Bassist Spotlight: Ross Tweedy (Recover, Young Love, Tow the Line)

Photo: Steven Rudd

I'm going to be super honest, and admit how much I love Ross Tweedy. I was super blessed to tour the US and Europe with him for almost 3 years straight. While I knew Recover from their releases on Fueled By Ramen, Fiddler, and Universal Records, I did not realize how good Ross was/is until I got in the same room with him. I'm hoping you guys get a picture of how rad he is, and what a crazy life he has had. What he and the rest of the guys in Recover, etc., have accomplished is amazing. I started touring with Ross after Young Love got signed to Island/Def Jam in 2006, and it has been an amazing trip ever since. 

Introduce yourself to everyone.

My name is Ross Tweedy from Austin Texas, bass player for Recover, Young Love, and Tow the Line.

When did you start playing bass guitar?

My brother [Craig Tweedy, The Impossibles] has always played bass as long as I can remember so he was the first person to get be into the bass and make me truly love what the bass brought to the table in the sense of how songs were mended together. I got my first bass in 6th grade but switched to guitar shortly after out of obsession with mid-'90s emo. When our band at the time was ready to make some changes, it left an open spot at bass and I was actually super pumped to switch back and fill that position. From then on its been bass all fuckin day. 

Recover (Photo: Aubrey Edwards)

Did/does your family support your music?

Definitely, my parents and my brothers have always been nothing but supportive. Right out of high school it was hard to convince my mom that touring in a '80s conversion van and sleeping on dorm floors was the best direction for my life to go, but she soon would see how much joy it brought us and how it made the 4 of us and whomever we traveled with friends forever. 

Do you play other instruments?

Guitar and drums kinda.. I played the xylophone in marching band.. if that makes any sense. But that was before I was banned within coming within 100 feet of the band hall.

Can you play and sing at the same time?

Not really, but I also know that if you practice anything enough you can lock it in,Ii sang a little in tow the line and I would find that if I just played a certain part a million times I could do it without thinking and have that shit automatic. I guess that's what practice is.

You play with a pick. What are you doing more of, downstrokes or upstrokes?

I go both ways, but down seem to have more attack so when you're trying to get the point across you can just slam on it!

Your bass parts in Recover are their own hooks in the songs. I have always marveled at your playing. How do you write your parts for your bands?

I always felt that the bass was supposed to bridge the gap between drums and guitar, especially in the drum sense. I always tried to basically play drums on the bass, so I would follow Jimmy, who is a fuckin wizard and made it very easy, and almost try and write my own drum fills on the bass. I'm not trained or really that skilled when it comes to playing bass I just would do my best to make the others around me better. I also would fuck with some weird almost guitarmonies sometimes on bass which was pretty tight. 

What bass players do you look up to?

There are many but my brother Craig Tweedy [The Impossibles] is my main man. I have never in all my traveling and shit seen a better player and especially a better performer. He always played with his finger, which I was very envious of but what he played would blow your fuckin mind. You can still go back to any Impossibles album and the bass lines still stands strong!
Also, when he played on stage he would have more fun than anyone in the venue, people couldn't look away. THATS HOW YOU DO IT. 

What drummers have changed the way you play bass? 

Santiago Vela III, we started playing together 25 years ago in Recover (currently in The Sword and Tow the Line), everything I've learned and experience (besides a few years with my boy Terry Campbell) while playing bass has been next to him. but also I feel like every drummer i've watched or really sat down and listened to has effected the way I play bass and just the way I view music. to me it all starts with the drums.

I first met you when I was playing in Christensen/Your Highness. We played Bob Mann's "Everyone Knows Everyone" show in 2004 in Austin, TX. Recover was the headliner, and I got to see you play. I have always gravitated towards eccentric bass players, and you blew my mind. Tell everyone what it was like to be in Recover during those times.
I was 22, in a band with my 3 best friends, just signed to major label, ON TOP OF THE FUCKIN WORLD. there are no such things as better times. but to truly know what it was like you had to be there, cause I cant really remember. 

Fast forward to 2006, and I went to Chicago to see our buddy Terry Campbell playing in his new band, Young Love. You were on tour with them, and they were opening for Head Automatica at the House of Blues. I'm standing in the balcony, and guess who's standing right beside me? Life is crazy because after that tour you joined Young Love on bass. You took Danny Wood's (Trail of Dead) place who is his own bass legend. I was lucky enough to have Dan Keyes, and Trevor Silsmer hire me to guitar tech for Young Love months later, and I got to hang out with you for the next few years. Was I a good bass tech for you?

Dude, we had a blast! Just like the previous question, you and I have memories together that no one else could ever understand or be explained. Just thinking about some gives me the shivers. Yikes!

Do you remember how many times I found your "live shirt" in the dressing room at the end of the night, and you were nowhere to be found?

Look man, those were tough times, I wasn't used to having a "live shirt." I looked like a scumbag in Recover, and had to semi clean up my act for Young Love. So, when that happened, I wasn't used to lugging around a sick ass sweaty shirt town to town, so would just get hammered and forget about it. Thanks for looking out though, you the best.

Young Love recording their second album on their tour bus. (Photo: Jeremy Holehan)

In Miracle Drug I play the same bass guitar, amp, and pedal combo that you did in Young Love, and Recover. To me, it is always the easiest to dial in and has a great low end with a brightness that punches thru. What is your current set up ?

  • '94 Rickenbacker
  • Ampeg SVT2-PRO
  • Ampeg 8X10 with about 7 speakers blown

Sounds so awesome.


Do you have a favorite story about touring with Jimmy Eat World?

Holy cow, way too many and I wont go into crazy detail but a few pop to mind. One being a time when we were kicked out of our dressing room cause I got caught stealing beer from the venue, and another when we got kicked out and fined for destroying a dressing room that a certain member of the headliner did most of the carnage. Others include Tom [Linton] giving us weed in like Sweden or some shit after doing an interview with High Times Europe, and them playing a secret performance in Arizona when we were on tour with Braid. It goes on and on. They are still one of my favorite bands and have been since '95.

Are you currently playing in any bands or writing?

Not really, but I have been jamming with Bob and Jimmy here and there. Just working a lot and traveling with my wife.

Do you think hardcore/punk rock has influenced your adult life?

For sure, music got me into everything I'm into today and a lot of it started with hardcore and punk. I still try and ride BMX and skateboard here and there and heavy music and BMX are perfect together. I listen to Propagandhi everyday. Everyone should.

Finally, do you have any words of wisdom for anyone picking up a bass guitar for the first time?

To me its the instrument with the most freedom, you might have only 4 strings, but the sound you fill in the song is yours in its own. Just make sure you turn that shit up. Thanks, JBONE! Love you, dawg.

While doing this interview I realized there needs to be a series about Recover and Young Love tours stories. Like the time they left me in the tour bus and all went back into the NYC in cabs. I woke up in Paramus, NJ at the Prevost bus terminal with our driver very confused. Do yourself a favor and check out the entire Recover catalog. They still play shows, and are one of the best bands I've ever seen live. Thanks, Ross!

Love you too!

Ross and Jeremy BBQing in the parking lot of Chain Reaction, circa 2009.


Recover is on Facebook and you can follow Ross Tweedy on Instagram.

Tagged: bassist spotlight, recover, tow the line, young love