interview | Part 2

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Bass Guitar Rocks: Harris and Butler are instrumental in the songwriting of their respective bands, do you write songs in your current or previous bands?

Necro Hippie:  I did some writing on the second CD for Gutshot, and I wrote a little bit while I was in an Ottawa based band called Tidrake. The four songs on the Ash Lee Blade [self-titled]EP are written by myself and Ash.  I've also written or co-written up to eight other songs in our set.

BGR: Explain the song writing process with Ash Lee Blade.

NH: D.D. [the guitarist] and I have a lot of conversations with each other when we write. I can bring something to the table and it's my song. The other guys have their [input] on it, they may decide to shorten it or put a different riff in there. With Ash Lee Blade it's really cool to have so many [people involved in] songwriting.
  It's kind of like you're a cook - you bring a piece of meat to the table and you can spice it up. Whoever brings the meat to the table is responsible for it.

It's kind of like you're a cook - you bring a piece of meat to the table and you can spice it up. Whoever brings the meat to the table is responsible for it.

BGR: So the parts that you bring to the band...is it a riff that you came up with on bass or a different instrument?

NH: If I come in with a song, I come in with the whole song.  When I come in I have a big view of what I want the guitars and drums to do and how I hear the vocals -  I might not hear the words, but I hear how [the vocals] might be arranged. I hear what's going on in my head and try to tell [the band] as much as I can. Usually they come out with what I want to hear and it's awesome stuff.

BGR: Do you have any formal music training?

NH: I have had formal training. I took music classes in high school to train myself as a musican.  I got to the point where I was tutoring the grade nines and tens in music theory. In my OAC [grade 13 which no longer exists in Ontario] I wrote a symphony.  Some of it plays into what I do now, but not too much because I've forgotten a lot of it. It was a really good experience.

BGR: When you first started learning bass, did you play along with CDs or use tabulature?

NH: I learned a little by tab and by messing around. I found tab to be very disconcerting.  It's not true to the music. It doesn't lend you the feeling of the motion of the music, it doesn't let you experience it.
  One of the things that stuck in my brain was Yngie Malmsteen - I don't care about his shit that much - but one thing he said was: don't worry about where your fingers go, worry about what sounds good. I took that to heart.
  I started out with AC/DC and early Sabbath [playing] by ear - it was really fun stuff and I wanted to write songs.  I never learned to play Metallica or Maiden - even though Burton and Harris are two of my biggest influences. I think a lot of young players should just try and do something that sounds awesome, don't worry about scales and theory. Do something that makes you feel good.

One of the things that stuck in my brain was Yngie Malmsteen - I don't care about his shit that much - but one thing he said was: don't worry about where your fingers go, worry about what sounds good. I took that to heart.

BGR: Explain your right-hand technique.

NH: I'm mainly a finger guy these days; I started with a pick. I still use it at home when I write songs with a guitar feel. I (mainly) use two fingers, but when I do a lot of chords I will use three fingers: the thumb, index and middle. I use the (ring) finger sometimes too to do some kinds of triplets.

BGR: What amps and effects do you use live?

NH: Amp-wise, I like the Traynor mono-block - it's a vintage amp that's hard to find.

BGR: Is it a tube amp?

NH: It's a solid-state amp from the seventies. I have two of them. I found one by accident on an Ebay kinda-thing for $300.  About six months later I was in Long and McQuade on Bloor (in Toronto) and I turned around and there was one for $250.  They're made out of concrete, iron and steel - it's heavy as hell, but you get an amazing sound out of it.  Put it through any 8 x 10 and it sounds awesome.

-End of Part 2-

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