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Five Rock Bassists Who Steal the Show

What do you call a beautiful woman on a bassist's arm?

A tattoo.

Bassists get picked on, even more than drummers. You've heard the insults: "failed guitarist," "ugly," and "forgettable." So many bassists just pluck the same four notes, so it's easy to see why everyone views the instrument as boring. The bass player isn't on stage to be flashy, he or she is there to hold down the low end.

Maybe that's why Coheed and Cambria's Mic Todd held up a Walgreens and Nick Oliveri (formerly of Queens of the Stone Age) assaulted his girlfriend. Criminals get more attention than bassists, after all.

Of course none of this applies to female bassists, who are usually the coolest member of any given band. If your name is Kim and you pick up a bass, there's a pretty good chance that you'll end up in the next Sonic Youth or The Pixies someday.

Fortunately, there are plenty of talented male bassists out there who don't rob drug stores or beat up their girlfriends. These guys write complex riffs with cool effects that actually vary from song to song. Kristian Dunn is one such artist-- he uses a doubleneck guitar/bass and a fretless bass to create El Ten Eleven's catchy, post rock sound. Dunn will rock out with Tim Fogarty (drums) tonight at The Rhythm Room.

Check out five more bassists with innovative styles after the jump.

Jesse F. Keeler (Death From Above 1979) Armed with a synthesizer and a Rickenbacker, Keeler relentlessly layers heavily distorted metal and electronica rhythms on top of Sebastien Grainger's rapid-fire drums and vocals. After a five-year break, the duo reunited to play a few festivals this year.

Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt) Like El Ten Eleven and Death From Above 1979, Lightning Bolt is comprised of a bassist and drummer playing loud, intricate melodies. Emphasis on the loud- this noise rock band always turns the volume to 11 for chaotic live performances.

Jimbo Wallace (Reverend Horton Heat)

Double bass is not for the faint of heart. Rockabilly bassists slap and twirl these seven-foot behemoths with grace and ease. Wallace dips, spins, and tosses his upright bass in the air with the finesse of a swing dancer. No wonder Jim "Reverend Horton" Heath wrote a song about him.

Carlos D (Interpol) Interpol's bass riffs are as prominent as Paul Banks' Ian Curtis rip offbaritone vocals. Carlos left Interpol upon completion of the band's fourth album for an odd reason--he hated playing bass. Talk about wasted talent.

Mike Watt

The Minutemen formed when Watt and D. Boon were only 13 years old. Watt's funk bass riffs and defiance of traditional song structures set the band apart from its 80's punk contemporaries. Watt continues to write music to this day.

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