Contact: Jennifer Young, [email protected]
Bassist for the progressive rock-fusion trio Travis Larson Band, Jennifer Young (with guitarist Larson and drummer Dale Moon) has been a consistent draw as a touring and recording act since 1998. The band’s latest DVD is entitled Shift Happens: Live in Mexicali.
How have you become better at your craft?
I’ve become a better listener. I think, as a bass player, the craft of listening is paramount. The bass player’s role is to support. To support is to listen, assess and play accordingly. I’ve seen so many players who are beyond technically capable, but then they’re just not paying attention to the rest of their band.
Her top gear?
I am fortunate to have some really great endorsement relationships, including Ernie Ball/MusicMan, Markbass, Electro-Voice and Digitech. I’ve been with most of these manufacturers for nearly 15 years. I use the MusicMan Sterling and Bongo basses. The Sterling is my main bass, due to its versatile playability for different styles and its slightly smaller neck width. The Bongo has more tonal versatility and 24 frets, vs. the Sterling with 22. I use Markbass amps, the MoMark 800 and more recently the Big Bang. I am thrilled with the Markbass gear, it’s powerful and clean. My current pedal setup is the Digitech BP355. It’s a multi-effects processor that utilizes amp and speaker simulators, useful for gigs where I’m not able to use my full rig. I also use the Electro-Voice RE-2G wireless system.
I use Ernie Ball Extra Slinky strings. The “blue” ones. I use the lighter gauge because quite frankly, my fingers are small. There’s always discussion about better tone coming from a heavier gauge string, but I’m certain I can’t hear a difference, and if I could, likely I could dial in that little extra grease with my pre-amp.
Live/career performance highlights?
Travis Larson Band’s recent DVD filming in Mexicali, Mexico was definitely a live performance highlight for me. The conditions were very challenging, our intentions ambitious. Yet, we managed a graceful show, filled with genuine moments.
Her practice regimen?
My typical approach to “practice” involves just playing the tunes. When gearing up for a tour, I will spend several weeks running the set to tracks, then the band gets together for maybe a solid week of rehearsals. I don’t typically woodshed these days, though when we are in production for a new release I do end up pushing a little harder. New tunes are often the incentive for new approaches or techniques, so that’s when I tend to progress as a player.
How has your playing evolved over time?
I’d say that, personally, I’ve adjusted to being less concerned about the technical aspects of my playing. These days, I’m more interested in the feel, the groove, the song. That’s not to say that my parts are less technical; I just approach them with a different mindset.
The concept behind live DVD/CD Shift Happens?
It had been several years since our last DVD release, right around the time when standard definition was on its way out. Still, our resources dictated the nature of that product, so it was definitely time to document again and in high resolution. We had played a show in Mexicali while on tour with The Aristocrats the year prior. On our next headlining tour, Mexicali was booked again. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for filming the current show, while involving the lovely and enthusiastic people of Mexicali. Shift Happens was sort of a play on words, referencing the last studio release, Shift, and the fact that there is a certain amount of tension taking a very independent production across the border. Really, it was just funny to me that glancing at the title; people would likely just see “shit happens.” I hoped, anyway.
Advice for budding bass players?
These days an artist needs to be immersed in all aspects of the career, at least when it comes to original music. There are hundreds of hats, and you have to wear them all, whether they fit or not. I’ve learned that one must have tenacity, integrity, fortitude. Be so true to yourself and your art, that you are willing to forsake societal boundaries, expectations, limitations. Do all of this with no feelings of entitlement.