Evan Paydon is a man on the low end of the spectrum. And while that may sound like an insult, I actually say it with the utmost respect and awe. You see, all life manifests itself from the deep. Our minds function using beta waves @ 13-30 Hz during our waking life. And the calmer one gets, the lower our brain waves go. Deep meditation induces theta waves @ 4-8 Hz. And deep, dreamless, sleep induces delta waves @ 1-3 Hz. Evan is most famously known as the bass player for The Delta Routine.
I had always thought The Delta Routine was some kind of homage to the delta blues. But perhaps there was something deeper that I was missing. Something else I needed to learn. And wouldn’t ya know it, Evan holds a degree in psychology. So who better to explain to me just how and why a musical psyche rides on a delta wave. This man knows what he’s doing folks. I’ve heard his improvised jazz bass solos couch any groove. He is a prolific player with a lot on his plate (including a regular Tuesday night gig at The Jazz Estate) and a lot on his mind. Keep reading, take the deep dive, and try to touch the bottom.
Q: I’ve heard a lot of artists speak about their art coming from outside themselves. Does your music come from the ether?
A: I do believe that music comes from the ether, as you put it. I don’t believe that music is ours or that we humans created it. It exists beyond us. I like to think that we musicians are a window, enabling music to come into this human world.
A musician’s job is to be as open as possible so that we let as much music in as possible. As we practice our art, we gain the tools to build and be bigger windows. Some of us are born with bigger windows and have more tools to work with from the beginning. Metaphorically speaking, our windows are made to be all different shapes and sizes; giving us our distinctive styles.
Q: What’s your creative process like?
A: I spend a lot of time reflecting. Whether that means going for a walk, sitting in silence on the porch or going for a drive. There really isn’t one routine I have. For me, creativity comes from variation. A great idea could come to you at any time. The trick is to capture it. I like to use my iPhone as a tool for capturing my ideas. Often I’ll capture a note or document an idea as a voice memo to come back to and flesh out later.
Although, if I’m running around all day in a “getting things done mode”, I will be less likely to have creative ideas and less likely to take the time to catch them.
Q: Have you ever surprised yourself with something you’ve created / captured?
A: Yes, those types of moments are the most rewarding moments as an artist.
Q: What are the unique qualities of the bass that you find particularly compelling as an instrument.
A: The bass is the foremost bridge between rhythm, harmony and melody. It’s very unique. The interplay between the rhythm and harmony, in an improvised setting, can be exhilarating. A player has the option to create motion from a rhythmic or harmonic (even melodic) standpoint. And while other instruments can use the same approach; the end product is just not the same.
Q: You play in a couple different bands. What genre do you feel allows for the most space to be creative and expressive with your instrument?
A: This is a tough question but I think the answer is any gig that is going to allow me to be myself. If I am playing a gig with parts that are all written out for me, it’s not going to be me. Anytime I have the opportunity to improvise allows me to be the most expressive and creative; and this happens in most settings I am currently playing in. Whether that’s writing a bass part for a group, helping to arrange/write a piece with an artist or improvising solos, it is all the same experience in a sense.
Q: When you listen to other bass players what are you listening for?
A: When I’m listening to other bass players I’m listening to space, rhythmic or melodic motion, and emotion.
A bass player I go back to time and time again is Jaco Pastorious. He has a highly realized melodic and rhythmic understanding, not to mention, a lot of emotion goes into his playing. I also like to listen to James Jamerson (the original Funk Brothers bass player) for his syncopation and melodic understanding, and Gnawa music or its organic and rhythmic qualities. Lately, I’ve been listening to the rhythm, aggression, emotion, on stage delivery and tonal understanding of NIN. I recently enjoyed my first Red Rocks experience to their sound.
Q: You’re a prolific player from what I can tell from your calendar and just seeing you out playing everywhere. Why do you keep picking up that bass and pluckin those strings?
A: Playing music is my contribution to my community, not to mention it’s usually a cathartic experience for me. Playing with so many different people provides variation and diversity. It allows me to learn from a multitude of artists. What they do well, or don’t do well, is going to help me learn how to make a larger musical contribution to my community and society.
Q: I understand that you have a B.A. in psychology. Have you heard of Moby’s Institute for Music and Neurologic Function?
A: I have never heard of that institute… I believe that music is inherent in human nature and therefore is a need for many people. I believe that music has a serious healing quality and that more research should go into exploring and proving it’s affect. I am starting an Adaptive Music Lessons Program at West End Conservatory (www.westendconservatory.com), where I teach bass, and have seen first hand what music can do for kids. Special needs kids in particular.
I’m curious; Sting, McCartney, Thundercat…. does Evan Paydon see himself as lead man in the future?
Absolutely, but that is in the future. I often write my own music but it really isn’t ready to be played out live in its entirety. So, it’s certainly something I’ve got stewing. For right now I am a team player doing what I can to contribute the most I can to the artists I am playing with.
Q: Milwaukee is a town known for it’s flowing waters and exquisite brews so readers want to know: PBR or High life or …?
A: High life in a bottle!
Q: And finally, what can you tell me about upcoming tours / projects / albums that you’re working on right now?
A: The Delta Routine’s new album You and Your Lion will be released after the holidays. We just got back from our fall east coast tour; traveling as far as New Jersey. It was successful to say the least. We played a great show in New York at Rockwood Music Hall, which was a great venue and a great tour connection to play at while on the road. I can’t wait for You and Your Lion to drop, it’s the best album The Delta Routine has done. You can follow the band at www.thedeltaroutine.com/
The next show I am extremely excited to play is with the Alex Wilson Band. We will be playing with the legendary Buddy Guy at the Fox Cities PAC on November 26th! You can find more information at www.alexwilsonband.com
I have also been doing recording sessions for a great improvisational project called Blank Radio, which was started by drummer Dave Schoepke. I really got to know him well while playing with Willy Porter this year. These recordings will most likely be released sometime next year. You can follow the project at www.blank-radio.com/blank-radio-bio.php
Furthermore, I helped to arrange and record an album with a rootsy-New Orleans-folk-Americana inspired group called The Natural Facts. We had a successful CD release at Linneman’s on Sep. 12th. You can find out more about them at www.reverbnation.com/thenaturalfacts
My gypsy jazz group, Milwaukee Hot Club, has plans to record this winter. I am very excited for this because we have all grown so much on our instruments since the last time we went into the studio. You can find out more about that group www.milwaukeehotclub.com/
Hopefully I can add a few more to the list by the end of the year! As this year turns into the next I will continue to document my own ideas and eventually, when I have enough time, I’ll release something under my own name. People can always find out more about me at www.evanpaydon.com/
Special thanks to JanetandPhil @ Flickr for allowing their photos to be used.