Heavy Weather
Bass Player|March 2020
Heavy Weather
How does a classic band, two decades past its biggest sales, suddenly start selling out shows and achieving major success? Let’s ask Andrew Levy of the acid jazz legends, Brand New Heavies

Andrew, the Brand New Heavies are busier than ever. How is the current tour going?

It’s good fun. This tour’s pretty special for us, with the new album TBNH doing so well, so we’ve been trying out different iterations of the set. I’ve got an Aria Pro II SB that I’m getting to know. I’ve still got to get used to the top end not being there, because I’m used to Jazz basses.

Why did you change to the Aria?

It just cuts through and there’s no boominess, so it was quite easy to get a good sound on stage. We’ve got a lot of fast tracks and syncopation, so anything with too much bottom end gets lost in our set. I’ve also got EMGs fitted to a Squier Jazz bass—I absolutely love them. The Squier is light on my shoulders, so I’m able to bounce around the stage with it. Maybe Squiers don’t last as long because some of the parts are not perfect, but I’m enjoying using it. I put the EMGs on to give it a bit more bite through the set. I think the 80s bass sound is coming back.

Could be... How about amps?

I’ve been using a Markbass, a very, very, heavy combo. It’s small, with unbelievable headroom. It’s just outrageous. It doesn’t flood the stage with low end, which can overcome the sound on the stage. It’s a 1,000-watt combo, which is a pretty substantial little amp. I’m actually moving away from valves because I just find that they’re not fast enough. Valve amps are lovely to record with, but onstage I’m going back to transistors because they’re faster and I feel that they’re better suited to where the band are at the moment.

Any effects in the signal chain?

Tons. I’ve got a lovely effects box. I’m using a Dunlop bass wah, a boost for solos, and a bass fuzz by TC Electronic.

Are you using in-ears onstage?

I tried in-ears, but I think I’m past it in terms of converting. I really need that physical air moving around me. I tried it, but I like feeling completely connected to the crowd more than the actual band, in away. I want to hear what the crowd hears, and if I can’t feel it, I can’t play. I’m untrained, and everything I know is through my ears— so as long as I can get away with it, I want to keep those in-ears out.

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March 2020