Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Phil Thornalley recalls playing bass on Love Cats

Phil Thornalley, songwriter and bass player, laughs as he recalls the creation of a certain iconic bass part. Back in 1983, he was producing the British band The Cure when their longtime bass player Simon Gallup stepped away from the band for a while. In Gallup’s absence, a single called The Love Cats was given an unusual bass part.

“Robert Smith, the Cure’s singer, had shown me the principal bassline when we were on tour, and I’d learned it on electric bass. When we got to the studio to record it, I saw this double bass – and Robert said to me, ‘You’ve gotta play that!’ I had to get a tuner out and put some marks on the bass neck, because I had no idea where the notes were. 

“When we started recording, I took the basic bass-line and, as the song progressed, I moved the line around for the chords. I also did a faux walking bassline at one point. Because of my limitations on double bass, I couldn’t play the whole part in one take, so I played each part over two tracks. I’m doing half of the line on one track, and the other half on the other.”

Although the single, released in 1983, was a hit, Thornalley cringes when he thinks what double bass professionals would have made of his bass part. “I’m sure jazz players feel like crying whenever they hear that line."

“In terms of spirit it’s right on, but in terms of technique and choice of notes, I’m flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve never played a double bass again since then. I was in The Cure for 18 months, and at the very last show I played with them in New York, I decided to throw in this disco run... which was totally inappropriate.” 

Read more at Guitar World.