Cinematic alt-folk group, Lazy Colts have recently released a brooding new single, Twenty Two, the second taste of their debut LP, Trojan, set for release on August 5. They’ll be hitting the road in August to celebrate the new LP, kicking off in Melbourne on August 6 and moving on to Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney then wrapping up in Katoomba on September 4. Lazy Colts’ bass player David Keys found time to answer a Q&A for us.
What was your first bass?
My first bass was a no-name frankenbass I bought from my high school art teacher for $30. I clearly remember it was an eye-catching lime green with large white polka dots…..the bass was loud, and loud. My art teacher was playing in a gigging band so fortunately the bass was set-up pretty well and didn’t suffer some of the playability problems you might get with a very cheap bass. It actually turned out to be a great starter bass. After about 12 months I moved on to an G&L SB2.
What’s your main bass now?
I have two main basses… a 1972 Fender Precision, which has been my main bass for quite a while, and a Danelectro Longhorn re-issue. Both great basses for different reasons. I bought the Fender almost 20 years ago from the original owner who picked it up in the States in 1972. He’d made a few modifications (a brass nut and Badasss II bridge) which really seem to work for the bass. It’s a 3 tone sunburst with rosewood fingerboard which looks pretty beaten up from years of gigging and touring but it’s a thing of beauty – and the nicest bass I’ve ever played. It just feels really comfortable to my hands and sounds great through any amp.
The Danelectro is relatively new to me and was passed on from a friend who no longer plays bass. It has a short scale neck which makes things a little more interesting and fun playing wise, is super lightweight, and sounds surprisingly good considering Danelectro’s price point in the market. It’s getting a lot more playing time than I originally thought it would.
I also have a Synwin double bass I use when needed. It had some real playability issues out of the box but Sydney based luthier Neville Whitehead did some fantastic work on the fingerboard, added an adjustable bridge and repositioned the soundpost, to really turn it all around. He also swapped out the factory strings for Thomastik Spirocores, which are lower tension and easier on the left hand.
Through what amp and why?
What amp I use really depends on the venue. Lazy Colts are not a loud band and for the majority of gigs I can use my extremely reliable and portable SWR Workingmans’s 12 combo amp. It’s only 80 watts but delivers plenty of punch through a 12 inch speaker and a lot of tone flexibility. It doesn’t take up much stage room and is relatively easy to lug around. I’ve worked it really hard over many years and it’s never let me down.
For larger venues I have a Labsystems SS400 head and Labsystems quad box. An Australian made solid state 400 watt amp of very high quality. These amps are as good, if not better, than any on the market.
Do you use effects at all? If so what?
I don’t use any electronic or digital effects but will mix up my playing (pick, fingers, thumb, palm muting) to get different sounds out of the bass, as well as using the bass and amp tone controls for different effects. There was a period where I experimented with a Yamaha FX500b (which I still have) but I found more often than not it would become a case of the song being shaped/influenced by an effect sound instead of the other way around. I’m not totally against bass effects but unless they really add something to the song I feel you’re much better off going with an unaffected bass sound.
What’s your latest recording and when will you be back in the studio?
The most recent Lazy Colts recording has resulted in the new album ‘Trojan’. Recorded by Lazy Colts violinist, Michael Bridges, using his portable home studio at multiple locations across Sydney and mixed by renowned engineer, Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Timber Timbre), the album has been two years in the making. The band are really excited to now share it with the world.
My latest recording personally was in January this year at Bondi Pavilion studios with engineer/producer extraordinaire Brendan Gallagher (who has produced over twenty albums, including two ARIA award winners – Jimmy Little’s instant Australian classic Messenger (1999) and Karma County’s Into The Land Of Promise (2000)), playing bass for Sydney-based/Internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Bryan Estepa, on his latest album ‘Every Little Thing’.
With the current focus firmly on live shows promoting ‘Trojan’ there are no plans for Lazy Colts to go back into the studio just yet, but with new songs already taking shape in rehearsals I expect we will be back recording at some stage in the first half of 2017.
What gigs have you been playing lately?
Lazy Colts have just finished a month long Thursday night residency at the Moonshine Rum and Cider Bar in Manly. It’s been great to get that consistent gigging in ahead of our upcoming album tour. The venue is very supportive of original live music, has a great PA and really looks after artists. We’ve been lucky to play with a broad range of great Australian artists over the past month (Mat McHugh and The Beautiful Girls, Lepers and Crooks, The Owls, High-Tails, Sons of the East….).
Most memorable gig?
I expect the most memorable Lazy Colts gig will come from one of our upcoming ‘Trojan’ tour shows but personally I’ve found festival shows to be most memorable. I’ve been fortunate enough to play the Big Day Out, Homebake and Falls Festival, and the sheer number of people you get to play to in those settings, along with the opportunity to run around and check out a whole host of other bands make those gigs really memorable.
Worst stage nightmare?
It’s difficult to pin down just one but most stage nightmares relate to stages where it’s near impossible to fit all band members on stage. So, you end up playing in a position almost on top of your amp where you can’t move for fear of knocking over the cymbals stand or crashing into another band member, all the time trying to fight off cramps from standing in the one position for too long.
Album that changed your life?
What gigs are coming up in the next few months?
Lazy Colts have an album tour coming up which will see us playing a whole bunch of shows throughout August.
LAZY COLTS ‘TROJAN’ NATIONAL TOUR
SAT 6 AUG | WESLEY ANNE, NORTHCOTE | 18+
SUN 7 AUG | LABOUR IN VAIN, FITZROY | 18+
SAT 13 AUG | SANCHO’s DIRTY LAUNDRY, CANBERRA | 18+
SAT 20 AUG | THE BEARDED LADY, BRISBANE | 18+
SAT 27 AUG | FRANKS WILD YEARS, THIRROUL | ALL AGES
SUN 28 AUG | THE OXFORD CIRCUS, SYDNEY | 18+
Tickets available from www.moshtix.com.au | 1300 GET TIX | All Moshtix Outlets
SUN 4 SEP | HOTEL BLUE, KATOOMBA | ALL AGES
Tickets available from www.stickytickets.com.au
A bass tip for the kids?
Don’t give up. Practice at least a little each day. Sometimes you will go through periods where you feel you are making no progress but then all of a sudden you’ll leap ahead, so just stick with it. And, as laborious as it might seem sometimes working through scales and intervals is really great for your dexterity and ear training so try and make it a portion of any practice you sit down to do.