Mick Stevens – new bassist of Brand X.
How all was began?
I was born in Croydon
(London), England in 1956 but
spent my schooling in the USA (California Pennsylvania and NYC)
and Europe. I
decided to return to the UK in the
early 70's and then became a roadie/sound engineer for various bands. I
toured for about 3 years throughout Europe and the UK. I
returned to the USA in the mid-70's and lived in NYC until I moved to California in 1990.
Do You have a music education?
I have no formal education, but my father the
musicologist Denis Stevens was the world's authority on Renaissance
composer Claudio Monteverdi so music, especially classical music - was a
big part of my childhood.
Your first bass?
A 1980 Fender
When at You the desire to play on
fretless bass has appeared?
Apart from my very first home-made fretted
bass, I've always played fretless. I don't play fretted bass at all, in fact I play fretted really badly!
Who has affected You (bass players)?
My four influences in order of importance are: Percy Jones, Alphonso Johnson, Ralph Armstrong and
With whom You worked as the sound
I was sound engineer with Soft Machine, Ronnie Lane (The
Faces), Manfred Mann, Fusion Orchestra, Curved
Air. I participated in the infamous 1973 Star Trucking European tour
with: Lou Reed, Soft Machine, Curved Air,
Wishbone Ash, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Renaissance and
The Climax Blues Band.
Your present basses?
I now play only one bass: a custom 1984 Tobias "Basic" 5-string fretless w/Fishman piezo bridge
& GraphTech GHOST modular MIDI pickup
system. I recently sold a Bolin "NS"
5-string fretless which sounded amazing but
wasn't comfortable to play for extended
periods. The Tobias suits me
perfectly because it has a very narrow neck. One day I'd like to own a
Wal 5-string, but they're so expensive!
You were a sound engineer in 70, maybe You work as sound engineer with Jaco, Percy
No. Luckily, I've
seen both Jaco and Percy perform: Jaco
once with Weather Report around 1975 in
NYC, and Percy several times from the
late 70's to the mid 90's, in NYC and Los
Your amp & equipment?
TC Electronics FireworX Studio Effects Processor
Digitech JamMan (Looper)
Behringer FCB1010 MIDI Foot
Yamaha G-50 Guitar MIDI
EMU E5000-Ultra Emulator sampler
Carvin R1000 Amp Head
Carvin RL410T 4x10" Cabinet
Carvin RL115 1x15" Cabinet
'Swing Bass 66' strings: 040, 060, 075, 095, 125
As You began to play in Brand X?
I joined Brand X
in the summer of 1998. In the mid 80's, I had an improv-fusion band
called "The Avant
Gardeners". I went to see John
Goodsall perform with his local LA band Transcendental
Medication to ask him if my band could be a "warm-up" act
for him at some gigs. So I gave him a copy of my CD and a few months
later he called me back and asked me to join Brand
X. This was pretty "cosmic" situation; like a
dream! Especially because I wasn't expecting any kind of offer and
also because Brand X was my favorite
band when I was a teenager. I like to think it was because John saw
that Percy was an big influence in my playing
style - although I wouldn't classify myself as a Percy
As You record a bass in the studios -
is it a line, or a microphone, or 1 and 2?
I always record with line-out (DI) from amp and
also loudspeakers mic'ed
As You sound (equipment, line or mic) a bass in concerts of Brand X?
I try to do both.
Who from today’s young bass
players is pleasant to You?
I haven't really had the time to listen to any
young players, but I'm sure that there are some good ones out there!
Tell please about present structure of
The most recent incarnation of Brand X has been on hiatus for a few years
because several members got involved in side projects. When we finally got
back together in 2004, we decided to inject some new "blood" into
the band by recruiting a new drummer/percussionist, and we now have the
very talented Brock Avery on
board. Since he joined we've been writing material for a new studio
Your creative plans?
My immediate creative plan is to simply
concentrate writing and practicing for the next Brand
X studio CD, which we hope to record this summer and release by the
late 2006/early 2007, initially on the band's website (http://www.brandxmsuic.org
). My long-term creative plan is to keep Brand
X active, to tour to support the release of the CD and to improve as
Your wishes to young musicians?
First learn phrasings from your favorite
bassists, and then gradually try to expand on them to beign
to develop your own style.
All the best to You Mick and Brand X!
Mick Stevens photo by Crystal Kelly
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first publication on BassBel