Catching up with The Wakes

Catching up with The Wakes

The Wakes are a Glasgow based band with an appetite for confronting inequality and injustice in Scotland and beyond. Musically they draw on influences ranging from Rage Against the Machine to Billy Bragg. We caught up with bass player Chris Cruickshank to discuss politics, gigging, guitars and gear...


MPS
You have gained a reputation for challenging fascist politics through music, is protest an important creative force for you?

CC
Definitely, being able to highlight issues & relevant stories through song is a massive creative force for the band. We hope in some small way our music can give people hope & possibly the confidence to go on and push for change to make things better for everyone.

Glasgow actually has a great tradition for bands playing protest music through the years, you will find it performed in the Gallowgate, pubs, working mens & folk clubs all over the city.

I love the story Dick Gaughan tells of a Latin American priest when he said something like, "When I say the poor have no bread, you call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no bread, you call me a communist troublemaker" . . . . . . This pretty much sums up our music!

MPS
The Wakes have produced four studio albums to date, do you prefer gigging or do you find songwriting and studio work more satisfying?

CC
I really enjoy the studio experience . . we track songs quite quickly, but the madness soon kicks in and we start experimenting with vintage Moogs, horn sections, multi fuzz/octave pedals & choirs! Having said that nothing beats performing live & putting the band’s message out to the people.

MPS
Can you pick out a favorite gig?

CC
St Pauli in Hamburg, Germany is a special place for the band. Stand out gig there would be the FC St Pauli 100 year anniversary concert where we played to over 25,000 people. We have played lots of great venues all over the world and made many greats friends . . . we have also drank lots of their alcohol.

MPS
Who do you count among your musical influences? Who do you count among your social & political influences? Which is more important for you?

CC
Wow that’s a difficult one . .  musically there are so many different bands & artists that have influenced me over the years - (off the top of my head) The Clash, Tower of Power, The Pogues, Rage Against the Machine, Dick Gaughan, Madness, Panger Ban, Aztec Camera, Buddy Rich, Charles Mingus, Parliament, Street Dogs, Billy Bragg, Sharon Jones, Dropkick Murphy’s, Brecker Brothers . . .

Bass players would be Jaco Pastorius, James Jamerson, Flea, John Entwistle, Larry Graham, Carol Kaye etc.

Politically the Glasgow red clydesider John MacLean & Edinburgh’s James Connolly are both massive influences for me, their writings were ahead of their time & completely relevant even today. I feel our school system doesn’t teach the history of the people and as such my political influences go hand in hand with my musical ones.

As the saying goes ‘History is written by the victors’ . . . the band are out to change that.

MPS
If you could go back to any musical era what would it be?

CC
The 1976 punk explosion with the Clash!

MPS
What was your first bass?

CC
I spent all of my very first university student loan payment on a Fretless sunburst Fender Jazz . . It was a steep learning curve! But l wanted to be Jaco Pastorius.

MPS
What basses are you playing at the moment?

CC
In the studio l record on my 79' Fender Precision, it’s pretty beat up but sounds amazing . . . it just sits right in the mix like no other bass does. Playing live l use a Bass Collection Precision with Wizard Thumper pickups & a 90's Musicman Stingray with Status graphite neck . . slaptastic zing punch!

MPS
Tell us about your Thunder Bass, what made you chose it?

CC
I initially set out to buy some kind of headphone practice amp for using while on the road with the band and for teaching pupils in school. The Thunder bass amp covers those bases and more, it’s unbelievably loud for a 5watt amp! It nails that classic rock bass tone. My Thunder bass is an essential piece of kit for me now & it fits easily into the smallest compartment in my gig bag!

MPS
What else do you have on your kit list?

CC
I use Barefaced bass cabs & Genz Benz amps. My pedalboard setup is currently – COG Buckfuzz, Gojira Octave, MXR Envelope filter & DOD Meatbox for making the subs sweat a bit! My main instrument is actually the Saxophone, so l have a room full of woodwind instruments as well!

MPS
Is there anything you have parted with that you really miss?

CC
I sold my Selmer mk6 saxophone that got my through university when l was needing cash for the deposit for a flat . . . . God l miss that horn!

MPS
Can you think of anything that really changed things for you, and why?

CC
For me the developments in recording technology over the last 10 years have been massive & a real game changer! If you have a good computer running Logic/Protools and can spend £300/400 on an interface & decent condenser microphone you will get some pretty amazing studio quality recordings.

MPS
Is there any advice you can offer to people starting out on their musical journeys?

CC
The main bit of advice l tell students is to open their ears & listen to as much music as they can! Jazz, rock, classical etc. . . draw influences from everyone & everywhere. This will broaden your musical horizons & make you a better player!

Tons of practice helps as well J



Find out what The Wakes are up to at www.thewakes

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