Hey Shredder (bass edition)

7 questions for the low end

Pete Trewavas

Marillion, Transatlantic, Edison's Children

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Pete Trewavas by Josh Miller

Pete Trewavas by Josh Miller

It’s not uncommon for bass players to be overlooked. Few four (or five) string low end practitioners seize the spotlight like Chris Squire or Geddy Lee, and that makes sense given the stealthy weaving of elements that resides at the heart of really fine bass work. However, observant fans can often locate the beating heart of a band in this role, and that’s never more true than with Marillion’s hopping, always right-in-the-pocket Pete Trewavas. Set aside a smile that instantly makes one adore this music and the man making it, Trewavas possesses the wicked combination of crazy range, varied tastes & textures, and perhaps most importantly, the humility and wisdom to know when to keep things simple or let others shine while holding down his part of the enterprise.

As complex as Trewavas’ basslines can be (and given the 30 minute range of some epic pieces he can get out there sometimes), his playing remains steadfastly immediate, a presence felt, particularly within the larger structures (though there in a more taut version on singles and shorter material) that one can grab onto (or perhaps allow themselves to be grabbed by). A healthy measure of the richness of Marillion’s sound comes from Trewavas, whose bass inflections and harmony singing are often the ingredients that bind the whole together.

His bass voice is a fine mixture of schooled braininess and gut instinct that hunts down hooks with a tenacity and regularity that’s downright impressive. Take any given tune, not just the signature pieces – DI recommends close listens to Marillion.com’s “Go!” or Marbles’ “Drilling Holes” – and Trewavas is doing something interesting that serves the song in the larger sense. His skills could easily make him a showboat solo hero but he’s more interested in playing to the tunes, building muscle so they leap with strength and agility, comfortable sometimes being the invisible man in this gang just so long as they are delivering the best songs possible.

So, in an effort to make sure this particular bassist gets some part of the credit he’s due, Dirty Impound is raising the flag for Mr. Trewavas, who was kind enough to offer some insights about what he does.

Marillion’s new album, Sounds That Can’t Be Made, arrives October 2nd and can be pre-ordered here.

Name: Pete Trewavas

Bands : Marillion, Transatlantic, Edison’s Children and Kino. Also, acoustic guitar and bass in Acoustic Industry.

Favorite effects pedal? Why?
Most of my career I have been using Boss guitar pedals, mainly distortion chorus flanger and mono delay, which was a great pedal. I have recently updated this to a Digitech RP1000, which I find very cool and great for live work. We also used this in the studio on the new album Sounds That Can’t Be Made, along with a clean DI then split in to various limiters, etc.
Tastiest bassist — i.e. not just soloing but also overall playing — currently working four-strings?
Lee Pomeroy. I’ve seen Lee playing on numerous occasions in various working roles and he just does it all completely effortlessly with great taste and musicability, if that is indeed a word. If not it should be by now. From pop through rock to progressive, he plays what I would want to hear, if that makes any sense.
A bass solo I never get tired of listening to is:
I don’t really go in for solos or overly flash stuff. I can’t see the point. I think Chris Squire, Mike Rutherford, John Entwistle, etc. all played outrageous riffs and runs but within musical boundaries – much cleverer in my opinion. So having said that, the bass solo I never get tired of listening to is by Kasim Sulton in “Singring and the Glass Guitar (An Electrified Fairytale)” from the album Ra by Utopia [Listen to the track here].
Preferred brand of axe?
Warwick Thumb Bass. They just do the job. Plug ‘em in to anything and they get a great sound. For me, I love the unique sound I can get from them, and they cut through on any kind of track. And from Marillion to Transatlantic and through the Kino and Edison’s Children albums, my main Warwick Thumb Bass has been featured on numerous kinds of songs and genres.
John Paul Jones, Paul McCartney or James Jamerson – which one gives you the biggest bass boner? What makes them SO sweet?
Has to be McCartney for me. I grew up listening to him and he was the reason I picked up any instrument in the first place. His playing on those mid-to-late Beatles albums is just sublime – Rubber Soul, Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour. I rest my case.
One lesser-known bassist folks should check out is:
I used to listen to and take on board a lot of Caravan and early Alice Cooper. Again, it’s all about melodic structure and so I am going to suggest three players – Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper), Richard Sinclair (Caravan 1971) and John G Perry (Caravan 1973).
What aspect of being a bassist always makes you happy?
I love the weaving in and out of the chord structure to make a more complex arrangement with the emphasis on the melodic – the way you can effortlessly turn a chord sequence on its head. Makes me smile every time.