Bassist Spotlight: Bryan Garris (Heartstopper, Knocked Loose)

Heartstopper (Photo: Krissy Marie)

You will recognize my next bassist spotlight as the singer for arguably the biggest band in hardcore, Knocked Loose. It has been a pleasure, and a source of pride to watch those guys take their brand of hardcore across the globe.

Of course, their recordings are amazing, but being in the same room with them is how I really came to understand their musicianship and charisma. The other thing you'd realize is just how kind they, and vocalist Bryan Garris, are.

When I found out Bryan was starting a new band and was gonna play bass in it, I was eager as fuck to hear the recordings. I've seen them play twice now opening for Knocked Loose and playing LDB Fest 2020. They were fantastic. Let's pray that COVID-19 allows them to play more shows ASAP.

If you haven't checked Heartstopper out yet, here's your chance to hear from Bryan himself on the band, and his journey becoming a bass player. Hope you enjoy!

Introduce yourself to everyone.

Hey, what’s up! I’m Bryan Garris. I play bass in a band called Heartstopper and I sing in a band called Knocked Loose. 

How did you get into playing the bass guitar?

I started playing bass on and off several years ago. I wanted to start a band with someone who used to do merch for Knocked Loose and he sang. Isaac (Knocked Loose guitarist, Heartstopper drummer) said, “Bryan can play the bass, it’s easy.” 

It wasn’t [laughs], but I enjoyed it so I kept going. That band was called Tight End. We played a couple of shows around Louisville and have since joked about a comeback. Will probably never happen though

We all know you sing, do you play other instruments? Also, can you play and sing at the same time?

I don’t actually play any other instruments, I barely play the bass [laughs]. I have tried to sing while playing but I can’t even begin. My hands just stop what they’re doing. 

How did Heartstopper get started? 

Heartstopper is featuring 3/4 members of an older band called Nine Eyes, and I think towards the end of that band they started brainstorming the idea of something a little more straight forward sounding. They asked me and Jonah if we wanted to join after the EP was tracked, and I was stoked I got the offer. 

How did your bass parts come about? 

[Heartstopper drummer and Knocked Loose guitarist] Isaac [Hale] has a big hand in my bass parts. We usually sit together and he teaches me based on the guitar parts or we explore other options together. My history of being a bass player has essentially been Isaac teaching me riffs he’s wrote. 

What has been your technique so far on bass? Are you using a guitar pick?

I use a pick and I don't know if it’s because I don’t know how but I think it’s way more comfortable with a pick. I wouldn’t even know where to start without one. 

What sounds best to you when you are picking, upstrokes, downstrokes, or alternate picking? 

I try my best at alternate picking since Heartstopper and even my older band was a lot of faster. But for the heavier parts, I think I definitely prefer down picking. 

Who are some of the bass players that have inspired you? 

A lot of my friends. Caleb Murphy from Inclination is an awesome bass player to watch. Dustin Cantrell from Another Mistake and Wicked Garden. My friend Eric [English] that plays in Kublia Khan. They all look very sick while playing. 

What is it like playing rhythm was Isaac Hale?

At this point in my music career, I’m pretty positive I wouldn’t be able to be in a band without Isaac having a hand in it somehow.

I think we work extremely well together and he knows exactly how to get what’s in my head into the song. 


drum gloves stay ON during heartstopper...

A post shared by Isaac Hale (@caasihale) on

What's your favorite amp, pedal, bass guitar set up?

I use a lot of Kevin Otten's gear. He plays bass in Knocked Loose. We all practice in the same spot so he lets me borrow his stuff. I use my own Ibanez Tallman, amped 8x10, tuner and a Sans Amp, and a Darkglass Microtubes 900 bass head. 

COVID-19 has ruined everyone's schedule including Knocked Loose. How have you guys worked out practicing? Has Heartstopper worked out a way to practice and any idea when you'll play shows again?

Quickly after Heartstopper's first show, our singer Jim Barron (Nine Eyes, Love & Trust) moved to Oakland, California [laughs]. So we have not practiced.

But we have some stuff cooking in our group chat.... who’s knows. It's too early to say right now. But personally, I hope so. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of this. I don’t have to worry as much as I do in Knocked Loose. 

Heartstopper (Photo: Krissy Marie)

Anything in your personal life you'd like to talk about?

Since quarantine started, I’ve been trying to learn how to play guitar. So maybe some more band opportunities will pop up for me. Nothing else to do right now. 

You have basically toured all over the world now. Is there any other city you'd like to live in?

I’d love to live in Los Angeles or Rome. I have a lot of friends in LA, and I love the weather and how much there is to do. I went to Rome once on vacation a couple of years ago and I fell in love. The culture, food, etc. that’s a top 5 place for me. 

Finally, do you have any words of wisdom for someone picking up the bass guitar for the first time?

Don’t stress about it. Just have fun. I am not a bass player, I just picked it up to have fun with my friends. 


Heartstopper on social media: Instagram | Bandcamp


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Tagged: bassist spotlight, heartstopper, knocked loose