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Reader Spotlight: Graham McLachlan

Graham McLachlan
Photo by John Mourlas

Meet Graham McLachlan a bassist who also plays Chapman Stick on a very cool gig – Blue Man Group Chicago. Not only that, Graham’s gear list gave me a serious case of GAS.

Graham also plays bass in Electric Hawk – a band he describes as “an instrumental, prog/mathy, heavy band”. He’s the No Treble reader in the spotlight for the week of March 9, 2015, and here’s his story.


I started with bass when I was 15, playing in classic rock/jam cover bands mostly. I eventually got a music degree from Lehigh University, where I studied jazz and jazz harmony, and learned about classical music and forms. I moved to Amherst, MA to join a fusion/jam/heavy band, and then we all moved to SF in 1994 to totally make it, bro. I played in a several bands there, most notably a progressive metal band called Bluebeard. Our drummer for a brief period was Atma Anur, who has played on many Shrapnel records (Tony MacAlpine and others) and was in Journey for a short time. I learned really everything I know about time from him. In 2001, I auditioned for Blue Man Group. I got the gig, and moved to Las Vegas, where they taught me how to play Chapman Stick in the show. I played in various bands there, most notably a fantastic punk band called Thirsty. In 2008, I moved to the Chicago Blue Man show, where I still play Chapman Stick and bass in the show. I play in band called Electric Hawk, and we’re an instrumental prog-metal band, sort of in the mold of early Mastodon, with a little Melvins and Rush mixed in.


Chicago, IL USA

Day gig:

I play Chapman Stick and bass in Blue Man Group Chicago.

Years experience:

I started when I was 15, so about 28 years.

Bands & Gigs:

I play in Electric Hawk, and we’re an instrumental, prog/mathy, heavy band, certainly metal much of the time, but the harmony can be occasionally complex and not always thick. We have one record out, Electric Hawk I, and our second, Electric Hawk II, is about to come out in March/April. We play mostly in Chicago, but we’ve done a little touring around the Midwest.


  • 2 Wal MKI’s, one with elm facings, one with walnut
  • 1969 Fender Precision, sunburst
  • 1976 Fender Jazz, natural
  • 1989 Fender Precision, was burst, now white
  • Hiwatt DR201
  • Mesa Boogie 8×10
  • Mesa Boogie 4×12 (for bass)
  • Mid 70’s SVT head
  • Early 70’s SVT 8×10 with the dolly
  • Mid 70’s SVT 8×10 (kickback)
  • GK 2001RB
  • GK 440RB
  • Late 90’s Mesa Boogie 4×10
  • Lots and lots of pedals, but my main thing these days is Darkglass

Why I play the bass:

I was hanging with my friends who were all in band together in late summer of ’87. They had two guitar players and they were deciding who would play bass. One of them suggested I should play bass and by the way, a friend of ours was selling his with an amp. We drove to get it and that was that. It was a red Yamaha BB300 that I still have. Years later, I tore the frets out like Jaco, but I never really learned to play fretless.

My bass superpower/claim to fame

Well, my anti-anti-gravity is pretty good.

My influences

Hard to not mention Jaco, even though I sound nothing like him. I also listened to and tried to emulate Stanley Clarke back when I was music student. Because I play in heavy bands and with a pick mostly now, the most recent player I really was impressed by was Dick Lovgren from Meshuggah. Precise.

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It is a known fact that Graham “Grahamtanna” McLachlan is one of the great four-string fretologists extant within the tri-planet area excluding Mercury with the inclusion of Mars.

Steve Jenkins

Electric Hawk rules. And Graham is a bad MF. You all need to check them out if you are a fan of instrumental metal or just cool music. I got to hear them rehearse once back in 2011 at that in and of itself was a mind-blowing experience.