Lige Curry has been laying down the deep pocket bass lines for George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic for the past 30 years. Following in the footsteps of such P-Funk bass icons as Rodney “Skeet” Curtis, Cordell “Boogie” Mosson, William “Billy Bass” Nelson and Bootsy Collins, Curry has kept the funk alive and upheld the refrain, “One nation under a groove.”
What have you done in the past year to become a better musician?
What I did the most that I’m still trying to learn how to do is listen. Whether it’s live or in the studio, the key is listening. I pay more attention and remind myself to remember to pay attention. I would be nothing if I didn’t know how to listen. I’ve gotten better not only at hearing what people are playing, but what people are saying.
What do you notice when you hear a recording of yourself from five or 10 years ago?
Five years ago I was playing a lot more tense than I am now. It was due to my hands and arms hurting. What I did was reposition the strap on my bass. Now I play with my plucking hand extended, instead of up like a bow. A lot of bass players play high on their chests or on their stomach so they can dig in. I went the opposite way. Now I don’t have as much pain in my forearm and wrist.
Have you added any gear that has changed your sound or style?
The last addition was a MXR Bass Envelope Filter. I came after Bootsy Collins, so he laid down the law with his Mu-tron III. George Clinton has this thing were he says, “Play it like the record!” I added the Bass Envelope Filter. It’s not a Mu-tron III, but it’s so small and gets so many different tones. Rather than me carry a pedal board, I’d rather take this pedal.
Tell us about your roadie.
I do everything myself. We have a drum tech and a stage manager who can tune guitars. I have two personal guys that I use on my thing who I love to death. George Clinton doesn’t have the kind of shows that require a lot of tech stuff going on. I like changing my own strings.
Do you have a mentor?
Larry Graham and rock cats like Chris Squire. I was a big fan of Ray Brown; he use to play on The Merv Griffin Show. Within my own camp I was a huge fan of all the bass players that I got a chance to follow—also Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius. The bass player who inspired me the most was Jermaine Jackson.
What is your most underappreciated quality?
My songwriting, but that’s getting ready to change.
What’s your worst onstage mishap?
If the bass goes out at anytime, it’s critical. It’s like the bottom falling out. Everybody turns around and looks at you. At one show, it must have taken 20 or 30 minutes for the techs to repair my amp. It was the most embarrassing thing in my life. They ended up having to get a whole other rig.
Tell us about your gear endorsements.
I use Reunion Blues for gig bags and I love those people. I’ve had an endorsement with Mesa Boogie for about seven years now. If Paul McCartney can have a Mesa Boogie amp, then Lige Curry can have one. I really admire the company and the representatives at Mesa Boogie. I’ve been buying D’Addario strings since I was a kid, and I use them to this day. I’m happy