Larry Graham, once of Sly and the Family Stone and now of Graham Central Station, tells us about the riff that launched a million players.
Larry Graham’s iconic basslines became the driving force behind many of Sly and the Family Stone’s groundbreaking hits and paved the way for slap-bass playing the world over. With his own group, Graham Central Station, tracks like ‘Hair’, ‘Pow’ and ‘It’s the Engine in Me’ epitomised Graham’s percussive bass grooves, which incorporate a combination of trademark ‘thumps and plucks’. ‘My sound actually has a lot to do with the way I play and how I attack the strings,’ says Graham. ‘If I hit the bass lightly I get one kind of response, but if I hit it hard I have another, so the attack has a lot to do with it.’
Four decades after Graham Central Station’s first outing, the same potent ingredients that made the band a funk powerhouse in its early years are still very much in the mix. ‘My main objective is to take what’ s in my heart and touch your heart. I don’t want it to stop at your brain. My hope is that everything that I’ve done is a heart-to-heart connection, something that will stick.’ 2012 marked the release of Raise Up, Graham’s first album in 13 years, which features cameos by Raphael Saadiq and Prince who assists on several instruments and background vocals. ‘Three of the cuts feature Prince,’ says Graham. ‘We also did a remake of Higher Ground, which is by another good friend of mine, Mr Stevie Wonder.’