Interview with Six-60 Bass Guitarist - Chris Mac
interview with six60 bass guitarist
Originally from Darwin, Australia, Chris Mac now lives in Dunedin, with his wife and young daughter. A longstanding punk rocker turned hip-hop, soul and dubstep convert, Chris handles bass and synth duties for Six60. He brings the high-energy vibe of punk along for the ride, interspersed with a focused approach drawn from time spent playing music professionally in Australia. Staunchly community oriented, but far from authoritarian, Chris is all about family and friends, good laughs, good vibes and good times.
Why did you choose this set-up?
Nothing beats the punch of a Stingray through an Ampeg rig. I’m influenced by a lot of punk/post punk bands and I want my sound to be a fuller interpretation of those sounds. The Moogs are great because to me it doesn’t just feel like I’m playing bass on a keyboard. They have the feel, timbre and the responsiveness so I can translate energy/mood etc... like I would with a bass guitar, which is really important to me.
What drew you to Ernie Ball basses?
A lot of my favourite sounding bassists and bands used Ernie Ball (At The Drive In, early RHCP, MxPx, Fugazi, RATM, etc) and I wanted to emulate that feel with my own personality.
Why did you choose the models that you have?
The ‘84 is so great. It plays like a classic, sounds like a classic and looks like a classic. Hard to beat. Pretty much the whole album was recorded with that bass. The new Stingray was a tough decision. It took DAYS of trying each bass over and over again (Kudos to the staff at Rockshop for their patience). But in the end, this one made me play better, it’s very responsive and has beautiful tone. It wasn’t the model I went in for but its easily one of the best basses I’ve ever played.
What was the highlight of 2012 for you?
2012 was a whirlwind for us. Sell out shows throughout Europe, UK, Australia and USA. Taking home six awards for our album which sold triple platinum. 2012 will be a life highlight.
What plans do you have for 2013?
We are knee deep in writing our second album and we’ll be heading over to the states and Europe again soon. We’ll just keep working as hard as we always have.
What is your most important music tip?
Not exactly a ‘tip’ but growing up I listened to a lot of classical music and learned about the imagery that’s possible in music even without lyrics. The aim is to paint pictures, colours and shapes rather than just create organised noise.
What advice would you give to up and coming bassists?
Don’t limit yourself to just playing one kind of music, learn from everything, everyone and most importantly - make people feel something.
Do you have a preference when it comes to strings?
I really like using Ernie Ball Hybrid-Slinky. It can handle getting a beating and has the extra heaviness for a more soulful sound when needed.
How do you describe your playing style?
I’m a ‘feel’ player. I try to find the groove of the song and then create something almost melodic within that (without being too showy). I try and complement the vocals/guitar hooks/drum groove which sometimes lets me find interesting lines and sometimes it means laying out a simple, solid rhythm. Whatever best serves the song.
does your approach change when playing live as to recording in the studio?
I don’t find a massive difference between studio or live. In a live show there’s obviously a lot more room to improvise, using the energy of the crowd in your playing although in saying that, I always try to create as much emotion, feel and energy when I’m recording something in the studio as well. I guess the main difference is when recording you are as disciplined as possible because that bass line is going to be on CD forever and I don’t want to cringe every time I hear it.
Besides holding down the low end for the band, do you hold down any other key responsibilities?
There’s not too many clearly defined roles in the band. I enjoy and work well with arrangements and production. That’s something I’d like to get involved in more. I also run the Six60 Twitter account because I’m the only one that really cares about Twitter (laughs).
• ‘84 Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray 4-string
• Limited Edition ErnieBall Musicman Stingray (4 string)
• Ampeg SVT Vintage Reissue head
• Ampeg SVT Anniversary Bass Cabinet
• A handful of pedals: Hot Cake, Holy Grail, Mxr Bass Octave, Memory
Boy Deluxe, Cry Baby, Lily Boost.
• MiniMoog Voyager Performer Synthesizer
• Moog Little Phatty Synthesizer