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Red Snapper's Ali Friend selects ten influences


Bassist, guitarist and all round musician Ali Friend is probably best known for his active role in Red Snapper, a legendary British band with sound experiments that extend across almost 30 years.

With Ali as one third of the group alongside Richard Thair (drums), and David Ayers (guitar), Red Snapper's records remain innovative staples of the iconic catalogues of labels like Warp and Lo Recordings.

To much excitement, it seems they're back after a lengthy hiatus, recently returning with a brand new single called, 'B Planet'.

News has now dropped of the band's plans to release a new album this coming November on Lo Recordings, alongside a number of UK tour dates. What better time to catch up with Ali and dive into the tracks that have influenced his and Red Snapper’s musical identity?

Now read on to hear the sounds of Eric B & Rakim, Charles Mingus, Parliament, Velvet Underground and more...

1. Don’t sweat the technique - Eric B and Rakim

"This brilliant 1992 tune was instrumental in the birth of the Red Snapper sound.
With the double bass sampled from Young-Holt Unlimited’s Eldee Young.
I remember thinking – ‘we can do this’."

2. God make me funky – The Headhunters

"The funk and the jazz….the jazz and the funk. A long, amazing tune ending in beautiful chaos;
a blueprint for Snapper tunes.
I met Paul Jackson, the Headhunters bass player, backstage at Glastonbury after a Snapper show
in the late 90’s. A legend who has helped shape the way I hear bass."

3. Introduction to a caveman - Caveman

"When I first heard this and I had just been getting into hip hop, it seemed to combine so many elements of music
I loved. The funky beat and bass, the jazziness of the flute, the Doors like keys and a killer rap on top. This was a
major motivator for me to throw myself at music full time with no job, no money and probably no idea how to do it.
But it worked out – I’ll always remember this tune for that inspiration."

4. Chocolate City - Parliament

"The name is Bootsy. Along with Mingus, Bootsy Collins has perhaps had the biggest impact on me
as a bass player. Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy, Brides of Funkenstein……you have to move to it, you have to laugh with it,
you have to go on a journey with it and listen to their stories.
The bass line in Chocolate City over a quiet drum approach is astounding – a brilliant tune heralding Washington."

5. Haitian Fight Song – Charles Mingus

"Charles Mingus is the most exquisite, beautiful, aggressive, expressive, impassioned bass player and composer. I love his
playing and his writing probably more than anyone else. Listening to him play is like listening to people in conversation when there
simply isn’t enough time to say everything they want to. An angry cry for attention. His humour, tempered with darkness in the story telling, is glorious.
He taught me that trying to say what you want with the bass always precedes accuracy. Expression always supercedes technique.
Noises, scrapes and fuck ups can be the best thing. If in doubt, repeat the fuck up.
Haitian Fight Song, with the indispensable Dannie Richmond on drums,  hangs on a brilliant repeated bass riff which drives the piece – we in Red Snapper love that and do the same."

6. Cygnus X-1 Book 2: Hemispheres - Rush

"Geddy Lee has been a massive bass player for me…….perhaps not cool to some, but extremely
on it for me. I taught myself to play the whole of this album on the bass when all
things rock and prog were still paramount. He leads with the bass, but it is always about the whole."

7. Philadelphia - Magazine

"This is a tune and a band I was heavily into in the 80’s. Barry Adamson’s bass line demands attention.
His use of bass effects and off the wall harmonies were a real encouragement to me to try the same."

8. Remembering - Avishai Cohen Trio

"I saw Avishai Cohen play live at Ronnie Scotts in the early 2000’s. His playing reminded me of my approach –
(he just gets it right a lot more often than I do), a mixture of repeated lines and sometime soft leading melancholic shifts.
He’s happy to fuck with the sound of his bass and get anything he can from it in terms of slides, knocks, bangs, scrapes, strums etc
I love that his desired expression takes precedence over convention and expectation. ‘Remembering’ encapsulates a lot
of this."

9. Pump it up – Elvis Costello and the Attractions

"An ignored but hugely influential bass player, Bruce Thomas, with his brother Pete
on drums. A great rhythm section who moved so well together as brothers. I like to
think Rich and I have that similar understanding and anticipation.
I love the way Bruce moves between the melodic and the aggressive syncopation.
Punk and new wave bass playing – like Paul Simonon’s in the Clash – is so badly under-rated"

10. White light – Lou Read/Velvet Underground

"It’s important that this is a live version of the song. I loved the Velvets and the way a message would always
come through the improv and chaos. This Lou Read album version always made me yearn to play
live and the performance is so expressive and having it; I could visualise myself on stage playing
and being on top of that moment. I would air-bass to it."

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