Bassist Spotlight: Justin Pringle (Fixation)

Photo: Errick Easterday

I met Justin Pringle When Miracle Drug did some outta town shows with our label mates, Fixation. We got along great, and I was stoked at how good he was on bass. I feel like we have a similar style, and attack when we play. In this interview, we get to know this great guy, and what makes him tick. 

Introduce yourself to everyone.

I'm Justin and I play bass guitar in a band called Fixation from Philadelphia.

How did you get into playing the bass guitar?

Well, my primary instrument has always been guitar since, I was about 9. The first time I had any desire to pick up a bass was when I tried to start a band with my friend in middle school and he showed me the song "White Knuckle Ride" by Rancid, and immediately, I was like, "What the fuck, I have to learn this," so the kid ended up stealing a girl that I liked so I stole his Epiphone SG bass and thats how I got my first bass [laughs]. Then I ended up never learning the song because it was too hard and I sold the bass for an eighth of weed [laughs], but not soon after that I ended up buying a Squire Jazz bass and tried learning every Rancid and Operation Ivy song that I could and eventually fell in love with the instrument.

Does your family support your musical pursuits?

Yeah, for the most part, I mean my dad thinks every band that isn't the Rolling Stones sucks, and my mom was a thrash metal groupie that hated metal, but hung around all the thrash guys because they wore spandex and they were hot [laughs]. They never understood punk but have always let me and my friends jam in my basement and stuff. They'll say the typical mom, and dad shit like, "Don't you think its more important for you to save money and work then to leave for 3 weeks and play shows to 3 people in some random state and why do you play that screaming music you're wasting your talent!" But parents are always wrong, so its fine.

Photo: Todd Pollock

You mentioned guitar, but can you play any other instruments? Also, can you sing and play an instrument at the same time?

Yeah, my main instrument is guitar and I can play drums, too. I didn't learn music theory or anything, so when I would have trouble writing parts I would switch instruments and see what I could come up with. I played guitar and sang in my old street punk band in high school and did the same in an emo band.

Have you always played with a pick? What are you doing more of, upstrokes or downstrokes?

I've always used a pick just because I was used to it from guitar and Matt Freeman from Rancid used one, and I always just tried to copy him. I also just think it sounds better in hardcore and punk when bass players use picks. I usually just alternate pick and if i'm not then I'm just switching between down and up strokes. I'd say I probably do more down strokes than up strokes.

How do you write your bass parts for your bands?

I don't really have a specific technique but we'll usually work out a song and I'll just play the basic notes to get the idea down. Then after the song is done I'll play it by myself a few times and try to come up with some licks to throw in and spice it up but it all really depends on the song and the writing process of it.

What bass players do you look up to?

Oh man, there are so many. I mean, growing up guys like Matt Freeman from Rancid and Paul Simonon from the Clash were a huge influence on me and still are to this day, but some of my all-time favorite bassists are Simon Gallup from the Cure, Bruce Foxton from the Jam, Nate Mendel from Sunny Day Real Estate, Jason Black from Hot Water Music, and Sergio Vega from Quicksand and Deftones, and the list could go on.

How much do you love Andrew Kline (War Records, Strife, Berthold City, World Be Free)? 

[Laughs] Andrew is the absolute best, he's done so much for this band and has bent over backwards for us for sure. It surprises me how long he's been able to put up with Mikey's shit and dumb ass memes but for some odd reason, he thinks he's funny, We really could not ask for a better guy to work with. 

How is touring for you? Could you do it forever?

I love touring. It's the best part of being in a band. Me, Mikey, and Dan have been best friends for years and as soon as we broke Matt in and found out he could put up with all three of us at the same time, it was a wrap. I could tour forever, 100%. There's honestly nothing better than traveling in a van with your three best homies and being away from all your dumbass responsibilities at home.

Photo: Errick Easterday

What is your current amp, bass, and pedal set up?

Right now, I play a Sterling by Music Man StingRay 34 out of a Sunn Coliseum 300, I really don't use any pedals besides a tuner because the gain on the Sunn is so damn crisp and I have active pickups. I would eventually like to invest in a nice overdrive pedal but i'm a broke bitch, so maybe one day when Andrew Kline makes us famous [laughs].

How has Philly influenced you?

Philly is the greatest city on the planet. Growing up there were so many good bands and punk houses that changed my life, there was this one spot called the fish flat where I spent most of my teenage years going to punk rock shows and getting fucked up [laughs]. They used to sell $1 beers and $5 pre rolled blunts of trash ass weed. They also had a zipline going across the pit with big ass metal bike handle bars attached to it.

One time when Reagan Youth played there, someone flung 'em across the pit and they hit me in the face and knocked me out cold. I miss that shit, punk and hardcore changed a lot, its not dangerous anymore, which is the reason I was drawn to it in the first place. Overall, Philly has an amazing music scene and it's ugly as fuck and smells like shit but thats how we like it!

Are there any bands past/present that you would love to play in?

[Laughs] Yes! I would definitely want to play in Rancid or Deftones or both [laughs]. I'd also like sell out, and play in a huge famous band so I can make mad money and buy a bass pedal that works and never have to pick up a tool again.

What are you up to in your life outside hardcore?
In my private life I'm a union electrician. I watch hockey, and I play with my dog. 

Do you have any musical projects coming up?

I do, but I was just informed that I can not talk about it yet, but I can say it's for sure a super group, and it's gonna be sick!

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

Don't listen to guitar players, they don't know shit. Don't be afraid to go crazy or write bass licks that stand out, and always stay in tune, on beat and keep the rhythm because the bass is the backbone of everything.


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Tagged: bassist spotlight, fixation