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Player Spotlight: Simon Normand

Meet Simon Normand, a bassist from Denmark who has a GAS-inducing list of gear, and a nice musical background. We love his super power too.

Simon is our player in the spotlight for the week of June 12, 2012. (You could be next!)

Simon Normand

Bio:

I picked up the bass at age 12. Two weeks later, I found myself playing in a big band with people a little older than me. That was a big challenge. Since I couldn’t read music, I listened to the piano and the horn sections, which really helped me develop my ear, and my bass teacher gave me some tricks to “walk the bass” to help me get through.

At age 18, I played my first paid gig, and since then I’ve never turned down an opportunity to play on a stage or in studio.

Four years ago, I felt that my playing was stagnating. I played in three different bands, but we didn’t develop that much. So I started searching for jam nights in Copenhagen, and I found some sweet spots with very good musicians playing all kinds of stuff. Luckily I had a trained ear, so I jumped into it and started playing numbers I didn’t know until I played them on stage… pretty stressful the first couple of times, but I didn’t give up. I played two to three nights a week in that setting, and that allowed me to network with other bass players. And that led to replacing pro bass players in different bands. That’s what I do now, and I play lots of different genres: rock, blues, funk, jazz, pop.

My dream is to earn enough money and travel to L.A. and attend Musicians Institute.

Location:

Copenhagen, Denmark

Day gig:

Studying to become a music teacher and a teacher for special needs kids.

Years experience:

12 years

Bands & Gigs:

When I’ve got time, I lay down the bass in CSI Studios in Copenhagen, and I work as a freelance bassist in a couple of other studios.

I have one or two gigs a week, playing mostly cover music. I also play in two bands where we perform original stuff.

I’m in a pop band called “Glad You Came”, which is inspired by the music of Prince and John Mayer. The lead guitarist/vocalist and I started writing a bunch of pop-bluesy songs after we met in a John Mayer coverband. We will release our songs over the summer, and we’ve spend a lot of hours in studio polishing them. The bass lines on the tracks are very melodic, and my goal is to tell a story through my bass lines and still hold the bottom with the drummer.

Them White Blokes is my ’70s-inspired rock band. I actually play guitar in this band. There’s a drummer, singer, me, and an organist, and the organ covers the bass (it is an old Hammond). It’s kind of like The Doors, but the music is a mixture between Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Queens of the Stone Age. The challenge in this band is to keep up with a bass that hasn’t got that many dynamic options. It’s fun and I learn a lot about the bass because it’s the only tonal instrument backing me up in the band.

Gear:

  • Fender Jazz ’75 with minor upgrades (looks like a Marcus Miller without his pickguard)
  • Tokai 5-string jazz with flatwounds
  • Fretless ’82 Mørch “curle”-bass (Jaco had two of these)
  • Marshall Superlead from 1970 with original tubes (I use this in studio – great tube tone for my jazz bass)
  • Ampeg B200r Combo mounted with a 15˝ vintage JBL speaker (great for jazz and blues and club gigs)
  • EBS Fafner MK1 (never breaks down!)
  • Mesa/Boogie 1516rb (best bass cabinet ever built)
  • Aguilar Agro Overdrive
  • Aguilar Tonehammer Preamp/DI
  • Akai Deep Impact Synth
  • Ibanez TS808 with a bass mod
  • Line 6 MM4 (I use this for the Leslie simulation)
  • Korg Pitchblack tuner

Why I play the bass:

My first music teacher told me to pick up the bass, and since I first played his ’71 Jazz bass, I’ve never looked back.

My bass superpower/claim to fame

I can make every drummer smile on stage.

My influences

First of all my one and only bass teacher, Ole Villumsen. I’ll never forget his tone and his improvisation skills. Jaco and Flea were my first two inspirations. Pino Paladino is my favorite on the blues/rock bass.

Right now I like listening to Sharay Reed. I love his runs on the fretboard. And Oteil Burbridge on the new Tedeschi Trucks Band album. Lovely tone!

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