In this interview series, I have been getting to the heart of why these people are playing the bass guitar. So far, almost 90% of them are saying they got into music and primarily the bass because "someone asked them to." They accepted the challenge of the instrument, but mostly just wanted to be with their friends. I love it and relate to it 100%. Eric Odness has a great story, and I hope everyone enjoys the latest spotlight.
Introduce yourself to everyone.
Hi there. I am the previously and still unknown Eric Odness
How did you get into playing bass?
I started playing guitar at 17-years old. When I was around 20-years old, living in Fargo, ND my friends in a band called CTRL-D were in need of a bass player. I basically forced myself to play bass for the first time just so I could play with those guys. They were my favorite local band so I was pretty pumped to accept the challenge. Beyond that it seemed like bands always need bass players and drummers. I certainly cannot play drums so I started putting myself out there for bass stuff.
Did/does your family support your music?
My family is very supportive of my music, especially my wife. She’s never once given me any shit about being out late at night for rehearsal or going on tour. It goes a long way on the road not having any lingering feeling of guilt or bitterness that someone isn’t happy with you back at home. I’ve been out with other band members who have that constant battle with someone back home and it can weigh on you.
How do you write your parts for your bands?
I personally am terrible at writing complete songs. I typically come up with 2-3 parts that can flow together a couple different ways and just present them as a chunk of a tune. You might call them “tune chunks”. [Laughs] Gross!
As far as just writing a line over someone else’s idea, I’ve always been lucky to play with people who are far better players and writers than I am so they know how to do the leg work and just put up with my amateur skills. Primitive Weapons is the only band I’ve ever played in where someone basically writes the songs in their entirety and hands them to us. [Guitarist/vocalist] Arty Shepherd is the brains behind those songs. He and I think very similarly as far as bass parts go so he is pretty great about just letting me write stuff under his guitar lines. Thanks, Arty!
When you're not at practice do you record your parts on your cell phone or laptop?
Absolutely. My entire Voice Memo app is full of hundreds of guitar parts and my voice humming things I’ve come up with in my head. In fact, I was on tour in Ireland with a band I played in called The Wanted 6-7 years ago. Primitive Weapons dudes recorded an entire demo back home with Travis Bacon while I was away. Our production manager Andrew Thornton is great with ProTools and he was kind enough to set me up in a dressing room one day to record an entire album of bass lines for The Future of Death. Then I got onstage to play in a boy band for a room full of teenagers an hour later. Weird shit
When you play, are you doing more upstrokes or downstrokes?
Depends on the band I’m playing in, I suppose. If I’m playing bass, it’s definitely a lot of up and downstrokes. I’m big on “feel” when I play bass so up and down is really important to me. In my other band, Ageist, I play guitar and that particular band lends itself to a lot of downstrokes because it chugs along on a lot of fast power chords.
Who is more active now, Primitive Weapons or Ageist?
Right now neither are very active. Primitive Weapons is on and indefinite “break” right now. Also, our drummer, Chris Enriiquez, plays in Spotlights and they are gone a lot so it’s hard to nail him down for much nowadays. Ageist is in a similar situation. Our drummer is Tucker Rule. Most of this year he’s been on tour with his band Thursday and right now he’s on a long tour playing with Frank Iero and the Future Violents—great band by the way.
Side note: I love Chris Enriquez (also of On the Might of Princes). He filled in on some shows for Supertouch. I couldn't believe how fast he figured out our set, and perfectly. He’s amazing.
You have actively been playing in hardcore bands, and also working as a professional musician for years. Has it been easy or difficult for you to move back and forth between the two different vibes and the amount of time it takes?
Somehow I’ve maintained doing this for 20 years or so now and it hasn’t been difficult. Again, having a wife who’s cool with my passion makes it a lot easier but as far as the music itself goes; I love jumping between different styles. I’m just a music fan. Period. So I’ll play in a Dwight Yoakam cover band tomorrow if someone asked me and then I’ll go on tour with Dillinger Escape Plan the next day. I love it. Just last night I was at a sports bar in Fargo, ND and sang some John Legend at karaoke [laughs].
I first saw you playing guitar for Foreign Islands in 2007, I think. I was working for Young Love, and we were playing shows together. I was stoked on how ape shit the band went on stage. The guitar cables were the craziest spaghetti looking insanity I had ever seen by the time the set was over. You guys moved around each other soo much I thought for sure someone was gonna get unplugged. What was your next gig after playing in Foreign Islands?
Yeah that band was nuts on and off stage! When I joined that band they actually had to have a talk with me and tell me they wanted me to be crazier onstage. I was apprehensive at first but years later now, I’m really thankful they asked me to do that because I think it’s really opened me up onstage in all of my outfits since then.
You guys had Alan Cage Quicksand playing drums for you on that tour. We did not know he was playing with you guys till we loaded in that first show. We started asking questions why the drum cases had Quicksand spray painted on them! How was it playing with him?
I had only lived in NY for about a year and didn’t have a lot going on for work and nothing going on with music. When I was asked to play in a band with Alan Cage from Quicksand (!) I knew I made the right choice moving out here and things would be ok. Primitive Weapons recently did a tour opening for Quicksand and Glassjaw. It was a real “full circle” moment for me to share a stage with Alan 12 years later. He’s a great dude
I really bond with my drummers. Who has helped you the most or changed the way you play?
In the last 9 years I have played with Tucker Rule in, I believe, 7 different bands. So, I think inherently I’d have to say he has made me much better on bass and guitar. He’s just so good, you have to be on your A game or it’s not going to look good for you.
What bass player would you recommend us to check out?
I am a huge David Wm. Sims (Scratch Acid, Rapeman, Jesus Lizard) fan, so that’s a no brainer. But recently I’ve fallen back in love with Vern Rumsey’s playing in Unwound. He’s got some real tasty bits and his tones cut through so well without overpowering the band as a whole. He’s amazing.
What is your current bass, amp, pedal combo?
- GK 800 amp
- 8x10 SVT cab
- Rat pedal
I only use bass on my cab. No treble or mids. All the high end I get is from the Rat pedal.
Getting back to a previous question, I wanted to ask you more about your professional bass playing career. I always thought your story was awesome. I played bass for a band called Pin Me Down which was Russell Lissack (Bloc Party) and Melina Mepris. I was super nervous at first about my hardcore/punk style working for dance music, but actually, my sensibilities worked perfectly with Russel's guitar playing. How did it feel for when you were in The Wanted?
Honestly, The Wanted thing happened so quickly I didn’t really have time to worry about it. Tucker asked me if I wanted to play in the band with him and a week later we were in 3 days of rehearsal for the boys first ever US show. I just put my head down and learned the songs as quickly as I could. It was nerve-racking but probably a blessing that I didn’t have time to think too much on it or worry about the style of music. I just had to jump in and go for it.
How were the shows, and touring life with them?
It was a fucking trip! I went from playing Saint Vitus constantly to being on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show and playing Wembley Stadium overnight. Very surreal. Most importantly for me I met some of my best friends in the world doing that. All the way from, the musicians, to the singers to the crew guys and gals. I knew I was not the kind of musician that could keep doing this as a living. Tucker and Brian Deneeve were also in the band. Those guys are genius musicians and could keep playing with anyone they want.
I am not that talented so I basically told myself to go get as drunk as possible and live it up because you will never do this again! So that’s what I did. Much to the disappointment of the people in charge but I didn’t care. P.S. Andrew Thornton I did care about you!
What are you up to in your personal life currently?
I own two bars in Brooklyn called Lake Street and Goldie’s. I just opened a new bar in my hometown Moorhead, MN. It’s named Harold’s after my grandfather. I have a wife and a 4-year old daughter. Again, I’m not sure how I still manage to play music!
Anything new coming up musically you wanna talk about?
I’m doing a new project with Arty [Shepherd] that is seemingly his solo thing. The demos are awesome and I’m really excited about that.
Finally, any words of wisdom for someone picking up a bass guitar for the first time?
Being a fairly unwise man, I would say have fun. Don’t worry about learning from a book or leaning too heavily on music theory. Just play what sounds cool. I can’t read music and I don’t understand real music lingo but I’ve still had a blast for a long time just making noise that pleases me.