CHANCE WILDER ONODY’S ROMANCE WITH THE BASS KEEPS HIM FEELING GOOD
The greatest gift and curse of being a bass player is assuming the role of the anchor. In an orchestra, they are the thunder that’s felt but rarely seen, the dense, fibrous muscle holding down the structure of the music swirling around them. It’s not an instrument that just anyone can choose, it has to pick you. It has a way of profiling the ones who play it–someone hearty, strong handed, reliable, bold yet sensible, and above all a team player. Of course none of this logic occurred to Chance Wilder Onody as a teen picking up the tall, husky wooden instrument for the first time at Corona Del Mar High School. If joining the orchestra would get him out of signing up for some boring elective that included actual homework, the bass would do just fine.
Originally from Canada, Onody’s family moved to OC for right before he started high school. Enrolling in school late just before the year started, the only electives he could choose were orchestra or introduction to Marine Biology. He noticed the description of the orchestra course said “Strings” so he assumed it meant guitar.
“I went into the music class, talked to the music director and told me it was a common misconception, but he asked if I play cello, viola, violin or bass,” Wilder says. “I said ‘I play the big one in the back, and he looked and me and said oh, you play bass?’” In reality Wilder wasn’t a musician at all, save for some short-lived piano lessons as a kid. However, when he grabbed hold of the instrument, something clicked. His knack for perfect pitch, quick learning by watching the kids next to him and a tall, burly build made him a natural. His size always made him stick out, but in the back of the orchestra he fit right in. “Over time I just fell in love with the instrument completely,” he says.
Little did he know that his relationship with the bass for the next decade would take him places he never imagined–traveling across the world, sharing the stage with ‘70s rock legends, achieving viral YouTube fame and more. The latter came as a result of doing a one-man orchestra cover of “Feeling Good,” first made popular by Nina Simone and later sterilized by Michael Bublé. Onody’s cover comprised of a collage of orchestrated bass parts plucked and bowed on a variety of stand up, electric and acoustic instruments allowed him to show the amount of complexity and range four strings can offer in a classical setting.
Onody stumbled onto the viral video idea came after he’d booked a group of musicians to help him record a full band version of “Feeling Good” with him taking the lead. Unfortunately that idea fell through when all the musicians were hired to go perform at a more lucrative gig on the same day he’d planned to record. “A week or so before the actual recording date, they all got booked on a really cool gig so I ended up being a fish out of water, kinda stuck without anyone to help me,” Onody says.
Realizing that he’d started in classical music being a principal bassist, he took it as a chance to do something he’d never done before. “There’s always beautiful lines going around in the orchestra that we never get to play so for me I looked at it as musical acting, this is my chance to be everyone in the orchestra that I always wanted to be,” Onody says. The videos success (which garnered almost 400,000 views on YouTube) led to a variety of other collage-style videos of his bass playing on other covers and original tunes.
This was only the most recent success Onody experienced as a result of his love for bass. After initially thriving in high school orchestra, the young bassist kept up his playing through school in the midst of signing up for football and playing offensive and defensive line for Corona Del Mar. In between practice on the field and lunch breaks during school, he remembers sneaking off to study his instrument in the music practice rooms. It was in one of those rooms that he was discovered by Albert Wu, director/conductor of the Irvine Young Concert Artists who was visiting the school to recruit teenage players for the touring youth orchestra. He found Onody in a practice room playing Vivaldi Winter on bass. “He immediately offered me a position as a principal player in his orchestra,” Onody says. “What was beautiful about his orchestra is everyone in there got an opportunity to be a soloist and refining that down to the people who were more adept at standing in front and not getting nervous,” says Onody, who became one of the more standard soloist in that group.
The year he joined in 2008, the Irvine Young Concert Artists were selected to perform at the Olympic Games in China. Onody and dozens of his elite local peers were flown to the games and performed for thousands and toured across the continent, starting in Seoul, South Korea. Footage of their trip shows the big, bright-eyed teenage towering over the rest of his colleagues and also taking breaks to enjoy sightseeing at the Great Wall of China.
Despite being a kid, the environment he was thrust into as a musician was serious business. Onody made his debut as a soloist in a concierto with the orchestra alongside the Seoul Philharmonic and I made my concierto debut there when I was 17. “I got used to playing in front of an international audience pretty quickly,” Onody says. “I like being a soloist because I like to make my own rules. When it’s classical music, the audience knows every note you’re supposed to play so the part you get to embellish is during the solo and I can dictate the tempo of the piece and that’s when I really get to experience my sense of freedom.”
It was that early experience that’s helped him keep his cool these days as a studio musician, session player and sideman, working with artists like jazz guitarist Chris Gerolmo, the screenwriter best known for Mississippi Burning and drummer Doane Perry, formerly of Jethro Tull, who Onody performs with on many projects including his own. He’s also a regular at events like NAMM where he performs at booths for his sponsors that include NS Design, Bartolini Pickups, Tsunami Cables and Phil Jones Bass.
Despite all the places the bass has taken him, he’s always glad to be home in OC working on his next creation. Recently he made a video for an original composition, “The Music That Was Us,” that shows him playing each part on bass and keys that culminates into a contemporary classical mosaic of romantic passion. Ok, that might be laying it on a little thick, but seriously, Onody is talented and bares a striking resemblance to Fabio these days with his long hair and piercing gaze when he plays his instrument. One thing that can’t be denied is his the amount of love Onody puts into his craft and the natural high he gets from getting creative with the low end.
“My whole mantra to myself is to push the boundaries or that there are no boundaries approach it by having as much fun as possible,” Onody says. “And whatever tune I have in my head I want to try to recreate it in the real world.”
Fyldeguitars.com Roger Bucknall
Chance Wilder Onody
You might think I spend a huge amount of time on the net, but all I really do is follow links and think of words that might make a connection. This one was near the top when searching "Fylde Guitars" on youtube.
Link to video
The opening section is Chance with his "Sir Toby" bass, and it crops up many times in the rest of the video. Of course, I emailed Chance to find out the story. The bass used to belong to Chris Gerolmo (Mississippi Burning, Over there, The Bridge etc), who has featured here before.
"The Fylde acoustic bass is actually what I composed the majority of "The Music That Was Us" on.
What I like most about the bass is that it has the best tone that I have not found in any other acoustic bass guitar and an even more beautiful tone as an acoustic piccolo bass guitar. It is definitely treasured."
The teaser video for Chance's previous recording "Feeling Good" had over a million hits.
Chance has an amazing bio read it here.
I do seem to have a lot of bass players among my customers, I like bass. Roger Bucknall
In The Press
Exclusive video interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
July 16, 2018
Bass maestro speaks about an upcoming album and Olympic cultural exchange
By David Sands
Chance Wilder Onody isn’t afraid of shaking things up in the bass world. Equally skilled with the upright and electric bass, the virtuoso bassist is known for using an assortment of basses to achieve a orchestral effect with his music. His version of the jazz classic “Feeling good” features nineteen separate bass performances, for example. And his song “Crimson Wings” (which also features an appearance by Jethro Tull’s Doane Perry on drums) created a symphonic rock sound with a staggering 64 bass performances.
The son of country pop artist Tara Wilder, Onody began his career as a classical artist and has performed around the world with more than 21 symphonies and orchestras over the course of his career. More recently, he’s developed a reputation as an in-demand studio artist, appearing on more than 134 commercially released recordings in the U.S. in the last five years alone. In addition to his solo career, Onody also plays with the rock group chris gerolmo and g.o.d.
FBPO’s Jon Liebman caught up with his longtime friend Onody during the 2018 NAMM show, where the two of them discussed gear, a new album and plans for a cultural exchange tied to the 2020 olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Watch our interview with Chance!
In The Press
Chance Wilder Onody Releases Jaw-Dropping EP "Dream"
March 1, 2016 Jonathan Moody
While many bassists aspire to be a band leader of their own project, Chance Wilder Onody has bigger aspirations. With the release of his EP, Dream, Onody uses only five basses to become an entire symphonic orchestra.
Dream features “Crimson Wings,” the extraordinary follow up to Onody’s successful and ground breaking rendition of “Feeling Good,” (also on the EP), which made its way across the USA and around the world to rave reviews.
Onody has done it again with “Crimson Wings,” changing the perception of what a bass can do. The new single is a high energy rock symphony performed solely on bass by Onody, with incredible drum and percussion performances by Doane Perry. Listening to the track, it’s incredibly hard to sit back and realize that this is just two musicians. It takes a special kind of artist to transcend what their instrument is capable of (or, what decades of players would tell you the instrument is capable of) and reinvent it in such a manner. Whether he’s using his Warrior electric bass, or one of the many NS Design electric-upright basses, it’s clear that Onody’s vision is much farther reaching than what the instrument can or cannot do.
As the press release states, “First, enjoy the experience of the music, then remind yourself that this is not an entire orchestra with strings and horns; it is just one man on bass. It is not a rock band with blazing guitars; it is one musician, joined by a great drummer to create a dynamic and memorable recording. Then it sinks in; the true scope and genius of what this young musician has achieved.”
I’ve been a friend and fan of Chance’s for a couple of years now, and to say that even I was amazed by this recording is saying something; if you’ve seen him perform either at Bass Player LIVE! or at NAMM, you know that he’s the real deal. But just the sheer scope of this recording alone is mind-boggling. The entire score was arranged from the bottom up, starting with a driving bass line (as it should be…!). Everything was taken into consideration.
Visit www.chancewilderonody.com to order your copy of this impressive EP, or find the links to download it from your preferred online music resource. You’ll be glad you did.
Chance Wilder Onody Exclusive Video Interview
with FBO's Jon Liebman February 10, 2016
Hotshot prodigy brings us up to date on his elaborate approach to music making and ambitious new CD release
Chance Wilder Onody is a master of electric and acoustic bass, as well as several other instruments. Equally adept at funk, R&B and slapping as he is playing classical and using the bow, Onody has toured with the Seoul Philharmonic and performed with the Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra. He has also demonstrated his arranging capabilities by adapting classical scores and piano pieces for electric bass.
“I believe the bass needs to have this bigger voice,” said Chance in his first FBPO feature. Declaring that bass “is not a background instrument” and that it “has every right to be up front,” Onody puts his money where his mouth is by way of unique orchestrations and overdubbing parts in multiple ranges.
FBPO’s Jon Liebman caught up with Chance at the 2016 winter NAMM show to gather more insight into the young bassist’s approach to music, as well as his upcoming release, Crimson Wings.
In The Press
Chance Wilder Onody releases First Single, “Feeling Good”
OCTOBER 24, 2014 BY JONATHAN MOODY
Chance Wilder Onody, an exciting and innovative instrumentalist, unlike anyone you have heard before, has just released a familiar Big Band/Jazz/Pop song arranged in a way only Onody could do. With all 19 orchestrated parts performed on bass (including the bowed melody), Onody bridges the gap between classical and jazz.
Noteworthy musicians who join Onody on this recording are the incredible and legendary drummer, Doane Perry, guitar stylist Paul “Junior” Garrison, the great keyboards of Dr. David Baron and the light rhythm guitar of Emmy winning songwriter, Chris Gerolmo.
The recording started as an idea to significantly showcase the versatility and dimension of the bass, most often dismissed as a background instrument. The resulting track is not only a showcase of the bass but also a showcase of the brilliance and phenomenal talent of Onody.
NAME / JOB / TITLE
In The Press
Hot, young up-and-comer says bass is “not a background instrument” By Mindy Rochwerg December 3, 2014
Twenty-four year old Chance Wilder Onody is starting to get noticed, and deservedly so. Primarily self-taught, Onody, has been described as a “virtuoso bassist” and “classical crossover instrumentalist.” Chance recently sat down with FBPO’s Jon Liebman to talk about his musical upbringing, unique style and what lies ahead.
Onody, whose mother, Tara Wilder, was a country pop artist, first took up the bass when he moved with his family from British Columbia, Canada, to California. Upon transferring to his new school, Chance had the choice of two electives – Orchestra and Introduction to Marine Biology. Not wanting to have more homework than necessary, Onody (pronounced “ON-ID-DEE”) chose orchestra, though was quickly surprised to find out that the “stringed instruments” in the course description did not include guitar. When advised so by the musical director, Chance took a look at the instruments, saw the bass and said to himself, “It’s big, I’m big, it only has four strings – how hard can it be?”
With no prior experience other than some piano lessons and having played ukulele for a short time, Chance, who says he has a “keen sense of pitch,” told the musical director he could play the upright bass and proceeded to intently watch the other bass player in the orchestra. From that limited exposure, Onody was able to pick up enough to play the new instrument with the rest of the orchestra, even though he had never before held a bow. He says he “fell in love with the instrument.”
Onody eventually played for the Irvine Young Concert Artists, where he learned to play parts originally written for violin. That experience led to him being featured as a soloist.
At 13, Onody got his first electric bass – a “sea foam greenish Fender, with blue pick guard” – which he still has today. He noticed he could really do his “hand stretches” and his “weird stuff” on the electric, it being smaller than the upright. At that point, he started asking people, “Who are the really great bass players?” That’s when he discovered Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten, two key influences in Onody’s playing.
Onody tells Liebman, Wooten “has such good touch and feel. It’s not just chops and moving fast; it’s the emotion that he puts into each note when he plays. Even if it’s a hundred notes going by, you feel the notes. It sounds good. It reminds me of classical music because that’s how classical musicians play. It was like each note is very well thought out.”
Onody mastered the double thumb technique, partly by listening to Wooten and partly by accident. He couldn’t understand what he was hearing or how Wooten was getting that sound. To him it wasn’t slap anymore. It was “like a flamenco kind of sound.” Onody practiced and practiced, but couldn’t reproduce the sound. Dejected to the point of wanting to give up, he threw his arm against the instrument in frustration. That’s when his “thumb hit the string, went through, hit the bass, and made my hand recoil back.” The proverbial light bulb went on.
In addition to Miller and Wooten, Chance sites the legendary Jaco Pastorius as another influence. “Jaco really interested me a lot,” says Chance. “His harmonics are what really got me.”
As he becomes more seasoned as a musician, Onody finds what he really likes is “taking these classical repertoires, moving them around, and putting them on an electric bass or taking these piano pieces and putting ‘em on electric bass.” A consummate doubler, Chance’s love for the upright bass is still as strong as ever. In 2008, Onody toured with the Seoul Philharmonic as part of the Olympic tour, where he soloed in each of the cities on the tour and performed for the Olympic dignitaries. In 2011, he performed with the Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra.
These days Onody is moving into what he calls “the bigger contemporary market.” Though he finds himself playing more upright bass than electric, his recently released a song, “Feeling Good,” features multiple electric basses.
“I believe the bass needs to have this bigger voice,” he says, “by showcasing an instrument that can sound like nineteen or twenty people on stage. It sounds like you’re actually listening to other instruments. It tricks you into thinking there’s horns in certain spots. It sounds like a guitar. It’s not. It’s all bass and on that song I used five basses to accomplish this.”
In addition to doing gigs on his own, Onody is recording a new album with a band called Chris Gerolmo and g.o.d. Onody says the “g.o.d.” is “open to interpretation.” The band features Gerolmo on vocals and acoustic guitar, Doane Perry (Jethro Tull) on drums, Onody on upright and electric bass, Paul Jr. Garrison (Rickie Lee Jones) on guitar and Dr. David Baron on keyboards.
Onody plays the NS Design CR4M Upright bass with a piezo bridge. He says since the instrument has magnetic EMG pickups, he can “go full magnetic” if he wants to “or blend them and get a cool fretless sound on a 41 ¾” scale bass.” He adds, “There is a fretless sound that you just can’t get out of other fretlesses because the string just doesn’t move enough.”
Onody, who is a bona fide NS Design artist, calls Ned Steinberger “this evil genius of sound.” He says he plays Steinberger’s instruments because he can “manipulate this transparent sound to sound like an upright – like an actual upright – and they are the only, the only instruments, in my personal opinion that sound exceptionally good with the bow. Not just okay, they sound good!” Onody cannot say enough great things about the company either, like how they believe in him and how he is trying to “bridge the gap between classical, jazz and contemporary ‘pop-ish’ kind of music. To bring the bass more to the forefront in all these different avenues.” He adds, “I love their products. There’s a new Omni Bass which is really, really cool, too.” In addition to his prized NS Design instruments, Onody is currently using a Warrior Dran Michael Isabella custom electric bass.
In the future, Onody sees himself writing his own music and soloing. “I like being a soloist. I like making my own rules writing my own music. There’s a voice I can create to express who I am and what I’m going through and how to share it with the world.”
As for the bass, Chance feels strongly that, “this instrument is not a background instrument. It has every right to be up front.” I truly plan on bringing it to the forefront, doing multiple orchestrations of me playing all the parts, including the melody, and then devising a way of actually being able to do that live.”