Barefaced Interview: Eli Eckert from the Once and Future Band
Back in 2018 we interviewed Eli Eckert, Bassist and vocalist in the ONCE AND FUTURE BAND about their 2018 UK tour and BBC live sessions using BAREFACED cabinets. The band are currently poised to head out on a west coast tour supporting WHITE DENIM.
We talked a bit about Eli's gear, what the BAREFACED cabs were like, the UK shows and what the future might hold for the future band..
Getting to hang out with killer musicians and playing beautiful old-school theaters: What’s not to love? The audience reaction has been great. We never know how our music’s going to go over with the crowd when we’re doing a support tour, so it’s always feels great when people are digging it.
The FOUR 10 was a treat to use. It can be unnerving to head out on tour not knowing exactly what kind of equipment you’re going to end up with or what state of disrepair it’s going to be in. It was awesome to be able to use a cabinet with great tone and clarity that I could count on to get the music across the way I wanted.
The sound and tone were just what I was looking for. The FOUR 10 is a great looking cab, dare I say “classy”? It’s not a backbreaker to carry, with comfortable handles for lifting which may seem inconsequential but when you’re hauling your own gear every night up and down stairs and what not, you begin to appreciate these things! It worked out great for the Marc Riley session on BBC6.
Back home I use a 4x12 cab. On tour I’ve used a range of cabs, usually the standard Ampeg 4x10s and 8x10s. I hate being swamped with subs, so I really appreciated the FOUR 10 because I was able to get the tone I wanted without having to deal with a preponderance of lows that I didn’t need. Coming back and playing my 4x12, I was missing the FOUR10’s clarity.
I use a ‘74 Ampeg V4 which I’m really comfortable with. Usually on tours with rented backline I end up using an SVT which sometimes feels like too much firepower for me. I like to be able to get the drive from the V4 and use dynamics in my playing to go between getting a more overdriven sound and laying back to get more subdued tones.
It’s great to have a rig that isn’t going to be total overkill in a small venue but can still do the job in a big place like the Troxy or Albert Hall. I like small venues because I like the amp and cab to present the sound rather than relying on the venue’s sound system. I really hate when venues go overboard with the low end, it eats up so much of the sonic space.
I usually stand at the front of the stage and sing backups, so sometimes I really have to rely on the stage monitors to hear my bass which kind of sucks because the tone is usually bad coming out of those things. My ideal is standing right in front of my amp and next to the drums.
We both really need to be able to hear each other when we’re on stage. We play off each other so it’s important. This is the first time I’ve been in a band where I’ve asked for more hi-hat in the monitor!
I’ve put a lot of effort into being a “bass player” as opposed to just a guitar player-playing-bass, but yeah, guitar definitely informs my style. For the first few years of O&FB we were a trio, just drums, keyboards and bass. I tend to play melodically due to that fact, trying to add as much melodic information while still holding down the roots and pulse.
Through guitar I learned a lot about how chords and scales relate to one another and that has been super useful to my bass playing. I love arpeggios!
In the beginning of O&FB I used a Rickenbacker that was at the our rehearsal space, which was a treat, but out of my price range! To be honest, a lot of what I end up using comes down to what I can afford. For years I used a Fender Jazz copy that I accidentally killed, that’s how I ended up with a Jaguar. I’m a fan of the Jazz neck, partial to rosewood fretboards. Just give me some action that is comfortable to play and I’m happy.
I was really impressed with how my pedals sounded through it. I like to use a Phase 90 because it also adds a little overdrive. That can end up sounding muddy with certain rigs but sounded killer with the FOUR 10.
I love Bernard Edwards. He was just so on point rhythmically and melodically. There’s this wild line he plays in “At Last I Am Free” that kills me everytime. Lately I’ve been obsessed with the bass playing on Don Blackman’s “Holding You, Loving You” by Barry “Sonjohn” Johnson. It’s a genius, the perfect mix of minimalism and flash in just the right amounts. That’s what it comes down to for me, the tastefulness of balancing those elements. I love so many different players it’s hard to narrow down but a few others are Nathan Watts, Paul Jackson, Thundercat, Chris Squier, Paul McCartney, John Taylor, Wilton Felder, Jaco…
Yeah, depending on the circumstance we’ve done all of the above. do either DI and microphone combo, or some var
Playing on Marc Riley’s show is an amazing experience. The anglophile in me felt very in awe of being in an actual BBC studio! The Castlemania shows with Oh Sees, Kelley Stoltz, Flat Worms and Male Gaze were also incredible.
Unfortunately we did not get a chance to partake in a Sunday Roast on this last trip. But we did last time we were in the UK and it was great.
No specific plans at the moment, but we’re definitely going to be back! The way that UK audiences have responded to what we’re doing has been really inspiring to us.
You may ask. Seriously though, I can’t wait for us to get the next record out. Thanks for listening!
The ONCE AND FUTURE BAND are supporting WHITE DENIM on the following 2019 dates.
The BRAIN EP, and ONCE AND FUTURE BAND album are available here.
Interviewed by - Bobby Hewitt