12 QUESTIONS WITH KEVIN HORNBACK

Can you give us a brief history of your playing career?

If there’s a normal career path in Nashville, I have not followed it. I’ve mostly avoided country music and played with some amazing artists you’ve never heard of. A rock and soul review fronted by Jerry Dale McFadden, who’s been with the Mavericks forever. A power-pop, emphasis on power, piano trio with Ross Rice. Turns out Reeves was into a record I played on with Ross years before we met. Jeff Finlin, a Dylan, Waits, Morrison caliber mystic poet…

I’ve also played for a black gospel choir, a reggae band that did one drop covers of classic rock, and an instro-surf band. And somewhere in the stream of Boston transplants to Nashville, I met Reeves Gabrels.

What inspired you to start playing guitar?

At 12 years old the piano was too heavy to carry around. At 14, I was the only guitar player in a band with $89 to buy a bass.

What was your first electric guitar?

A Japanese(?) Strad-o-lin from Woolco.

What are your top 5 favorite records?

Infidels by Bob Dylan, Utopia by Utopia, Torn Again by Peter Case, Majesty Shredding by Super Chunk and the first or third record by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. I’m kind of a lyrics guy. The only one of those with any bass pyro is the Utopia. Kasim Sulton.

What was the proudest moment and/or performance of your playing career?

Not to blow smoke honestly, but at the Rev. showcase this year in Anaheim, a friend of Reeves’, Jerry Duran sat in on keys/vocals. One of the most soulful things I’ve ever been a part of.

How did you hear about Reverend?

I was aware of the RumbleFish years ago, but Reverend got back on my radar through Reeves.

What Reverend guitar(s) are you using?

The Mercalli 5 is my main bass with Reeves. I’m about to add a Decision strung with flats to that gig.

What do you like about your Reverend guitar?

I love Korina, practically it is LIGHT. Tonally it’s focused and still warm. The necks are a good fit for my hand. The Merc. 5 is also just badass looking. It’s got a “He’s not f@*cking around” vibe that I enjoy.

What amps and pedals do you currently use?

Traynor has been kind enough to supply me with a cool 200watt all tube head that I really like. If I have a backline option on the road, Ampeg.Pedals. With Reeves I split my signal at the pedalboard and run one chain of effects into my bass rig and a separate chain to a guitar amp that I mix in with a volume pedal. EBS octave, Zoom B2 for a few freak tones, Boss MetalZone on the guitar side, a Digitech Big Muff clone on the bass side. I usually run a Sansamp DI as well.

Do you have any unusual hobbies, skills, or pastimes you’d like to share with us?

I like to play cards. If you see me out there and you’re a card player, come up and tell me. I have a deck with me.

Do you have any advice for up and coming players?

Bass is the instrument of responsibility. If you’ve started playing bass you’re probably wired that way to some extent. Listen to Stax. Duck Dunn for groove scripture. And Tom Petty records for economy of notes and when to play just enough upper register parts to sound brilliant. Bass players have to know what’s going on harmonically and be able to convey it to everyone else. A good exercise is to play like you’re teaching the song to someone who’s never heard it. Choose notes that lead them to the next chord and dynamics that lead from section to section. When you realize that a singer or soloist is leaning hard enough on you to really feel comfortable and stretch, that’s a pretty great feeling!

Please tell us about any of your current projects, tours, cds, etc. we should know about:

I’ll be out in the Midwest USA with Reeves Gabrels this summer and in the UK in the fall in support of a new record: Reeves Gabrels and His Imaginary Friends. Download from Bandcamp.com or come out and get it from us in person!