Lorin Ashton’s transformation into Bassnectar the DJ began when he was a teen. “Being 16 and playing guitar in my death-metal band was an amazing way to learn the ins and outs of harnessing energy live,” says Ashton. At present, that translates into an orgy of bass-and-drum tracks at serious amplitude (earplugs are advised) in an electronic mix of dubstep, emo, hip-hop, and sampled riffs from heavy metal. Which pushed him harder as an artist, playing bass guitar or being a DJ? Neither, it turns out. “I dive in head first, and it feels completely natural.” A festival favorite, Bassnectar prefers headlining his own events. “I get to play for two hours or more, and the crowd is there to take a trip. We go on a journey together. Usually there are several hundred people who are traveling along for the ride from city to city, so it becomes an immersive experience.”
Since 2001’s Freakbeat for the Beatfreaks, there has been a Bassnectar CD release almost every year, up to 2011’s Divergent Spectrum. Add to that 4 EPs, 21 singles, 8 podcasts, and prodigious social networking (over 591,000 people “like” him on Facebook), and it’s been a busy decade of touring and producing for the Santa Cruz raver who took his name from a bumper sticker: Butterfly Beings Drink Bassnectar.
When I ask if fans have ever complained about his habit of taking the mic and talking politics mid concert, he says, “I don’t start talking politics or anything, but I am a free-thinking person, and I am expressive. I like to connect on many levels with people, not just musical. People don’t seem to complain too much at shows because they are busy losing their minds and going completely buck wild.”
BASSNECTAR: Rimac Arena, Saturday, September 10, 7:30 p.m. 858-534-8497. $30.