Article by: Leanne Ridgeway
The Gear Assembly interview series is especially for the music gear addicts, or simply the curious like myself.
Each article in the Gear Assembly series features a different musician answering the same questions, highlighting both their varying preference in music gear, as well as their own music that results from using that gear. Hopefully it brings some awareness to both the artists and their gear makers. You’re reading, so we’ve got at least one more. Find new music, learn about who’s making it and what they use to create it…
GEAR ASSEMBLY Series #18:
MOURN THE LIGHT’s Bill Herrick
Eastern Connecticut’s traditional doom, heavy metal crew MOURN THE LIGHT has been around since about 2017. Their first release debuted in June 2018, the ‘Weight Of The World‘ EP [review], followed by a second EP, ‘Death Is Lurking‘ in September 2019. After a member relocated, they secured their newly opened bassist slot with Bill Herrick, who is our featured musician for today.
With MOURN THE LIGHT‘s new low end solidly settled in, the band then spent some time to hit the studio and release a new single, which is streaming below. Bill Herrick is here today as our eighteenth piece in the Gear Assembly! Rock on…
(Note: some responses may reflect a time frame of several weeks ago.)
Riff Relevant /Leanne: What instrument(s) do you play?
Riff Relevant /Leanne: Give us a rundown of your current live gear set-up.
Ampeg SVT3-Pro (amp)
Fender SWR Henry The 8×8 (cab)
Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi
Source Audio Gemini Chorus
Korg Pitchblack Pro rack mount tuner
Pyle PCO850 power conditioner
Fender Jazz Bass (5 String)
Sterling by Music Man sub Ray5 Bass (5 String)
Ibanez Talman Bass (4 String)
Riff Relevant: When was the exact moment you realized you wanted to play your instrument(s)? Who was your primary influence at that moment?
In 1988, I was in 8th grade and my buddy brought over a dubbed cassette of Metallica’s ‘Ride The Lightning‘.
We listened to it in awe and decided we were starting a band. He already had an acoustic guitar that he had was learning to play, so I started saving my paper route money to get a bass.
Cliff Burton was the first guy that really turned my head. I didn’t know anything about distortion pedals… I was listening to “Anesthesia” like… “How the hell does he get a bass to sound like that!?“
Riff Relevant: Which one of your songs best exemplifies you as a musician? Why?
I recently recorded my 1st tune with Mourn The Light, “Blink of an Eye,” and I’m really happy with how it came out.
The bass line is very representative of what I like to do… sometimes doubling the guitar, sometimes harmonizing a lick or run… there are some two and three note chords in there for good measure.
I like the bass to stand out subtly in places where it makes sense and provide the foundation where needed. You can check out the song on YouTube currently. [its official release is out now on bandcamp and streaming above.]
Riff Relevant: Is there specific gear you prefer to use in the studio that would be different from your live set-up?
The really interesting thing about the session for “Blink of an Eye” is that we took our live set up into the studio and recorded it. What you are hearing on that track is basically what Mourn The Light sounds like.
I’d never done it this way before, but again, really happy with the finished product.
Riff Relevant: Any type of pre-show/practice warm up rituals?
To be honest, I usually don’t feel like my hands are where they should be with comfort, speed, and endurance until I’ve been practicing for hours straight… which only happens on days that I’m home alone with nothing else on the agenda.
I try to get one marathon practice in each week but it’s not always an option.
Riff Relevant: How do you keep things interesting when able to be out on tour & playing the same set each night?
I’ve never done extensive touring, so on the times I’ve been able to play in different cities even five nights in a row, just the act of having a week where performing was the only focus in life was interesting in itself.
Each night is different… different club, different bands, different crowd. Nothing boring about it.
I think in 2018, I played about 50 or 55 shows just about every weekend there was a gig. Performing the tunes was never uninteresting. Once on stage and plugged in, playing the set is a rush.
Riff Relevant: What do you think gives your playing its signature sound?
I play finger style and tend to play pretty hard, not light with my right hand for sure. That’s the basis for my tone.
I leave both my distortion and chorus pedal on, all the time. Both of those effects also pass the dry signal through, so there is a foundational clean tone under the fuzz and wetness to keep those low notes tight.
Riff Relevant: Any brand loyalty? Are you partial to one company over another? Any current sponsorships or your own signature gear?
I love that Ampeg amp, I bought it new 23 years ago and never thought about replacing it.
I’ve really come to prefer the tone of the Fender Jazz Bass. I used active basses for a long time, but once I got hold of this Jbass, I haven’t been reaching for the others.
Riff Relevant: What is the most important piece of equipment currently in your live set-up? Why? What is it about that one?
The “secret weapon” is the Source Audio Gemini Chorus pedal, which adds just enough color to help the bass stand out in the mix.
It’s completely customizable through a phone app… I dialed it in for my purpose and never touched the settings again.
Riff Relevant: What do you enjoy doing outside of music, that you feel ultimately contributes to your musicality? (For example, a hobby that you turn to in order to stimulate your creativity.)
Music is the hobby, although it can feel like a lot more than that. Most free time and energy go into the band.
My wife and I like bringing my 120lb Italian Mastiff rescue out into the woods when we can, he is a big part of our routine as well.
Riff Relevant: Are there any newly emerging artists or bands who are currently influencing you (or you just enjoy)? If yes, how so?
I can’t hear Bone Church enough. Those duel guitars/ harmonies remind me that as a bass player in a band with only one guitar, there are things I can do to make the band’s voicing through instrumentation more interesting in certain places.
Riff Relevant: If you could give one piece of advice to an up and coming musician, what would it be?
Practice. A lot. And work with people that you like, it’s not worth it if you’re stuck in a situation that stresses you out or makes you feel resentment. There are others out that are a better fit.
Riff Relevant: How has the pandemic impacted your music life or career? What are some ways you’ve been doing things differently?
Already cancelled a bunch of shows, including what would have been my 1st trip to play in Philly and New Jersey.
There was a brand new tune we were going to debut during this string of cancelled shows, so we recorded it at rehearsal and posted the vid.
Mourn The Light is also scheduled to begin recording our 1st full length album… with travel bans and social distancing, we are not getting together for rehearsals… so everyone really has to take their personal practice time seriously.
Riff Relevant: If you could have any music gear you wanted, what would be your ideal set up?
MOURN THE LIGHT
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