plenty of white-hot instrumental funk-rock action in play on the 2019
CD by guitar hero Chris Haskett. Featuring Chris Haskett
And His Ongoing Dysphoria, the four-track, 20 minute EP, called
Insufficient Necessities covers a ton of guitar sounds
and styles. Spanning hard rock, heavy metal and funk, jazz and rock,
start to finish, this way-cool set is the perfect showcase for Chris
Hasketts mind-altering guitar vision. Compared to earlier albums,
including his 1995 solo album Nonfiction, recorded in Chris
hometown of Washington, D.C., Insufficient Necessities was
recorded in Holland with a five piece band of mostly Dutch musicians
that adds much fuel to the musical fire on display. Chris adds, The
passports dont matter, if the funk finds you, then youre
home. The Insufficient Necessities sessions were
so productive that in addition to the music on hand, a number of covers
were also recorded featuring Haskett versions of music by Average
White Band, Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk, Ronnie Montrose, Grateful Dead
and more. This second batch of recordings is planned for release in
late 2020 under the tentative title Partly Uncovered. A major
guitar talent known for his all-encompassing merger of funk, riff-rock,
jazz and psychedelia, Chris Haskett is hardly a newcomer to the guitar
instrumental scene and his resume goes way back to early affiliations
with the Rollins Band as well as guitar legends like Reeves Gabrels.
In fact, Chris added a second guitar part to a track featured on Bowies
1999 album Hours. Bowie, bless his soul, once favorably described
Chris guitar work as being nose-bleedingly hostile.
Fans of Jeff Becks brand of fiery instrumental guitar fusion
circa Blow By Blow and Wired, as well as guitar legends
Sonny Sharrock and Frank Zappa circa Shut Up N Play
Yer Guitar, will dig Chris Hasketts Insufficient Necessities.
presents an interview with
Can you tell us where youre from and where you live currently?
What was it like growing up in Washington D.C.?
Chris Haskett: I am from an area of DC called Palisades. Coincidentally,
I grew up about half a mile from Ian MacKaye. Ive lived all
over but currently live on a smallish island in Australia.
mwe3: What era of music did you grow up in and what artists
most inspired you to pick up the guitar?
Chris Haskett: I was born in 1962 and am lucky to have a sibling
5 years my senior who was into really good music when we were both
growing up. So I have a really clear musical memory of the late 1960s
and the first LPs that got handed down to me were Disraeli Gears,
Electric Ladyland, Cheap Thrills and Blind Faith. So Clapton
and Hendrix were on the radar really early but I think it was Keith
Richards and Johnny Winter that really got me interested in playing
guitar. My first guitar was a Sekova nylon string. I still have it.
I still remember sitting on my bed with it strumming E and Em back
and forth and fantasizing being asked interview questions in the future!
mwe3: Do you still recall your first guitar and amp?
Chris Haskett: My first electric guitar was a Gibson S-1 which
I bought in a pawn shop because Id seen the ad where Ron Wood
was holding one. My first amp was Traynor 100w bass amp. I dont
remember the cabinet, it may have been a Sunn. I was like 15 and got
conned into it in a music store. After that, I mostly used an Acoustic
100w combo. It was WAY lighter and also an actual guitar amp.
mwe3: Also can you say something about the Go-Go music you
were exposed to growing up in D.C.? This is the first Ive heard
Chris Haskett: Growing up
were talking the early-mid
70s here, DCs Go-Go music screen hadnt really gotten
on my radar. Im not certain of the chronology but I think the
scene really took off at the end of the decade. I remember the classic
early Trouble Funk, EU and Rare Essence 12s from about 1980
onward. There was so much awesome music happening on all sorts of
genres at that time that Go-Go didnt stick out too much. It
was just part of the life-soundtrack. It was a bit later that I really
started to focus on the richness of its beats and culture.
When I was in my first band, The Enzymes, we were soaking up this
weird blend of avant garde, punk and fusion. I loved the guitar-driven
punk stuff, especially the UK Subs, The Damned, The Buzzcocks and
most especially the Ruts. But there was an equal attraction in the
more furious and aggressive work that McLaughlin had done with Mahavishnu
and Fripp had achieved with King Crimson. We were also entranced by
the courage and freedom of The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton,
Derek Bailey, Henry Cow and especially Sun Ra and the Arkestra. Beefheart
loomed large too.
I know lots of writers ask you how you met Bowie, was it through Reeves
Gabrels? What Bowie track did you play on and was the track used on
the album? Its easy to hear why Bowie had such a high regard
for your guitar sound. You fit the mold of Bowie-esque guitarists.
Chris Haskett: Yes. I met them both at some festival in Finland.
I was awestruck to meet David but actually more interested in finding
and meeting Reeves and talking guitars! Later, Reeves moved to New
York to work on an album with David and we started hanging out. We
are complementary character types and were both at similar places
in our respective lives, so it was good. They were using a studio
round the corner from my apartment so I started coming over and hanging
out while they were tracking. Theres a saying which goes, If
you hang out in a barbershop, eventually youre gonna get a haircut.
and thats pretty much what happened.
The music they were doing left space for a kind of utility infielder
to do guitars, simple keyboards and some computer-y stuff, this was
1999 and still kind of new. So David asked me to join the touring
unfortunately the tour got canceled. As to the recorded
track, its on the Hours album and the song is called
If Im Dreaming My Life. Reeves very kindly created
a need for it to be recorded live and also to have a second guitar.
He could really have overdubbed it in ProTools but he made a space
for me. It was a very kind thing to do, but then, hes a really
mwe3: Who designed the front cover art with the cowgirl in
the sand artwork? And tell us about your record label.
Chris Haskett: Im old school and dont really feel
Ive actually put something out unless theres a tangible
product somewhere. And its a good excuse to print stickers.
The listening suggestion was just a goof with a bit of dharma thrown
in. But the Fair Use statement is completely sincere. Like I say,
DenCity Records is mostly just me, so the graphics was little ol
mwe3: How did you wind up regarding in Holland with a band
of Dutch musicians? Seems like a dream come true and what was Holland
like to record in? Can you mention the players that assisted on the
Chris Haskett: Well I ended up in Holland because thats
where my spouse got a job. After eight years there, it wasnt
really that exotic. I was living in a town called Nijmegen at the
other side of the country from the bigger cities. So there was a much
smaller pool of folks to play music with than there would have been
in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. But I found some nice folks who were willing
to put in the time to really learn my stuff.
lucked out with my drummer, Johan Jansen, inasmuch as he has a really
solid, meaty style and a beautiful natural swing. Collin van Gerven,
the bassist was already into funk so he was a natural fit. I cant
remember how I found the percussionist, Ton Maassen, maybe he answered
an ad. Anyhow, he was more used to playing smooth jazz and latin stuff
so my stuff was completely left-field for him. But he just loves his
craft and was willing to try new music. He wasnt always sure
where to go in my tunes but he took direction well.
The music was originally tracked in a club which had multitrack facilities.
There was no audience but it allowed us to jam/play with more of a
live feel than a regular studio. The guitars and bass were both DI
only to prevent bleed onto the drum mics. It was on a stage we knew
well so it was very relaxed. The guitars and percussion were overdubbed
I had a bunch of amps in my house and had built myself a decent isolation
cabinet. So I could run the external speaker outs on the amps to the
iso cab and really crank it up without bothering anybody. The cab
has two gooseneck mic clips/XLR outs and I usually had a condenser
and a dynamic side by side. So I was able to track the guitars at
my leisure. Getting feedback was bit trick but I managed it.
Once I had the tracking done, I mixed it myself to where the rough
mixes were in the ballpark of where I wanted the track to be. Then
Id send the session, with all the volume levels and pans already
in, to a fantastic engineer down in Eindhoven, also in Holland, who
would do the actual mix. Sometimes Id go and sit in but I found
it was better just to let him do it and then send him tweak suggestions.
Then I let him master it. His name is Peter Rave and his place is
Recording. Hes awesome and I highly recommend him.
mwe3: Insufficient Necessities is listed as catalog
number 009 on your label Den City (is that an acronym or something
like that for density?) What other albums have you released on the
label and how many albums have you released? Are they all on CD?
Chris Haskett: DenCity is a play on density and
DC - as in Washington. There are 9 releases. Currently,
5 are available as CDs and only one is currently also on vinyl. Theyre
also on i-tunes/Amazon etc but the easiest way to get them is via
Bandcamp. Heres the link.
mwe3: The recorded sound on the Insufficient Necessities
CD is extremely clean and the drums are really well recorded too.
Was it difficult to mix an album with this much dynamic range and
sounds? What were some of the challenges in recording the album?
Alas poor Peter Rave
I usually give him tracks that are one
step above bootleg quality and he manages to make them sound so good!
Actually, in this case, thats unfair. The sound man at the club
where we did the basics, his name is Kees de Waal, is an excellent
musician in his own right and has a lot of experience. He also knew
his mic and his room extremely well. So we managed to get good, rich
drum sounds but keep the live sound and not have it too sterile.
As to the rest of the tracks, well I have finally gained a pretty
good sense of how guitars can sit together in a mix so I can make
tonal choices that wont conflict or phase out too badly. Peters
got me pretty well trained by now too. I know what to send him.
mwe3: How many guitars do you play on the CD? Are you a guitar
collector or fan of strange guitars and pedals or effects? What amps
do you prefer and is there a plethora of pedals or sonic effects on
the Insufficient Necessities CD?
Chris Haskett: Oh goodness! The core guitars would have been
a pair of PRS CE24s, my custom PRS 9-string, a Hamer single P-90 LPJ
and a 2001 MIM Fender Tele. I have quite a few guitars but Im
not a collector per se. I am a fan of exotic old pedals and I have
a bunch of old stuff that I found in pawnshops over the years, original
Foxx Tone Machines, obscure Japanese fuzzes, Mu-Trons and so on. But
nowadays the fetish for pedals has kind of driven me in the opposite
direction: I use much less gain and many fewer pedals than I used
to. I much prefer to find an exotic amp tone.
On Insufficient Necessities, the main effect I used was the
tape-echo plugin in Logic. I dont have a Watkins Copycat or
an Echoplex at the moment and it was also easier to retain the flexibility
of a plugin rather than print the delay. Other than that theres
probably a little bit of octave in a few places but even for that
I mostly use the 9-string these days.
As to amps, yeah, the CD has some pretty obscure bits and pieces.
Live, I mostly use a Mesa Boogie TA-30, which I adore, but for recording
I was using a modded 1960 Dynacord 18w, a modded 1959 Schaller KV-40
and, believe it or not, the amp section for a late 50s Philips
portable turntable. I ran them all into the isocab which usually had
an Audio Technica condenser, I forget the model, and a Shure SM57
What can you tell us about your left and right guitar technique? Its
Beck-esque but its very original too. Do you practice and does
practicing guitar help you in coming up with ideas for your compositions?
How about finger-style guitar, say using your picking fingers in contrast
to using a guitar pick?
Chris Haskett: I DO practice! Really I do! It just never sounds
Of course, Jeff Beck does loom like a deity in my psyche
and it was his sound that got me to explore using my thumb and forefinger
in place of a pick. Its original in its Beck-esque-ness mainly
because I fail so spectacularly in copying him! I once remarked it
to Marc Ribot that my style was basically defined by my inability
to copy my heroes and he said, Yeah, thats all of us.
Im lack both the discipline and the schedule to be able to set
aside the same practice time on a daily basis. So I just try to fit
it in when and where I can. At this point, rather than doing scales
and modes etc
I usually set a goal of trying to learn something
new, like a Monk tune or a Charlie Christian solo and then make sure
to play close attention to my time and picking dynamics and so on
while Im doing it. It lets me move forward without getting
As to the fingers versus a pick thing, its really about expanding
your palette. Pulling a string with your finger and letting it smack
back down is a totally different tonal color than hitting the same
note with a pick. And obviously, using a bunch of fingers at once
is a different color than sequentially strumming the same notes. But
Im basically a flat-picker at heart, I just like having more
tones at my disposal.
mwe3: Do you enjoy playing live gigs but wouldnt having
a band from Holland might be difficult to play live or on the same
continent? Is the internet the future of live music? If not now then
in say 10 or 20 years? Or at least until beam me up Scotty
becomes a reality
Haskett: Given that Im now in Australia, yes, having a band
in Holland is extremely inconvenient! Now I have to find a whole new
batch of guys and gals who are willing to work much too hard for no
money! Is the internet the future of live music? No, at
least not to me... but remember, Im a dinosaur. To me, live
means being actually, physically present while something is occurring...
even if, for whatever misplaced reason, youre watching it through
your fucking phone!. Live is the gestalt of the experience:
seeing a band from more than just a single camera viewpoint and knowing
that, at that instant, your experience is utterly unique, the smell
of the person next to you, the internal debate about whether its
worth missing a song while you go pee, wondering if the band will
play so many encores that you miss your bus
etc. Its not
just the streamable audio/visual content.
mwe3: Whats the best way to gain exposure for your music
these days and how has the internet changed music and are all the
changes it has made for the better? It blows my mind how everything
has changed in 20 years. Will 2020 be the start of a new beginning
Chris Haskett: My views on the internet and how it has changed
the music industry, for musicians, would be a book-length answer.
The short version is that its been a boon for people who can
afford to make the music they want as amateurs but its been
a disaster for anybody trying to dedicate themselves to it as a calling.
Just look at the Spotify royalty rates or iTunes rules for cover
art. From the fans point of view its also a bit of a mixed
blessing. It allows nothing to be rare or obscure, which is great
for getting attention for overlooked or marginal artists. But at the
same time, it kind of devalues our efforts through the sheer volume
of stuff thats out there and competing for peoples attention.
The internet has become the tail that wags the dog: hit
songs are getting shorter in order to have a higher chance of being
fully hard and thus qualify for streaming royalties, they seem to
require a mind-boggling number of writers to churn out pap and, like
Hollywood movies, which is a similar model, there seem to be fewer
and less musically diverse artists rather than more. Dont get
Like I say, Im a dinosaur waiting for the asteroid
to hit. But my main complaint is about the effect it has the on music.
We were promised a level playing field where the direct relationship
between the artist and the listener would bring utopia. Instead, now
were paying influencers
Like I say, dont
get me started. And get off my lawn you kids!
mwe3: What can the fans look forward to regarding your musical
plans in 2020? Are you currently writing any new music and tell us
about the planned CD you have coming later in 2020?
Haskett: Im still finding my feet down under but the follow-up
to Insufficient Necessities is pretty close to done. Its
tentatively titled Partly Uncovered and is almost all covers.
The artists Im mauling include Average White Band, Led Zeppelin,
Grateful Dead, Ronnie Montrose, Sonny Sharrock, Sun Ra and Vernon
Reid. Theres a few more overdubs to be done and then I send
it all to Peter Rave. Last year I was lucky enough to be able to work
with a fantastic band from Milan called King
Bong and I believe this sessions are due to see the light of day
in 2020. And I think Ian MacKaye over at Dischord records in DC is
going to put out a 7 of my very first band, The Enzymes. I dont
have any details on that though.
mwe3: Can you mention 5 of your all time favorite albums, just
random picks from the past?
Chris Haskett: Off the top of my head without thinking about
Mahavishnu Orchestra: Between Nothingness and Eternity
Johnny Winter: Progressive Blues Experiment
King Crimson: Red
Cheap Trick: Cheap Trick