Bass Pair Reboot Turns Into Unlikely Bass Pairs Reunion; Possible Appearance at ChemChella 2016
By Martín Cesar, Contributor, POPULAR UNO—Spain’s Numero Uno Source for Rock News
BARCELONA—October 2016—An apparent effort to reboot the now defunct bass and bongo duo Bass Pair took an interesting turn as many mediocre musical forces converged recently in Barcelona. Bass Pair, comprised of former founding member of the long defunct rock bass duo Bass Pairs Jeff Bergau and former Illinois State University marching band drumming prodigy Steve Johnson, came together in the Spanish port city to reportedly seek backing by a European recording label following many past tensions and false starts.
“Yeah, we were sitting down with all the labels, man,” said the visibly excited Bergau. “We’re talking to some of the big Euro guys and trying to catch on with some of the European music festivals like Spritzfest in Reykjavik and even trying to maybe start an all bass music fest of our own.” (Editor’s note: Organizers for Spritzfest claimed no knowledge of the talks, or of the band’s existence.)
Bergau continued, “The American music scene just doesn’t seem advanced enough to fully comprehend the full impact of bongo rhythms fused with unleashed bass. It’s all about bongos, distortion and chemistry. It’s a sound that’s really ahead of the curve in the States.”
Bergau’s comments may come as a surprise to Bass Pair’s fan as the fledgling duo has never had a contract with any recording label—major or otherwise. Requests for comment to several major European record labels went unreturned or ignored by press time.
Despite the overwhelmingly tepid response in North America, Europe and frankly most of the world to the next generation of Bass Pairs, the events that unfolded in Barcelona left this music columnist with more questions than answers, and fueled both excitement and disinterest.
Bass Pairs, the only known bass duo from the West Loop of Chicago, was formed in 2011 by Bergau and fellow guitarist Murad Sabzali. However, the band famously broke up citing the desire to pursue independent projects. However, since the band’s well-publicized break-up, both Sabzali’s and Bergau’s independent projects seem to have stalled.
As Bergau and Johnson argued at length and volume in a public square about their band’s creative direction and what the best Led Zeppelin song is, they were interrupted by Erik Clausen, a resident of Wüppertahl, Germany and a self-claimed creative force behind Bass Pairs tribute band Bäss Pairz. Oddly, the musical act is not a duo, featuring only Clausen on guitar with no accompaniment or bass.
“Bäss Pairz is the greatest Bass Pairs tribute band in all of Westphalia, maybe even all of Germany. We play all of the major clubs in Fünkenhausen, Weissenshumer and even in Schnellbachstein to crowds who sell out,” commented Clausen, an unemployed and aging BMW factory worker. “When I heard that Bass Pair was going to be in Barcelona, I drove 1,500 kilometer in my VW caravan to be here. I knew this was my big chance to try to play with these guys. Nothing I can think of would be equal to combining Bäss Pairz and Bass Pair. It would really be like nothing.”
Bergau seemed dubious at first, but seemed to warm to the idea. “This German dude shows up at the café where we’re working on new material and starts trying to get me to go back to my roots back in the Bass Pairs days,” said Bergau. “At first I’m like ‘No way’. I’m not living in the Bass Pairs past. I’m doing a completely new vibe called Bass Pair. But, then he said he has a van to haul our equipment, so we decided to let him in.”
Johnson seemed less enthusiastic about joining creative forces. As Johnson sees it, “We’re trying to finally get a Bass Pair deal going when this crazy German comes in talking about Bass Pairs and curry wurst. That’s living in the past, and no one likes curry.”
After some intense discussion, Clausen was invited to join Johnson and Bergau in the musical project. At the time of publication, the working title for the burgeoning trio was dubbed The Treble with Bass Pairs.
Interruption in Service
The stunning turn of events occurred when, as the newly formed trio began planning their European tour, all were surprised to realize that their server at the café was none other than Sabzali. All parties seemed shocked by the coincidental meeting, but this is hardly the first time the media has spotted the founding members of Bass Pairs in Europe.
Sabzali had apparently fled to Spain after the break up of Bass Pairs and the subsequent failure of musical project Home By Sicks with wife Carol, his autobiography I’m Fricken Remarkable, An Autobiography of an Ill-tempered Musician, Marketer, Philosopher, Husband, Dad, Friend, Son, Brother and Sandwich Artist as well as a protest of the downgrade of Pluto from planet status to celestial body.
For the past two years, it seems, Sabzali has worked as a café server in the Gothic district of Barcelona by day while performing Bass Pairs songs as a street performer by night under the pseudonym Bassicly Home by Sicks.
Tempers flared as the newly formed trio created just moments before was confronted by a shocked Sabzali.
“What the (f-word)?” said Sabzali, who was clearly agitated to learn about the new direction of the musical entity he helped to forge. “ I started this (f-word) (f-word) band, and they think they can just add (f-word) drums and (f-word) guitar and call it a band?”
It seems that the accidental musical encounter was not the only irritant for Sabzali. His post-Bass Pairs ballad ‘Salmon for Carol’ had become a surprise cult hit in the fishing community. As he and his wife Carol toured the Pacific Northwest in 2014, she left Sabzali to run off with a salmon fisherman.
Adding to Sabzali’s stress level is a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against him in Texas by Sal M’Antonio, the self-proclaimed “Fishing Lure King of Austin.” According to court filings obtained by this reporter, the fishing lure magnate allegedly holds the rights to a 1980’s Christmas commercial jingle titled ‘Carol for Salmon’ that is musically very similar to the ballad penned by Sabzali.
“It’s bad enough Carol left, but to get sued over a (f-word) song about her? I don’t even like fish,” remarked a seemingly defeated Sabzali.
As tempers cooled, there seemed to be some sign for optimism as the four discussed a possible musical collaboration at the forthcoming ChemChella 2016 music festival taking place October 27, 2016 in Chicago. However, details could not be confirmed by the band’s agent James Wine by press time.