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Reader Spotlight: Dan Willett

Dan WillettMeet Dan Willett a bassist and lifelong musician from the UK who says he still hasn’t grown up yet. We dig that.

Bio:

I’ve been a musician for nearly my entire life, having taken my first keyboard and music theory lessons at the age of four. These days, the bass is very much my main instrument, and in the Midlands I’m known primarily for my work in the metal and progressive rock genres.

I’ve never been a player content to just sit in the background out of sight – I always strive to maintain a big presence on the stage, and I make slap and two-handed tapping a frequent part of my signature playing style. Recently I’ve even been doing a bit of singing. Scary stuff! I love the challenge of seeing how much I can get away with, whilst making sure that whatever I play still serves the music as a whole without being too over the top!

Location:

Birmingham, West Midlands, UK

Day gig:

My main job is working as a freelance sound engineer at Univibe Audio in Birmingham. When I’m not doing that, I work in my dad’s store selling horse feed and various other pet supplies. I’ve also done a few bits of session playing here and there, which is something I’d like to do more of in future!

Years experience:

About 10 or 11 years, I’m not exactly sure. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Bands & Gigs:

I play for Birmingham-based groove/prog metal band Collision Process as my main live gig, and in our first year on the circuit we’ve supported touring metal acts such as The Defiled and Romeo Must Die. We’ve also played Glastonbudget Festival in Leicestershire, which I believe was attended by around 10,000 people this year.

I’m also a member of an internet-based recording project called Failure of Milk, who have members based in Ireland and the US as well as myself here in England. We’ve been getting quite a bit of attention recently, having had one of our tracks featured on a cover-mount CD with Metal Hammer Magazine, alongside big names like Meshuggah, Periphery, Textures and Tesseract. Definitely a proud moment!

Gear:

  • Simnett Guitars Maple/Korina 5-string bass
  • Nordstrand pickups
  • Genz Benz Shuttle amp head (currently using the 6.0, may be upgrading soon)
  • Barefaced Super Twelve T – 2×12 cab w/ tweeter
  • Home-made practice/small gig 1×12 cab – Frankensteined from an old Warwick combo amp
  • Death Valley Cable Company cables
  • Defendear earplugs

My pedalboard currently includes:

  • Sonic Research Turbo Tuner
  • Maxon CP9 Pro+ compressor pedal
  • EBS MultiDrive
  • EBS OctaBass
  • Barge Concepts VB-jr blendable loop pedal

Why I play the bass:

In my mid teens I got asked to join a band by some friends at high school. I’d always had a musical background, although I’d never played bass before. It sounded like fun anyway, so why not? Fumbling my way through ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath for the first time landed me the gig, and got me hooked on the instrument. Now we’re over a decade down the line, and I still haven’t grown up yet.

My bass superpower/claim to fame

To be honest I’ve never really sat down and thought about it much before now. I guess you could say that over the years I’ve developed a knack for picking up on some fairly complex ideas quite easily. I’m usually quick to find a natural feel with things like odd time signatures, frequent metre changes, poly-rhythms, etc. without a lot of fuss. I’m also usually able to find some interesting or unusual harmonic ideas through a bit of trial and error. I know I’m definitely not as sharp on my theory knowledge as I used to be when I was younger, but my ears and internal clock seem to serve me pretty well.

In local circles, I suspect that I may be known for my main weapon of choice as much as I am for my playing – probably more so! It’s a one-of-a-kind Maple/White Korina 5-string, fitted with Nordstrand pickups. I had it made for me by an independent luthier called Jon Simnett, who has been a good friend of mine for several years. I designed it myself (with a LOT of his help and guidance, of course) and then he took care of all the difficult stuff. The dude is a true artist with superb attention to detail, and I’m proud to endorse his work wherever I go.

My influences

Usually I tend to draw influence from artists and bands as a whole, rather than individual people. In spite of this, I still have to place Peter Gabriel and Imogen Heap near the top of the list.

Other influences include Karnivool, SikTh, Porcupine Tree, Oceansize, Mastodon, Tesseract, Decapitated, Between the Buried and Me, Incubus, Skunk Anansie, Machine Head, Anathema, A Perfect Circle, Beecher, Nine Inch Nails, Stabbing Westward, Periphery, I’m going to stop now because I could be here all day.

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