Reader Spotlight: Alex Thompson
Meet Alex Thompson, a bassist of 35 years who got an early start in music before life took him in a different direction. Over time, he returned to performing, joining the band Rocket Gods.
Alex is this week’s No Treble reader in the spotlight (you could be next). Here’s his story…
I’m 48 years old. I play in a band called Rocket Gods. I started playing bass at 13 after hearing Iron Maiden, but it jumped out to me years before seeing it in the early days of MTV. I took private lessons for years and was in jazz band in high school. By the time I was 16, I was playing in cover bands with adults and started playing gigs around the same time.
Bridgewater, MA, USA
Why I play the bass:
Seeing bass players on MTV in the early 80’s. The instrument just stood out to me for some reason. I heard Iron Maiden when I was 13 and knew I had to play bass.
I bought a Fender Marcus Miller jazz bass about 23 years ago and have used it on all my recordings and hundreds of shows. My go-to for the last two years has been the Fender Jaco Pastorius fretless bass. I put the LaBella tape wound strings on it.
I run a Hartke LH500 through two Trace Elliot 8×10 cabs. The 1048H cabs specifically.
Not many effects. I use a Dunlop Bass Crybaby and a Sansamp bass driver I have owned for nearly 25 years. I always have the house sound run direct from the Sansamp. It’s easily the best piece of gear I have ever owned.
Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, Geezer Butler, John Entwistle, Jaco Pastorius, and Cliff Burton.
There are many non-bass players, too: Brian Setzer, Roy Buchanan, and anyone on any instrument that moves me.
My bass superpower/claim to fame:
If you had asked me this question in my 20s, I would have said something like “being able to lock in with a drummer and lay down a grove while still creating melodic and interesting bass lines.”
That stuff is cool, but I don’t find it as important now.
I didn’t play music live for 20 years. My band broke up when I was 25. Next thing you know, I was married with kids and worked in an office. I didn’t think I’d ever be in a band again. During those years, I just played alone in my house. Played a lot of guitar too. Actually, I went back and started taking lessons again. I missed playing live music every single day.
A couple of years ago, a friend contacted me about joining his band. I didn’t think I could still do it. I knew I could still play, but I didn’t think I was that same guy who could stand in front of hundreds of people and play music. I was wrong. I have been recording and playing shows for the last few years, and I love it now more than when I was younger.
My superpower is appreciating the moment. All musicians have this, but some don’t recognize it.
Being able to play music is a gift. Being able to play music in front of people is a privilege.
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