Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Low End Theories: Palehorse’s Favourite Bass Albums

Before their appearance at Desertfest at the Camden Underworld this weekend, uber-heavy bass guitar maestros James Bryant and John Atkins of Palehorse salute their favourite bass albums with Kiran Acharya (and even include one that has no bass guitar at all)

Even though Palehorse are known for having two bassists, James Bryant considers himself a guitarist, having played on six strings for years, beginning in his high school band Drift. "What a terrible name for a band," he says today. "We eventually changed our name to Creed but gave up on that too because we thought a rock band named Creed would never ever succeed."

Success for Palehorse is measured in wry and modest terms, given that they’re never going to fill arenas, being independent musicians playing no-guitar ‘London powerviolence’. But Bryant and fellow bassist John Atkins, along with drummer Ben Dawson, vocalist Nikolai Grune and Mark Dicker on electronics, continue their creatively restless and fruitful path, currently recording the fifth full-length Palehorse album, following last year’s excellent Harm Starts Here.

"We’re about four or five songs in," says Bryant. "We’ve been refusing shows since the tail end of last year to concentrate on writing, but at the Underworld we’ll be playing at least three new tunes."

Bryant says he’s surprised by how direct the new songs are, and that he’s been making an effort to shorten parts which might seem meandering. "Look at Harm Starts Here," he says. "A song like ‘What Is Wrong With You People?’ is an eleven-minute opener. That’s insane! I love it, and when we play it, it doesn’t feel as long as it is. I hope for the listener it’s the same. But since joining Palehorse I’ve learned that you don’t get to be your own audience. It’s impossible to occupy that position any more. So you have to do things because you like them, not because you think other people will really like them. If they don’t, it’s not the end of the world because we’re not sitting around waiting on record sales to keep us going."

For their Baker’s Dozen Bryant and Atkins have selected the records that have had the most impact on them as bass guitarists, resulting in a surprising and diverse list that covers everything from math rock to metal and industrial hip-hop. Hat-tips go to bands like The Breeders and Man Is The Bastard, and while it doesn’t appear in the list, they give honourable mention to the iconic slap bass moment in ‘You Can Call Me Al’ from Paul Simon’s Graceland. "We talked about Graceland when we were whiskey-eyed drunk," says Bryant. "The player’s some six-foot tall virtuoso, one of these massive talents who can play the fretless bass as well. He plays the part and then they reverse it and play it back over the top. That’s why you’re going, ‘How the hell did he do that?’"

"Yes," says Atkins. "But have you ever tried to play the fretless bass? It’s fucking impossible."

Palehorse play Desertfest in Camden Underworld, London, this Saturday, April 25; head here for full details and tickets. Click on their image below to begin scrolling through James and John’s choices

First Record

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