A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Dan Maines (bassist for Clutch & The Bakerton Group)

I love Dan Maines. His groove on early Clutch is the 2nd coming of Geezer Butler to me. His playing tells stories to my ear, unlike the overwhelming majority of rock bass players that I hear.

I remember an interview with Billy Sheehan in which he talked about bass lines and how they’ve changed over the years, from the 50s, 60s and 70s until now. He spoke about how bass lines were melodic and were an integral part of the song, how you could hum a bass line by itself and recognize the song it came from. He also observed how this changed with a lot of modern music.

An example that Sheehan gave was playing part of the bass line for “Stand By Me”. Its instantly identifiable if you’ve ever heard the song. He then played a few bars of repeated 8th notes and asked what song it was. It could have literally been any of dozens. I got his point.

To my ear, Dan creates memorable, melodic bass lines for rock. My friend Ray describes him as a rhythmic bass player, and I completely agree. Clutch’s early music was hardcore. But, as heavy as it was, it still grooved, which isn’t something I can say about many other hardcore bands that I can think of. As they went on and shed hardcore roots, it grew even more in that direction. They moved towards hard rock, blues, funk and even “jam band” sounds.

In an interview with Metal Sucks, Dan said that two of his biggest influences as a bass player are Jack Bruce from Cream and Darryl Jenifer from Bad Brains. He also originally picked up guitar, being inspired by Jimi Hendrix, but when he joined the guys in what would eventually become Clutch, they already had guitar covered. He moved on to bass, thinking that it wouldn’t be very difficult, but found that it actually was. 😉 Luckily for me, he stuck with it.

The following are songs from early in Clutch’s career. As much as I enjoy later offerings, I’ve always been more of a fan of their heavier sounds. Even though they’re only a few years apart, Dan’s bass sound clearly evolves with each song. One trademark that I feel never left is that ever-present sense of groove. Even now, nearly 20 years after first hearing them, its what primarily draws me back to the first records… its hard to find bands that can combine a heavy sound with groove.

Clutch – Impetus (1992)

Clutch – Effigy (1993)

Clutch – Spacegrass (1995)


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