Spotlight on Bass

Spotlight on Bass

By Lisa Palmeno, Staff Writer

Bass players are often elusive characters, not needing, expecting, or even wanting, attention and recognition. In keeping with his chosen profession as a bassist, Chris Schach’s quiet, unassuming manner and serious facial expressions indicate he is there to work.

The solidly versatile bassist backs Pistol Pete, never wavering as Pete shifts through a plethora of musical selections, gliding over the top and bringing fans high-energy, fast riffs, squealing chords, and feedback. Keeping up with such an expressive guitarist is not an easy task for a bass player, and Pete regularly lauds Schach’s abilities: “We’ve been together for three years. He’s been a wonderful bass player and musician. He’s never late, always on time and a great person.

“He has an unorthodox playing style,” Pete continues. “He started studying slap-funk technique, learning the blues and a lot of different music, learning about the soul of music. That’s what intrigues me about Chris; he really gets involved with playing from the soul. The essence of music is to be able to play everything. A real musician plays everything, and Chris has accomplished that.”

An Auburn High School and Rockford College graduate, Schach has a bachelor’s degree in English and has been playing guitar and bass for 10 years each. He first formed his own three-piece band Alpha Jerk, playing guitar and singing. He describes Alpha Jerk’s music as a cross between Bad Brains and Jane’s Addiction. He picked up bass after that and started playing with what is now Whalebone, a band with which he still occasionally works. He also plays lead guitar with Silent Treatment, an Emo band from Chicago, keyboards, writes, sings, and substitute teaches music classes in the area.

Schach is definitely on the circuit, performing at many local gigs, Wisconsin venues and Chicago and the suburbs, including B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted, On The Waterfront, and headlining at the blues festival for two years in Hastings, Neb.

In addition to recording his own tracks, he will be the featured bassist on Pete’s live CD at Big Cities, due out soon.

Schach says he loved improvising with jam bands, playing live and is extremely spiritual about playing.

“Music is a blessing and a burden,” Chris says. “It’s a blessing because it allows you to transcend this reality and exist autonomously and exist in a parallel one; but then the burden is that you can’t stop doing it, and it does takes away from other areas of your life, like friends and family. Society expects you to have a normal existence, and being a musician is certainly abnormal.”

He prefers playing jazz fusion, “because it encompasses all genres of music,” and he only has one bass, a four-string Fender Precision Light, which he says he’ll stick with. He says he “likes the way it feels, more slinky, light, easy to maneuver.”

As for influences, he cites Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clark, Art Love and Freddie Miller. Schach emphasizes that, musically, he will continue to experiment and explore and reach higher levels of spiritual insight.

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