From the first time Brett Marquette’s dad took him to get an acoustic bass in high school to the upcoming release of his band, Forty Foot Tall’s new album, A Good Distraction, out now, there has only been one musical instrument in his life. As well as his own bass set-up, Brett is lucky enough to get his hands on his dad’s Rickenbacker 4001 so, we sat down with Brett and talked all things bass with him in this latest installment of Geared Up.
Tell us a little bit about your current set-up…
Brett Marquette: “Right now I’m rocking a white Fender Precision bass, with the Little Mark Ninja head and the New York 122 Ninja cab. It’s simple, clean, and powerful (1000 watts).”
What took you down the route of being a bassist, and who are your biggest influences?
“I went to a school where they required us to play an instrument, I started with violin in third grade, cello in fourth, trumpet in fifth/sixth, and then finally drums in seventh/eighth. I was really in love with the drums (I wanted to be just like the drummer from School of Rock). When I got into high school they told me that they didn’t allow electric instruments and that the drums were too loud. My teacher told me to get an acoustic bass and my dad took me to get one right after school that same day, I’ve been playing bass ever since.
My biggest influences when I was starting to play were definitely John Paul Jones and Flea. The first two songs I ever learned to play on the bass were ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’ by Led Zepplin and ‘Dani California’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now that I’m older and more experienced I look to bassists like James Jameson and Thundercat. Also always gotta love the great Paul McCartney.”
What is it that you like about your current set-up, and how long did it take to perfect?
“I love how simple my current set-up is. The head is small, the cab is light, but it can blow people away. The P bass is perfect for me, tone and volume are the only knobs I need.”
What made you choose this set-up and is there an alternative?
“Well I was originally going to get a Fender Jazz bass, but when I was in the studio with my old band, Bodacious Ancients, there was a P bass on the wall and after I tried that out there was no going back for me. Similarly, I originally wanted to get an Ampeg head and cab, but the day I went into Guitar Center to buy the rig they had this cool green Mark bass amp set up and I loved the tones I was able to get out of it, really deep and rich. Basically, when I play something and it feels right I go for it, gotta follow your gut.”
Do you use the same gear in the studio as you do live?
“I’m always open to trying new things in the studio especially if the producer or engineer has some cool vintage equipment, but for this upcoming album I did just use my P bass and Markbass head.”
You’ve talked about why you love it, but what don’t you like about your current gear?
“I think the same thing that I love about my set-up is also what I dislike about it, it’s maybe too simple. The set-up I have now was perfect for the album we made, but as we grow as a band and explore new sounds I find myself wanting to expand the gear I have. I’m excited to explore pedals as we write new music.”
Tell us about where you go to get your gear? Stores, online, second-hand shops?
“In the past, I’ve gotten the big expensive stuff like my bass and amps from Guitar Center, but now I do my best to always support local shops. As Amazon continues to absorb/consume small businesses it’s more important than ever to help out the little music shops in our hometowns. A couple of my favourites in Portland, Oregon are Old Town Music and Trade Up Music.”
You also play your dad’s Rickenbacker 4001. Tell us how that started and what you like about that?
“Yeah, my dad was in a band called Oasis (before the famous British blokes had that name) when he was in eighth grade. They actually ripped for 13-year-olds, I’ve heard some recordings. My dad got his 1976 blonde Rickenbacker 4001 because his favorite band was Yes and their bassist Chris Squire played a Rick. I only ever saw that bass in the garage or attic when I was growing up, but he gave it to me once I started playing in a band in high school. I used that bass through high school, college, and for a bit after I graduated. It needs some work done to the electronics now, but it will always be one of my favorite instruments and prized possessions.”
How different is it from your own setup?
“When I had the Rickenbacker I also had a fat Ampeg combo amp that I bought used off the floor for like 100 dollars. It was the heaviest pieces of equipment I’ve ever owned and the bane of all my bandmates’ existence, but it did the job. So glad to have the compact light Markbass rig now though.”
If you could have your ultimate set-up what would it include?
“I would definitely get all the electronics fixed on the Rickenbacker so I could really use that classic Rick O Sound. I really like Markbass so I would keep that and just get bigger cabs. Then I would get some pedals, fuzz, tremolo, delay and an overdrive for sure.”
How does your current set-up hold up to life on the road and, have you ever had any gear gone bad moments on stage?
“My current set-up is great for the road, I’m always the first one in and ready for soundcheck. I’ve never had any real problems on stage with my current set-up, if anything was wrong it was usually a messed up cable or something like that. The Rick and Ampeg though have definitely caused me to sweat, both of them have just decided to quit on me in the middle of a gig. I don’t think there is anything worse than that.”
If you could modify or tweak your current set-up what would you do?
“PEDALS BABY! I’ve had such clean sound for so long and I’m ready to get fuckin’ weird. I need some dirty fuzz and tremolo bass in my life.”
Thanks for your time, over to you for the final words on your set-up…
“If anyone from Rickenbacker is reading this please please help me fix my beautiful vintage 4001 from 1976. Thank you!”
Forty Feet Tall’s new album, A Good Distraction, is out now, and you can purchase it online from the band’s Bandcamp page.