There’s a great scene in the movie School of Rock, where Jack Black’s character asked one of the students what she had been playing during music class. The student tells him it was a cello, and he said “here’s a bass… tip it on it’s side, and ‘cello’, you’ve got a bass.” While that’s not the exact story of bassist Eamonn Morris, it reminded me of it. The real story is that he didn’t think cello was cool enough, and that the bass was much cooler – so he made the switch.
Eamonn is this week’s No Treble reader in the spotlight. Here’s his story.
I am a bassist and sometimes cellist living in Boulder, Colorado. I’ve been playing instruments since I was about ten; I picked up the bass in seventh grade to join a friend’s punk band and even though I ended up hating punk I ended up loving the bass! I started gigging when I was fifteen and have been doing it ever since. I considered majoring in music in college, but a parallel interest in academia pulled me in that direction. Even so, I still gig and work in many styles, including jazz, folk/western, and experimental.
I’m currently a full-time history student, and am considering taking on doctoral research.
Nine years on bass guitar, seven on upright.
Bands & Gigs:
I play in a John Denver tribute band – Brad Fitch’s Tropicowboy Band – on a seasonal basis. Aside from that, I pick up jazz gigs whenever possible, and have sometimes done studio work. I also have played in my university’s Laptop Orchestra (The BLork – Boulder Laptop Orchestra), an experimental electronic band.
- Fender Standard Precision Bass (2014)
- Fender 24 V jazz bass
- NS Design NXT 4
- Gallien Krueger MB150S/ 112
- Acoustic B200 MkII
Why I play the bass:
I played the cello for several years, but it wasn’t cool enough. I had wanted to join my friend’s seventh grade punk band, and the obvious choice of instrument was bass guitar due to its similarity. So I dabbled in that a couple of years but the bass didn’t take until I watched a video of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “getaway” that included a bass battle. Now I could see what bass could do, and then it was off to the races. An interest in jazz got me to pick up upright bass along the way.
My bass superpower/claim to fame:
Versatility. In no way am I a virtuoso – technical fireworks have never been my focus – but I generally am able to slot into any feel, groove, style, whatever without too much trouble. I have a special interest in avant-garde and underground styles, so sometimes I’m sought out for that.
Michael Henderson, Bill Laswell, Larry Klein, and Louis Johnson are some of my bass guitar heroes and embody how I see my role. As far as who I think of as an exemplary soloist, then I think of Steve Swallow, who no one can really hold a candle to. Upright players who inspire me are Ron Carter, Eddie Gomez, and also Christ Minh Doky and especially Eberhard Weber.