“It’s funny,” says Issues bassist Skyler Acord, “I kind of black out when I play. I’ll watch footage of me playing, and swear I don’t remember doing a 540 and landing on the ground. It’s a full-blown workout!”
If you’ve seen Issues, Acord’s Los Angeles-based metalcore band, the idea of the bassist performing this kind of James-Brown-on-speed manoeuvre on stage will make perfect sense. He’s just as inspired by old-school funk and R&B as he is by metal – a combination which makes for a pretty energised live performance, by any standards.
“Being able to lose myself in music is something that I’m really grateful for,” explains Acord, who studied jazz at college in Seattle before moving to California. “It’s all the same notes – so all anybody can do is combine those notes in a way that hasn’t been done before. In this band, we’re so diverse in our tastes, all we have to do is be open to each other – and then it just sounds crazy!”
As a kid, Acord honed his bass chops by emulating his idols – as he says, “a huge hero of mine is Ryan Martinie from Mudvayne, one of the early adopters of slap in heavy music” – and mixing up his styles for as wide a palette of influences as possible. “I was trying to play [technical death metal by] Necrophagist, as well as lots of soul. Believe me, I listened to a lot of alligator-shoes R&B stuff...”
This might sound like an unorthodox recipe for success, but it’s paying off, with Issues – Acord plus Tyler Carter (vocals), AJ Rebollo (guitar) and Josh Manuel (drums) – making rapid strides to the top. The quartet scooped the Alternative Press P Music Award for Artist of the Year in 2015, and have levelled crowds from London to Japan in support of Bring Me The Horizon and One OK Rock.
Acord also records sessions and produces hip-hop and dance music artists. Bass is a crucial part of his approach in all cases, which brings us to his beautiful new signature Spector. With a flame top, violet stain finish and green inlays, the Skyler Acord model has alder body wings balanced with a figured maple top for tonal balance. It’s a through-neck instrument, with a two-octave rosewood fingerboard, custom-wound Bartolini humbuckers – and a secret weapon under the hood in the form of Spector’s active TonePump circuit.
It comes as little surprise when Acord reveals that the inspiration for his bass is another tone monster – Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse, himself the long-term player of a signature Spector.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Spectors forever, especially because of the Alex Webster signature,” explains Acord. “Mine has the thinner neck from Alex’s bass that I was a big fan of, but also it has these dope Bartolini pickups and the Spector TonePump. That gives me this round bottom end, but also a really aggressive top end, when I want it. I ask a lot out of it, for sure.”
Acord may demand serious performance from his bass, but it gives it right back without complaining, he adds. “I do a lot of sessions, both R&B and metal, and this bass can do both. All I use is some compression and the tiniest bit of distortion. I’m, really picky with my midrange – I don’t like it too clanky.”
So will the bass-playing public flock to see Acord and his Spector in action? He chuckles, “I looked online and all these people were saying, ‘Who the hell is this guy? Why does he get a signature Spector?’ Ha ha!”
It’s only a matter of time, we promise.