What do The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Simon and Garfunkel, and Quincy Jones have in common?
They all called Carol Kaye when they went into the studio.
1) Do you prefer recording DI these days, or is a mic and amp still the way to go?
Depends on the situation, movie soundtrack or record date? Engineer having a good DI? Usually not, as I'm known for my great clean amp sounds, and was rarely taken with a DI, all films were done miked btw. It's important for bass players to use the fine flatwound strings (Thomastick Jazz Flats), I used Fender mediums in the 1960s (like everyone else). Not necessary to play with a pick but if you do, better use a hard pick and do it right - see EDUCATION Playing Tips at my website for free tips. And....picking (you don't have to pick) use a felt mute home-made on top of the strings....never those $$$ gear boxes....25 cents and you're in-business like the pro's all did in recording. Defines your sound very well. Have great technique...you never get tired then.
2) What advice would you give bassists trying to break into the scene?
There is no "scene" today, it's a ghost-town in recording centers now, used to be some action in Nashville, but even rap has taken over that scene quite a bit. Stay "home" and do your music there, you'll not only make more money, playing gigs, getting into the local recording scenes there, but also won't spend all your money moving to money-eating places, nor suffer the disappointments and phony and sometimes-brutal conditions like in Calif. or NY. Don't believe the "star" stuff at all, that's all BS. Times when film co's and record co's "groomed" rock groups were decades ago, that ship sailed 35-40 years ago. Stay home and develop your own styles of playing/recording.
3) What brings a smile to your face this very moment?
Remembering the wonderful record dates I did in back of such singing greats like Vic Damone, who just passed on today, and also Louis Jordan, what wonderful talents, wonderful men, and Louis btw, was who we all danced to in the war years of the 1940s, his music was the genesis of rock n roll. Vic was a fantastic strong singer, Louis was a jazz sax man who early on, decided to go with the money with his shuffle-oriented hot jazz new styles of music of the 1940s....I met him and worked with him while doing Ray Charles mid 1960s, and he was just as wonderful as his music, such good men.
P.S. Yes, Vic Damone was such a great singer, better than anyone knew actually. A true artist.