Bass Players to Know: Erik Scott
I’m always surprised when I discover bass players who manage to go under the radar despite a diverse and truly impressive resume. They are the players who can’t be stopped… they’ve had all kinds of gigs, taken on the role of writer and producer, and even have a few solo projects to their name. We always love reading about the “big guys” but there are plenty of players who deserve fifteen minutes of fame and a shout out to their accomplishments. Erik Scott, our latest Bass Player To Know, fits the bill. Scott has written for, recorded with, produced, or toured with artists including Alice Cooper, Sonia Dada, “Pops” and Mavis Staples, and Flo & Eddie. With film and TV credits to his name, as well as a few solo albums, he’s the professional musician that many of us aspire to be.
So Who Is Erik Scott?
The timeline of Scott’s career is nothing short of remarkable and constantly evolving. Each decade seems to take him from one genre and musical role to another, beginning with his work with Flo & Eddie. Scott moved to LA in the early 1970’s and managed to break his way into the live and session scene. He spent most of the mid-late 70’s touring and recording with the duo; he can be heard on Illegal, Immoral and Fattening (alongside Leland Sklar) and Moving Targets. Playing around LA eventually led to meeting Alice Cooper, a relationship that carried through most of the 1980s. Amidst touring, he worked on a handful of Alice Cooper records as both bass player and producer.
The 1990’s took him from the role of sideman to band member as he helped form the soulful Chicago based band, Sonia Dada. Again, Scott not only played bass with the group, but was an active composer and producer on their records through the early 2000s. Scott’s playing also reached the ears of “Pops” Staples; he co-wrote the title track Father, Father, resulting in a Grammy for “Best Contemporary Blues Album” in 1994. This eventually led to working with Mavis Staples on her 2004 record Have A Little Faith. As the 2000’s progressed, Scott drew his attention towards solo projects, including Other Planets, And The Earth Bleeds, and Spirits.
Let’s Talk Style
Scott’s mastery lies somewhere between his ear for production, his mind for composition, and his ability to fit in with different musical styles. He plays to the song with both his tone and musical movements. Not afraid to rock, his ability to perfectly execute thematic riffs, forcefully pedal the root, strike strong downbeats, and fill in the gaps with slides and noise makes him a great fit for the in-your-face rock of the 1980s. He also excels as a fretless player, integrating high melodic slides and beautifully sustained notes to his solo records and the music of Sonia Dada.
In addition to Scott’s expertise as a bass player, his composition and production styles are worthy of note. His solo projects are built around layering sounds and rhythms, creating musical settings with the swells of notes and chordal pads, and seemingly moving with the natural rhythms of the universe. He pulls elements from different cultures, creating his own brand of world music that relies on different rhythms, instruments, and harmonic approaches.
Where Can I Hear Him?
“Never See Me Again” (Sonia Dada: Sonia Dada)
One of the more rocking tunes on Sonia Dada’s self titled record, Scott anchors the song with a funky and energetic bass line. Beginning with a slick high-register fill, he establishes a groove that toggles between two chords, with walking moves and embellishments thrown in at just the right places. His tone is crunchy and aggressive, speaking to his rock influences, and putting him in the same league as some of the more celebrated bass players of the ‘90s such as Flea and Les Claypool.
“Make That Money (Scrooge’s Song)” (Alice Cooper: Zipper Catches Skin)
This record features Scott as a man of many hats… bass player, composer, arranger, and producer. The bass plays a prominent role with its distinctive and punchy tone, complimenting the in-your-face vocals of Cooper. Scott mimics the signature guitar licks, follows the melody, and provides an intense high-register pedal to conclude the song.
“Bassque Revolution” (Erik Scott: Other Planets)
One of the many sonically interesting and atmospheric songs on his solo record, this tune showcases Scott’s fretless playing, with long slides, chords, and high melodies. He builds on Middle Eastern themes, playing with half step motion, intricate rhythms, and percussive elements.
How about you? What’s your favorite tune or album with Erik Scott? Please share with us in the comments.
Ryan Madora is a professional bass player, author, and educator living in Nashville, TN. In addition to touring and session work, she teaches private lessons and masterclasses to students of all levels. Visit her website to learn more!