Producer Crosstalk: Eric Bass

Humble, cool and kind, Shinedown’s aptly named bassist-cum-band-producer Eric Bass has slid into his expanded role with all of the verve of a veteran climber as he summits Everest. His first production was the band’s 2018 gold record Attention Attention. He went on to helm the follow-up, Planet Zero, which drops on July 1.

Bass was first profiled in Producer Crosstalk in 2018. He observed then that one of the most important things he’d learned was that the song was boss; that it directs its own flow. Four years later, he still embraces that wisdom. “Don’t have this hubris that you know all these things, even if you have several number-one songs,” he asserts. “You and the band are successful because you’ve always listened to the direction the song wants you to go, not because you’re commanding it.”

Planet Zero is peppered with interstitials throughout, music morsels that feel like seven tiny commercial breaks. “I thought it would be cool to have a thrashy song with these ‘80s keyboards in the chorus,” Bass says of “2184,” the 22-second album opener. “It was two things that don’t go together normally. They’re a message, a kind of warning. I wrote and recorded all of them in three days. But the genesis of it was some random computer noise we heard at the end of [title track] ‘Planet Zero’ that repeats throughout.”

Perhaps two of the most important considerations when outfitting a studio pertain to mics and monitors. “I use Adam’s A77Xs,” Bass explains. “I’ve also got my original passive Tannoy Reveals, which I use as my secondary monitors. The ADAMs don’t sugar-coat anything and when I switch to the Tannoys, I can hear that I’m doing the right thing. As far as mics, I go with the things I’ve always used. I’ve got a pair of original Telefunken AR51s. For Attention Attention, those were used as the overheads on the drum kit. Now they’re the room mics on the drums. The most useful piece of gear I’ve bought recently is the Rupert Neve Master Buss Processor. It was suggested by [Grammy-winning recording engineer featured previously in Producer Crosstalk] Doug McKean, and is an invaluable part of my mix chain. "It seems subtle but when you bypass it, you see that it isn’t.”

Inspiration can strike at nearly any time and be triggered by virtually anything. “The word ‘genius’ is thrown around entirely too much,” he opines. “What I do is dig in the dirt in the studio. You spend enough time experimenting—trying and failing—that eventually the universe hands you certain things. The song ‘Cut the Cord’ [from 2015’s Threat to Survival] has the beginning lyric ‘Freedom’ that wasn’t in the song originally, but everyone knows. I was messing around, trying to come up with some kind of synth part to go underneath the guitar riff, and it sounded like the synth was singing ‘Freedom.’ If you’re willing to stay in the studio long enough, you’ll be presented with things that make you seem like you’re some savant when you’re not.”

Shinedown launched its Planet Zero tour on April 1 with a world tour to follow in the fall. One of his favorite anecdotes is of recording Attention Attention at L.A.’s EastWest Studios when he happened upon a listening party for Steve Vai. He regrets not introducing himself to the guitar grandmaster, but he often finds social situations tricky. True to its name, Music Connection has since put the two in touch.

Contact Carla Senft - Press Here Publicity,
[email protected]; shinedown.com