Teresa Cowles, the US
1. When did you start to play the bass guitar? Was it easy for you to learn bass?
I started playing in my mid 20s. I was dating a musician at the time and I asked him to teach me to play guitar. I had played piano as a kid and am generally musical but had never played guitar before. When he noticed that I only wanted to play melodies and not chords he handed me a bass instead. It was not a hard instrument for me to learn. I learned to play by playing along to my favorite records then I was playing in a band within 2 months of picking up the instrument.
2. Playing on the bass for you is Hobby? Job? Lifestyle?
Playing bass is one of the things I do to make my living so it is sometimes a job, but it is also sometimes a hobby (I don’t always get paid) and definitely a lifestyle.
3. Who is your musical inspiration among bassists?
I admire the playing of many people. The first bassline I ever learned was from David J (Bauhaus, the song was Kick in the Eye). I actually played a gig that he was on the bill for several years ago and got to tell him that. I’m not sure he was very impressed. I also really admire Carol Kaye, a pioneer female bass player who played on countless songs in the 60s and 70s as part of a group of LA musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. I had the honor of getting to portray her in a biopic about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys that’s coming out at the end of this year called “Love and Mercy.” She was kind enough to Skype with me and give me a few impromptu bass lessons so that I could play the way she played (a particular technique with a pic)k for the movie. Very nice lady and still plays and teaches bass and guitar to this day.
4. Do you play any other musical instruments? If you start to learn another one which would you like?
I sometimes play percussion and sing backup in bands. I also play a little piano. I would love to relearn the piano and get better at it.
5. Musical instrument with which you can be associated with is?
Bass andharmony vocals
6. Tell us about the projects in which you participate.
I have played with many bands and songwriters over the years. I currently work with Ben Vaughn, Evie Sands, Adam Marsland, JasonBerk, Anny Celsi, Wormstew, EZ-Tiger and The Resonant Heads. I also recently played a show with Brian Wilson and his band.
7. What do you feel on live performances? How friendly and open are you with your fans?
During live performances I really get into the music and don’t interact a lot directly with the audience but I do feed off their energy. I used to interact more when I fronted my own band but not being the front person makes it easier to do your own thing and not worry as much about engaging the audience.
8. What do you like besides music?Can you imagine yourself in other areas of life?
I am a massage therapist as well as a bass player so I enjoy working on people and helping them manage pain and relaxation. If I were not doing music or massage I could imagine having a job where I traveled a lot or maybe worked with kids or animals.
9. Maybe other bass players for those who start to learn bass are reading this article now. Let’s talk about technical stuff. Which brand do you prefer? Does quality of music depend on the guitar’s brand or the skill of the bass player?
I really like Fender P-basses and I have 2. A 2005 American P bass strung with round wound strings is the workhorse bass I record with most often. Live lately I’ve been mostly playing a late 80s Japanese 63 reissue P bass with flat wound strings. I also have a Danelectro DC that I use if I need a trashier sound. I usually keep it tuned down half a step. I have an acoustic bass I use mostly for rehearsing at home and an Ibanez and Fender Squire P that I keep mostly to loan out to people’s kids who want to learn to play bass. I think the quality of the instrument is important but a good player can make anything sound decent.
10. What are you planning for the future? What are you dreaming about? What should we wish for you?
I am hoping to do more recording touring in the future and play more high profile shows. I would love to tour a few months a year and then play around LA with people I like and respect and do massage the rest of the time. That’s my perfect world.