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Cliff  

ekoostik hookah 

So give me some background history (married, where from, what beer do you prefer? etc.)
 

I was born at 2:07 a.m. on january 8th, 1973. This occurred in Columbus, OH, where I still live. I moved out into the woods and lived in a trailor for one winter, then I moved to an old farmhouse in the hills of Sugar Grove. After a year or so, my girlfriend and I moved to Columbus because the house is haunted. I don't mind the ghosts but she does. I recommend the Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. Bell's Double Cream Stout is worth the price, too. Start dark and go light- a pale ale with lots of hops. Anything fresh and local is good with me. I don't recommend depending on alcohol to obtain happiness. There is great danger in finding comfort in any intoxicant. However, a glass of good beer is good for digestion and has more nutrition than a glass of milk.

How long have you been playing bass? What made you start?

I started playing upright bass in 4th grade, about 18 years ago. The orchestra teacher came into music class and demonstrated the four string instruments. He was a bassist in the Columbus Symphony, and I think he may have put a little more energy into his bass demo. Whatever it was, it looked cool to me. It was a few years before I found out that there was an electric bass and it was tuned the same. I got a Cort Slammer and a Crate B10 in 7th grade, the main reason was that I already knew how to play.

What kind of bass and amps do you use and why?


My main bass is a 5 string Alembic essence. The reason I got it is kind of funny. I bought a Fender Performer at a pawn shop, Uncle Sam's, and on the same night I tried it for the first time our soundman borrowed a Tobias 5 string for me to try. After comparing the two, I realized that I didn't really want the Fender. I took it back to the pawn shop and they would only give me credit towards something else. The only really nice bass they had was the Alembic, so I started making payments on it. A year later, it was mine. My rig is an Eden wt800, with two Eden cabinets, a 4x10 and a 2x12. I was only passively involved with its purchase, our old soundman Sean Murray had lot of input. He designed two huge rolling cases, one for the speakers and one for the
head which also has several large drawers for all the
miscellaneous cords, microphones, and anything else that needs a home. I also use a Mu-tron III envelope filter and a Boss bass synthesizer pedal.

What kind of strings do you use, size? How long do you go before you change em?

I haven't had to think about strings for years. I'm not
picky about gauge or anything, I actually enjoy trying
something different for a change. I don't like bright new
strings, at least till they're all stretched out. I have no problem with dead strings. The only bad string is a broken one. I think the crew changes them every few months.

Have you come to a point where you can request any gear you want (amps, guitars, etc.) any sponsorships? You know does Rickenbacker or Fender offer any equipment yet?

No. I can request any beer I want, though, and any two pizza toppings. I should try for an endorsement though, the bassist from Ominous Seapods was telling me that the people at Eden are really cool, he gets free repairs and other stuff. I'm sure the Alembic people are cool, too, I've just never considered myslf to be of any importance to them, especially compared to all the great players who use Edens and Alembics.

How do you write your music on bass or guitar or what?

I'm not much of a songwriter, but I make up things on the
banjo and keyboard. I write music on manuscript paper, but at this stage I'm just cranking out simple ideas and
fragments. Playing a lot of songs on banjo by ear has helped me to internalize the relationships of chords, and to put chords with a melody and vice versa. I now have a pawn shop Casio keyboard ($15) that I play in the van with headphones. I'm writing some chord progressions and melodies. And hey, there's four different drum beats and eight voices. When we learn a song as a band, we usually just do it verbally, or if it's a complicated song we make a chord chart.

Has Hookah ever come up with a song that was too heavy for fans to hear? Any Sabbath fans in the band? Who's the heaviest rocker in the band?

I don't remember ever being worried about how a song would be received by fans. We just play songs the way they want to be played. I love Sabbath, how could you not? The only people who don't haven't listened to them. We sound checked War Pigs a couple of times, the only trouble is the ending which would take a lot of practice to reproduce. I would call the that the best ending in the history of rock and roll. If I get good enough on the harmonica, maybe we'll do The Wizard.
It's hard to say who's the hardest rocker, but it's not me. Ed loves Van Halen, Eric loves Aerosmith, AC/DC, etc., and Dave used to play in a metal band called Haven in LA and London. They were getting pretty popular but he quit the band. I guess we all know how hard Steve rocks, but the hardest stuff I can remember him being really into is Yes, Van Halen and Zeppelin. I didn't go any farther than
Zeppelin and Zappa. Maybe a little Metallica. 

What bands have you been in? What band would you say you sound most like?

My first band was a (wannabe) jazz trio called Trees for
Lunch. All of our gigs were at art galleries. In December of
'89 I began playing with a band called The Roadrunners which
became Supplication when Steve and the singer from his band
joined in the spring of '90. We disbanded in the summer of
'91, soon after the formation of Hookah.
I really wouldn't be the one to ask about who we sound like.
I don't usually listen to other 'jam bands' unless we are
playing with them. Someone just told me that they thought we
sounded like John McLaughlin. It's easy to compare us to the
Dead, but there's a lot of space to be ourselves within the
framework that they've passed down to us.

If you could play in any other band for a day who would it be?

Actually two bands, but they collaborated on an album on
Rounder called Have Moicey!, Michael Hurley and the Unholy
Modal Rounders, and Jeffery Frederick and the Clamtones.
It's an album of unparalleled weirdness, happiness, sadness,
hilarity, and beauty. It improved my love life and turned me
into an old-time, ass-kickin' hillbilly. I listen to Michael
Hurley every day. He's recorded about 15 albums starting in1964, and they're all excellent.

Why do you play the music that you do? Why not play
bass for N'SYNC or Marilyn Manson?

We are incredibly fortunate that we're playing music that we
like and that other people like it, too. Sometimes I go to
see a great jazz band or something, and there's like a
hundred people there. I'm not saying that Marilyn Manson and
N'Sync aren't having fun, but they have music industry
executives planning their every move, they have to uphold
some kind of image. I consider us luckier than anyone
because we can do absolutely anything we want, we're having
the fucking time of our life and getting big cheering crowds
and steady paychecks.

Do you try to make your bass lines really tough for every song or do you go with simple sometimes?

I think the basis of my style is that I have a massively
short attention span. I couldn't play the same thing the
same way twice if I wanted to. Luckily, no one seems to want
me to. I just try to listen closely to what everyone's doing
and get ideas from that. If I get an idea for something
complex and it seems to fit, I'll do it. If it ends up
sounding bad I'll try not to do it again. I'm not shooting
for difficulty, just sounding good. I like to play a
different root than everyone else sometimes so that the
whole chord becomes something else modally. For instance, if
I root on the 6th, the rest of the band sounds like they're
playing the relative minor. It doesn't always work but I'm
usually looking for a way to do that, to change the flavor
of things rather than just simple-mindedly holding down the
root. Of course, some songs need to be funky, so I can't be
noodling around all over the place. I still throw in 9ths,
10ths and 12ths, but I try to nail the root on the downbeat.
I'm also trying to get better at short notes, which is the
other key to funkiness.

What song or songs in your set are you most likely to screw up and why?

The ones I sing lead on, since I can't always keep that
little section of my mind on playing bass. The rest of the
band covers he low end for me, though. We have a few songs
that we don't do very often, slow songs that are
complicated. Those are tough to remember. Tea Rose comes to
mind.

Do you use a pick? If yes why? If no why?

The only reasons I use a pick are if I feel like I'm about
to get blisters, or if the room has really messy low end. It
slows me way down and I can't keep it parallel to the
string, so I end up getting a scraping sound on the attack.
I just like the dynamics of fingers. I can alternate loud
and soft notes more rapidly. (DA da DA da or DA da da DA da
da) It's much easier to play something that jumps back and
forth on strings that are not adjacent.

How do you get ready for a show? Any warm-up routines?

I usually stretch. I know a few arm and forearm stretches. I
have found that I sing much better if I warm up my voice,
but this isn't a singer's website so I'll shut up about
singing now.

What's the best thing about being a bass player? What's the worst?

I like the fact that you can stay in the background if you
want, and you can step out and contribute if you have an
idea. I also like the fact that bass vibrations are the ones
that really vibrate peoples bodies. You can feel high notes
in your head, but low notes are all up and down the middle
of the body. The lead instruments are dealing with the neck,
head, and crown charkas, but without the bass notes creating
the point of reference in the lower charkas, the music
wouldn't turn the subtle body into a sympathetically
vibrating string. Without that we wouldn't feel the unified
wave sensation which is what the live concert experience is
all about, in my opinion.
The worst thing for me is playing on a stage where they have
built the subs into the front of the stage. I don't know who
thought of this, but it's the stupidest thing you can do
with a PA. Since stages are rectangular and not round,
there's always one not that's twice as loud as all the rest.
When you play that note, the whole stage vibrates
unstoppably and everyone looks at you like you're a fool for
playing that note so loud. We have luckily stopped playing
in all the clubs that are like this, but I used to just turn
off my amp so I could only hear the low end coming back from
the PA, which didn't sound any better but it was quieter. 

 When your dialing in your amp how do you know when you've got the sound your looking for, do your band mates have any input on that?


Basically I'm just trying to compensate for the quality of
the room.  Depending on the size, shape, and surface
covering you just need to take out what's excessive in the
room and boost what isn't. Our soundman will sometimes EQ my
head, because he  has a better idea which frequencies are
troublesome in the room. I really like the fact that I can
dial in the exact hertz or kilohertz that I want to adjust.
I have a 5 band EQ and the middle three are pin-pointable
like that. 
The drummers ask for me in their monitors, but nobody's ever
asked me to shape my signal other than the soundman.

Who's your favorite bass player and band?

I'd have to say Edgar Meyer, even though he only pays
upright. My favorite bass player and band together are a
three way tie- Jaco with Weather Report, Victor Wooten and
the Flecktones, and Larry Graham with Graham Central
Station. Oteil Burbridge is a complete badass also.

What CD's are in your CD player right now?

Van Morrison @ The Troubadour 5/26/73, Tom Waits - Mule
Variations, Bob Dylan- The Bootleg Series, Michael Hurley on
a radio show in Lexington KY Nov. 2000, Bruce Hornsby @
Lakewood Auditorium, 5/9/99, David Gray - White Ladder, and
a U2 mix that Ed burned for us for Christmas. The CD player
is really only a representation of what my girlfriend and I
are listening to together. If you want to know my personal
taste you should've asked me what's on my record player,
which is The Stanley Brothers- Folk Concert.

How do you feel about NAPSTER?

I have mixed feelings. It has certainly helped spread our
music, and music in general. However, I think people should
be able sell their albums for a living if they want. I hope
the record industry comes crashing down and independent
musicians get the profits from their albums. Napster may
help take control out of the hands of the corrupt pop music
corporations, but some musicians will benefit from it and
some will suffer. If you love music, support it. I go to the
library a lot, but I always keep my stuff too long and pay
huge fines.

Since this is the only band that seems to played on the radio anymore, I'm going to ask this question.. "What's your favorite Limp Jizkit song?

I'm just wild about their version of 'He Fell Asleep-The Hogs Ate Him'

What are you going to do in 2001 that you didn't in 2000?

2001 is going to be the year I bust out an original song.
Other than that, I want to obtain enlightenment for the
benefit of all sentient beings.


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