Only sometimes is a bass player the star of the show: Sting, Geddy Lee, Meshell Ndegeocello, Lemmy Kilmister — Stu Brooks, however, IS the show. A Grammy-nominated bassist, producer, and general multi-hyphenate, he is also the co-founder of the dub-infused Brooklyn-based Dub Trio. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you’ll definitely recognize others he’s recorded and played live with, including Lady Gaga, Mike Patton of Faith No More, G-Unit, Pretty Lights, Matisyahu, and the Saturday Night Live house band.
Born and raised in Toronto, Brooks is currently based in Los Angeles. Just before COVID he was working in the studio alongside legendary film composer Danny Elfman to create Big Mess, Elfman’s 2021 studio album. The two finally got to share the stage together this past April at Coachella and bring the album to life.
“It was the gig of a lifetime,” he tells us. “When they announced that it was still on, it was elation… We finally got to play the music from the Big Mess record. It just felt full circle. We were able to heal a bit from the pain the pandemic caused.”
Brooks’ debut EP, The 40HZ, boasts features notable collaborators including Paul Leary of Butthole Surfers, Fake Legs (both on “Live Nude Pigs”), N8NOFACE (“Don’t Really Care”), Jason Aalon Butler of Fever 333 (“MOB Music”), Angelo Moore of Fishbone (“Frontline”), and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy (“Sound the Alarm”).
After shopping singles “Sound the Alarm” and “MOB Music” around to labels, Toronto-based indie label Dine Alone Records suggested Brooks release a full compilation of tunes collaborating with other artists. Though those songs weren’t written for use under his own name, their evolution charted a new course once things were set in motion.
“The music started changing, taking a different kind of approach and sound, and gradually getting a little gnarlier and gnarlier as time went on — a little darker and more aggressive,” he adds. “‘Live Nude Pigs’ was made a little more with the intention that it was going to be for my record. It gets a little uglier… It starts with poppy punk/reggae, and then gets into synthy punk mayhem toward the end.”
Since Brooks has built such a solid rep in the music industry as a genre-bending bass virtuoso over the years, we wanted to ask him to share with us some of his favourite bassists of all time, and we’re feeling the groove.
Easily one of my favourite bassists. He has an encyclopedic musical mind and his passion for music and the bass is infectious and inspiring. His tone is unmatched and has a deep knowledge of rhythm and harmony. I’m striving to be a bassist more like Chris.
Tim has been inspiring me ever since I moved to NYC 22 years ago. His musicianship and use of pedals and effects is so creative and unique. His approach to improvising is so free and easy and his pocket is so good. His love for jazz and electronic music combined equals music that I love.
Unfortunately Robbie passed away this year. He was one of the most prolific reggae bassist and producers ever. He also loves Family Man (bassist for the Wailers) and took inspiration from him and ran with it. Best known to be half of the production/rhythm section duo Sly & Robbie, he was innovative in his way of incorporating electronics and effects in reggae and pop production since the 80s.
Stu Brooks’ The 40HZ EP is available now via Dine Alone Records
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