Backyard Bassist: Interview with Ian Smith of Yard Sale

Photo of Yard Sale’s performance courtesy of Osciak.

Luke Osciak | Arts & Entertainment Editor

On Thursday night, I attended Yard Sale’s show at Timothy’s Bar and Grill right here at UD. 

Yard Sale has held many concerts this year since forming their band at the end of 2021. Since then, Yard Sale frequently preformed across campus for birthday parties, holidays and just for fun. 

The student band consists of vocalist Casey Hippel, guitarists Frank Pinn and Tony Raso, pianist Chris Rores, drummer Zach Smith and bassist Ian Smith. 

During their show, I was able to pull bassist Ian Smith away to ask him a few questions about the band, playing live and what his dream bass would be.

Luke: What’s your what’s your favorite song to play?

Ian: Live? Well, it has to be “Freebird” because we get the best reactions from it. The crowd just comes alive even if we don’t really have them before that song; we definitely do after it, so I can’t express enough how much I love playing that song.

Luke: That’s a good way to put it. Through your sets, I noticed that there’s like a lot of momentum like the lead in from “Mississippi Queen” by Mountain to “Can’t Stop” by the Red-Hot Chili Peppers. How important is it that all of you guys are on the same page when you play as a band?

Ian: It’s very important and honestly, sometimes this semester we got off, but we always find our way back. We’re all really competent musicians, so we’re able to play on our feet and honestly, we don’t really get off that much. So tonight, is no exception. We’re playing really well. I can’t wait for the second half.

Luke: Describe how it feels, that moment when things start to shift when you’re playing live, and your playing gets really good. 

Ian: The crowd really gets into it. It’s just like you can feel the music just pulsing through you; you don’t even know it happens. You don’t have to think about what notes you’re playing. It just comes to you because you have it. You’re feeding off the energy of the crowd, and they’re feeding off the energy you’re giving them. It’s just like a vicious cycle and it just gets so exciting.

Luke: Okay, and you play bass in the band. What drew you to the bass?

Ian: My brother played guitar back in high school. And I think it would be kind of gratuitous if I learned to play the guitar if we’re ever going to be in a band. So, I learned the bass and ever since, we would jam together in our basement. We eventually got to the point now we’re playing a gig at Tim’s which is pretty high up.

Luke: And what keeps you in love with playing the bass? Why not just go to any other instrument?

Ian: I don’t know, just something about it. It’s my first instrument. I’m still learning a lot. But I just I don’t want to put it down ever. I keep my bass in my bedroom. I look over sometimes and just be like, ‘Geez, I gotta play that right now.’ I’ll drop anything I’m doing just to play it. 

Luke: Totally. And then who are some bassists to look up to?

Ian: I’d have to say definitely Paul McCartney for his playing and singing ability. Jaco Pastorius because he’s like the G.O.A.T. for bass players and probably Geddy Lee from Rush.

Luke: You say you like Paul McCartney. He sings and plays the bass; you sing a couple of songs. Was it difficult to learn? To sing and play the bass when you first started?

Ian: It actually depends on the song. So, it can actually be pretty easy to play and sing the bass because it’s a rhythm instrument. But sometimes if you have some baselines that get a little complicated and they go offbeat of what you’re singing; it makes it hard. But if you’re pretty much singing in unison with the rhythm that you’re playing, it’s not as hard as it seems.

Luke: Do you have a certain technique that you use to like center yourself for when your on the stage?

Ian: Sometimes I just have to completely shut down my mind and just focus on singing instead of playing bassline, just trust my muscle memory. But yeah, sometimes it can be pretty rough. I’m not gonna lie.

Luke: Okay. And then you use a Rickenbacker bass, right? 

Ian: Yes, I do. 

Luke: Are there any other bases you’d like to try out?

Ian: I would love to have a P bass. I only have a Rickenbacker and a jazz bass, but a precision bass, Fender Precision Bass, like really nice one with flat wound strings. That is, that is probably my dream bass.

Luke: Okay I’m gonna ask one last question here. What’s your favorite part about being in a band?

Ian: I just love the glory of it all. I don’t care about the money. I don’t care about, you know, whatever else might come from it. I just like feeding off the energy of a crowd and having the center of attention. I don’t know. Maybe I’m narcissistic but something about it is it’s like nothing else.

Luke: Of course, it draws other people to you and gets them excited. It’s just a great community builder.

Ian: Exactly. 

After their three-hour-long set at Tim’s, Yard Sale completed a huge milestone as a band. From here, the bland plans to close out this school year with a couple more shows and to come back next semester ready to rock. For more information on Yard Sale’s future shows, you can follow them on Instagram @yard_sale_ud. 

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