Trevor Barry is currently the bassist for Strictly Come Dancing In the UK (Dancing With The Stars) and has played with artists such as Phil Collins, Celine Dion, and Freddie Mercury, to name just three. In the interview, we’re talking about Trevor’s custom Overwater Progress bass, why he chooses to play Overwater basses and some advice for aspiring players looking to level up in the industry. For the full interview, watch the YouTube Video below:
Trevor Barry – Selected Credits (This is only a small sample!)
Jon Bon Jovi
And many, many more!
Trevor’s Overwater Bass Guitar Collection
Blue Overwater J Series Custom 5 String
Red Overwater P Series 5 String
White JP Custom 5 String
Overwater Progress Custom 5 String with Roland Midi Pickup
Why Do You Play Overwater Basses?
I’m the least technical bass player. I don’t know how anything works, but I know a good instrument when I hear it. When I picked up the first Jazz Bass, he made me the quality of workmanship is just so much better than a Fender.
What inspired the idea of putting the Roland Midi Pickup and controls on the bass? Are there specific tunes on Strictly that you had in mind for it?
Everything on the Strictly launch show is played on the latest Overwater Bass. It’s the holy grail for all bass players to be able to play MOOG lines. Chris was making one for a French bassist, and I tried it at the workshop. Within five minutes, I could see the synth tracking perfectly and how the Strictly programmers would be able to get these modules up to spec for the show. That inspired me to go, okay, let’s do one of those.
Which Roland synth module are you running the bass into?
I don’t even know! You’ll have to come down and have a look. Roland kindly gave me a deal and offered me both the things they had. We opted for the more programmable one because It’s the synth noises we want more than samples. I’m ashamed to say I could tell you what it is!
Trevor uses the Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesiser
Are you hoping Strictly will call some of the ’80s Whitney Houston-era Synth Bass Material?
They already did! Yesterday, I heard the numbers for the first dances on the show, and there was a Whitney tune. That’s what it’s for, ideally. Currently, I double all the synth bass parts on the bass guitar, and they mix them together.
We also use it on orchestral stuff. I used to work with Cat Stevens, and he would describe music as colour. The synth can give you that warmth underneath the sound with a sine wave, and that’s exactly what it gives to the orchestra.
Your new Overwater Progress Bass Has A Very Unique Look. How Did You Go About Designing It?
Martin is brilliant at what he does, so my take is to let him go. Make it look like no other. He started putting some wood together and then sent pictures of how it was laid out. I had some ideas, so they added them, which came out great.
I love the pickup cover; it’s really comfortable to play. We added the notch so I can still get under the strings if I’m popping. It sounds very alive, even without being plugged in. The joins and details are just done to such an incredibly high standard. It’s astonishing what they do in that shed (The Workshop!) That’s the genius of all of them, They do this phenomenal work and are creating real pieces of art.
‘Luminlay’ Luminous Inlays
These are the lights you put in for me. It comes with a torch, and you run it up the neck to charge them up. It’s great in a dark orchestra pit. I did forget to take the torch once and tried doing it with my phone. It wasn’t having it!
Outside of Strictly, you’ve worked with some huge names in the industry. Have they all come from different places, or are there common threads in the musical directors, producers, or bandmates that have tied those things together for you?
All of the above but the Producers mostly. I was working with Guy Chambers a lot, Aidan Bendel in another studio, and then meeting an old mate that I toured with Josh Groban. I played on the first tour he ever did as a guest when he was a young lad. We looked after him in the band and showed him a fine old time! Years later, I bumped into him at the Studio, and he asked me to play on his first big album.
The producer then used me for Rufus Wainwright, Mark Almond and Elton John. Working with Yusuf (Cat Stevens) came through the drummer Ian Thomas and Pete Adams, the keyboard player. When Yusef made his first comeback into music and didn’t have a bass player, they said get Trev! I did a rehearsal and toured with him for the next five years.
Sometimes, it’s the musical director, but the producer gets to say who plays on the record nine times out of ten.
How Does a Bassist Get Into Studio Work?
Getting into studio work came from my playing in cover bands. The first band I played in I was the guitar player, and when the bass player left, they asked if I could play bass. We played cabaret music every night, so I got my reading together. The keyboard player in that band was Dave Hartley, and his dad was the head of music at Yorkshire Television. He booked me to do my first proper sessions in London, and I got to work with all the A-Team TV guys at the time. I did okay, so I got on a list of guys who would get the call when people were looking for players. If you did well enough, you’d get more and more calls.
It’s 40 years down the line now, so I’m on the a*** end of my career. There are a million bass players out there who could do the playing side of it, but there are so many aspects of studio and live television stuff that have hardly anything to do with playing. Can you control yourself to play your best when you have no time to rehearse and 12 million people are tuning in? You have to be confident that you can do your job and not make any mistakes.
Trevor Barry’s Top Tips For Bassists
I always say never turn down an opportunity to play and always play your best. Take it seriously and have fun because you never know who’s watching.
- If a brass band calls and they want to try and get a bass player along, go do that.
- If there are people making music that you don’t like, go and give it a play.
- If there’s some nerdy guy on his own writing music, that’s a guy you need to know. He could be writing movie scores in five years.
All pros know that if you’re waiting for the phone to go, you could be waiting a long time, so if you’re doing nothing, create something.
Trev’s Overwater Basses
I’ve got the Jazz Bass, a Precision, the JP, and the Progress with the Midi Pickup. On the big red P Bass, I’ve got it set up with flat wound strings because it just gives a nice little sound. I’ve used the JP as a main bass since I’ve had it, really. It’s nice and light, so I can wear it all day and not feel it too much.
The Jazz Bass is the one I love playing the most. There’s something about the neck on it that is amazing, and it’s got a great live feel to it. This Overwater Progress bass is a real open so far. Everyone at the studio loves it!