The bass player is always a little bit left of center

Published on Thursday, 30 January 2014 21:35 - Written by By Mike Hill Guest Columnist

When Stewart Smith sent me his usual friendly reminder that I needed to submit my article for this column, I was at a loss for things to write about. I figure I’ve pretty much exhausted the topics of “how to act as a band,” “how to act as a venue” and “what to look for in a DJ.”

He suggested I write about something that happened on the road during Truffula Tree’s brief time on the scene, which sounds fun and somewhat entertaining … except that most everything that happened is either unfit for this column, or would look like an assault on our bass player, Steven Mitchell. Who, by the way, is a really funny guy and can definitely take it as well as he dishes it out.

So, that being said, I give you “Stories of Steven” (aka “The Bass Player Is Always A Little Left of Center”).

In a band, there are stereotypes. Stereotypes usually are developed from some form of truth, but they aren’t always exactly spot-on. Generally speaking, the lead singer is usually the band’s largest ego, and rightfully so. He’s the frontman for a reason. The guitarist usually gets almost as much attention as the singer – because everyone wishes they could play guitar. The drummer is usually the crazy one. The bass player – well – it’s been my experience that the bass player is usually just a little different. Not in a bad way, but different just the same.

In our case – Steven was different. Steven was also the crazy one. Steven also made lots of friends because he’s just a nice guy. Simple as that. Well, that and he’s a phenomenal bass player but I digress.

About 98 percent of the time – at some point during our trip to whatever venue in whatever town we were headed to – between listening to Tenacious D CDs, someone would say “I’mma come down, I’mma come thru.” These words were the epic kick off to a freestyle rap-a-thon the likes of which you have never heard. I wish there were some way to really explain it. But I can’t. It’s beyond words. Just picture 30 minutes to an hour of a capella rap music covering topics that stretched from cartoon characters to “heading down I twinky” (I-20). At one point, the T-Pain app was used to auto tune some of this ridiculousness. It became such a regular part of our trips that some of our closest friends and fans even started joining in with us. Steve’s raps were always the best. And if he ever got stuck – he could always jump right to his signature go-to line and get it going again. I won’t elaborate, but trust me, I don’t think I have ever laughed so much.

When the YouTube video of the parrot singing “Bodies” by Drowning Pool first came out, Steven played it over and over and over for about 3 days. He did the same when a metal band made a song from the famous Mel Gibson recorded phone call rant. You would think this would get annoying – but it was actually very funny to the band and everyone around us. OK, it was also annoying, and I can still hear Steven’s voice squawking “One … nothing wrong with me” just like that parrot.

Steven changed clothes before every show, but prior to stage-time, you would find him in his uniform. A gray “OBEY” t-shirt, sweatshorts and house shoes and carrying a large styrofoam cup filled with Dr. Pepper. All the time. Every time. Sometimes he changed clothes in weird places. It would not be out of the ordinary to find Steve in his underwear in the middle of a McDonald’s parking lot – near the drive thru – not an uncommon occurrence at all. Also worth noting – the small cup holders in the back half-doors of an extended cab GMC will not hold a large styrofoam cup of Dr. Pepper when the door is slammed. And if the world ever runs out of glue, Dr. Pepper would be a great substitute.

I won’t pick on my musical ‘brother from another mother’ any more than I already have. You may not have found this as entertaining as I do – but that’s only if you haven’t met Steve. If you know him, I’m sure you got a good laugh.

Steven’s voice is very distinct. Slightly nasal. He finished every show with a “Thanks, guys” on the mic. With that, thanks guys. I’m out.