Photo credit: Chris Rowe
Pink, Cher and Moby are just some of the artists superstar bassist Eva Gardner has played with thus far in her career. I first saw the Los Angeles native play bass on Pink’s DVD Funhouse tour that came out a couple of years ago. I then saw her play on several television shows and became captivated with her effortlessly cool playing style. Eva not only shreds bass but also looks great while doing so. Recently, she has also been writing a lot of songs on her own and hopes to release her own record in the near future. I’m extremely honored she agreed to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her career and style. Here are my 5 Questions With Eva Gardner:
1) When did you start playing bass? What drew you to this instrument?
My father, Kim Gardner, was a bass player. He was from London and part of the British Invasion of the 60s and 70s. He played in bands like The Birds, The Creation and Ashton, Gardner & Dyke. Dad always had his musician friends over at the house when I was growing up – guys like Mick Taylor and Ron Wood hanging out, playing music, laughing and just having a blast. Dad was always telling me stories about his adventures touring as a musician – playing with bands like the Who and Deep Purple…sitting in on jam sessions with Jimi Hendrix. I remember calling myself a bass player before I even really knew what that meant. When I was in 2nd grade I sat in my Dad’s studio with some school friends and told them I was a bass player like Dad. I went to lift one of his basses and it was so heavy I think I just kinda dragged it along the floor! It wasn’t until I was about 12 that I really actively pursued playing. I was writing songs and performing shows with my first band by the age of 13.
2) Can you talk to us about your style evolution from your teens until now? How would you describe your style today?
Dad and his friends essentially got me started playing bass so I was very influenced by the music of his generation – Jimi Hendrix, the Kinks, Led Zeppelin, etc. As a teenager in the 90s, I was listening to bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins. So my musical experiences at that time had been mostly in the rock/alternative genre.
After 2 years at an all-girl Catholic high school, I decided I wanted to take my music career further. I auditioned for the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) and it was the best decision I ever made. I became part of the jazz band there and had many live performances in a big band setting. I was exposed to and playing various genres like Latin jazz, salsa, blues, progressive rock, reggae and African percussion. We studied different types of Classical music and performed pieces in our guitar ensemble. It was an unparalleled experience.
After LACHSA, I went on to study Ethnomusicology at UCLA. I continued formal music courses but was playing different instruments in world music ensembles – for instance, I was playing Balinese music in the Balinese gamelan and playing upright bass in the Middle Eastern orchestra. As an Ethnomusicology major I was exposed to so many different kinds of music from around the globe.
I was playing with the Mars Volta while I was finishing up college and it was such an amazingly creative time for me. It was like I had learned all these rules in school and now it was time to break them or use them or whatever I felt I needed to do to express myself. I like to look at everything I’ve learned in school and on the road as tools in my toolbox – to use if and when I need them. I am grateful that I have had all these various experiences because I believe they turned me into a well-rounded musician.
3) How do you pick out your clothes for tour and stage? What are your tour must-haves?
When touring for artists like Pink and Cher there are usually stage attire requirements for the musicians such as wear all black But normally it’s not a uniform so there are opportunities to express your unique style. Luckily, living in LA allows for some great store options. I often go to vintage shops like Jet Rag and Wasteland. Sometimes if I’m out and about and see something that may be great for stage at some point I’ll grab it – shows/tours sometimes come up last minute and there’s no time to shop so it’s nice to have options at hand. Being comfortable on stage is important so I love having the freedom to put together my own outfits.
Some tour must-haves would definitely include sock slippers like Muk Luks for the tour bus. We usually travel to the next city right after a show so I love getting comfy for the ride. Lip balm is essential – Flora Metaphor has some awesome natural products. I keep my V-Moda headphones handy at all times as well. It’s the little things that go a long way on the road.
4) In addition to playing with some of the world’s biggest artists (Cher, Pink, Moby), you also have your own band called Telstar. How do both of these aspects of your career feed your creativity and help you grow as an artist?
I’ve been so fortunate to work with some truly incredible artists. And I have been blessed to share the stage with some of the world’s most talented musicians. I learn so much from these experiences, spending time on the road with some serious tour veterans – people that had even worked with my Dad back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. When I have a break from the road it’s a great time for creative projects. Telstar was formed a few years ago. We do everything ourselves – Chris Unck (vox/guitar) is also a fantastic engineer/producer. So we record everything on our own, do all of our own artwork, etc. It’s a lot of fun, and brings you back to why you started playing music in the first place.
5) What are some of your favorite moments thus far in your career?
I have had so many incredible moments in my career. I have worked with some amazing people, been to some incredible places and created relationships with people that will last a lifetime. One of the things I am most proud of is having a signature bass with Fender. Fender had always been a household name for the Gardner Family. So to now have a Fender with my name on it is absolutely huge for me! It’s a combination of all my favorite basses that I’ve played. And to make it personal I added some of my tattoo artwork on it. You can check it out here: