Reader Spotlight: Jon Hallam
Meet Jon Hallam, a bassist who I believe has the funniest “sex, drugs and rock and roll” stories in history. Joking aside, Jon is doing the serious work of a bassist, who found his calling after dropping the guitar. Here’s his story.
I started quite late on – when I was 17, one of my best friends at school played all of the instruments and said that if I wanted to play in bands I should get a bass. So I did. I’ve been very lucky that through luck or design, I have got to know a lot of astonishing musicians and music aficionados (in many genres from rock/metal, jazz, electronica, blues, funk, Hip-Hop) and this has massively influenced my approach to playing music.
I work in a laboratory that tests pharmaceuticals to ensure they are safe to use (no testing on animals is involved). It provides one third of my quota of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
Bands & Gigs:
I am currently in two bands. A metal band called Landstrider which satisfies my need to play loud, angry and fast and a Blues/Rock band called These Wicked Rivers which satisfies my need for melody and to play loud, angry and fast. These Wicked Rivers is gigging all around the Midlands and we have just recorded our first EP.
My main bass – for both bands – is a Warwick Thumb Bolt-on 6 string. It’s the sound in my head put into my hands.
Ibanez SR506 with Nordstrand Fat-stacks. My backup bass. The pickups are astonishing.
“Fender”Jazz 5 string fretless – when I bought it, it had frets and said Squier on it. That’s our little secret.
EBS Fafner – The most aggressive sounding head ever made. Play metal… you need this.
2×10 and 1×15 Speaker Cabinets by Rob Hodgson of RH Guitars UK.
Why I play the bass:
When I was at school, a friend of mine played bass (among many instruments) and it looked cool, he said it would be easy to get into bands. That was enough for me. I did play guitar almost exclusively for about 5 years after leaving university but I always felt like an imposter on guitar – I just didn’t want to be the centre of attention, so to speak. Having tried; and failed, to form bands as a guitarist, a friend of mine wanted a bass player – I still had a bass, so I filled in and realised that bass was my calling. I can still show off if I want to – Slapping a bass is the most fun you can have on a stringed instrument – but for the most I’m providing a foundation and driving the music.
My bass superpower/claim to fame
Acoording to a producer I recently recorded with – my right hand attack is very powerful. He said that he has to get most bassists to record with a pick to get the attack required for fast, aggressive playing. With me he had no such problems.
So many but… The first player to really inspire me – as with so many players of my era – was Flea. He stood out as a player who was the driving force of the band he was in. As my music tastes widened I was exposed to players like Les Claypool, Tim Commerford, Bill Gould, Justin Chancellor. As I got into heavier music I was massively influenced by Ryan Martinie from Mudvayne, Steve DiGiorgio, Sean Malone of Cynic, Joe Lester of Intronaut. After that more diverse players such as Squarepusher, Mark Sandman, Janek Gwizdala.
Just wanting to learn about music from before I was born exposed me to players such as John-Paul Jones, Geezer Butler, James Jamerson, Larry Graham, Paul McCartney.
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