I have noticed a lot of bass players, myself included, who have become musical opportunists. For whatever reason be it spending time with our friends, the love of music, escaping a bad home life, etc. We would pick up any instrument we could to be in a band with our friends, tour, and record. Whatever the band needed at that time, I would do it. I have also noticed a lot of these people became virtuosos along their path; giving their bands songs, the proper justice they need.
As a young hardcore kid in the '90s, I noticed Pat McClimans immediately. He was playing bass and guitar in two of my favorite bands at the time: Endpoint and Falling Forward.
I also was learning how to play bass, and guitar at the same time and he and his playing really inspired me. I had to reach out to Pat for my Bassist Spotlight series and get the inside information on how he accomplished so much. I hope you guys enjoy his story.
Introduce yourself to everyone.
Pat McClimans: 5/1/1973 (Taurus). Born in Lafayette, Indiana.
What got you into playing bass guitar for bands?
Literally as early as I can remember I was fixated on the guitar. I always thought they were cool. I can remember just making up rock bands to draw so I could draw different shaped guitars, knowing nothing about the instrument.
Which came first for you, guitar or bass?
I always just loved the guitar, but the first thing I actually wanted to play was the bass, and it was strictly a result of hearing Suicidal Tendencies' "I Saw Your Mommy" at 14. There is a bass fill that lit me up and made me want to learn how to play the bass guitar. I am definitely a guitar player. The bass is always my favorite piece of a band, and I value it the most in an electric band setting, but I myself am merely a guy who played the bass, not a bass player. I really admire the true bass players.
I definitely have more fun playing the guitar, especially if I am lucky enough to be with someone who is a good bass player. Finding that chemistry is tough.
At the end of the day they use all of the same information and it’s laid out the exact same, but they do completely different tasks. I love both tasks, but I enjoy playing the guitar better.
Does your family support your music?
My family… if you mean my wife and daughter, yes. My wife has put up with a lot, in terms of me taking off at random intervals to lose money being ignored by hostile strangers.
I was in a band here in the Portland area for a short while and I wasn’t feeling it… I went to have the talk with them that I was done, and before I could start explaining anything they sort of jumped over my talking with assumptions that it was because my wife didn’t want me to be playing music with folks. I just kept my mouth shut and let them believe that, but it was funny to me, knowing that on our first wedding anniversary Metroschifter and a band from Germany were at my house and I was leaving for a tour the next day…
I have been very lucky to have a wife who tries to understand me
The first time I saw you in a band was SCAB at Tewligans in Louisville, Kentucky in the early 1990s. Had SCAB been touring a lot during those times?
Not touring, really at all. We played shows in Lafayette, Dayton, Columbus, Louisville, St. Louis. Really only a few shows outside of our area in Lafayette. I will say that some of the best shows we ever played were in Louisville.
Who wrote the songs in SCAB?
Musically all of the stuff was written by Dave Mason (guitar) and Cody Herr (bass). I wrote all of the ‘lyrics.'
A little later in the '90s Endpoint, and Falling Forward were my favorite bands on Earth. You landed the bass gig for Endpoint when Kyle Noltemeyer (Endpoint, Guilt) stopped playing. Curtis Mead (Split Lip/Chamberlain) filled in until you officially joined the band. At roughly the same time you got the guitar gig for Falling Forward replacing Benny Clark! How did all that come about?
My memory of it is like this…
I was a massive Endpoint super fan. In fact, if you want to tie playing the bass guitar together with knowing endpoint as a listener, this is a great example. I would sit at home and learn Jason Hayden’s bass lines and just kind of play them over and over. I thought he was the smartest musician in the world when I first heard that album, and his playing was a huge part of what attracted me to the band. There was also being young and yelling and pointing at things… I mean… that’s part of it, too, I have to admit.
Anyway, I know now that I was hearing that he was using harmony and chord elements in his playing instead of just playing the same dot that the guitar player played. He was doing it in a really musical way. Due to being a huge fan and always pestering them and always being around, it came to pass that on an approaching tour Kyle Noltemeyer was not going to be available.
I can’t remember if he had left the band altogether or was just not doing the tour, but they needed someone to cover the tour. I was stoked, as they were my favorite band. I was with Endpoint, did that tour and then the next year did that tour, with Shift and Falling Forward.
I knew Chris Higdon already, and we had toyed with making an acoustic 7” but never followed through. As Endpoint was breaking up at the end of that tour, Falling Forward was having some personnel shifting as well. I saw an opportunity to switch to playing the guitar with Falling Forward, and so we gave that a whirl.
Your bass playing on Endpoint's After Taste record really propelled the band songs to the next level. I learned a lot from the bass performance, and it exposed me to how to write hooks inside of songs. How much of an influence would you say you had on those songs?
It’s hard to think I had any influence on them, really. Those parts were recorded after a 4-week US tour, so I was as familiar with the stuff as could be when I tracked the bass parts.
It’s important to me to remember that Kyle had recorded bass parts on the album before we left for tour. There was no discussion of me being on the album. We did the tour, and when we got back we recorded the 26 seconds 7”. That was the first thing I recorded with Endpoint.
After recording that single Duncan asked me if I would overdub the bass parts for the record. There is one track that the bass starts, and instead of trying to have me play alongside it, they opted to leave that track with Kyle’s bass track, the rest, I overdubbed.
So, to answer your question, I was playing parts that were at least influenced by what Kyle Noltemeyer had played previously and I was super well-rehearsed due to a long tour of playing the material. As far as laying hooks into your playing…I probably overplay.
Typically, how do you write songs for your bands?
I really have done it all sorts of ways… lyrics then music, music then lyrics, style-shifting, riff torture.
I just let stuff out if it wants out. I have decided that I am not one thing, so I am not going to try and create one thing. If a song wants to be heavy or light or simple or complex, let it. This is my approach because I have no ambition.
Do you have lots of recordings or is it all in your head?
I have quite a few recordings. I figured out that I really love to make recordings, and I really love to play live. People, however, do not love to purchase music that I record or go to see performances where I am playing music. That’s OK. I get it. Hell… I wouldn’t be there if I weren’t doing the thing.
So, if I just write the songs and record them, I only lose the amount of money I pay to record it, and it is documented, and I can move on to the next thing. There are several recordings of things that have never been heard that I have no idea where they are. You’re welcome, Earth.
Around the same time in the '90s, you start Metroschifter with Scott Richter of Sunsrping fame. You guys released several epic albums over the years. What has it been like to collaborate with Scott for so long?
Scott was a sort of important person for me to meet. While we initially met under kind-of-strained circumstances, once we were on a tour together, we became really fast friends. That tour was Endpoint with Sunspring in maybe 1993. Sunspring was at a point where the lineup was about to shift, and after the tour, Scott had approached me about playing bass in Sunspring, but that sort of became the starting point for Metroschifter.
So, I got to witness Scott make moves based on his vision. that was a big thing for me. Then Metroschifter was run much more like a community than anything I had previously been involved in. I felt total freedom to try to approach the music how I saw fit. That was new to me as a player and as an approach to playing music in a band. All of my previous experiences were the sort where there is one perspective and the rest sort of carry that vision out.
I like the energy of being allowed to be creative and had never had a real chance to try and flex that way. Seeing how Scott ran a record label [Slamdek Records] and tried to make every aspect fun was huge for me. Basically... if it was possible to make something fun, that was the goal.
I really sort of love all of the things we have done together. I mean... it's so fun to do things that are purely for the audience of he and I.
For example, one of my favorite things we ever did was a parody of the Hare Krishna band Shelter, called Shitler, where the songs were feces-themed. It's so stupid, but we were just trying to make ourselves laugh and make it sound real. I love that. I
love that whenever I am around Scott, we tend to make something. It's usually ridiculous and amounts to nothing more than an inside joke that no one thinks is funny but me. That's OK with me. That's great with me.
I think it is very telling that the Metroschifter (Scott, myself, and Chris Reinstatler) still meet at various points around the world to hang out and make a party. Metroschifter, while at times making me insane, was the most "band" band I have been a part of, as seen in the way we are still close today. Hort and Scott are two of my closest people in life.
Is there a particular bass player you are drawing inspiration from?
For me, it is all about the guys who connect the harmonic world to the rhythm world. It’s great if you can tease a Bach melody here, but how are you advancing the groove? To be honest, it boils down to good ensemble members. George Porter Jr. comes to mind.
When you are picking, would you say you upstroke or downstroke more?
Always alternate. Always. Even if you’re string skipping. It’s so worth it to find a couple of exercises to do to get your hands totally comfortable with it. I wish I had figured that out a lot sooner.
Is there a drummer who has changed the way you play?
Hmm…. I have been very lucky to get to play with some really, really good drummers. Playing with Kyle Crabtree in Endpoint to some degree, but later when he filled in for Metroschifter, really clicked with me how when you’re playing the bass you have to be locked into the bass drum foot of the drummer. That’s the keystone of the rhythm section.
So, Kyle helped me understand that. I’m going to have to reference the Meters again and say that Ziggy Modeliste is a one of a kind rhythmic force.
Do you have a favorite bass, amp pedal combination?
Fender Precision Bass > Ampeg V4B head with Ampeg 8x10
Current guitar rig: Les Paul > JRAD compressor > Dunlop Wah > Barber Launch Pad > JHS Colourbox > JHS Warbletron > some weird envelope filter > El Capistan delay > Traynor Guitar Mate (I LOVE THIS RIG)
I know you toured frequently, is there any city you would love to live in?
I am living outside of Portland right now, and I love it here. I moved here in 2013. I don’t really think there are many places I want to live in. I think West Coast for sure.
I really love traveling and visiting places. I still try to find whatever is fun about any place I am in. The only place I have found where you can’t find anything fun to do is in Peoria. There is no fun in Peoria.
You have "sang" for bands, played bass in bands, played guitar for bands. Have you ever had any interest in playing drums for a band?
Totally. I have played shows on drums, for my own fun, but you can't be a mediocre drummer the way you can be a mediocre guitar player. Bad drummer, bad band. I am a guitar player, truly. I play the bass sometimes. Oddly, the bass player and drummer are always the #1 and #2 members of a band for me. Jane's Addiction is a good example of a band where the guitar player is the least important component to me, and the bass and drums are the keys to the whole thing.
Do you have anything new going on musically?
I do. I have been constantly looking for interesting stuff to do and when I moved to Oregon I had to really start fresh trying to find people to play with. It’s been interesting, and I have met some real characters, but I am really happy with the current thing that I am getting to do.
I was able to find an ad for a band looking for a guitar player and somehow I convinced them to let me join. We just play a little dive bar occasionally and have no ambition. It’s really great. The band is all instrumental and heavy on improvisation. Everyone is highly educated in music, and then there’s me.
You just played a show with Scott Ritcher recently in Louisville before the pandemic. How did that show work itself out?
Felt a little more like it worked itself in. Scott and I were planning on getting together anyway, as he had recently returned to the US of A, and we wanted to make a little party. He had had an idea to do a show and we timed it out to happen while I was in town. It was a really fun little affair at a house out in the middle of nowhere. We had a great time… not sure how anyone else felt.
Is there anything going on in your personal life you'd like to talk about?
No. I just turned 47. I am the most boring person ever.
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom for someone picking up a bass or any instrument for the first time?
Well, really my advice is for anyone who plays any instrument without encouraging from me… if you find yourself wanting to make music with an instrument, especially as important as the bass, and it is in your brain enough that you want to endure all of the bass player jokes, and the people thinking you suck and whatever, take a little interest in yourself and learn the fundamentals. It will save you tons of frustration.
If you’re doing it for any reason other than facilitating the expression of something inside of you, quit now!
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