Melbourne-based electronic duo, AMERICAN DOUBLES have recently released their debut single The Swell, a luminous track steeped in blithe nostalgia. To accompany the track, the pair have released a spectacularly have-to-see-it-to-believe-it video, co-directed by Daniel and Jarred Daperis of LateNite Films (RÜFÜS) and filmed almost entirely underwater (See it below). Bass player Robert Smith also found time for a Q&A with us.
What was your first bass?
My first bass was a Fender Precision copy, made in Korea in the 80’s, called a Torch Vintage Series. The body, scratch plate and headstock were black and it had an all maple neck with black dot inlays. It had a really nice neck for a bass so cheap. The only modification I made was replacing the plastic nut (after it cracked) with a brass one. The brass nut didn’t have any string grooves when I bought it and I had to file them by hand.
What’s your main bass now?
My main bass now is an all original 1976 Fender Jazz Bass. It has a natural finish ash body, black scratch plate, rosewood fingerboard with mother of pearl block inlays. I can look at this bass forever and it’s also my most favourite to play. It has that classic Jazz Bass growl but can produce nice mellow tones also. The solid ash body, although making it a little on the heavy side, provides an especially long sustain. It has a fast, smooth neck and I like the versatility of switching between the neck and bridge pickups.
Through what amp and why?
I played this bass for years through a Fender BXR Dual 400 watt solid state amp head paired with two 15” EV speakers set in seperate cabs. This was a very solid good-sounding amp and was also a little on the heavy side. The bi-amp allowed me to send my effects to the higher frequencies while keeping the lower frequencies dry. This prevented effects pedals like my DOD envelope filter from ever sucking out to much bass.
Currently, I play through a Genz-Benz shuttle 6.0 amp head paired with a Genz-Benz NX2 – 212T dual 12” speaker cab. The amp delivers 375 watts at 8 ohms and over 600 watts at 4 ohms. It has a tube preamp and active EQ. I like the warmth and punch it provides and being digital it’s super light, weighing in at under 2kg. The dual 12” speaker cab has a nice growl and the vertical positioning of drivers enhances midrange projection, which helps cut through the mix. The cab is also light weight due to it’s neodymium speakers.
Do you use effects at all? If so what?
I often play without any effects but I use the usual ones like fuzz, envelope filter, chorus, octave and compression on occasion.
What’s your latest recording and when will you be back in the studio?
My latest recording is on American Doubles’ debut EP which will be coming out this year. I’ll be back in the studio in the coming weeks as we start recording the album.
What gigs have you been playing lately?
My main focus lately has been recording in the studio with American Doubles but we are planning some live shows in the coming months which is really exciting.
Most memorable gig?
Most memorable gig was at Confest in Moama, NSW. It was in the middle of summer and we were playing on the back of a truck to a crowd of several thousand festival goers. It was one of the only years the festival had amplified music. The generator cut out a few times which seemed to add to the theatrics of the performance, arousing cheers from the audience each time we got it going again!
Worst stage nightmare?
There was one year when a band I was playing with had a gig after the AFL grand final. The guitarist had enjoyed a few to many beverages earlier in the day and in the middle of the first set fell backwards into the drum kit, knocking over a crash cymbal. At that same moment my bass cut out and we discovered the edge of the fallen cymbal had cut my lead clean in half!
Album that changed your life?
I would have to say there have been several. ‘Talking Book’ by Stevie Wonder, ‘Pet Sounds’ by The Beach Boys and ‘Pauls Boutique’ by the Beastie Boys.
What gigs are coming up in the next few months?
I don’t have any dates locked away at this point but American Doubles will be announcing some gig’s soon so keep an eye out on our socials.
A bass tip for the kids?
Listen to drummers and study their bass patterns. An effective way to create a groove is by locking into the kick drum. Understand that you don’t always have to do this, as well. For example, we can also be conversational with the kick too by playing in the gaps. I would recommend practicing with a drum machine and other drummers to promote solid timing and good rhythmic feel. Most of all, play for the song.
American Doubles Facebook page
Here’s the amazing clip for their single, The Swell