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Bassist Erick Coomes wakes up today in Long Beach and suddenly remembers he has to be in Florida tonight. Such is life when you’re a session-man extraordinaire. Coomes—known industry-wide as “Jesus”—is part of the Wrecking Crew for a post-Wreckin’ Cru generation, contributing live bass to chart-busting hip-hop songs by Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, the Game, Nas, Nate Dogg and even Britney Spears, in between albums by his own jazz-funk band, Lettuce. (Just this morning, he learned that one of his tracks was used during the end credits of Entourage.)
Why does everyone else call you “Jesus”?
Everybody’s got their own reason. I’m the personal Jesus to everybody. I’m your Jesus right now! And when I’m in the presence of a beautiful woman, I’m her Jesus!
What’s the first step to playing bass on a Britney Spears track?
Hanging out with the producer Fredwreck. He’s a cool cat, and he’d done a bunch of tracks I really liked. We started chilling, and one day, we made a Britney Spears joint. I was like, “Ah, Britney Spears?” Because we normally make the most gangsta beats of all time. Real thugged-out music! But okay, Britney, I can do that!
How did learning bass by listening to Premier and Dre beats affect the way you play now?
A great deal. It shaped me into an extremely pocket-oriented player. Feel first. When I started listening to hip-hop when I was 12 or so, I really respected it as music. I was too young to go, “This isn’t music!” I was like, “That’s dope!” I learned it as a real thing. When I picked up “Sally Got a One Track Mind” by Diamond D, I was like, “This stuff is really legit!” But I always had a lot of respect for every music. Even whack music.
What’s the whackest music you like?
I like everything! It gets pretty whack, dude. But I’ll leave it in my car until I get something good out of it.
What’s on Nate Dogg’s mind when you’re writing a song together?
Nate Dogg is one of the baddest cats ever. He is a legend. Usually they go in and smoke a bunch of dope and have fine women all over the studio drinking cognac. I’m not kidding you! When we made “Get Up” with Nate Dogg and Eve—that was a ridiculous session!—we had, like, 20 girls in the studio rolling joints and smoking ’em. I was like, “Wow, this is exactly what I thought it would be like.”
The dream made real.
It’s really cool. My life is exactly what you think my life is like! I think to myself, “People don’t know exactly how hard I’m raging!”
What’s the most important thing you try to bring to a track?
I try to keep the heartbeat of the record. I try to bring all the pieces together. And I try never to front. I wanna bring the best I can even if it’s a session I know beforehand I might not like. Because the thing is—I still like it! You get into the track. I try to bring a positive vibe. Ego just ruins everything so bad. Looking at an artist and figuring out what they need to be successful is fun to me.
Have you ever heard someone sample something you played?
No, I would love to, though. I do forget sessions I played on. That happened with Kanye West’s “All Falls Down.” One of his big singles, and I didn’t know. My friends were telling me, “That sounds like you!” but they were just guessing. And I’d say, “Nah, that’s just some dude killing it.”
What album would you most like to replace the bass lines on?
Once an album is out, you can’t do that. I can’t think like that! I don’t critique music—I turn it on and have fun. Music, I think, is made to make girls move and have a good time. Music creates unity. People are supposed to be moving together. That’s the main reason I go to work every day.
Visit Erick Coomes at www.myspace.com/erickbass. Lettuce’s Rage! is out now on Velour.