Eberhard Weber: Positive Pragmatism
Still, while it may seem sad that Weber can no longer play the instrument that has been such a defining part of his life, he has a very clear response: "I'm very, very often asked by people: do I suffer because I can't play anymore. And I have to say, 'No, I don't suffer at all.' I'm not depressed. And I don't need it. My bass is still set up in my studio, and I can touch it, but I haven't touched it, certainly not in the last three years. I don't even look at it. I don't need it. It's the past for me."
Fortunately, for Weber, he's been as skilful a composer as he has been a player. Still, with performance now a thing of the past, for Weber to continue in music, there was a rather significant problem. "When I realized I couldn't play bass anymore, Maja said to become a composer because people seemed to like my compositions. Then I analyzed my compositions, and I realized that whenever I wrote, it was always together with my bass. In other words, the sound of my bass is always very important. So suddenly, I realized I can't play bass anymore, and to be just a composer or an arranger, I really couldn't compete with all these young guys, who are so capable of doing everything. I realized I needed my bass, and so the question then was what to do."
Fortunately, Weber had already been considering something that would now prove serendipitous. "Before I did my album Pendulum (ECM, 1993), I was somehow afraid that I wouldn't have enough material for it because I didn't have a solo program yet to go on tour. It wasn't finished yet, and I thought that I had to do something to find out if I had enough ideas to make a record.
"So I asked Jan [Garbarek]'s sound engineer because he's a maniac. He used to record everything for himself on a DAT recorder. He recorded all the concerts for private reasons only; he didn't sell anything. He just wanted to have everything for himself. So I said to him, since I play all of these solo interludes between songssometimes five, six, seven, nine, twelve minutes'Could you please cut them out for me and let me listen to what I did?' so I could maybe get some ideas for what to do. As it turned out, I finished Pendulum without them; I did not need all those tapes, and so I put them aside somewhere in a cupboard."
Flash forward nearly two decades, when Weber needed some of his own playing as grist for writing a new record. "And then I thought, I have all these recordings; maybe I could look through them and see if there's something I could use," Weber continues. "And so I started to listen to them. Unfortunately, I discovered that my DAT recorder was broken, and this media's now obsolete; you can't even repair the players anymore. But my brother-in-law still had one, and I asked him to take the DAT tapes and burn them onto CDs, which he did, so then I had all these CDs that I could listen to."