An Interview with Errol Strachan
by Martin Simpson
I got chatting to Errol via e-mail quite some time back and he eventually sent me a pic of himself for the website. I recently asked Errol to contribute some words towards the Why I Play Bass article and he did this for me so I took things a step further in August 2005 and asked the man for an interview. Errol’s answers were unfortunately a little on the short side but we had a nice quick chat never-the-less.
How long have you been playing Errol?
22 years off and on.
How did you get started?
I started off playing guitar in Sons of Sellassie then I just progressed to bass a year later. I never looked back. I was never musical though, but I always had a passion to learn to play an instrument. Once I put my mind to whatever grabs my interest and I apply myself, I always get results.
So you don’t come from a musical family?
No. My family is as unmusical as a sheaf of paper. I’m sort of out of character with the rest of them. I am also not what one could term naturally gifted, when it comes to music, so it is always hard work for me to learn something. But I know that I have a good sense of rhythm, and this is important. It’s easy to have a linear approach, but to me, real feel comes from rhythm.
What’s your favourite band / solo artist?
Favourite band: Freshly ground, Solo Artist: Les Claypool, Grover Washington Jnr
What are the amps and instruments you currently use?
Hohner Headless Jack 2, Peavey TNT 150w / Ashdown 350w
There must be a World of difference between the TNT and the Ashdown – do you still actually gig with the TNT or can’t you bring yourself to sell it?
Well, the TNT works well for smaller venues, but I am totally sold on Ashdown nowadays. However, the Peavey range of speakers, like the “Black Widow” series have always served me well in terms of reliability and lasting power. But now Ashdown just have these incredibly well priced great sounding amps which really impressed the hell out of me. My best set up ever was a couple of years ago, I had a H/H 400w rms per channel stereo head, two black widows, (400w rms 8ohms each), and I also ran a Celestion 200w speaker off the line out via a pre amp, also 200w rms. I used to just chuck the Peaveys down in each corner of the stage and use the Celestion as a Monitor mid stage right behind the drummer. That small cab also had a good tweeter in, which I eventually blew. Anyway the point is that the sound that this setup produced was incredibly warm, clear low end and everything in between! It was frikkin awesome.
I never liked playing too loud but I like clear tone definition, so this setup was the best ever for my needs.
What instruments would you like to have if money were no object?
Vintage Fender Jazz (J Bass), Mark King Headless ( I forget the manufacturer) I like the headless (Stein berger) concept, oh yes, also a Steinberger original would be great!
What have you been doing for the last five years or so?
Working for a research company involving loads of travelling, I am also a Sangoma…so I have been doing a lot of soul searching. Lecturing IT, just generally growing up as well.
What recordings that you’ve played on would you recommend for listening?
Wait for the Second Rudimentals CD in January 2006, God willing all goes well.
Have you visited www.bassplayers.co.za yet?
Lots, I really love what is being done there. It is a great resource for us, and also you know “I am not alone…” I used to be an acquaintance of Gito’s years ago, and I also appreciate that you have dedicated so much space to him. He was a great musician.
What’s been the low point in your career so far?
Not playing music for six or so years from 1998 till last year. That was wrong. I never realized how much I missed it.
What made you take ‘time out’?
Man, I still don’t know? I certainly did not have a shortage of musicians to jam with or start something, but I guess that I reached a kind of crossroads, and I decided to let everything go for a while, so that I could grow up a bit, I suppose.
And what has been the high point?
Being asked to play bass for the Rudies! That was awesome. The band is great! Four masters degree musicians in the band…How can you go wrong with that?
What do you do when you’re not playing music (apart from the Sangoma stuff)?
I love chess!! I’ve been playing that since I was a kid. Also, I hang out with my band members a lot, we’re like a family or something. You know, it’s like I found nine new best friends with these guys. Also, I am, or rather, have become a total computer nerd!! I love computer games. Its like my best friend coined it, once when we were sharing a house, he himself being a total games addict, he came home from work that day and declared to me, (it was the beginning of December month last year…) “Dude, I got three epic new games. My social life for the holidays is sorted….!” Hahaha. Seriously though, I spend more time out these days…
Your nickname is Bong, How did that come about?
Hahahahaha!!! Ask the keyboard player and the lead vocalist from “Sons of Sellassie” they will tell you the horrible truth…
What are your goals currently?
Get good recording tracks laid down, to tour the world next year with Rudies (seriously!), maintaining my spirituality, keeping true to myself…Being a responsible Dad, losing some pounds around the mid section would also be great! Hahaha!!
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