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Darren Michaels - April 2004


Darren Michaels
Biography: As funny as it seems to me now, my first love was not music. I had my heart set on becoming a painter. My room and almost everything I owned was covered in my doodlings. I didn't feel right unless I was engaged in my next endeavor to create the "perfect" masterpiece. To me, drawing and painting were the ultimate means of expression. Growing up, my household was very unmusical. Most of the music I was exposed to came blaring from the television. Occasionally, I would hear 80's pop tunes creeping from under the closed door of my brother's room. My other brother was into hip-hop (a genre just hitting the scene), but he too did not want to share! My earliest attempts at composing music were when I would create rhythms to the whirring sound of the AC compressor that was right outside my bedroom window. It was a great way to pass time when I couldn't sleep at night. I wish I could get that kind of practice time in now! My first instrument was a harmonica tuned to the key of C. To this day, most of the music in my head is in the key of C.

My first organized musical experience was school band. I played tuba. Loved the instrument, but hated being forced to only play what was written. I got booted out of first chair several times for my attempts at "improving" the written bass lines. Lesson learned. At least I learned how to read music.

I badly wanted to play bass guitar as soon as I could read bass clef. To me, bassists were the coolest musicians on the face of the planet (I was right!). Unfortunately, I couldn't get my grubby little mitts on a bass until I was seventeen. I had just moved to Arkansas, and I lived in a house that was almost literally in the middle of a cow pasture. Cows are so not cool. Anyway, I immediately began composing solo pieces on bass. There was no one there to tell me that was the "wrong" way to play. I also got Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and learned the whole album. "Meat and potatoes" bass was something I learned later down the line after playing with a few original bands.

I began college with the hopes of getting a Fine Arts degree but quickly got diverted by the real world (i.e., I dropped out). To help make ends meet, I played blues in Little Rock bars. I spent the summer in Jacksonville, FL where I was introduced to a myriad of styles. When I moved back to Arkansas, I sold a few artworks, so I felt like I was "on my way" to a career as a painter. Then, my apartment was gutted by a fire. All my art was destroyed or heavily damaged. Luckily all my basses survived. My Warwick six-string, although blackened by ash, was still in tune! It's still my main bass.

With all my artwork gone, I decided to give the idea of becoming a pro musician a try. My wife-to-be, Cindy, and I moved to Atlanta, and I attended the Atlanta Institute of Music. There I studied under many great bassists such as Alan Barnes, Gary Wilkins, and Adam Nitti. I graduated with honors from AIM in the fall of 2000 and began freelancing around town in rock, top 40, jazz, and country. I didn't last long at that. Playing all those styles was fun, but I was unsatisfied. I began to write more solo pieces and got into looping. I had a three hour lesson with Michael Manring. That guy ripped out my concept of music, did a Mexican Hat Dance around it, and left me with a new gaping orifice. Luckily, music pours out of it. In 2002, I released my debut solo album, Green and started gigging as a soloist (my first entirely solo gig was a week after my lesson with Manring). I haven't turned back since. Solo bass has become my main musical love. It's the ultimate in expression. I still find joy in occasionally playing with a band, but I never stray from my solo work long. In May of 2003, I attended Victor Wooten's Bass Nature Camp. Rubbing elbows with such a diverse group of bassists (instructors and students) was an incredible experience, and I am eternally grateful to be part of such an amazing group of people. Currently, I live in Atlanta with my wife and evil-incarnate chihuahua. I'm working on my second solo album and trying everyday to convince the people around me that solo bass is a valid art form.

Gigs: As a soloist, I play throughout the southeastern United States gigging mainly in coffee houses, art galleries, and small festivals, or anywhere that has the courage to let a solo bassist play. I hope to do a small east coast tour this summer. I also teach private lessons.

Recordings:
Darren Michaels - Green
Rod Pruitt - Rod Pruitt
Brokin Hed - Brokin Hed Live
Johnny Lawrence - Destroy All Monsters
Morning Glory - Bending Thorns
East Hall Boys Choir - Whiskey and Donuts
East Hall Boys Choir - Sloppy Seconds
The Jack Acids - Is It Live or Is It The Jack Acids
Currently recording my next solo album

Gear:
Basses:
1998 Warwick Thumb Bolt-on 6-String
1997 Warwick Fortress One 4-String
1995 Warwick Fortress Masterman 5-String
1998 Warwick Fortress One 5-String Fretless
Warwick Alien Acoustic
1995 Yamaha RBX765A 5-String
4-String Fretless assembled from various parts

Rig:
Warwick Quad VI Head
Bergantino HT210 2x10 Cabinet
Bergantino HT115 1x15 Cabinet
Planet Waves Cables

Effects:
Digitech BP8
Boomerang
Akai Headrush
Morley Little Alligator Volume Pedal
Digitech Bass Synth Wah
Ebow Plus

Contact Information: There's more about me and my music at DarrenMichaelsBass.com.