I picked up the bass at 15 and started playing in clubs with my first band, Advance Green, at 17. I wanted to be one of those bass players who defined a unique sound within the context of a great band—like a John Entwistle or a Chris Squire. In my early 20s I joined a band called Surrender Dorothy, and sorta kinda came close. After slogging away in Toronto for several years we signed an international deal with MCA/Universal and toured like maniacs in Europe, mostly Germany. It was an awesome experience, but after playing on TV for 6 million Germans and getting a 5-bunny review in Germany Playboy, things fizzled after the first album (Serum) and now there are very few vestiges left to be found—among them, this video and this song.
I then spent a bunch of years as a sideman to all kinds of artists and bands. Most notably Ron Sexsmith (I did his Blue Boy tour in Europe and Japan) and Damhnait Doyle (Canadian touring and her third album, Davnet, on EMI). Also played gigs with Honeymoon Suite, Sass Jordan, and worked with many other artists (live and in the studio) you might not know even if you’re Canadian. I did more and more cover gigs and weddings, and gradually scaled back the sideman gigs. I honed my bass and vocal chops by logging a gazillion stage hours and learning a thousand tunes from most styles of music, playing in bar bands all across the Toronto area. Then I started getting inspired to do my own record, and in 2006 I released a singer-songwriter album called Ants and Angels. I toured as a solo artist in Ireland, Korea and Japan. Strange, I know… that’s just how it worked out.
I did a bunch of bass teaching (mostly in the 90s), wrote the monthly bass column for Canadian Musician magazine, interviewed some big bass stars for Bass Player magazine (including two of my heroes, Level 42’s Mark King and XTC’s Colin Moulding), and published an instructional book called Essential Bass Technique (first released by Mel Bay in 1995, then on Hal Leonard since 2000). The book got an A+ review in Bass Player and endorsements from Billy Sheehan, Michael Manring, Tom Hamilton and others. I produced a few albums for artists like the Wooden Stars, Pamela Brennan and Morgan Finlay. I also got a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Toronto. Phew, this all sounds tiring!
Right now, musically, I perform about three nights a week with the Dave Murphy Band, also often with The Nomads, occasionally with others. I’m in a progressive rock band called Druckfarben—we just released our second album, Second Sound—you can stream (and buy!) it here. Here’s a clip from last year’s live DVD release, Artifact.
Currently my main bass is a Music Man Bongo 5H 5-string, strung with DR Hi-Beams (45-125), and played through Evidence Audio cables into a variety of Markbass rigs (I managed their international promotion, marketing and artist relations for almost 8 years before joining the Pigtronix team).
I’ve been buying and enjoying Pigtronix pedals pretty much since the beginning, when I met Dave Koltai at the 2006 NAMM show. His bass amp had just blown up, and he needed to borrow something!
I’ve been a fan of looping for many years and was ecstatic when the Infinity came out. Here’s the rig I put together for the recent 15th Anniversary of the Planet of the Loops, a collective of looping musicians in Toronto:
My favorite Pigtronix pedals are the Infinity, Philosopher Bass Compressor and Mothership. I don’t have the Echolution 2 yet, but I expect that to become an instant fave too!