Adam Cripps is a “leet” bass player. Best known as the bass player and the “C” of CHS, Cripps can lay down a furious heavy-metal bass line, drive a classic rock song like Foxy Lady or accompany Yukon Jack’s Clint Carpenter.
But metal is his true love, in an almost geek-like sense (explaining the “leet” version of “elite” in the first paragraph). He proudly shows me his T-shirt, depicting logos for heavy metals such as cobalt, lead and strontium.
“It was Metallica that inspired me to take up the bass,” he tells me, sipping beer at Flipper’s Pub. “I’ve always been into heavy metal, like AC/DC. The songs are great for playing bass; they’re the simplest, but the funnest to play.
“The majority of my bass lines I learned from Metallica ones.
“I play a five-string bass because Fieldy, from Korn, plays one. He has this very original bass sound that hits really low notes. And I like the pictures of his bass with that huge string on there.
After paying his rock-and-roll dues in a Black Sabbath cover band, Cripps met Roxx Hunter and Mike Settle (the “H” and “S” of CHS) and joined 867. “That was a fun rock band with a great girl vocalist, Cara Benn. Most of the time we were actually learning our songs onstage, with Rob telling us, ‘Go from A to the B to the C, OK.’
“Then we started CHS, with me, Rob and Settle. We were officially formed 06-06-06 and we have paperwork for it, too. There wasn’t any real satanic talk about the date,” he reassures me. “We just wanted to mark the date with something special.
“The Capital gave us two or three months worth of gigs. We honed our chops there. We picked up Mike Barr when we opened for Trooper.”
A skilled bass player is much in demand and Cripps has a couple of side projects in addition to CHS. “I’ve signed on with Nemesis for a couple of months worth of gigs this summer. It’s a chance to play out my Metallica dreams.
I’m also working on the Rogen-Cripps Jazz Duo. We’re newly formed. We played at G&P Steakhouse’s grand re-opening on Valentine’s Day. It was pretty awesome, and a complete change, playing jazz.
“It’s a lot harder faking jazz than faking metal.”
Beneath that heavy-metals T-shirt beats the heart of a techno-geek. He plugs his bass into a wireless guitar system. “It’s still new,” he admits of his new toy. “I like being able to not worry about chords getting tangled and falling out. I really like the freedom of it.
“It’s like being a kid with a toy guitar, running anywhere in the house, playing it. It’s awesome.”
Not just in demand, Cripps is inspiring. “When we played Moonstroke, in December, I heard afterwards that I inspired two people to take up bass. It’s good to have more people on the low end.
“The world needs more bass players.”
“You should end with a bass joke,” he tells me as we finish up the interview: “How many bass players does it take to change a lightbulb? None … you get the keyboard player to do it with his left hand.”