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1975 - 2002
Columbus medium scale bass (sunburst)
Vox AC 50 bass amp
Vamp 4x12 cabinet
Fender Jazz bass (sunburst)
Rickenbacker mono bass (red)SAAS 100 watt ampMarshall Superbass 50
H/H 100 watt amp
SAAS 2x15 cabinet
Fender 2x15 cabinet
Rickenbacker mono bass (red)
Rickenbacker stereo bass 1974 (blonde - ex Sparks)
Burns Vistasonic bass (used once on Top of the Pops - amazing growl
but too bleedin' heavy. Left in Dave Higgs caravan one night. When I next
asked about it he said it had got woodworm and he'd chucked it away. Likely
Hiwatt 100 watt amp
Acoustic 360 bass amps x 2
Acoustic 1x18 bass bins x 2
1978 - 1983
Rickenbacker stereo bass 1974 (blonde)
Rickenbacker stereo bass 1976 (blue - later resprayed in canary yellow)
Rickenbacker stereo bass 1977 (black)
Rickenbacker stereo bass 1976 (red) - studio use only
Sunn Coliseum 150 watt bass amps x 2 (from John Entwistle)
Sunn 1x18 cabinet
Sunn 4x12 cabinet
Crown DC 300 preamp, dbx 160 compressor, 2 x Ampeg 2x15 cabinets ('83
Fernandez custom made T-bird bass (1 black and 1 white) and some headless
white thing. I had a deal with Fernandez whilst in UFO but to be honest
I found them pretty crap and rarely used them. Click
here for a look.
Various Rickenbackers from above
Laney DP 150 bass amps x 2
Laney 4x12 cabinets x 4. Laney turned up at our rehearsal roome one day
with a truckload of gear and told us to take our pick, so we did. Great
sounding amps, and they're British!
Gibson Thunderbird 1968 non-reverse body, twin p/u with 1 humbucker
and 1 1958 Precision bass pickup (sunburst - ex Love Affair)
Gibson Thunderbird 1976 reissue,twin humbucker p/u's, reverse body
(sunburst). Used on every gig since! Bought in Stockholm in 1986 and
the best bass I have ever played. The headstock has come off 3 times so
far and been superglued between shows!
Gibson Thunderbird 1964 non - reverse body, single p/u
Overwater Custom bass with 2x Kent Armstrong pickups (sunburst).
Used on Rene Berg album and all work with Andrew Ridgeley. Nice bass,
but a little too clean sounding for my tastes. Looked good too!.
Gibson Thunderbird 1976
Fender Telecaster bass, lipstick p/u, blonde, maple neck, 1968. I
saw my mate Craig Addeccott playing this one day at a gig, it sounded
awesome and I bought it from him the next day. Very Loud. Used on some
gigs as a spare or when I fancy playing without a pick.
Laney DP 150 bass amp
Laney 4x12 cabinet
Marshall 4x10 cabinet
haven't used an amp in the studio since 1993, just straight out of my
Jerry Donahue Sessionmaster guitar preamp and into the desk with loads
of compression and that's my sound sorted in about 30 seconds!
I also have a Fender Performer bass; this was the first Fender
bass to be made outside of the US - it was only in production from 1985
- 1987 and wasn't a big seller. It represented a radical departure from
the usual Fender shape with a very angular body, a very fast rosewood
2 octave ultrathin 34" neck, 2 trapezoidal pickups and a very wide
eq sweep. It sounds great, and I just use it for a change sometimes! Picture
Bass, The Torrington, 1976
Rickenbacker, Paris Olympia, 1978.
Blue Rickenbacker, Brighton, 1977
to ask me a question!
Hey man! I hope all is
well with you. I've got to ask you a question and I hope that you
can answer me. I have a cassette labeled "Paul Gray's RMS demo's".
It starts out with Where Have All The Adventures Gone? and then
goes into quite a few tracks that I don't recognize. Some of the
titles may be Easy Street and The Price You Pay, but I'm not sure.
Eventually, there is an instrumental version of The Dog. This tape
has been circulating among collectors for a long time and they all
refer to them as "Paul Gray's Demo's". Can you shed any
light on them for me? I'd really appreciate it. No, really! C'mon
man! Is that you singing? Some believe it is Billy Karloff.
i've been asked this question many times!
Everyone in The Damned was a prolific writer - some more than
others - and inevetably most of these dodgy demos leak out one way
or another at some point. I keep wondering what will be unearthed
next, I'm sure theres plenty of stuff left, in fact send a blank cheque
to me and I'll see wot I can do etc etc...
OK - "Adventures" was, if my memory serves me well,
a song that Rat did. I think Billy Karloff may have
written the words for it but I'm not totally sure.
God knows what you have on your cassette! However I'll take rough
I demoed a bunch of tracks in the early 1980's at Loco Studios
in deepest Usk, so named because for some bizzarre reason an
old steam train used to be plonked outside, rusting away. (I've seen
this wrongly accredited to Rosemont Studios, whatever the hell that
is). Loco is still going, in fact I've done some work with
a band called Free Peace Sweet I'm looking after there recently
- its now run by two thoroughly nice guys from prog rocker monsters
Asia, Geoff Downes (who was also responsible for "Video
killed the Radio Star" and bassist John. It hasn't
Anyway I roped in Roman to drive me there and play guitarand
appalling backing vocals, I did the bass, guitar, keyboards and yes
vocals, and some unfortunate drew the short straw for drums. There
were no rehearsals, just plenty of draught bass imported from the
excellent Hanbury Arms in Caerleon en route (after a few swift
liveners of course!). I think we knocked out 6 songs in total. Motorhead
were recording in Rockfield a few miles up the road and one
night Lemmy came to say hello which may expalian why some of
the tempos ended up somewhat faster than I intended...
Song titles were:
Thats Properganda ('ave a proper gander' -
I nicked the riff from "Valerie" by
The Price you Pay
The Thrill of It All
Youre So Sensible
I'll Take The Money
The other stuff you have sounds like demos the other guys did at RMS
in Croydon around the same time - I did some stuff there too
(Billy Bad Breaks etc) but it meant crashing on Captains
floor - never a prospect to be relished, even after copious quantities
of Youngs Special - so I got Chiswick Records to cough
up for somewhere nearer to me.
Hope that clears things up a bit for you!
The following 3 questions were submitted by a certain "JR",
who suggested I answer them here. Cheers chap!
Scabies like to play with as a drummer? Recently, much has been
made of his character - Sensible doesn't have a good word to say
about him these days - but I always thought he was a phenomenal
drummer. Was he easy to 'lock in' with, or did all those rolls
round the kit merely piss you off as the bassist?
was indeed a phenomenal drummer to play with. My first time onstage
with him was at a Johnny Moped gig in a Wardour Street
dive, sometime around 1978. At first it was like trying to guess
which way a whirlwind was going next - kinda impossible, but dead
exciting! I'd always loved The Who's "Live at Leeds"
album (it rivals the MC5's "Kick out the Jams"
for me) and Rat had obviously taken a leaf out of Mooney's
book. Having played this album almost to death it didn't take too
many songs to guess where Rat was going next, especially
with his round-the-kit-falling-down-the-stairs tom tom fills. I
guess after that gig we at an inkling that one day we would work
together - our styles complemented each other perfectly, as I'd
pretty much sussed out his modus operandi by the end! When I eventually
joined The Damned we'd often try to catch each other out
during gigs or soundchecks to test how much we were listening to
each other - it became a kind of game, and I think Rat would
agree with me that it was usually an equal score!
So how did we lock in?
I basically played a bunch of pentatonics (major or minor depending
on the song, altho' I didn't know any of this at the time!) with
all the blue notes thrown in - one for every drum hit, sometimes
doubling, sometimes half time, and not necessarily in any scale
order. I took all my favourite bassist's approaches and mixed them
together to make my own - Entwistle, Felix Pappalardi, Roger
Glover, Lemmy, Geezer Butler all figured highly. I call it the
"sun and moon approach" - if the root (key) note
is your sun, then all the others are the moons that orbit around
in some form or another, and as long as you know where your sun
is you won't go far wrong. However, some of these notes fit together
better than others - that's when the x -factor of taste kicks in!
However, towards the end I think everybody's playing deteriorated,
and it became more of a free-for-all; songs would drag out interminably,
and I have some videos that are too painful to watch. The tensions
offstage invariably had an effect upon our onstage performance,
it was every man for himself and songs began to lose their structure.
I sometimes felt there was no point in me playing, I might as well
bog off and leave the Duelling Soloists to it. Yes, then that did
piss me off - great songs started to become caricatures of themselves.
With hindsight, when you joined UFO was it a blessing you seemed unaware
of Pete Way's iconic status amongst the band's fans? Although never
the world's greatest bass player, his general pottiness was (and is)
hugely popular among UFO fans, so did you have any inkling at all
of the size of shoes you were filling - I guess in a similar way to
when Paul Chapman replaced Schenker?
When I joined UFO I knew very little about them. I'd heard
"Doctor Doctor" on the pub jukebox, and once had
a cheerfully drunk Paul Chapman round my house playing the
rough mixes of "Mechanix" at full volume on his ghetto
blaster whist miming to the guitar solos! So no, I had no idea that
Pete Way had had such a strong presence in the band, and was
therefore blissfully unaware of what I had got myself into. It still
suprises me that none of the band had ever really heard me play -
they knew the Hotrods "Do Anything" though, and I
guess took me on recommendation from Tonka that I'd somehow
fit in. I reckon the most important thing to them was that I'd fit
in with the way UFO ran offstage as much as on - after all,
your'e only onstage for a couple of hours, the rest of the time you've
gotta get on and live together in hotels and busses!
Incidentally, this is much overlooked; you can be the best musician
around, but if you're an egotistical asshole you're gonna find very
few people who will want to work with you. Plus you've gotta look
the part! I remember doing a seminar at Wembley with Pink Floyd's
bassist Guy Pratt for Bassist magazine a few years back.
Sat onstage taking questions from the 100 earnest faces in front of
us, it hit us both at the same time - not one of then looked as if
they were in a band. Loads of them had spent a small fortune studying
at the Bass Acadamy or somewhere and undoubtedly knew more about the
technical stuff than us, but guys, it doesn't matter! Play
from the heart and not the head - far better to lose a few pounds,
dress like you mean it and don't be a tightwad when it comes to buying
on a similar theme, some might think your buying the '76 Thunderbird
showed that you'd certainly become, ahem, 'aware' of Pete Way's
legacy by that point. And that band pic with you in the red /
black striped jacket & shades is really scary - it's Pete!!
Be honest with us - we need to know! Was it not at least a partial
attempt to fit in visually?
Maybe this question follows on from what I was talking about above!
Whenever you join a new band, sooner or later past and present influences
will be absorbed to some degree, knowingly or unknowingly, visually
and/or musically. While Pete may not be the best bassist
in the world, who cares! What he played was absolutely right for
UFO, and "Love to love" was a haunting beauty
to play - nobody could have written a better bassline to it, and
I tried to copy it pretty much note for note.
The fact that I'd bought a Thunderbird actually had nothing
to do with Pete, altho' I know Moggy loved the look
of 'em ("they look like a giant cock!" he once said -
it almost put me off buying one!). Again, I loved the earthy bass
sound on "Live at Leeds" - a Thunderbird
going thru' Sunn Colieseum amps, which I used to hire from
ML Executives, The Who's company, when touring with
The Rods and The Damned. When I trashed my last Rickenbacker
in Budapest (click here for the story) and
looked for a replacement at the next stop on the tour in Stockholm,
the shops were stuffed with lovely old T-Birds but few Ricky's.
As I wasn't paying for it I figured now was my chance to get one!
I bought several more, usually for peanuts from support bands who
had shiny new Warwicks etc and had the T- Birds as a spare, which
I then flogged for a handsome profit back home!
Obviously, if I'd have worn exactly the same gear as I did with
The Damned I would have looked a little out of place in UFO
so yes, of course there was an element of fitting in visually, and
at studio photo shoots there would be a pile of clothes that we'd
swap around to maintain a "band look" to some degree (most
bands do this).
The pic you refer to was actually
taken the morning after the Ritual Trashing of the Rickenbacker
in Budapest by Kerrang's Ray Palmer. If you look back thru
my website, from 1976 onwards mirror aviator shades and stripy appareil
had figured quite highly as favourites of mine. The fact that
Pete and I were both skinny buggers with shaggy barnets and
favoured similar clobber neither of us could do anything about!!
I've met Pete a few times since, and like the rest of the
UFO guys I played with, you couldn't wish to meet a nicer
bloke, which is more than I can say for Michael Schenker.
I was backstage at Newport Center in 1998 for their show,
when Moggy said "lookout, here comes H-Bomb!".
Schenker had a dressing room separate from the rest of the
band and had just walked in. I went up to him, held out my hand
and said " hi Michael, nice to meet you at last, my names Paul
and I was the bassist for UFO during most of the 1980's".
There was a short silence.
"There was no UFO during the 1980's" he
replied, and walked away...
you shed any light on the age old debate about Rickenbacker 4001's
necks not being able to handle the heavier tension of roundwound
ages I thought it was the way I played 'em! I certainly didn't treat
them with much respect, but I met quite a few bassists who had experienced
the same problem. Its bizzarre because they have 2 truss rods and
you'd think that they'd be pretty unbendable. However once they
go that seems to be it - be very careful when buying one, take a
good look down the neck and if it "bananas" in any way
avoid it like the plague! Going back to the question, I can only
assume from my own experience is that constant temperature changes
from hot gig to cold truck eventually take their toll. That and
leaning them up against amps - you shouldn't do this with any guitar
anyway, its inviting trouble!
bass tone, especially with The Damned, is very distinct. You got
an absolutely wicked tone - do you remember what sort of setup you
using when recording the Black Album?
the main bass was a blue stereo Rickenbacker. 1976 I think, and
it was also my main stage bass. It eventually became unplayable
because of warping and I flogged it having resprayed it an unpleasant
shade of yellow. I also used a red Ricky - again 1976 I think,
but kept this for recording only so it didn't get too buggered.
I only recently flogged it, to Mark who runs
officialdamned.com. Amp wise we did away with the stage bass
amps - they never seem to sound good in the studio. I seem to
remember mainly using a Roland JC120 2x12 guitar combo with a
large amount of overdrive. To be honest it didn't really matter
what I used, I always managed to get a similar sound, as long
as it was a guitar combo with 10 or 12 inch speakers. The old
Ampeg Portaflex was great too, I think they were 30 watts
with just one 10" speaker. I used one of them on "White
Rabbit" and again on the "Friday the 13th"
I have always disliked my bass solely direct injected into the
desk without any form of amp/speaker "colouration".
I would say generally it was 20% DI for a bit of hardness and
80% speaker mic. The only exception to this was a single I did
with Larry Wallis in Pathway Studios that Nick Lowe
produced. I played a Fender Jazz D.I'd straight in, as it was
only an 8 track desk! He got a great sound, but then he always
Compression has a lot to do with the sound too, and I've always
been excessive here much to the dismay of some engineers. "White
Rabbit" again is a good example of this, in fact the
whole track has that great Who-ish pumping sound, and also you
can hear it pumping away on "Jeckyll and Hyde"
too. That was using the old dbx 160 soft knee compressors in Rockfield
- lovely jubbly! Compressors all have their own unique sound and
it's well worth playing around with them - I favour a -20 to -30
threshold reduction, a fast attack, slowish release, and a ratio
of around 4, all with the soft knee option if available.
On the Rickenbackers the neck pickup was usually set to full and
the bridge pickup anywhere between 5-10, depending on the amp.
Sometimes I used the bass pickup only, but never just the treble.
I usually played over the neck pickup area with a large medium
pick for studio work, and a heavy pick live - they'd snap otherwise
in seconds. I still used to get thru around 6 picks a night!
How did you get the great bass sound on "13th Floor Vendetta"
from "The Black Album?". And on "Silly Kids Games"
its completely different - it doesn't sound like your usual sound!
For "13th Floor" all the above applies but with
loads of treble full up on the amp, going thru' a guitar pedal
tremelo unit. Captains idea I think - its not often you
hear tremelo on a bass! On "Silly Kids Games"
Captain produced this horrible old semi acoustic bass with the
action about 2cms above the neck and insisted I played it! DI'd
too - no amp. I think he wanted that Ronnie Lane sound. It sounded
really old and wooden, and afterwards he got great delight in
scrawling "Paul Gray plays Egmond basses" over
the studio door to piss me off! I was quite precious about my
bass sound then! I was back in Rockfield not long ago, and its
still there - the engineer in there had been tiold all the stories
of us recording there and this was 20 years later!
you take lessons or are you self taught?
had piano lessons for a few years up until I got my first bass when
I was about 12. You didn't have electric bass teachers then, and
guitar teachers were all Bert Weedon "Play in a Day" stuff.
I would say that learning the piano gave me a good grounding in
harmony even tho' I only got to about grade 3! I always preferred
the bass parts, they always seemed more dramatic to me.
seen you play loads of times with Eddie and the Hot Rods, The Damned
and Captain Sensible, and have modelled my style on yours (well
as much as I can!) On the last few gigs you were - horror of horrors
- playing some songs finger style. Please explain!!!
OK OK stay calm! I actually started off playing without a pick back
in the 70's 'cos the first bassist who really impressed me was Steve
Took from T. Rex. When I saw Hawkwind all that changed
because I was dead impressed with the way Lemmy played the
bass almost like a guitar - rhythm and lead at the same time! When
I joined the Rods I used to play "Gloria" with my fingers
but it was just to look flash, everything else was played with a
pick. I wouldn't have been heard otherwise and anyway I could play
much faster with a pick. The Damned would probably have sacked
me for playing fingerstyle and it simply wouldn't have fitted. When
I was out with Captain I used to play "Glad its all
Over" with my fingers partly for the hell of it (and to
see if cap would notice) and partly because I preferred the warmer
sound for that song. Likewise with the Rods - on the "Gasoline
Days" album I played "It's Killing Me" finger
style both in the studio (on a lovely old Burns Bison belonging
to the studio owner) and live, usually on my Fender Telecaster bass.
It just made a change and put me on the edge a bit! You'll no doubt
be glad to hear the Mischief album is totally picked!
tried to copy the way you play but end up mashing my fingers! Whats
the secret Paul?
Yeah, so do I! Many's the time when I've come offstage with a bloodstained
guitar, it's the job the roadcrew hated most, cleaning it all off!
That and the gob from the old Damned gigs. add a bit off beer and
sweat and you can see why my strings were changed every night!
It was worse when I played Rickenbackers. Mine had the hard
edged binding around the body, and playing as frenetically as I
did then my wrist would be raw by the end of the night. It never
had time to heal as we were gigging practically every night, and
during the first US tour in 1977 I was taken to hospital in New
York as it had actually started to turn gangrenous. It was agony
for the first few songs, but with the adrenaline (and whisky!) Inever
felt the pain again until later. I tried bandages but they just
stuck and made it worse. I ended up using a leather archery strap,
you can see it on my arm on the Ricky photos above, it was very
cumbersome but I got used to it. I still have scars on my wrist
to this day and, funnily enough, loads more hairs too!
happened when you played festivals and didn't use your own gear,
what amps did you specify?
Ahh, good question! What I specified and what I got were 2 completely
different things! Often I'd have to make do with whatever was
going, especially somewhere like Finland. Whilst almost
every other bassist under the sun got a great sound out of Marshalls
I could never get on with them - too phutty and "middy",
plus they would always blow up on me for some reason! I used to
request 1 or 2 Ampeg V4B heads and a couple of 8x10 cabinets.
You could get them worlwide, they were loud and they usually sounded
great. Some were a bit fuzzy tho', could be the fact that I had
them up full volume and they sometimes lacked clarity, but with
a bit of fiddling about I usually got 'em to sound good.
What I did specify was ABSOLUTELY NO TRACE ELLIOT ON ANY ACCOUNT!!!
Horrible things. Used to clip like mad, too clean, no distortion
or "colour". I bet Level 42 loved 'em!