Groove – Episode #106: Mike Watt

Mike Watt

If the electric bass had a pantheon, Mike Watt would undoubtedly have his own shrine. Known for his unparalleled musicianship, innovative bass playing techniques, and songwriting prowess, Mike has carved a unique niche for himself in the world of rock and punk and beyond into the world of “no genre”!

From his early days with Minutemen to fIREHOSE (a personal favorite) and his solo projects, Mike’s approach to the bass guitar has always been revolutionary and eclectic (much like how he tells stories). Rather than just being the backbone of a track, his bass lines take center stage, setting the mood, melody, and often the very core of his songs.

His technique, combining fingerpicking with aggressive strumming, produces a sound that’s both raw and melodic, a testament to his belief in the bass’s versatility and importance. Songwriting, for Mike, isn’t just about catchy hooks and verses. It’s about storytelling. It’s about painting vivid pictures with sound (including his creation of his own operas). Much like his bass lines, his lyrics cut deep, offering listeners a blend of introspection, political critique, and personal narratives. In songs like ‘Double Nickels on the Dime’, his bass doesn’t just support the music—it is the music. Now, as we delve deeper into his perspective on bass playing, it’s clear that for Mike, the electric bass isn’t just an instrument — it’s an extension of his voice, and it’s almost like the drums. On this episode of Groove – The No Treble Podcast, he dives into how he sees the bass guitar in his music and songwriting. To Mike, the bass is both a rhythm keeper and a melody maker. It’s a tool to communicate feelings, stories, and even ideologies. It’s not just about playing notes – it’s about conveying emotions, pushing boundaries, and constantly evolving.

Currently on tour with MSSV (aka Mike Baggetta, Stephen Hodges, and Mike), the band jams and builds on Mike’s signature style. MSSV is an exploration of sound, taking listeners on a sonic journey that melds punk ethos with improvisational jazz and much more (go and check them out). The project encapsulates everything Mike stands for —experimentation, collaboration, and refusing to be confined by genre or expectation.

For decades, Mike has showcased the boundless possibilities of the electric bass. His legacy, from trailblazing punk anthems to avant-garde collaborations, is a testament to his dedication to the craft. One thing remains clear: Mike Watt’s groove is eternal.

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