Interview: Level 42 Bassist Mark King Talks Tone and Sweet Mingers

Mark King on tone, technique and the future of music   09-Jun-13

When you're playing on big stages night in night out, in different spaces with varying acoustics, how much of a struggle is it to get a consistent sound each night and to get into the groove? Have you ever found in certain venues that you just struggled to get the right vibe?

"Venue sound can be a nightmare for sure, and to make gigs as sonically consistent as possible I like to use the same sound guys wherever possible. Mark Jowitt has been doing our monitors for twelve years or so now, so he knows what all the guys in the band will want to be hearing, but even then you are up against it if the hall is throwing it all back at you, and it takes a cool head not to turn everything up to try and hear yourself as ultimately that just compounds the problem because the tech on front of house sound turns up too.

"But all is not lost and IEM's ( in ear monitors ) solve a lot of the problems, and are so much better these days and I would recommend any musician invest in a good quality set of custom IEM's. I use Ultimate Ears UE7a's and they are amazing."


You're widely considered as the one of Kings (excuse the pun) of slap, and you have been for decades now. With such a reputation, is there a pressure to spend a lot of time practicing technique and focusing on the technical part of playing?

"[Laughs at my awful pun], thank you. Unfortunately I have never been one to practice as such, though I admire the guys that do, but whenever the band get together and we fire up there is always this exciting vibe of exploration, and some great ideas and riffs just come pouring out, which I don't think would happen if I was to sit with the bass on my own everyday. No, I definitely like bouncing off of the drums at soundcheck, and Mike Lindup is always there on rhodes too!"

Mark King in 1986, by Nancy Price

Mark King in 1986, photo by Nancy J. Price


You were influenced by some of the funk bass legends of the 70s, when you do your masterclasses or when you meet young bass players at gigs, do you get the feeling that the funk legacy in the UK is in good shape for the next decade?

"I think music in general is in good hands today, and I'm really excited by so many of the current crop of artists that I'm hearing on BBC 6 Music, bands like Field Music, Dutch Uncles,Everything Everything, Starting Block, James Blake, the list goes on, and though they aren't purely funk of course, the point is that they have been inspired by it at some point and there it is in the music. That's why music is such an amazing thing, it is constantly evolving."


Finally, thanks for talking to us, here's a standard SonicState question, if you could choose a combination of one amp, one pedal, and one bass to play through for the rest of your life, what would it be?

"My pleasure, thank you! Um... TC Blacksmith, TC Flashback, and the Kingbass Paramatrix. Simples."

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