SCV interviews Jonathan Hischke, bassist of Dot Hacker
Jonathan Hischke is a musician that has mutated the way a bass player approaches the instrument. Whether his year-long stint in full band Hella, or cutting it up with Gabe Serbian, and frontwoman Teri Gender Bender in their new band Le Butcherettes, the man is undeniable at what he does. I had the privilege of seeing him perform twice, once with Hella about 6 years ago and then again last month at Lollapalooza with Le Butcherettes. I had a chance to catch up with J. Hischke and talk about music he’s recorded in the past and his ongoing endeavors into the art of collaboration. Everything from bass guitar pedals to the Kinsella Brothers to Chicago’s great Azita is discussed in this dialogue, so sit back relax and enjoy the ride. -Pouya G.
Hey Jonathan, so your performance at Lollapalooza was the second time I’ve seen you perform, the first being 6 years ago when Hella opened for Mars Volta and SOAD. Your performance was tight and I especially loved the ending of Hella’s set when each member walked off one by one until it was just drummer Zach Hill left playing. He seemed really pissed off, do you have any memories of this night?
Let me think about that. I don’t know if he was pissed, I remember on that entire tour, he’d like to take the opportunity to end our portion of the night with him just going crazy. I always thought about that conceptually, as this interesting thing, where it builds up and builds up and builds up… and kind of breaks. The music is so chaotic and then it breaks over this beautiful, I think it was over these choir samples and other things that he was playing. And each one of us left, and then he was alone, and it was just him going for it. And it was kind of like this coming down after the calm of a storm, where this intensity just stayed, I don’t want to say it petered out, but I think it just got…choked. Just that part of it, like there’s this beautiful thing and then everything else released, and the music just pretty much expired. And I thought that was the coolest way to end that set, and there were nights where he would one by one kick over parts of his kit, did he do that in Chicago that night? He didn’t do it every time, it wasn’t part of the show per se, but he did it enough that I remember it as being part of the feel. Where it would be just his snare drum, or just his foot on the bass drum, and everything else would be gone and trashed. It wasn’t a matter of being pissed I don’t think, it was just a matter of all the other elements had left and then [Zach] was pushing everything else out in front of him and he chose one thing to concentrate on. He might’ve been pissed, I don’t know, who knows, it’s hard to know with him. I have a feeling it was more of a conceptual thing for him. He has a flair for showmanship too, in a real good way, like an iconic way. You know, throwing bits of your kit away until there’s one thing left and you’re just putting all your energy into that one thing, that’s probably a Zach move, sure. That’s happened in other contexts too. But I don’t think he was pissed, I remember that show being weird, and I also remember all of us being pissed afterwards because we got held up trying to get into our dressing room, which was tiny. We had a lot of guests, I had a lot of guests because my family came, and they’re from Nebraska, and they came out for the show to see me play in an arena, or whatever. And I remember us being held up because there was equipment being moved on and off the stage for like twenty minutes, and we’re just standing there backstage waiting to cross literally ten feet across to our dressing room, it was right there. So we had to wait and wait and wait to get to our little tiny dressing room with no amenities. So I remember being pissed and thinking “well this isn’t really glamorous to show my folks” but you know it was still cool. But I don’t think the show was…pissy. That was a weird tour all the way around, having to go out in front of [Volta and SOAD] audiences. We had like a kindred relationship, you know an affinity with the Mars Volta on that. Because SOAD invited both of us to come open for them on tour, which was a pretty bold choice for them, I think. They were fans of both bands and wanted to do something interesting. Rather than taking out whoever they could’ve taken out probably and made more money and sold more tickets, but they decided to take these bands. And it was interesting playing for that tour, there were some Mars Volta fans, maybe one or two Hella fans in the audience. But what we subjected them to and what was delivered to the audience was definitely a leap of faith for us, and Mars Volta too. It was very strange because everyone was there to see SOAD. That’s basically how I met the Mars Volta guys, on that tour. I really enjoyed having done that tour because that was the first time I met Juan, and that’s been an incredible friendship. I’m really thankful for that tour because I met him, and he’s one of my best friends now, he’s my guardian angel, truly.
You played with Zach Hill before Hella?
I’ve known Zach since I played in this band the Flying Luttenbachers, which was based out of here, Chicago. Also, I want to say I saw Hella the first time they played in Chicago. There was this guy Joe, Hella’s tour manager, I met him at a Flying Luttenbachers show in Chicago. He came up to me afterwards and he’s like “I love your band, I think you’d really like this band I’m on tour with, this band called Hella and they’re about to play the Fireside Bowl.”
Now this is like 2001, their first time out, I’m pretty sure it was Hella’s first time out, and they played on the floor, first of five bands playing that night. And it was funny because Joe was like “yea you need to come see this band, Hella,” and I told him “Oh I’m going to that show anyway because my other friends are playing.” So Joe told me to show up early to make sure I caught Hella play. So that’s how I met Zach, I met him that night and hung out, and I’d see them every time they came back to Chicago. Then around 2003 or so we toured together, played shows in each other’s towns, and played together. Also in 2003 I flew out to Sacramento and recorded with Zach on some of his solo stuff. We recorded stuff in Sacramento and went down to LA and hung out with Daron [Malakian] from System of a Down, and recorded some shit with him that’s never been released. We just did random things; I did do that a couple times, fly out to Sacramento, hang out with Zach, record stuff, play shows, do whatever. So that pretty much forged a relationship. These days, still, we’re busy now, but still we play together and talk about doing things. It’s cool, and yea, when they called me to do that full band Hella thing, it was such an honor. I had such respect for that band and what they were going for. I couldn’t believe they were going to expand the band, I was nervous about the idea of them expanding the band no matter what. But then I was really nervous when they wanted to expand the band and wanted me to be a part of it. [laughs] So yea I guess the short answer, is yes I’ve played with him before.
Oh wow so you’re from Chicago? That’s great.
Yea man, before I joined Hella, Zach flew down to Chicago for several days and we recorded under a project called “Damsel” and the record is called “Distressed” and it was the two of us playing with Nels Cline. And this guy Matt Zivich, who was a tech for lots of people, plays weird synthesizers and noisy stuff. So we made a record, you know, improv, craziness. Then the next day we went to Tim Kinsella’s place and recorded some stuff that’s on that new Joan of Arc record [Oh Brother], that was recorded in like 2004. Then the next day Zach and I recorded some stuff at my old house in Humboldt Park, where I lived with Thymme Jones from Cheer Accident. They are a crazy prog rock band, they’re great, they’re incredible, they do all kinds of stuff. I lived with him and he recorded me playing bass with Zach. So we’d do that either in Sacramento or here, in Chicago. So yea we did that before Hella as well, I guess we did a lot of stuff before I joined Hella.
That’s so cool, so you answered one of my other questions, with Nels Cline and “Distressed,” so that was recorded in 2004?
Yea that was recorded in 04 and then released in 2006 or 07, it came out way later.
When you played with your friends in Hella, did you learn a lot more about your spirituality with the band and with the bass, you know just hanging out and playing with friends?
Yea, definitely, Hella was a little different. Hella was something I felt like I was becoming a part of. My whole thing with them was that I wanted to enter their world that they pretty much created. I wanted the privilege of being able to immerse myself and be educated by what they were already doing. Just kind of do my best to fit in. So it wasn’t collaborative as much as it was educational. I mean they were great friends and we had a great time, and we went on a world tour for a year. We went through all kinds of things. Prior to that I’ve been doing a lot of stuff with friends that I’ve known from youth, and things like that, I’ve been in a lot of bands like that. Hella was different was because, they were still peers of mine, but they came at me with something that I thought, “wow you really have something that I respect and I just want to do my best.” So I learned a lot, and there was a friendship element that became a lot stronger after I immersed myself into what they did. I wouldn’t want it any other way with that band. There are certain musicians that create their own language, not many, but there are a few out there. They kind of create their own world that they live and play in. And if you get to asked to play in something like this and you come into it with pre-conceptions, it’s not always the best thing. Sometimes it’s better to just start over from the ground up and learn things their way of doing it. And that was what Hella was to me. I was really interested in being on their level. I learned so much in that band. That band was probably the most pivotal band I’ve ever been in my life. As far as what came from it later and what it’s meant to me.
Speaking of things that came later in your career, how has it been joining Le Butcherettes and interpreting Teri Gender-Bender’s music and bringing that back here to Chicago and all over the world?
Well it’s been interesting. There’s an ideal amount of open-mindedness on that record, Sin Sin Sin. But for this live show, Teri has pushed quite a bit for [drummer] Gabe Serbian and I to insert ourselves into it. Give it our own strength. She’s been very open to that. She has this idea of constant change and having people make it personal. Having each version of being personal, having each show be personal, having each moment real personal. You know? She’s all about spontaneity, I mean you’ve seen her perform, you don’t know if she’s going to play the song or kind of stand there and sing it, or throw her guitar over her head and jump into the crowd or do whatever. I mean it’s amazing; it’s a real exciting thing to be part of. It’s been fun because it’s very fluid, no show is the same, and no version of the song is the same, ever. There are things on that record that we’ve tried to make a little more involved as far as an arrangement or notes go, formal terms. But there are so many vibes [Producer Omar and Teri] created on the record that we want to respect, because it works really well, but it’s always open to interpretation in the moment, because of Teri. It’s been a really interesting thing; it’s also been a real learning experience for me trying to figure out how to play this music. It’s so direct and simple and there’s not much ornamentation. There’s not that much extraneous abstraction to it. It’s not like playing in Hella, or playing in any other band I’ve been in. It’s very much just hitting it hard with energy and aggression and power. Also, there’s really not that much room [in songs] to get fancy anyway because you want it to be crazed and exciting. That’s the vibe, it’s the whole thing we’re going for at this point, not really a spectacle but engaging in the moment. You know, flying around, I don’t even know what word I’m looking for, just wild, spinning off the tracks. That’s the way I feel about it, I think it’s best when it’s on its way over the cliff, you know?
Your performance at Lollapalooza was definitely over the cliff.
It was definitely over the cliff. It was amazing, I was so proud of us after that show. I was like “Jesus, that was…” I mean we would have moments when we’d calm down, and then the next second it’d be three steps forward into craziness. Then the next moment Gabe would be falling off the stage puking and Teri was out in the crowd somewhere. And I just loved it, I mean that’s exciting to me at this point in my life. I love this shit, I love this band, it’s such an honor to play with those two.
Now you’ve known Gabe Serbian a while before this band right?
Yea, yea, I’ve known Gabe for a long time, since like 2000. The Flying Luttenbachers toured with him and the Locust a bunch of times, I toured with him at least 10 years ago. He was a real supporter of what I’ve been doing over the years. We played a bunch of times in different bands together, so I’ve toured with him a lot. I’ve been wanting to be in a band with Gabe for that long, you know? We’ve been talking about it for this long. And it’s kind of weird that this is the way we get to it, but it’s awesome this is the way we get to it. I mean love that guy, he’s like a brother, he’s been a really good friend for so long, and it’s a real pleasure.
Now this is weird one, I feel a certain electricity when you perform, is there an explanation for that?
Really? That’s a really huge compliment, thank you for saying that. Well, I mean, I guess I’ve kind of made it my voice in the world. It’s not like I sit around and compose on a keyboard and play on a guitar and write songs and play other instruments. It’s always bass with me, for the most part. I really believe in this instrument and I really love the bass guitar’s role in music and I love challenging its role in music. I really love making or finding new opportunities to try different things with the bass and communicate that way. I really believe in what I do with the instrument. I really believe in the idea of a bass player who considers himself a bass player. It’s a really unique kind of territory. Some of my favorite musicians as far as vibe goes, you know, there’s the Stevie Wonders and the Princes of the world who are masterminds. But there’s something about the Mike Watts’s and the Eric Avery’s and the Juan’s and the Flea’s, these guys and their roles and their personalities. I think it’s a pretty deep thing. I think there’s a consistency and a thread through all those people I just mentioned and what they do and what they believe in, and I think you can feel it. I think when you have someone like that in a band and when they play that instrument, you feel it. As opposed to somebody that plays guitars in other bands or you know “I wrote this song but I’m just gonna play bass on this,” or “I play bass only in this band.” There’s something that I believe in the bass, and that’s what they do, that’s their voice, that’s their grounding. I’m really in awe of these people. I always have been since I knew what the instrument was. Not the virtuoso people necessarily but the people that believe in their role. That might have something to do with the electricity that you speak of. I give it everything I have when I play it, no matter what it is, I give it all I got. That’s a special thing too, I’m not bored with it. I’m never bored when I’m playing the bass.
Do you find inspiration in your peers, or maybe older players from previous generations?
Well both, but I mean when you’re a bass player you’re immediately accepting the idea that you’re part of a collaboration. I mean you can write things, you can step out and do stuff that’s maybe a little more personal. But I think for the most part a bass player is a collaborative musician, so you kinda have to find, and want to find inspiration in the people you’re working with. I absolutely try to find situations where that’s the case. As far as what the actual instrument does and listening to people and how they work with collaborations, I find inspiration from that too. But I also draw inspiration from anybody who I appreciate, regardless of their role if it’s music or anything, it’s they’re great, they’re great.
So I guess jumping backwards a little bit, when you cut that record Cryptomnesia with Omar Rodriguez, and Zach and Juan Alderete, in just a few days.. was that process therapeutic for you as well?
It was interesting, that wasn’t as much therapeutic for me. It was just excitement for me to be a part of something with those people. I mean I have such respect for every single person in El Grupo Nuevo De Omar Rodriguez Lopez. Every moment I worked on that project I was just thrilled. I mean when Omar asked me to do it I couldn’t believe it, I just said “Why??” And then Juan was all “Nah I just think it’d be cool to have two bassists on this and to have you do some synth sounds and this and that.” And I was just like “OK?…sure!!” I mean I had no idea, all I knew is that Juan, Zach, Omar and Cedric were doing something and I got to be a part of it. So it wasn’t really therapeutic it was just some of my favorite musicians and I played along with them, we are all good friends. It was so quick and so succinct. It was just a couple of days you know, it was really cool to be able to do that. I mean I did my best and just left it. And it wasn’t for a while until I heard the final product. I was really proud of what it became, but it wasn’t a process that I was necessarily a part of except for the very beginning, which was fine. I didn’t have that much of a chance to get into it enough to unlock too many doors or change too many perceptions. I like that record a lot though. It’s funny because that’s how I met Cathy from Sargent House. I wouldn’t have met Teri if it wasn’t for that session.
Now when did you start to collect bass guitar pedals/toys/gadgets? Did it start with your desire to play the synth bass?
Oh the gadgets thing? Well I’ve always been really into sound. I grew up really loving synthesizer sounds. My dad was a musician and I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder records or Weather Report records, things that were very synthesizer-heavy. I really loved the Star Wars movies as a kid, and my favorite record when I was a child was this one that my father got me, this vinyl record. It was the Star Wars score done by a Moog group, I think it was the London Moog Orchestra. So I grew up with this in my head, all these sounds. I’ve always been fascinated by it, when I would hear some pop song on the radio that would have crazy synth bass parts; that was the first thing my mind would gravitate to, that my ear would catch. I remember the first time I heard that Phil Collins song “Sussudio” I was like 8 or 9. I remember just being like “Oh my god what is that sound? That is so awesome, I love that.” It was an underlying obsession I had, and then I realized there were these inventions that made these sounds. It’s very tongue-in-cheek too, it’s very funny to me that you can make these ridiculously farty weird sounds with the bass, it’s so great. It just fulfills so many aspects of my personality to get down with these dumb-looking instruments, these ridiculous sci-fi instruments and make these obnoxious weird sounds, I love that stuff, I love pedals. For some reason I love the idea of it being mixed with bass, like not compromising the bass role or the bass guitar part of it, and still have all these sounds. I love it. Juan and I get along on that level a lot, and Omar too, we always just listen to sounds and mess with gadgets and stupid shit.
Are there any films you’ve been watching on this Le Butcherettes tour?
Films? No, because, it’s real funny. On this tour we’ve been starting from the bottom, like the beginning again. It’s great, it’s been great, like doing things such as all staying in one hotel room. In that case, it’s pretty much whoever gets to the TV and puts whatever on is what we’re watching. Sometimes we’ll go on the computer. I haven’t really had much time on this tour, it’s hard to get WiFi on the road so I don’t really stream anything, and I didn’t bring much it’s been hectic. But I love films, I wish I had something better to tell you about films.
How about your favorite film?
How about my favorite film? Ok, my favorite film, my first thought for my favorite film is Anchorman. [both laugh] It’s the one that I always think of as my favorite film, it’s probably not, I mean well it probably actually is. I wish I could say it’s some Herzog movie or something, but it’s probably Anchorman [laughs]. But you know I could talk about other films for days.
Have you ever experimented or recorded with any crazy world instruments, like the ocean harp?
Yea, I mean I feel like I’ve messed around with a bunch of stuff, just mainly for the vibe or the sound. Maybe it was doubling something with some kind of other instrument. When I was in Chicago, I took Northern Indian music lessons, like raga lessons for a while. But then I joined Hella and those lessons ended, but I really enjoyed it, it was a master of raga that lives in Evanston or somewhere, teaching there. I was like “wow that’s an opportunity” so I did that for a while. I would work with some of his apprentices and it was a real ladder process. I love a lot of world music, like gamelan, and lots of Middle-Eastern music, Korean music. I’m interested in all of that, I love it all, it’s just a matter of making into a discipline with that stuff.
Do you have plans to cut and release any new music with Zach or Tim Kinsella in the future?
Yea Zach for sure, but I’m not sure about Tim. I haven’t talked with him in ages, but I’d love to. I was just having a conversation with our tour manager Brittanie, huge Tim Kinsella fan about Cap’n Jazz. I was talking to her about the time I saw Cap’n Jazz in a basement, I think it was one of their last shows up in Nebraska. But my favorite project of all the Kinsella bros has to be Make Believe.
Ha! That’s great, that’s the first time I ever heard of Tim Kinsella, was at a Make Believe show.
Oh really? OK!
Pouya- Yea they were playing with Piglet and I was like “who the hell is Make Believe?” and my friend forced me to stay since I was about to leave, this was at the Beat Kitchen for their Shock of Being tour. So then Tim is in this huge black coat with the hood up and huge sunglasses and he seems piss drunk walking through people. He walked through my group of friends and climbed ontop of the stage through the front and he kind of stretched for a second and looked over and the rest of the band looked at each other and they went right into it. That first second they started playing I said to myself “I don’t know what this is, I don’t know who this is, but this is it.”
Jonathan -Wow, there’s your electricity right there
PGA- Yea man, I love all their records, especially that first EP.
Jon- I like everything they ever did. I love everything they did. Make Believe, I loved Cap’n Jazz, I loved a lot of Joan of Arc, but Make Believe, just incredible. I love that band. I can’t say enough good about that band.
Oh but as far as future projects with Zach goes, I’d love to record with Zach. I’m sure we’ll do more. I really want to get in on this whole Death Grips thing.
Oh yea, man Death Grips, who is that other guy with Zach and MC Ryde? What kind of crazy shit is he doing there on stage?
Oh he goes by the name Info Warrior. Yea he’s playing loops and samples and manipulating. I think? I haven’t seen it yet I’ve been on tour the whole time and haven’t seen it. I just really want to record with him on that project, it’s so bizarre, I did not see that one coming. No one did. But they’ve been doing it for a while and kept it secret, and then all of a sudden BOOM, it’s this whole new thing. That’s Zach, man, you can’t pin him down. But yea I’ve been talking to him and Marnie about her new record too so I’m sure we’ll get that done in the near future.
So how about we talk about this Mariee Sioux album back in 2007, which instrument did you play on that, just bass?
Oh my god, wow. Yea I just played bass on that, there’s a lot of elements but it’s still pretty minimal, it’s a weird record. It’s all built around this girl Mariee Sioux and her songs, they’re really beautiful folk songs. She comes up with these real interesting expressions, and my job with her was kind of to, I don’t know, she was just like here are these songs I’d like you to play bass on them. I felt really weird about doing it, I felt like I wasn’t going to do it justly. I didn’t know what I’d do at that point, I mean nowadays I’m a bit more confident but back then I was like “Can I do the right thing?” And I remember the day before I went into that session I texted our mutual friend Joanna Newsom, and asked “Give some advice on this, because I don’t know what to do on this sort of thing.” She gave me the best advice, and I’ll never forget this, Joanna responded with “play architecturally.” Meaning, don’t think of it in terms of right or wrong , think of it as what needs to happen at any given time and how deep, or thick or wide or whatever it needs to be. You know? What movement it needs to have at that time, think in that direction. Just conceptualize; just have more conceptual intuition rather than finding the right notes or having a certain style. I really took that advice to heart, and I’m really happy with what I did on that record. She’s a lovely person Mariee Sioux, I’d love to work with her again also.
Now with Juan I know he’s always talking, tweeting, posting about Pigtronix and the toys he gets from them, do you mess around with that stuff?
Yea definitely. I actually have a pedal board they lent me that I need to mess with and make some videos with, I just haven’t had time to do it. But it’s on my list to do when I get home, and yea I’m friends with them and done some stuff for them. I love their pedals, like their envelope phaser is incredible. I haven’t messed with the Tremvelope yet but the Disnortion pedal is really cool, their stuff is great, real great. The pedal that I’m really excited about right now is this other pedal that Juan turned me onto recently, Dwarfcraft is the name of the company. They make this pedal called the Eau Claire Thunder. It is so awesome sounding, Juan has it, loves it, I have it, love it. We just got Scott Shriner from Weezer to get one, he’s already tweeting about “ahhh it’s awesome.” So yea, Juan and I talk, almost daily, and a good chunk of our conversations is about pedals and gadgets. But yea, I really got to make that video for Pigtronix.
As far as your Lollapalooza performance with Le Butcherettes, was there any special pedal you used?
Well I had my pedal board, but I had this pedal called the Rusty Box by this company Tronographic. It’s an amazing pedal, I love the sound of that box, I love that pedal. Juan turned me onto that as well, got it for my birthday, and gave it to me. I pretty much have him to thank for a lot of things. There’s a few pedals I’ve turned him onto it as well so I don’t feel too guilty about it, but yea I love that guy.
When you’re done with this tour are you going to be recording with Teri and Gabe?
Yes. Yea, and Omar. Yea Omar is going to do it, record it, produce it, whatever. Soon too, we have stuff, we’re ready to go we just have to finish up tour. I think right now it’s just as important to stay on tour too, people are responding to it. I mean the shows we have lined up with Iggy & the Stooges is the craziest thing that I can imagine for this band right now. I mean that’s like, that’s pretty serious, for this band. That’s perfect for this band, Le Butcherettes.
Have you ever played with other Chicago musicians, like Bobby Burg?
I’ve never played with him, I’ve played shows alongside him but I’ve never played with him, no. He wasn’t around for that Joan of Arc session, but he’s good, he’s awesome.
Yea I just saw him perform a little while ago, and I’ve got to tell you about this woman whose performance I saw, Azita. Easily one of the best moments of my life.
I love her! I love that woman! She’s a legend man I’ve been a fan of Azita since the 90s, she’s the real thing. She electrifying. She’s the realest thing all the way, through and through. Her punk band, her noise band, her solo stuff, it was all great. She’s a character, you should interview her. So many people that I know, she’s not really acclaimed, yet she should be. But so many of my musician friends who are so into her music and they know, they’re huge fans of her. She’s like this mysterious creature, this enigmatic being you know. She’s so great, I remember seeing her in her band Scissor Girls in the late 90s. She was a force. I haven’t talked to her in years, and I was going to play for her for a while, and I ended up joining Hella instead. I had these charts and I was going to play bass for her but then I ended up moving to Sacramento, and she understood. But I should call her, or I don’t know her well enough to call her but I should email her. She’s wonderful. Azita, I love her, love everything she’s ever done.
Can you help me out with a question, what’s something I should ask her in the interview?
Azita? Wow, let me think about that. God I don’t know, the first thing that comes to mind is apparently she has this obsession with Steely Dan. Maybe something about that, but I’m more interested in what she draws upon for inspiration. Like if she sits down at the piano and just kind of goes for it and comes up with things that work and goes from that and goes on top of it. Or if she has this concept in her brain that’s pre-conceived? I don’t know how to exactly word that, but she’s unique enough that makes me think is it stream of conscious for her songwriting? You should ask that.
When did your other band Dot Hacker form?
Well I lived for a few years in northern California, in a town where Spencer Seim and Dan Elkan live, and met Josh Klinghoffer through them. A few years ago, I moved to LA to work with Josh. It’s this interesting thing, because it’s this band made of kind of young session musician types. Like Josh played with Beck, and PJ Harvey and John Frusciante, now he’s the new Chili Pepper. Then there’s Eric Gardner our drummer, he’s played with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Gnarls Barkley, you know, Tom Morello, stuff like that. Clint Walsh has done Gnarls, The Scream, Electric Guest, and many others. So they invited me in to jam with them and I moved to LA to pretty much do that. We’d record a lot between all our tours, and then we developed an album, which was put on pause for a moment. So after Josh tours with RHCP we will have time to do more stuff. So this Dot Hacker album that we recorded a few years ago will be finally be released at the end of the year. It’s a real pleasure to play music with someone like Josh Klinghoffer, he’s phenomenally talented. All those guys are. So this is pretty much an ongoing thing, Dot Hacker. The name comes from our drummer’s grandmother’s name.
So when did you record with Juan Alderete for his project Big Sir?
Well it was shortly after that Hella/Mars Volta tour that I got together with Juan and the singer Lisa Papineau to record on their project. It’s always had this concept of having two bassists. On their first Big Sir record, the other bassist was Tim Commerford from Rage Against the Machine. So back then it was Juan, Lisa and Tim among others. Then on their second album was when Juan invited me to come record with them. It’s really exciting for me to play with Juan since we have such a strong friendship.
Was there something I forgot to cover in your ongoing career?
I also wanted to mention that, alongside all my experimental stuff, there is also lots of pop music. I toured all last year playing in Broken Bells, with James Mercer from The Shins and Danger Mouse. There was a band that I had with Rich Good who’s in the Psychedelic Furs now, a band called Kings and Queens, kind of like a shoe-gazy British thing. I played with this girl group called Agent Ribbons on their record called Chateau Crone last year, I’m really proud to have been on that record. It’s this great girl, garage-y kind of pop record, some reason hasn’t gotten as much attention as I thought it would, but I’m really happy I got to play on it. Such a great album, you should check it out. I’ve also done some recording with Danger Mouse, stuff like that. I also play in a band called American City, a cool female fronted band.
Any last words for bass players out there?
[laughs] Don’t be nervous, don’t be afraid that the bass is not enough. Just do it. Don’t be afraid of collaboration. Call me. [laughs] That’s what I like about people playing that instrument, it resonates with them, it jives with their personality, they find a calling in it. That particular instrument, the people that play it are not competitive. There’s this typical stereotype with folks who play other instruments, but I think as far as bass players go, there’s some grounding there, they’re laid back guys. They’re like the ambassadors of the band, make everything work out, make everything alright. There’s not many that I’ve met that aren’t that guy, who I don’t respect. It’s like always having a weird little brother. I’m not competitive with Juan, you know, we’re buddies, we’re bros. Anybody out there playing bass, join the party.
Alright well, it’s been great. Thank you Jonathan. And to the readers make sure to catch Jonathan with his band Le Butcherettes finishing off their 2011 tour in November/December and check out their slot on FFF fest!
All photos from Sargent House