Little Lisa on stage
Fall 2007 saw the airing of The Next Great American Band (TNGAB) on the Fox network. While I'm not sure how well the show performed for the network I personally found it quite interesting. Of course, as an amateur musician, that might not be too surprising. There were a number of very talented bands that appeared on the show. My personal favorites were Franklin Bridge and Dot Dot Dot (DDD).
Franklin Bridge were voted off the show too soon in my humble opinion but DDD remained with the show for a few more episodes and I found myself rooting for them to be the winning band (sadly not the case). Not only did DDD have talent to spare and an engaging and refreshing style they also had one of the best bassists of any band in the competition. She goes by the name of Little Lisa but believe me 'little' doesn't refer to her talent. She lays down a great groove.
I (PW) conducted this interview with Little Lisa (LL) by e-mail in January 2008.
PW: First off let me say thank you very much for agreeing to this interview and congratulations to you and the whole band for your performance on the show. I really enjoyed it.
LL: Hi Paul! My pleasure. Thanks for watching the show, we certainly enjoyed it too!
PW: Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you live, what led you into the music scene and more specifically what influenced you to play bass guitar?
LL: Well, I am 5' nothing, blonde, blue eyes and love a challenge. (wanna climb a mountain? HA HA) Most of the time, I live in the van with the rest of the band, traveling from gig to gig. Actually, I was playing guitar in a band and our bass player moved away. I bought a bass from him and have not put it down since then.
PW: Like most of us, I'm sure you were influenced by many different bands and bass players. Are there any that really stand out as models for your current style?
LL: I don't know that I have any particular "Style". I love funky players like Flea and Aaron "P-Nut" Wills. The best upright bass player I have ever seen live was Chris Wood; blew me away! Some of my other favs are guys like Ryan Stasik (Umphrey's Mcgee), Tony Levin (king Crimson, Gabriel....) and probably one of the most overlooked players of all time John Paul Jones (led zep). I could bore you for an hour listing all of my favs. Stanley Clarke, Jaco, Alphonso Johnson, blah blah blah.......
PW: What basses and amps do you use? Do you have any effects you like?
LL: I have 2 basses. A vintage Fender P bass and my main bass is a Modulus Quantum 4 string. I play through a David Eden head with custom cabinets and use a LINE 6 bass pod pro for effects.
PW: While we're talking gear, were you able to use your own equipment for the taping of TNGAB or did you use 'house' gear? Were there any special challenges either way?
LL: I played my Modulus through the house rig the show supplied. It was a Genz Benz. All the bass players on the show played through the same rig, we all EQed that thing totally different.
PW: How did DDD get together? It seems like there is a special energy to your performances. Did you gel as a unit right away? Is it as much fun playing together as it looked on the show?
LL: You can blame Adam for this crazy band. Special, like special ED... and we would have it no other way. We all are like little kids every time we hit the stage. Since day 1, this band clicked and we totally feed off of each other. Musically and energetically. We love to have fun and it is infectious!
PW: What made DDD decide to audition for the show?
LL: That would have been Stephan, our drummers IDEA!! Thanks Stephan!
PW: How was the whole experience? Would you do it again?
LL: Being on the show was like going away to Band Camp for 2 months. All the bands got along and we became good friends, supported each other and would do it again in a heart beat! As matter of fact I would love to do a tour with the bands from the show! [PW: Now that's a great idea. I'd sure like to see that show.]
PW: TNGAB was an interesting take on a 'battle of the bands' in that there were 3 very qualified judges to offer constructive criticism to the bands. DDD seemed to take the offered advice to heart and improved with every show. So, was there any one important bit of advice you received that you'd like to share with other bands?
LL: MMMM.... advice that I received. Have fun and make friends everyday. Don't ever expect anything and you will get everthing!
PW: How much has your appearance on the show affected the band? Has it all been positive or are there negative aspects as well.
LL: Being on TNGAB was a win win situation for us. We have gained a bunch of new fans and have made some great friends through the experinece. I can't think of one negative thing. Other than all the money we spent shopping on Melrose...
PW: If the show runs again would you advise other bands to audition?
LL: Sure...in a heartbeat!
PW: How would you advise them to prepare?
LL: Shut off your phone service, sublet your apt., sell your car and cancel your car insurance...HAVE FUN!
PW: You do vocals as well as play bass. That's very difficult to do as I know from first hand experience. Do you have any tips for those of us who'd like to try vocals as well as playing bass?
LL: I do sing (if that's what you wanna call it). Sting is the king of singing and playing great bass lines. You have to separate what you are singing from what you are playing, kinda like splitting your mind.
PW: I was just listening to the song 'Stay' from the DDD web site and I really like it. How much are you involved in writing songs with your band mates? Do you write the bass lines alone or do you write them together as a band?
LL: The whole process is done together... all of us work together on all of it.
PW: Do you have any advice for all the new bass players out there? Perhaps something that was important to your success that might help others?
LL: Practice with a metronome and have fun learning...
PW: You lock in well with Stephan, your drummer, as all good bassists should, but do you make room in your regular gigs to solo a little?
LL: No solo's... some noodling though.
PW: Your guitarist, Rose, is fabulous. It must be a lot of fun working off her guitar melodies. Do you get a lot of your inspiration from her playing?
LL: Rose and I have been playing together for 6 years and she inspires me daily!
PW: What do you think the future holds for both the band and for yourself? Where would you like to be musically?
LL: Dot Dot Dot is working on our sophomore album and we look forward to touring the world! [PW: Please include Vancouver, I'd love to see Dot Dot Dot live.]
PW: I'd really like to thank you for your time in doing this interview for www.bassplaying.com. On behalf of the members of BP I'd like to wish you and all your band mates success and many more happy gigs.
LL: Thanks for having me! Let's hang out soon! Little Lisa!!!!