26 Mar 2006

Richie Edwards

+ posted by FlamingWhopper

As he neared 30, Richie Edwards—career roadie, guitar tech, and all-around backline guru—had given up all hope of making any impact in a band of his own. While making a living tweaking the EQ for Darkness guitarist Dan Hawkins, Edwards’s only onstage action came with Onion Trump, a roadies’ joke band that would sometimes support the hair-rock stars. But nine months ago, that all changed when Darkness bassist Frankie Poullain was dismissed and Edwards was asked to step up to the plate. Now on a major European tour, he’s still marveling at the sudden change in his fortunes.

Was it useful that you were the Darkness’s guitar tech before you became its bassist?


Incredibly! I know exactly what gear the Darkness uses and what the bass should sound like. In this band, the bass and drums are a kind of meat-and-potatoes springboard for the riffs, so I’m not called upon to create complex bass lines; I just have to stay in the pocket. Classic rock like this demands a simple style. Having said that, the other guys in the band have made it easy for me every step of the way. For legal reasons Dan Hawkins had to record most of the bass parts on the new album, but in the studio he kept asking me what I thought he should play. He’s a great bass player, and Justin [Hawkins, singer/guitarist] can play bass, too—so we all understand each other really well. Of course, the other big advantage is that I already knew them as people, so there was no need to waste time getting to know each other’s personalities.

You worked with Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker on the new album. That must have been quite an experience.

Oh, it was. I just stood there and watched him work, remembering how much I loved the ’70s Queen albums. When I was five years old my hero was John Deacon, who used to do the most incredible upper-register work and those melodic, tight groove parts. And here I was, recording bass lines with the guy who recorded him all those years ago! Roy was totally relaxed and made the sessions really enjoyable. We recorded to tape, without a single Pro Tools rig in sight until much further down the line.

Have you upgraded the bass gear since joining the band?

Yes, quite a bit. Frankie always used Gibson Thunderbirds, but the sound is much tighter with the Fender Precisions I use. My brand-new Precision Active Special sounds amazing and gives me awesome control over the EQ. To be honest with you, I’ve never heard a Thunderbird that didn’t sound terrible: The sound always wallows all over the place. Also, back when nobody except Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe had Thunderbirds, they looked cool—but now everybody plays them, don’t they?

I also swapped the Ampeg 8x10 cabs for a new set of Boogie 4x12s. The sound is much punchier with the Boogies. It’s better for the band’s overall sound.

On the older songs, do you simply replicate Frankie’s bass parts, or do you adapt them to your own style?

I haven’t changed the parts much, because this band is all about guitars, and after all, I’m only the bass player! The songs from the first album are well known, so there’s no need to make many changes—apart from small bits here and there. There’s no room for a fusion trip in the Darkness! Do I do a solo onstage? Well, not so far . . . .

PERSONAL PROFILE

Can Be Heard On
The Darkness, One Way Ticket to Hell … And Back [Atlantic]

Currently Spinning
AC/DC, Powerage [Epic, 1978] and Back in Black [Epic, 1980]
“Just classic rock—don’t ask me about anything else. I love Cliff Williams’s bass playing—so smooth, so simple.”

Gear
Bass ’63 Fender Precision with retrofitted Jazz bridge pickup and Hipshot bridge, Fender Precision Active Special
Rig Vintage HiWatt 100 Custom (“The last time the tubes were changed was 1982!”), Mesa/Boogie 4x12 cabinet
Effects Empirical Labs EL8X Distressor compressor, Pro Co Rat distortion pedal
“I like to keep the bottom end fat and nasty, so I like the Rat. Roy Thomas Baker insisted that we use the UK-made Distressor, which has one more knob than other versions. No one knew what it was for, but it looked cool.”

Credit: Joel McIver | www.bassplayer.com

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