Jared Smith is the bass player for Canadian tech-death all-stars; Archspire!
#1 – Which came first; the guitar or the bass for you? Further, which guitarists and bass players have influenced you the most over the years?
I’ve been playing guitar much longer than bass. I first picked up a guitar when I was 14 and became obsessed immediately. The guitarists that really got me stoked when I was young were Stevie Ray Vaughn, Steve Vai and Marty Friedman. I discovered Guthrie Govan when I was in college and he was another important influence.
As far as bass goes, I began playing shortly before I auditioned for Archspire. My biggest influences on the low end are Erlend Caspersen, Colin Marston, Forest Lapointe, and Evan Brewer. They each have a super unique approach to playing bass in metal and I try to combine elements of each when I write my own parts.
#2 – How did you end up joining Archspire in 2016? I met the Archspire guys around Vancouver playing shows.
My old band opened for them a couple times, so we got to know each other initially through that. When my band broke up, Dean asked me to audition for bass. I had never played before but when you get an opportunity to do something big, say yes. I tuned my guitar in 4ths like a 6 string bass and learned a couple of their songs. I figured it was possible to pull it off so I rented a bass. Adjusting to the new size of the instrument took some time.
#3 – As a Darkglass Electronics artist, what are your thoughts on the Neural DSP Darkglass Ultra plugin?
It’s a fantastic plugin. Very true to the sound of the pedal and within a few minutes I had a sound I was happy with. I also really enjoy running my Darkglass X7 pedal into the plugin with the B7K bypassed just for the flexibility of the cab sim stage.
#4 – Have you tried any other bass amp sims that you’ve enjoyed and with your experience on the guitar, can you cast your vote for any guitar aimed plugins?
I’ve tried Positive Grid for guitar and it’s pretty good, but anything I’ve tried from Neural DSP has the most natural feel and sound.
#5 – When we interviewed Archspire guitarists Tobi Morelli and Dean Lamb (HERE) they spoke about their ultra-compact touring rigs. What gear do you use to help anchor the low end of Archspire?
I’m always experimenting with new setups. It drives my band crazy. What I tend to use when we fly is a Tone Match of a Darkglass B7K and X7 in my Axe fx so that I am able to use effects and trigger scene changes via MIDI. I run that into the front of my Darkglass M900 V2 amp and it sounds pretty darn nice. I prefer the simplicity of pedals but when we’re flying it’s easier to keep everything in a rack.
#6 – On the spot, no time to think, three of your favorite recorded bass tones and if you don’t mind, the same question for guitar tones…
Here’s two of each Bass Spawn of Possession – Incurso I already mentioned Erlend Caspersen as one of my influences. Unbelievable player and always has great tone. I really loved his bass tone on ‘Intransigence’ by Abhorrent as well. Super bright, but retaining thick punishing lows. Gorguts – Colored Sands Colin Marston’s bass tone and creativity is always great on any project he’s involved in.
Guitar Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction. The rhythm guitar tones on this album are so crushing. Dave Otero is a brilliant producer and has a great ear for tone and really created something special with this. The mix on this album was a big reason why we chose to record ‘Relentless Mutation’ with him. Tool – 10,000 Days, the guitar and bass tone on this album always blows me away. Their set at Hellfest this year was amazing. The bass tone live was perfect. So clear, but never in the way. Goals.
#7 – What was the last plateau you hit as a player and how did you overcome it?
Playing music always has its ups and downs. Sometimes you feel invincible, and other times it feels like nothing you play is any good. It can be tough feeling like you’ve plateaued or stuck in a rut. I try to find a new project for myself to work on when I feel like that. Whether that’s writing something, learning a new technique or lifting a song.
It’s also fun to check out different styles of music to shake things up. Ill learn some funk or R&B to try some completely different approaches to the instrument than I’d normally write. Find inspiration through different styles of music and bring that to your own writing to create a unique sound.
#8 – Performing tech-death live is not by any means an easy task. How do you stay razor sharp night after night when a bad sounding room can seriously impact a set?
We have a great IEM system we use live. We use an X32 Rack as a mixer and Sennheiser transmitters. Pair that with my custom moulded A8 monitors by 64 Audio, and I never have an issue with my personal mix live.
#9 – Whether on stage or on a recording, playing anything hectic while using high gain can get real messy real fast if the tones aren’t aligned. How do Tobi, Dean and yourself work together to ensure everything is dialed in to compliment each other?
Tobi has a really nice Mid Range in his guitar tone and Dean scoops a bit more, so they complement each other very nicely. I like using multi-band distortion for my bass tone, but I try to run it so its not overly saturated. I dial it so I can have a clean sound if I back off my right hand a bit. It’s fun to play with lots of distortion on your bass, but in this genre the clarity of your parts get lost if you run the gain too high.
#10 – What about in the studio, is it the same as the live rig or do you prefer something else when sitting down to track an album?
We tracked everything using my B7K Ultra. Otero kept a clean DI and whatever he did from there is his secret. I like to find a tone that I’m comfortable playing on, and as long as we keep a clean DI we can re-amp down the road and create whatever we like.
#11 – The entire band’s performance on the band’s most recent album, “Relentless Mutation” (Season of Mist) was nothing short of remarkable. Did you feel a lot of pressure going into the recording of that album and do you think your performance on the next album will be different having had a lot more time to adjust?
I definitely felt like I had big shoes to fill stepping into this band. The previous bassist used a fretless so I expected to get some grief for using frets. I felt like I had to really step things up in other ways. I was super focused when we were writing and I felt good recording and with the finished product.
I hope that on the next one I can 1-up my performance on ‘Relentless’ and continue to push myself. The challenge now is switching from ‘tour mode’ back into ‘creative mode’. It can be hard to get back into that headspace.
#12 – Staying on the topic of the new album, are there any details you can share regarding the next Archspire release?
Not much to share yet, but we have begun writing and once we’re home from our European shows this summer writing will be our main focus.
#13 – You guys have been touring seemingly non-stop since the release of “Relentless mutation”, what does the next year or so have in store for Archspire and your fans?
It’s been a crazy couple years! We have a few shows here and there for the last half of 2019 that we’re all really excited to announce, but ‘Relentless Mutation’ came out two years ago in September, so the tour cycle is coming to its end and we’ll mostly be writing for the next year so we can record sometime in 2020.
Jared and every other member of Archspire perform on a level together that few bands ever get to. Whether tech-death is your “thing” or not, the precision and next level musicianship cannot be denied. The drive and work ethic Archspire put into every note they play and every mile they drive shows their passion for their craft. We will hope to talk to Jared again!! Check out everything Archspire and their label, Season of Mist have to offer!