Tone Talk with Alice Genese

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Alice Genese - Photo by Sara Stadtmiller - SRS Photography
       

I’m Alice Genese. I have been the bass player of Psychic TV from 2003 until the end of Psychic TV. I’ve been playing in bands in and around the NYC area since the early 1980s. I’ve seen changes and, in some cases, been part of change. I’ve always been influenced by NYC art, music and life. I’ve lived the rhythm of it for decades.

I have so many influences, from Motown to Bowie and way beyond. I think every piece I’ve ever heard and connected to in any way has influenced me as an artist and a musician.

I’ve recently released an EP with my songwriting partner and close friend Shaune Pony Heath (Preferred name – Pony) as Ov Stars. The EP is called Tuesdays. Tuesdays because we meet each week, on Tuesday, to work on music together. We wrote all the songs on the EP on acoustic guitars, but neither of us are competent guitar players. We like to say we leveled the playing field as he is a pianist/keyboard player, and I’ve always considered myself a bass player.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
As a bass player, I’ve always liked that purr to a growl sound kind of sound. I like the ability to play a low and slow beautiful warm sounding bass part, typically with the pads of my fingers on my right hand, but I also really like to dig into my strings with a pick and absolutely growl on a harder-sounding song. When I first started to play bass, I mostly used a pick. That seemed to work best on the first songs I was writing with my band at the time. At this point, I play for the song. I’ve slapped, used my fingers and thumb and picked my way through many a set.

Which bass, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
I have a G&L L-2000 silver metal fleck bass guitar which is my favorite bass. My amp of choice is a Mesa Boogie M-Pulse 360, which packs a wallop of sound, and I have a customized/modified 2×15 Ampeg cabinet. It’s been modified with portals for pumping out the sound and Fane speakers. I had a guy named Andre in Hell’s Kitchen help me with it. It’s a little Frankensteinish, but it works for me. I also use a BOSS ME50B multi-effects bass pedal which I have loved.

What about strings?
I was using Dean Markley Blue Steel strings for years, but I’m currently using DR’s and I like them. I couldn’t find the Blue Steels last time I shopped. I use 45-105. I have a set of Rotosounds on deck to try out next, but I’m pretty happy with the DR’s.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
I do love playing live in the studio with the full band but have done plenty of recording in many ways. At this point in my life, I’ve grown comfortable recording. Something my younger self would be impressed by. I used to be terrified to record.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
When on tour, I usually have requested a backline, so generally a 1 x 15 cabinet and an Ampeg or SVT head. I bring my bass, which I’m very comfortable playing along with my pedal. It helps. I also always seem to pull it off, no matter the issue. Psychic TV had a very talented sound person, which helps immensely.

What does your practice consist of?
If we are talking bass, I don’t really practice a lot. I used to practice a lot when I was younger. I will practice for a few weeks prior to shows, though. If I’m playing guitar at a show, I’m pretty much practicing, running through the songs five times a week, running through all the songs.  

Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to play guitar?
That opening guitar lick in “Rebel Rebel.” David Bowie takes up a lot of space in my head, followed by that beautifully complementary bass line.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
Believe in yourself – Own your power – Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.

Connect with Alice Genese

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