Blasting out the Chicago area in 2022, Space Age Zeroes is a five piece comprised of Chicago veterans from Naked Raygun, The Bomb, The Bollweevils, and others. The band released their pop punk debut 4-song EP BLAST OFF last year. Rounding out the rhythm on bass guitar for them is Jason Baygood.
We recently had a chance to talk to Jason about his playing, his influences, his gear, his thoughts on Chicago, and more!
What first got you interested in playing music and joining a band?
I have been fanatic about music as long as I can remember. My older brother would play Kiss and Cheap Trick nonstop. Got into hard rock and then what evolved into metal and thrash eventually. The crossover movement of the late 80s turned me onto the underground punk and hardcore scene. Seeing bands play on a smaller scale is what made me realize it was something I can do and wanted to do.
Why did you start playing bass specifically? Why not guitar? Or drums? Or the French horn?
Too funny. I actually played the baritone horn in the school band. That is a bass clef instrument. Right or wrong, when I had an interest in guitar my thought went to “well, I already know the bass clef so let’s try bass.”
My first bass was a pawn shop knock off that I got from a friend. My earliest memories of playing bass is playing along incessantly to the Ramones Mania CD. That is where I learned more about playing guitar better in both rhythm and timing. Prior to that I would just either play guitar or bass as fast as I could.
Who are some of your musical influences? Both in bass playing and in songwriting?
I feel that bass playing doesn’t have to be as fancy as Flea but also doesn’t have to be as carbon copy as being simply a second rhythm guitar. Going back to my previous comment, it was the Ramones Mania CD where I cut my teeth. Therefore I cannot deny Dee Dee as an influence. When playing true rhythm on bass, I do prefer to downstroke my picking. I like to incorporate a lot of upper octave notes to accentuate the sound. That comes from bassists such as Steve Youth from 7 Seconds and Karl Alvarez from Descendents/ALL.
What sort of gear are you currently using? Do you have a favorite piece of gear?
I know this may make some players cringe but I am a Squier enthusiast. I don’t think there is a better bang for your buck. Over the years I have owned Rickenbackers and Fender American Standards. They were all great but Squier keeps improving their quality in both body and electronics. I currently own three.
For live, I switch between a Classic Vibe Jaguar that has PJ configuration as well as a Classic Vibe Precision Bass. My rig is a Gallien-Krueger Backline 600 head with two separate 2 x 10” cabinets.
What sort of practice routine do you follow, if any?
My practice routine is pretty simple. For the most part I will play our most recently written songs as they need the most work and I want to keep them fresh. I am not extremely technical in my routine where I am running scales or anything. I usually will continue to build on some song ideas I have been working on.
As a bass player, what do you think your role is in any given band?
Keep a solid rhythm and to add some color and flair where needed. Not every song requires an upper octave bass run just for the heck of it. Aside from the basslines played, I add my thoughts and opinions on any song being worked. I have come up with the main melody of a couple songs but mostly leave that to others.
Where do you stand on the pick versus fingers debate?
That is a great question. When I was younger I used to alternate. I simply do not have the speed nor control required to finger pick anymore. Heavy or Extra Heavy picks for me these days. As I mentioned above, I have adopted the downstroke pick technique when playing a true rhythm bassline.
Are you involved with the songwriting with Space Age Zeroes?
Yes, definitely. I am not a primary songwriter but do add my opinion on the patterning of songs. For example, how many lines to include in a verse vs chorus versus bridge. Everyone in this band is open to others ideas which is great. No song worked on has ever been beyond suggestion for an additional idea.
Have you ever been involved with any other musical projects other than Space Age Zeroes?
Yes. I have been in various punk and metal bands over the years. My first serious bands who actually recorded and played live originated when I was living in downstate Illinois for college in the mid to late 90s. Civic was the first and was more of an emo/indie rock band.
The second was The TuPacs who were more of a straight forward tongue in cheek punk band. After college I formed Urban Idols back in Chicago. We played for a few years releasing one single and various compilation tracks. Members of that band went on to bigger and better things. I took many years off from playing due to marriage and starting a family.
Eventually I had an opportunity to join a metal cover band. I was not keen on doing covers but it was a great way for me to get my feet wet in playing again without the pressure of song writing. This lead to forming an original band called Ancient Dreams. Ancient Dreams played a lot of shows and recorded two demos. After that band broke up I took a few years off from playing as I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to do.
I reconnected with Space Age Zeros vocalist Nathan after many years. We had discussed our interest in forming a new band. We reached out to the others in the band and the rest is history as they say.
What sort of things do you enjoy outside of playing music?
Music is a big part of my life and is my biggest hobby. Outside of playing music I am an avid vinyl collector. I am always buying, selling and trading so the amount changes. On average I have about 1000 pieces of vinyl between all formats. I also do record reviews and interviews for Punknews. I am married with three kids so being a family man is always front and center as well.
What are some of your favorite venues in the Chicago area, both as a spectator and as a performer?
We are very lucky for the volume of venues here. I would have to say that Reggie’s Rock Club is at the top of the food chain. We have been fortunate to play both stages. The staff and sound is always top notch. The Beat Kitchen was a great experience as well. Though we haven’t played there yet, the Metro is fantastic.
Speaking of the Chicago area, do you have any favorite places to eat?
I will answer this with what might be obvious to some who have been here, but mandatory for folks who haven’t. For more of a fast food place that specializes in all things “Chicago,” the Portillo’s chain is a must. Everything there is fantastic. From burgers to beef and beyond. Everyone has their favorite, but for pizza my go to is Lou Malnati’s.
Are there any places that you would recommend to either someone new to the area or someone just visiting?
Anything near the lake front is great to visit. We have Millennium Park that is a major attraction for the Bean. If you are into baseball, Wrigley Field on the north side is a must. We have great museums as well. For the vinyl junkies, the city has many amazing stores. Bucket O’ Blood, Record Breakers, Tone Deaf, and Reckless are worth your time.
Back to the topic of bass playing, what advice would you give novice bass players that are just starting out?
Just do it! Honestly, just do it. Keep playing and don’t get frustrated. Play along to songs you know well. Also use the internet to your advantage. There are many amazing tutorials out there for lessons or advice on tuning and setting your tone. Don’t get too hung up on the quality of your gear, especially not at first.
Do you prefer playing live or recording?
Definitely playing live. I do love the recording process. Well, more so the outcome after mixing and mastering. The actual recording process can be grueling as you discover a lot in the studio. You hear things that make you go “oh wow, that’s how I was supposed to be playing that part.”
What are some of your favorite albums?
I could go on for days. I will highlight some of my favorites from some of my favorite bands. This list is in no means all-inclusive:
- Screeching Weasel – My Brain Hurts
- 7 Seconds – The Crew
- Naked Raygun – Understand?
- Pegboy – Strong Reaction
- Government Issue – Boycott Stabb
- Sloppy Seconds – Destroyed
What is next for Space Age Zeroes?
We are currently writing for our debut full-length album. We are over half way complete. We are deciding on whether to include a cover and/or a re-recording of a song from our debut EP, Blast Off!, which was released last year. The band has played many shows in a short period of time so we may scale back on that for the time being. The plan is to record late fall with a potential mid 2024 release.