"SBL has given me another learning hub and has been a constant source of inspiration. Scott’s basically created an Open University for bass! I love my course at the RNCM, but what Scott has created is incredible. My membership ‘aint ending any time soon!" George Lawton tells Nick Wells all about his upcoming visit to the University of Southern California.
In this feature, we’re going to be shining a light on a select few SBL students regarded by many as ‘ones to watch.’ Throughout the year, we’ll be catching up with a diverse set of breaking and established talent to air their thoughts and experiences about bass playing, tunes and music in general from their own vantage point (the only thing that anyone can do, really).Want to join them? If you're studying with SBL and would like to share your experiences, then please don't hesitate to CONTACT US.
George Lawton - On The Record
After spending the best part of last year cutting his bass playing teeth on the burgeoning scenes of Manchester, the last few months have gradually brought more and more well-deserved success to George Lawton. His next recording project is going to take place at the University of Southern California later in the year and will involve weekly tutorage with bass legend Alphonso Johnson. Intriguing news, to say the least! “I’ll be over there for four months to record and produce a debut album with a future-soul/pop-funk-R&B outfit called LILO,” says George. “The trip is being backed by the Royal Northern College of Music and Northern Quarter Records who’ve given us this opportunity to work with some amazing players, artists, and producers in LA.”
So what is he hoping to take away from his time in the US? “I see this as a major point in my career to mark a place in the industry as an artist as well as a bass player,” he tells us. “In the long term, I’d love to make my own bass-led music. There’s something amazingly vocal about the bass. I grew up listening to Jaco, Victor, Anthony Wellington and Janek Gwizdala and one day I want to be able to tour my music as well.” "The knowledge and resources that are available from SBL are invaluable to growing players - and that’s all of us!"
How did you get started playing bass?
I got my first bass for Christmas when I was about 12, but I didn’t really start to play until I was 16, which was when I realised that music was an infinitely better and cooler choice than all the other homework that my school days had to offer.
What do you remember about your first bass?
It was a 4-string, walnut-bodied ‘Mania’. It had a bolt-on ‘fake’ thru-body, which is quite a funny concept now thinking about it! The main reason I remember it so well is because I sold it and have regretted it ever since! I even tried to track it down last year.
How about your first gig?
My first real gig was with a band called ‘Funk-E’ at the The Old Brown Jug, which was a local pub in Newcastle Under Lyme.
When did you join SBL?
I’ve been studying Popular Music Performance and Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester, which has pushed my playing through so many stages, but I’ve been a member of SBL for about 3 years now. Even going into my 4th year at RNCM, I still find myself tuning into the seminars and some of the courses. The knowledge and resources that are available from SBL are just invaluable to growing players - and that’s all of us!
What’s been the best bit so far?
SBL has given me another learning hub and has been a constant source of inspiration. Scott’s basically created an Open University for bass! I love my course at the RNCM, but what Scott has created is incredible. My membership ‘aint ending any time soon!
Tell us about the gig with LILO
An incredible singer called Lisa Olivant fronts LILO. We’ve been playing together for just over a year and after recording our debut EP ‘Resuscitate’ we were signed by a Manchester-based mini-label called Northern Quarter Records. We’re really proud of the music that we’ve made and it’s been really well received, so we’re buzzing to really make something of the band!
Who are your favourite bass players?
Pino Palladino has to be at the top of the list. Anthony Wellington, Yolanda Charles and Hadrein Feraud all have something really individual about their playing that I love as well. Another bass player who I’m really digging is a guy called Bryan Ladd. His playing style and sound is just amazing. Check out this video on YouTube:
Tell us about your bass gear…
I play a Fodera Emperor 5 Deluxe, which is just unbelievable. My other bass is a 1976 Fender P Bass, which is also just out of this world. I’ve never played another P- or J-style bass that’s come close.
How do you unwind?
I do a circuit training class called Caveman Training, which keeps me happy and fit! I also really like to read. I’m currently reading a lot about Buddism, which is an incredible way of keeping happy and just organising your life.
What would you be if you weren’t a bass player?
I’d be a jet pilot in the Royal Air Force or a lawyer. I very nearly applied to study Law, but I knew it wasn’t for me when it came to the deadline. Music has always been my number one choice. I think a life in music is the most interesting, challenging and immeasurably rewarding career choice anyone could make.
What’s been the best thing about 2017 so far?
Finding out about the trip to LA has really started to set my career in motion. A bass luthier also contacted me recently about a possible endorsement, which is amazing. And I still have another year to go on my awesome degree course in Manchester. There are some ridiculous players are coming out of the RNCM.
And the worst?
I had one absolute stinker of a gig where nothing went the band’s way, which I was hung up on for a while. But I like to think of that as my whiplash/Charlie Parker moment where I had something thrown at my head that made me realise even my worst nights playing have to kick ass.
Check out George....
"This one is for a band I session for called Race the Horizon - I now MD for the rapper as a solo artist"
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