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December 2012

I think that when I look back, I’ll see 2012 as the tipping point year.

In hindsight, I’ve approached the end of every year since leaving Boston and moving to Nashville the same way. Every year, I get to the end, and in a sort of backhanded New Year’s resolution style, I generally say “This year was great. I’m going to be a baller this winter and land a nice spot on a summer tour next year.” Obviously, that’s a nice slice of hope, but every one that’s passed hasn’t resulted in the right fruit yet.

There’s something about the end of 2012, though. I think 2013 might have some great stuff for me. There are really two good reasons.

One is that after playing 35 gigs in 2009, 57 in 2010, and 85 in 2011, I’ll be hovering right around 200 by the end of 2012. By comparison, that’s exponential growth. In addition, I’ve only played ~5 gigs that thought were failures. That number was way higher (especially by percentage) when you look at the years that came before.

The second reason is simple. David LaBruyere.

If you’ve been coming to Bass Frontiers for a little while now, you’ll remember that in late 2010, we posted a video interview with David LaBruyere. Dela, who most would (unfairly) categorize as having been in his heyday while on the road with John Mayer, hadn’t really done a whole lot of press before. Bass Frontiers videographer, Jarad Clement, had hooked the thing up, really. But he’d be working cameras and making sure we got stuff. Someone needed to talk.

Let me back up a number of years to put it in perspective.

If there was one interview that I didn’t need to prep questions for, it was this one.

I was 15 when I first started listening to John Mayer’s debut LP, Room For Squares, insatiably. While John features really well on that album, in my mind, it’s always really been a David LaBruyere showcase. If there’s one thing I always thought, it’s that the bass tracks on that record are ALIVE. I’d been familiar with Jamerson’s “sub-hooks” since i was a kid, and Stefan Lessard had a pretty good thing in my head, too. But there was something about the way that the bass on Room For Squares ducked and weaved through the soundscape that just turned my brain to goo. Also, keep in mind that I was 15. Even though I still qualify as kind of early for having picked up the bass at 13, that’s not an important factor. When you’re 15, and something floors you, it’s just over. You’ll have it for the rest of your life.

Then came the time when I just got to go to SHOWS. I had the serious privilege of growing up in northeast Pennsylvania. While that’s not entirely remarkable in and of itself, from where I was, it was a lot if I had to drive more than two hours to get to a major city or an outdoor venue in the middle of NJ or PA. That, and a very liberal attitude on the part of my elders as to letting me go see the masters of the craft I wanted to be involved with at work, and I was seeing David on stage with John as often as humanly possible. All the way from late 2001 up until 2007. Even in Boston, it was so easy to hop the bus to a spot. We’re talking in the ballpark of 40 shows.

So, how hard is it to come up with questions for an interview like that? Not hard at all! I just asked questions I had wanted to know for almost 10 years. It was too easy to look back on all the times that we had been in the same room together before (from afar) and not remember what I wished I knew at that point.

Dela and I got along great for the interview, and I snagged his number and email. No matter how well it went, there’s not a significant amount of coffee or lunch hangs in Nashville that you really feel GOOD about. It’s only right that you assume that, and take the pleasant surprise of a success on the back end. One of those surprises was that as we got to talk about personal stuff, David and I realized that we had similar goals (just in way different spots on the timeline) and we should be hanging out more. This was how it got on for the better part of 2011.

So, I’d been floored from afar, then I got to ask what 17 year old me would have never guessed that I could actually ask for real, and now this person was actually the one making MY phone ring to hang out? What tops this?

Under a few different circumstances, the opportunity arose for me to rent a couple of rooms in David’s house for most of 2012. There’s no reason to go into huge detail, but being in the same living space, getting to tell jokes as they come to you, sharing too many meals, being introduced just by proximity to amazing musicians and working with them, baring insecurities and advices, and much more from someone who has done thing things that feel like are in your DNA…that’s invaluable. There’s obviously a subconscious trust that comes from the fact that for YEARS now, if I play a David LaBruyere bass lick (played well, of course), it’s helping me get compliments and more gigs. If that part hasn’t done me wrong to date, why wouldn’t anything else? There’s so much more to say, but it suffices to say that just from the sheer perspective of observation, there was so much course correction and growth in understanding to be done.

Let me tie a nice bow around this: without living for a while with David LaBruyere, I don’t play 200 gigs in 2012. End of story.

Just a few short weeks ago, I settled back into my own living space. No personal fault of either of us was involved. Generally (especially considering that a watershed time), you don’t want to overuse certain elements of people and relationships. Especially having gone back on the road a decent amount of time these days (and being wired the way I am), it’s nice to have the option of spending my 3 (mostly) free days a week at home, hermetically. David and I have stuff still on the stove (more 2013 resolutions), and he will be helping out with some very important stuff here at Bass Frontiers in the near future that we’ll be telling you about very soon. Change is coming…

I guess if you wanted to take something away from this, have it be that you should never take anything for granted. Always keep stuff you dig it close to your heart, and you’ll never know when it will pay you back.

Onward and upward, 2013.

Matt O’Donnell
Managing Editor
Bass Frontiers

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