It’s that time of the month where we honor the awesome members of our Bass Lab PLUS community!
For this month’s Bass Lab Legend, it’s Martin Evening!
Martin started as a beginner with a bass just about a year ago when he joined the membership. Today however, it is clear to see that Martin has built a solid foundation to play really well, and I can really see him improving massively in the years to come.
However, in our conversation prior to recording the Bass Lab Legend interview, I was surprised about the story that Martin shared, and has definitely made this award more significant.
Read on more about Martin’s bass playing story as well as life journey below:
James: Hey guys I’m super excited to talk to this month’s Bass Lab PLUS Legend Martin Evening! He’s from the town I’m originally from, so we already share that!
Martin joined the BLP community about a year ago as a complete beginner. I’ve watched him improve and improve and become a really active part of our community. The reason I invited him on and gave him the Bass Lab PLUS Legend for this month is because I’ve been so impressed with this progress. Also, literally about an hour before this call, I discovered there is a ton more to this story.
I’d like to hand this over to Martin now. Tell us; when did this all start?
Martin: Thanks for the introduction there James! I feel really honored to be given this Bass Lab Legend. I could not believe it, as I only started seriously playing the bass about a year ago. I don’t consider myself worthy of this. It was quite a shock to me actually; I really appreciate that.
The reason why I chose the bass is because the past couple of years, our routines were completely disrupted. One of the reasons I picked up the bass was that it was a lockdown thing, looking for things to do.
Going back to my childhood when I was a schoolboy, I was really fascinated with the bass guitar. It had a certain mystique to it.
At the time, when I was at school I was learning to play the acoustic guitar. A few of us joined together at our friend John’s house and we would just try and jam together and see what we could do.
John’s father was a bass player and he had all of the equipment there. For us, going along with our little bits like our acoustic guitars and the piano at the corner, it was all a bit low-tech. However, here was this amazing Gibson SG Cherry Red guitar with a huge 2x2 speaker stack. It really looked like the business; it was literally stage ready, rock and roll kit.
We used to just hang out and play together. The only problem was John’s dad was really strict and that nobody was allowed to touch the bass. All we could do was kind of imagine what it would be like to play this instrument. It was like going to a museum.
We had aspirations of becoming a band and calling ourselves Apex, and then one day a guy came along; one of the cool kids from school. He just came and listened to us play songs which we thought we played well.
What he did was break the rule and grabbed the bass guitar and he instantly went into this slap bass groove; we just couldn’t believe it as we never heard bass playing like that before.Sadly we didn’t play any more after that. I think we were kind of shaken by the experience.
I’ve had an acoustic or electric guitar at various points of my life. However, it took about 45 years before I tried to find a bass guitar.
I just sort of moved around with it and was watching this video and that video. It was aimless. It wasn’t until I came across eBassGuitar and noticed how your videos kept propping up when I was searching around. That is the impetus for me to get serious.
J: Fantastic! Let’s delve a little bit more into the story of how this went forward. Could you share a little bit more about that.
M: There was another reason why I picked up the bass. 10 years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and it was quite a shock. It’s a big moment.
I think one of the positives that came out of it after I managed to calm down was to realize that even if you have an aggressive disease, you can still have many years of life ahead of you which is sadly not the case for all.
It’s kind of like a blessing of having prostate cancer that gives you this opportunity to reset and rethink things and re-evaluate your life to think about what it is that you want to do now and in the future. A chance to reset and be the best that you can be.
Back to the bass guitar. So while everything was on lock down, I knew that there was something else I can do which I’ve always been meaning to do and that is to play bass, so I wanted to get on with it. That’s whyI’m really grateful to you James for what you’ve done with the bass lab and the community that you built up around it.
The support comes from the community as well as the training and what I like to call directed learning really made a difference.
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J: So when I started eBassGuitar 6 years ago, the one thing that I could never be prepared of is just such a privilege to be on the sidelines looking and experiencing these incredible stories.
In a couple of recent BLP Legend interviews we talked to Allan who is as far as I know our only blind student. Also, there is Wendell who is learning the bass as a deaf student.
These stories just absolutely blow me away on how they are using the program that I put together, the knowledge I’ve acquired all these years as therapies to help make everyday life a little bit better. That’s real. I genuinely made a few tears in my eyes as I talk about this because that’s something I could genuinely not have expected from this. I’m so happy to hear your story there, and also witnessed the incredible progress that you’ve made and it really resonates with me again.
You talked about a reset there. Has there been a part of you which is like “I’m gonna do this know “. A laser focus saying “ This is what’s possible “.
M: I think the thing I found hardest to begin with was to have the courage to go and do the videos.
I’ve listened to some of the other videos and interviews that you’ve done. Others said the same thing. It is quite hard; it’s like getting up on the stage and you are exposing yourself, your playing.
On the other hand, I found it’s been very helpful in terms of being able to go and teach me more about my own playing and see my own mistakes. I think you just need to have the discipline of doing it.
Certainly it’s not going to be easy, as in my case I had a lot of treatments the last six months; tricky treatments to deal with which had been a bit of a struggle at times.
I probably end up playing songs 50 times over to try and rehearse, to try and get right so that I can play on camera, even though I know that I’m still not going to complete it right away. I can hear the mistakes, but I think that’s forcing discipline.
The videos have been a really good component.
J: Does it give you something else to focus on rather than what else is going on with your health?
M: I suppose so. I need to go back more to the basics. I have been rehearsing a Beatles track for this month’s competition, and all I’ve been doing is going back to some of your courses like the RPM course, to try and get more of a feel for improvising for example or just the rules and structure of music and how you can approach music rather than learning it as a piece of music.
Some of the challenges from doing the monthly song competition meant I’ve had to try and look up different song charts and cross-check how one person transcribed the music and realized their mistake.
What I think is important is to devote time to a routine where you’re doing a bit of music theory and stuff like that as part of your learning.
J: Absolutely! From what I can hear, you’re blending the two sides perfectly; the learning and the playing. As I’ve seen every month as I watch your submissions come in, it's getting better and better. I’m really proud of that.
Going back to something you’ve said to me before you’ve started this call; you mentioned your diagnosis 10 years ago. Now kind of feels like the right time for you to talk about why we’re having this conversation now. Could you elaborate just a little bit more of that.
M: I kept very quiet about it. I would recommend to anybody who has a serious illness diagnosis to be a little bit cautious before telling the world about what’s going on.
It might seem like the right thing to do sometimes, it is quite often for some people the right thing. Other times it's going to be the unexpected consequences in terms of people’s reaction. You have to bear in mind that when you start divulging about what’s going on, people want to know what’s going on beyond that. You have to commit yourself to being open and carrying on. With me I have a daughter who is 5 years old around the time I was diagnosed; it was a bit too young for her to know. I didn’t want here to be the last to know so the many years I kept it quiet for that family reason. Now that it’s more out in the open starting with her knowing about what’s going on I feel okay talking widely about it.
I suppose in particular with me talking to you here today, I’m quite aware from the monthly meetings, the Q & A sessions and masterclasses that a lot of the members who are with the Bass Lab are sort of the same kind of ages as myself, mainly male. I would hope that maybe by bringing this into the open I would like to let people know that if anybody feels affected and wants a chat I’m very happy to go and talk to fellow members.
I’m sure there are others who are going through the same experience.
If they’re worried about it, there are organizations like prostatecanceruktest.org where they can take a test online to go and see what the risk factors would be..
I would like to urge people of my age to keep on top of it because it’s so curable and so manageable these days that there shouldn’t be anything to fear.
J: Absolutely and before we started recording, one of the things that I thought was really powerful what you said was that when you start telling the world, people have their reactions to it. Some people don’t know what to say and how to handle it. You said that, if you’re suffering from this, you just want normality from people. You just want a laugh, you want to be with people as they are, that kind of thing. Am I right with that?
M: Yeah, I think it’s not just men like myself. Even checking out breast cancer forums, women say the same thing. Sometimes it can be a very tricky subject to approach with close friends as those friends usually don’t know how to respond. Are they saying the right thing, are they going to upset something, it’s really about getting past that.
For their benefit, and for their own as well I think it’s really sad that people are put off or scared of talking to somebody who’s going through what I’m going through at the moment that they may miss out on the opportunity when it’s too late to have those conversations.
It’s not as hard as you think it is. One of the great things about being with groups is because of the fact that we can just get together and we can have fun. We can make fun of cancer and have a little humor, jokes and stuff like that, and it’s a really good release.
J: Let’s start wrapping up there Martin. It’s been a really fascinating conversation with you and to find out your story. I feel very humbled that you want to share it with the Bass Lab PLUS community.
If what Martin has said is resonating with you, reach out to him; he’s clearly a very giving character.
Congratulations on being this month’s Bass Lab Legend. I gave this to you before I even knew this part of the story and it makes all the more significant what you’ve achieved