If you were to ask most musicians of a modern popular music ensemble, who the secret weapon of their band is, they’ll reply the Bassist. Often the recipient of the least attention, this musician has perhaps the most responsibility of all. They’re considered a member of the rhythm section (time & groove) but can completely change the sound of what the melodic instruments and vocalist are doing by what they choose play. Though possessing immense technical proficiency, they’re often tasked with creating the most minimalistic and yet creative way to approach the music through their instrument. This is a precise description of Bassist Alfie Lucero Canaan. Though this Bass master is at ease in nearly any genre or musical setting, he’s found himself enlisted by a number of bands in popular music. Playing legendary stages, sharing the bill with timeless groups, and working with award-winning artists, Canaan confirms that he’s more than happy to be the unsung hero in a band rocking out on stage to a mammoth audience.
As a member of Coat Check Girl (whose name is a reference to the NBC comedy How I Met Your Mother), Alfie worked with Latin Grammy winning producer Rudy Pagliuca on the band’s EP release. Along with fellow members Andre Rodriguez (lead vocals/rhythm guitar/musical director), Toby Harman (Drums), and Nate Rich (Guitar & Vocals), Canaan has been a key part of the group’s escalating notoriety in the modern music scene. Their riveting appearances at the Van’s Battle of the Bands competition led to appearances at LA “happenings” such as Lucky Strike Live and others. Word of the band’s feverish performances of songs like “Audience of None” and “Awake” attracted large audiences and industry executives. Additionally, peers like Latin American Idol winner Mayre Martinez reached out to Coat Check Girl to collaborate and record, vetting them as the “hot band” on the scene. While he confirms that the excitement of live performing is intoxicating, Alfie notes that there is a special meaning for him in recording original music with the likes of Rudy Pagliuca at the helm. He relates, “Rudy was a delight to work with and his contribution to the project makes me forever grateful for his interest and expertise. He was very open to experimentation just for the sake of trying different ideas; harmonics, bends, slides, unusual phrases, etc. There’s something special about getting a part and a song exactly the way that you feel it should be; knowing that it will live on that way.”
Equally artistic and exceptional but immensely different is the band All Follows Eve, which also sees Alfie holding down the low end. A blend of varied styles and sounds filtered through a pop/radio friendly aesthetic, All Follows Eve might best be described as a cinematic combination of metal, jazz-fusion, and progressive rock. This concoction demands a drastically different approach as a bass player. The omniscient nature of his playing in the group is inconspicuous…as the music demands. Canaan describes, “I can’t have an ego about it, the music requires the most sensible performance. Since I’m playing to a click with drum sequences and the occasional synth bass track, I have to consolidate my bass lines into a more rigid supportive role. I play to enhance the music not to add or embellish it. That’s not to say that it isn’t creative; rather, it forces myself to be more creative and consistent within those limitations. Simple and pragmatic choices have to be made; which tone to use, where to play in the neck of the instrument, to double a distorted section with clean bass, to use dense bass chords and double stops to fill in the sound, etc. There are far more musical possibilities available if you’re willing to try things that will benefit the music and not the player.” Performing in venues like Pasadena’s The Rose with its 1,300 capacity, alongside Grammy Nominated bands like Oingo Boingo and War has cemented All Follows Eve as one of THE LA musical acts.
Every great musician builds upon the legacy of the past while contributing their own uniqueness. Alfie’s affinity for iconic bass parts in popular music is evident in his work with Scenic Underground, the band founded by guitarist/lead vocalist Joel Herr. Canaan’s approach in the group clearly displays the influence of Motown legend James Jamerson and The Beatle’s Sir Paul McCartney. Though disparate in their musical personality, elements of each can be found in the parts Alfie creates that are intrinsic to the identity of Scenic Underground. Bass guitar can be a much too often overlooked element of the sound in both song and band. Canaan describes a qualitative rather than quantitative perspective stating, “I benefit greatly from being able to gravitate to either side of that same musical realm. If the music is improvisational in nature, then I’ll play the heck out of the music with my own voice and vision. If the music requires me to play simple or not at all, then by all means, it is for the benefit of the music.”