The juice that flows – with Lee Sklar
A prominent electric bass guitarist, Sklar has contributed to over 2,000 albums and counting
Lee first made sound waves on the late-’60s singer/songwriter circuit, with artists such as James Taylor, Carole King, and Jackson Browne. The ’80s found him in high profile with Phil Collins, when not in the studio. In the new millennium, the affable Sklar has been as diverse as ever, while fully embracing the bass community at trade shows and events worldwide.
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Things are only as strong as the weakest link so try to raise everyone’s standards. I have never drank or done drugs and I feel that helped a great deal.
Andy – Hello Lee, Thanks so much for taking some time from your busy schedule to share a bit with all of the folks here at Andy’s World of Bass, it’s a real treat for us all. I love your attitude and code about “honoring the song” in all that you play or don’t play in your tasteful bass parts. Certainly your lines have made countless tracks come alive. I’m thinking it’s mostly instinctual and drawn from your massive accumulation of collaborative encounters. Will you please briefly share a little on the topic, and perhaps give our readers some insight as to your process of supporting the harmony, dancing with the melody, locking in with the drummer, grooving a chart etc?
LEE – I was blessed to have my earliest studio experiences be with the likes of James Taylor and Jackson Browne. I developed a great appreciation for ‘The Song’. It required me to think of what I could contribute and at the same time allow the lyric to shine through. This became my approach to all I have worked on, regardless of genre. Same thought process went into music as diverse as Billy Cobham’s Spectrum to Streisand’s Evergreen. The first thing I do is listen to the song, be it a demo or artist playing it on piano or guitar. Try to feel what is required. Changes with every song. The best times are when there is a full rhythm section on the date and not just me sitting in a home studio doing bass parts. I love the juice that flows between creative players. I have been so lucky in my career to have worked with so many of the greatest drummers in the world. Generally locking in with the drummer is a non issue. You just adjust to the individual. but in general, we are about 98% there from the get go. As for charts, they come in all shapes and sizes from totally thought out to Nashville numbers to a chord sheet to nothing. Have to deal with them all.
Andy – I’ve heard you say in our conversations again and again how grateful you are for the blessings in your life, musically, professionally and otherwise. I commend you for this humble appreciation. Getting gigs and keeping them requires a continuous politeness and professionalism. Withstanding long travel and extensive tours while getting along with the entire band and production staff, management and even connection with your buss drivers. Is there anything you could suggest to readers to help them put a real world value on attitude and kindness?
LEE – You said it all. Being on tour or in the studio you are a family. You try to keep things serious yet light and uplifting. Things are only as strong as the weakest link so try to raise everyone’s standards. I have never drank or done drugs and I feel that helped a great deal. Shit happens when guys are out of it. I feel like a cheerleader at times. It is such a great life….just do not fuck it up!!!!
Andy – I kinda hate to even ask this question but, here goes. You have graced a multitude of recordings, and played on some of the most “important” rock albums of all time. I won’t ask you to name your favorites, but would love to hear of a few that are particularly special to you, and maybe a little about why they are memories you hold close to your heart?
LEE – Our early James Taylor albums still are so important to me. We were all beginning and had no clue what we were doing. The basis of my studio creative process and the developing of life long musical relationships. Our albums with The Section were wonderful projects which led me to Billy Cobham where we were able to create a seminal album in several days. My work with Barefoot Servants still sits high on my list. Loved playing with those guys. No Jacket Required with Phil Collins was the start of a great relationship. I feel so deeply about most of the projects I have done. Have stayed close to so many artists I have recorded with. Been a great run…a million stories in there.
Andy – Finally Lee, You are always working like crazy on the road and in the studio, you’re the definition of a hard working bassist. What does the near future hold for you, anything you would like to tell us about regarding musical plans for 2016-2017?
LEE – I have been on the road with TOTO most of the year to date. We did Europe, Dubai and Japan. Then started with Judith Owen, whose new album just came out. Doing advance promo for that release. Mostly in Europe and UK. After this ends I have several albums to do plus a fund raiser with Phil Collins for his Little Dreams Foundation. Then summer US with TOTO and then right back with Judith through November. Long road year and loving every second of it…
* Featured Photo “Lee.png” Credit Rob Shanahan
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