The Everett Herald ran a story as a preview for a one of my November '04 concerts.
The complete article is included below. The article is also posted on the Herald's website, however they now require users to register before they can access archived stories. If you are already registered or wish to, you can click here to visit the magazine's website.
By Sharon Wootton
GETTING MORE FROM A BASS GUITAR
Brendan Wires adds two more strings and a technique called tapping to make the bass a solo instrument.
Brendan Wires might have grown up to be a top-flight trumpet player if it hadn't been for braces."I was pretty good," he said of his fifth-grade performances.
But orthodontia ruled out lip instruments. Wires switched to bass guitar and played in jazz bands through high school and college. The Bothell resident has since shifted to a six-string bass and a style of play that sets him apart from most bass players. Wires will share the stage with Smoke Creek tonight during this month's Music at the Flying Pig series in Everett.
Heritage Review called Smoke Creek a "musical match made in hillbilly heaven" with its rich harmonies, original compositions, ballads, country-Western songs and old-time instruments.
About seven years ago, Wires decided he needed to hear more music than his bass could deliver.
"I could hear all these cool guitar parts on a record, but I couldn't play them while playing the bass parts. I wanted to hear it all," Wires said. So he started down the tapping path, playing the guitar parts (melody line) with his right hand up high on the neck.
"My left hand already knew the bass parts."
Tapping became somewhat familiar in the late 1970s with Eddie Van Halen ("Eruption" and "Spanish Fly"). It's a technique that uses the fingers of the picking hand to tap behind the frets, creating notes while the fret hand is doing normal fingering.
"You can reach both ends of the neck at one time; play the lowest of low and highest of the high at one moment and everything in between."
While acoustic-guitar tapping goes way back, electrical instruments gave it an easier ride. Turning up the volume allowed more sensitivity to the taps, Wires said.
A six-string bass is tuned much lower so that the pitches are about an octave lower and the depth is much greater.
Additional bass strings present additional problems, but "they also present solutions that you might not have though of. It means a fatter tone from a much thicker and deeper string," he said.
Wires bought his first six-string in 1989, thanks to a bit of inheritance from his grandmother.
"I can get really, really interesting harmonies that come alive in the lower registers. You don't hear it all the time, either."
It's hard enough to make a living in music but it's even harder to take the solo-bass path.
"I really feel that I have something to offer. When I get to present my ideas to listeners, and when they're really turned on ... it's addictive to show those things to new people."
Wires doesn't fit neatly into any musical category except instrumental, although there's an element of improv in most of his songs.
"I want to let the music go where it's going as opposed to letting my hands dictate where it should go."
On his CD, "Brendan Wires: Bass Soloist," he leads off with Van Morrison's "Moondance."
"I didn't even realize I was playing a Van Morrison tune when I started to pick out a real rudimentary walking bass line and a melody over the top."
He also covers Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters."
"Playing that is like going to church for me. It's a heavy song and just the simplicity and the movement of it draws me in every time."
Walking onto a stage is always a risk, even more so for a bass soloist. But Wires likes the challenge, and eventually listeners forget that he's playing a bass.
"It's not so much the instrument. It's the music."
Brendan Wires performs tonight at the Flying Pig in Everett.