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The Dive Bar Rock Star Podcast
The Dive Bar Rock Star Podcast

Episode 12 · 1 year ago

Steve Ferlazzo- The Playing Comes First (Avril Lavigne, Nuno Bettencourt)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Keyboardist/vocalist/musical director, Steve Ferlazzo, gets real about his experience during the lockdown, missing out on a whole summer tour. He talks about his time at Berklee College of Music and the unique lessons he learned from the experience. He takes you behind the scenes of the Soundcheck Live jam in Hollywood, CA, the jam that he’s run for the last several years. Steve also talks about the importance and sometimes burden of social media.

Let It Be-

https://youtu.be/Qrkc640GsPI

Music Cares-

https://www.grammy.com/musicares/donations

Do you love audio books? You can get a free thirty day trial membership to audiblecom by visiting audible trialcom, dive Bar Rock Star. They have thousands of audiobook titles, as well as podcast guided wellness programs, theatrical performances, a list comedy and exclusive audible originals you won't find anywhere else. Get your free trial membership at Audible Trialcom, dive Bar Rock Star. Welcome to the dive, Bar Rockstar podcast, the show exploring the lives of professional musicians of all types, touring musicians, recording artist, songwriters, engineer's bar bands, wedding bands and anyone making their living in the music industry. Whether you've dreamed of being a professional or you already are one, this is the podcast for you. I'm your host, Eric Baines, and I hope that you not only find some entertainment here, but also some helpful tips, trade secrets and ideas that will help you achieve your dreams. We have another Berkeley Guy on the show today and I'm realizing that that's seems to be a pattern here, and I swear to God I'm not doing it intentionally, but I think it's a another testament of how you know, being affiliated with any school kind of works. You know, I've come out here and immediately meet Berkeley people because those are my network and that leads to other Berkeley people, another perk of people. So I mean I think I'm right now. I'm at five out of twelve of the interview so far have been Berkeley folks. But I'm definitely not intentionally doing that and not trying to push the school anybody, although I would highly recommend it if you can afford to go there, because it's an incredible school. But my guest today is a keyboard player and has been the musical director for Avril Lavine for many years. He's also played with Nuno Bettencourt, Gary Cherone, Perry Farrell and many more, and he's the leader of sound check live, which is a Hollywood institution at this point, or at least you know, back when we were allowed to play in clubs. It's an invite only jam held at the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley in Hollywood that features an incredible backup band and includes a curated second set, and some of the curators have been Jackson Brown, Nuno Bettencourt, Avril Lavigne, extreme Steve Vis do ham, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Depp, all kinds of folks like that, and that's just a name a few. But it's the kind of scene where you never know who's going to walk into the club and who's going to show up. It's an invite only jam, so it's not generally random people sitting in necessarily, but you never know and it's a really, really cool thing and it's a big part of the La Community at this point. He's another extremely hard working musician and so I'm really happy to have them on and please once again pardon the sound. We're still dealing with remotes and, you know, social distancing, but I hope that you enjoy my conversation with Steve for lots. So how has the lockdown been for you, because I know you, you seem to me like a guy who really likes to be busy. Thank you. Seen your you're always going somewhere every time I see you, you know. I mean. So, was it an adjustment? So yeah, I mean it it was tough for me because, you know, I was literally five days from getting on a plane to Europe. Wow, I was in rehearsals with Avril from March one to March six wow, okay, and and I mean literally, you know, and it was funny because we were in these rehearsals knowing that things were like blowing up, and then it was like, you know, at the beginning of March they already started, like the the whole thing started out with the no crowds above right, right. That's how it started, you know. And you know, at first it's like okay, so we're not gonna so France also, the first one that was out was Milan. So there was Italy right, and then France followed. And then even then it's like, you know, there's there's there's a lot of money at stake with these things. So, you know, I think they wanted to make it happen. So we finished rehearsals, all the gear went into the truck, MMM to like get on the boat or the plane or whatever, and I'm like I don't know, man.

So anyways, then Germany imposed restrictions and part of our tour that was four shows in Germany. So as soon as that happened, there was just like no way. So yeah, getting to your question, though, I mean I was literally busy right up to the start of this and then you know, once I knew that the tour got canceled, you know that that was three months of straight torpey that I was planning on, and you know, I'm, of course, not the only one. But then that's gone. So immediately I kind of go into freak out mode because nothing else is going on, because I was going to be out of the country. So it really didn't take long, but probably by the third week of March, I had heard about music cares and what they were doing, right, and I've you know it, just like I'm sure that you know, there's a lot of us who do, but I I had a really good network and and friends and Mike told me about this immediately. Yeah, so, anyways, I was probably one of the first that applied for this and I got my check relatively quickly. Right. So this happened and I was like, my God, there's a charity set up for dudes like me. Right, they just helped pay my rent. I'm sitting at home doing nothing. I need to do something to like give back. Yeah, yea. Then immediately go from being in rehearsals with her tour gets canceled. Two and a half weeks go by. I'm already freaking because I'm doing nothing for two weeks and that's already impossible for me. And then I started the doing the sound check live Beatles cover. So I went head first into that and dude, it was literally twelve to fourteen hours a day for like six weeks. I mean that thing is amazing. We're talking about to let it be vds o. That thing is just incredible. I mean, I've see, we've seen a lot of these covid videos now, but there's like sixty five musicians in this one. Is that six? Yeah, yeah, was a final count. Yeah, as far as like actual performance, I think it was sixty five, like seven engineers and and the guy who made the video, you know, did a great job. Yeah, you know. And and even that there's like a lot of back and forth, but it was like I'm I'm not a video guy, so I kind of and again, yes, we've seen a bunch of these, but I told them how I wanted it to flow. And what's what I don't know if a lot of people know, but to have so many people and to make this work. Basically, if you watch the video, all of the performers change every four bars, right, yeah, every four bars, but each each person sent me the whole song. That's what I was going to ask about. So you didn't have like this is going to be your eight bars. Everyone would do the whole song. Yeah, and and I did that because there was no way that I knew yet how I was actually going to cut it right, you know what I mean. And like I didn't want to copy and paste, you know, a first four bars from a track and then, because the song has a vibe, that flows and builds the whole way, right, you know. So there too, to be fair, that there there was only there was only four people who didn't track the entire song. That was Avril new know, although new no, once he solos, he's in the song until the end, right, you know. And it was the guitar Solos Phil X and Orianthea as well. So but yeah, I mean the mandate was, you know, just track the whole thing and then send video. Gotcha. That's hours and hours of stuff to edit. Yeah, and just going through all that and then and then prelining stuff up before sending it out to video world and all that. So yeah, as a producer for that project, it was definitely just a one man thing. You know. So it was just a lot and there was always emails text coming in from people. But one of the most positive things, outside of the money and and the awareness, you know, of the charity, was for me it kept me...

...non stop busy through like the hardest times of when it was all still kind of new. People were wondering what was going to happen. And you know, I mean while I was doing that, I still outside of the Muse of cares thing, like while I was doing that, I was in the middle of the process of applying for unemployment and a couple of these other helpful things. I think I had applied for like, I don't know, for four of those whatever grants or whatever, and a couple of them worked out. But it was fortunate for me initially because I had been on salary with Avril Ya the previous year, so I didn't need to go the PEWA or pooa right type rout you know, which which was kind of difficult. The the initial frustrating thing about the unemployment is just filling out the application, making sure that you get it right. Well, my thing was I had had it from a previous tour, so I had had an account mmm, but I did. I remember the password from seven years ago. So kind of like being not not knowing any better. There was like an almost two week period where I was waiting, like know how you like log into a site, you forget your password, there's a button that says forget password. Then they send you an email and you can do your password. Right, so that option was there, but they never got back to me and I'm like waiting a week or in answer the never came. So anyways, that so this is not all about that, but my point was I stayed extremely busy with that and then, by the time it was done, I had at that point I had gotten on to unemployment and watching my expenditures and all that right, I was able to maintain. Yeah, so it the process of doing that song at that time was incredibly therapeutic for me and, you know, helped get me through that. And Ironically, I think maybe five or six days after I finished it, MMM, the overwhelming thought of depression, or that's that's probably too much of a word, because I just of not of now not having a task to focus on. Yeah, and I was like what am I going to do now? It's like before, I was going twelve hours a day and now I have all those twelve hours plus the other eight hours that I'm awake. All right. So, yeah, I hear you that that that lasted for about a week. Yeah, and then I've pretty much been non stop busy since. Well, that's great, that's really great. Yeah, I find it's kind of a roller coaster. Even I've been pretty busy myself, but still it's like, especially if you look at, you know, the news or like facebook, as like I wake up and I just don't know what the day is going to be like. Sometimes are great, sometimes, sometimes I think this is the best time of my life right people to do all kinds of things. I've been able to be home. I mean I've been on the right for three years base. Yeah, it's been a nice break. But then other days where you like, is this ever going to end? You know? So, yeah, man, it's that part of it is is a tough man. It's tough. Yeah. Well, the videos great. I also got a check from music cares. So it when I saw that on there, as like, oh, this is perfect because, you know, I I had a you know, Rudy Cardenis, of course. Yeah, we did a facebook live thing not long ago, just to raise money so I could do the same thing. It's like, I don't you know, I appreciate the money. Other people are going to need the money, so we raised a little money for them to and pray. It is a great a great thing and so crazy when like wow, somebody, somebody cares about US slowly. Well, that right. Well, that's that's that's what just kind of blew my mind. Initially I didn't know that there was such a thing. And and it's started kind of soon, you know, like I now look at granted, the the charity in some form or another might have already been there even prior to comment, but they streamlined it, you know. Yeah, butly for that. And yet that was a great thing. So yeah, it was proud of it. I was happy with it. I went from having three...

...subscribers to now having like one hundred as videos at like a hundred and six thousand views. I don't. For me it wasn't about that, but it was just it's just nice that, you know, for some people you know it. It connected. So yeah, and and lastly, the last thing about that, before going on to another topic or anything, was that it was a way for me to sort of continue sound check live virtually. HMM. Yeah, so, yeah, yeah, that that. You know, it was a nice way to sort of bring all these people together at that kind of that that time where it was still not as you know, had been ongoing so long. For though they may be parted, there is still the chance that they will see been answer. Let it be. Let it be wisdom. And Yeah, man, as far as the facebook thing, if you look at my feed, there's maybe four posts and two and a half months. I can't do it. I just me, I can't do it. I'd like check in. I look at it, I get really depressed. Yeah, I meaning I don't get clinically depressed, right. I get depressed by what I'm seeing in a lot of the back and fourth and you know, part of part of this thing that we are going through is that you have two different sides that, first off, are not only so diametrically opposed, but you don't best the other. Like people are firmly you know, this is where I'm met, this is where I'm at, and there it feels like there are no real discussions, just it's just going back and forth. Nobody's changing anybody's mind, which all this has nothing to do with music and I'm not a political guy and I'm not talking about anything specific, just in general. Yeah, yeah, and that's a problem too. is like this stuff shouldn't be political. You know, we're dealing with a disease. Exactly. Well, since you brought up soundcheck live, yeah, let's talk about that, because it's kind of this amazing thing. I've always talked about sort of La, and you're from the East Coast, so hm, maybe you can speak of this. But La as a city is a little different in that I don't I don't feel a huge community here, you know, and it's like there's people know each other and there's all kinds of people, but it's not like we have like a central park to go to or the Boston common where everyone meets and does stuff. You know, we're all in our cars, you know. So I'm that there's any place where musicians can meet up on a weekly basis and or a monthly basis at this point. Yeah, think that this soundcheck live is is has been a really cool, you know, sense of community. It's given people a sense of community, which I think, yeah, the important thing for a city like us. You know, it definitely is and that and that really was an enormously large part of it. There is no question about that. You know. Again, for me just even doing it, you know, it keeps me busy, it keeps me feeling vital it, it keeps me feeling like I I'm giving back just in this sense of having a forum, having a venue, having a place where all of these different types of players, vocalists and all that, whether you're performing or not, you you don't need to be playing. I mean there's plenty of people that literally just go for the hang. There's some people they'll check out, you know, a couple of songs or if there's a special guest, but you know, if they're just in the back talking and hanging and networking, you know, all the better. And one of the things I love most about as I love hearing when...

...people are getting gigs right. Yeah, know, like literally getting gigs in indirectly or directly as a result of EI they're performing at the show. You know, there was out. There's always tons of videos and stuff. So people, when there's a particularly good performance, you know, that ends up going up on on Youtube and for some people it becomes part of their real right well, it got me a Gig, partially of just you know, to be honest, because I'm like Gig with Dwight Yoko. I. I went in and you let me sing two songs one night and my friend really went wait, wait, wait, wait, I one of them was Lito, right, yes, or no? A Little Shah, yeah, Lito. And what was I've I've got a great memory, unlike all of the performances, and I'm trying to think of the second one and I can't remember the second one, but I definitely remember Liedo and I was dope to do that song because I love that song. Yeah, that's anyways. And cool keyboard part two. You gotta, you gotta, yeah, you on that song. Yeah, be totally did it. Yes, but my friend Rudy, he recorded it. So when White, you know, ask for some video, I was like, Oh, I have this performance of actually I sent him the other song which I did, which was the kings of Leon Song. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yes, I can't remember the name of it right now, but I'll I'll correct it later anyway. So I said that to him and that partially, you know, that was one of the three videos I sent to get the GIG. And so I think it's provides because it's a great venue to the sound system at the lucky strike in Hollywood for the yeah, for those are people who don't know what it is, it's it's kind of a jam, but it's not really. It's like a because it's all sort of preplanned and we get to know what we're doing. So it's sort of like what a jam could be if it was highly organized, you know what I mean? It's that Joe up and you sign up on the list, which I've hosted many of those, and most of the time they're just, you know, you get two or three decent sets in the rest of its nightmare. Yeah, I I that that's, you know, the the format of the show is something that I specifically, you know, spent time or whatever, and I just, like you, I've been to those kinds and I've been to other similar nights in Hollywood and Los Angeles or whatever, and I knew things that I liked and didn't like and I've I think, you know, for me, the a tendency as being a musical director was getting things extremely organized in advance, like I I'd send out songs in advance for you to learn if the song had a fade out, I find a live ending, put it onto the mpthree right and say this is it. I just, you know, because the whole idea it's and there's a couple of different mindsets as to how these things should go and none of them are wrong. There's just a different thing. So, you know, I I wanted it. I personally wanted sound check live at its best to be a showcase for either Los Angeles has best, Los Angeles has up and coming, Los Angeles has. I'm off the road, but I still love to play and I want to connect with people. And there was there was a very large touring band, side man type thing, because I'm I'm that as well, you know, and I just always wanted to focus on having the best possible performances. There was still no rehearsals, but it's like, you know, even if I'm, you know, in in a band or if I'm filling in or and being something, to me, it's always about the homework, you know, and I I was, I was kind of big on if if you don't have time to do the homework, just tell me, will get you in another time, right, you know. And the the one thing that I didn't like is when I would see people in the corner right ten minutes before with the headphones on, you know. And then also, and again, because I it was weekly and I went to monthly. Part of that was to have a longer planning curve. MMM, you know what I mean. And you know, and also because of that, I I usually wouldn't have the same people at each show like I generally, especially vocalist, you know, try and spread them...

...out every few months, you know. So like especially for for a vocalist, while there were still other, still other things going on around town for this particular night. You know, it was like every few months now. As far as players, when it's two days before and Johnny so and so got a session Gig, which I never give anybody should about, because that's why this is what all of us do, right, you know, just let me know as soon as you can. So and then that's when I would probably have somebody that I just had the last time because they're can learn the song hands cold and like a couple hours show up and kill it right. So, yeah, well, that's interesting. That's such a talked about that before already on my short little podcast here, but about because I'm the same way as like, homework is so important and it can in a lot of people don't realize. I've always you know, sometimes you show up on a GIG and guys don't know what they're doing and you're just think, what were you thinking about on the way here in the car, like what, right, who's going to happen? You know, you knew we were going to play these songs, you know. So to have that be a part of this jam where you're you're sort of you're going there to maybe get a Gig or too, maybe meet people, but you're also forced to do your homework and to prove that you're somebody hireable. You know what I mean? Bingo. Thank you. Yeah, that's that's that is definitely part of it. That is definitely part of it. Yes, and we're talking fifty, sixty musicians a night, like Yep, and it runs like a machine. It's pretty brilliant. That's that's also thanks in large part due to my wonderful wife, Kim, who takes care of everything backstage and all of that and getting people where they're supposed to be in all that, and I couldn't do it if not for her and that's also been great for us as a married couple. That it's there's something musical that I'm doing. That that's that's a large part of my life while I'm in town, and Kim is just as much part of that. And because I'm I'm on stage and she's back or I'm running around, it's not like we're there's like no clashing, you know, on that night she does her thing. She does a great job of it. Yeah, I do my thing and if I'm not on stage I look like a chicken that's running around and got his head cut off, and that's that's that's where I'm very comfortable, very comfortable running all over the place. Yes, that's true, but you beat me to the punch. I was actually gonna bring her up because it's also you know, this is a hard business on relationships, and especially when you're a touring guy. And Yep, you know how you guys have been together a long time, dude, a very long time. We check this out. We first started dating like thirty years ago. Wow, that's awesome. We've been married now and if I get this wrong, she's going to kill me. Nineteen years. Wow, that's great. So, yeah, and you know, I've been touring for at least almost two thirds of that. And Yeah, I mean it, there's odd there's there's tons of ups and downs. It did just like everybody has. Ye, but you know, we've been very fortunate, you know that we found a lot of great ways to make this thing work or whatever. And, as I said, you know, like touring wise, I I can't take her on tour and put her in the bus with me. I'll fly her out to some certain places, of course, for like, you know, a week or so, but when the sound check life thing came around, it just made sense and it was funny because she fell into it. Like the very first week of the show, the premiere, I had had a guy who was a production manager, that that was his Gig, you know what I mean? As yeah, and two days before the show we built wow, oh my yeah, now I'm like him this, can you just I mean, I got a lot going on. She's like, I got it, she got the FRIGGIN clipboard. Yeah, you know, and then she always makes food and brings, you know, these treats for everybody. And Yeah, she's she's the she's the face, and I'm either the the hands or the brain or whatever. But yeah, it's a good salad arrangement for us. That's great and it adds to the whole family atmosphere that's there. Yeah, you know. And and it's also a...

...kind of a crazy scene because, like, you have legit sunset Strip, old older rock guys there that are still dressed in the garb that they owned in the S, you know, and then the but the and even though it's mainly a rock based kind of jam, there you are also it's pretty versatile. I did Lido Shuffle, you know, like and and you've got horns and you got strings sometimes, and so it makes for a really diverse crowd, which is kind of kind of yeah, you know, and it's such a hot thing because it's in a bowling alley as well. So I don't know if I but the sound system, dude, is great. It's amazing. It's like being at a rock concert for sure. So if you haven't been to the I mean I don't know how they're going to do it. I don't know if they're going to recover from all this. I am certainly hopeful that it will. I mean at least in terms of that venue. It's not a chain but, but it is a corporation. There's a bunch of other locations. I've I've been in contact with them. We still haven't gotten any indication that the venue itself or the location is going away. That's Um. But, you know, just like anything else, it's just not safe yet. Yeah, because now and I don't want to do it if it's not safe. You know. Yeah, so that's the other thing. If you know, if you haven't played there, like the backstage area is tiny, tiny, I can fifty or sixty musicians. So it's like a covid breeding ground right there. You. Yeah, it would definitely be not the great. And you've also you also do a guest set, like a curator set in the middle. And Yeah, I'd like unbelievable people, like like seven rock and Roll Hall of Famers, no, eight. Yeah, it's incredible. Johnny Japs. Yeah, STU hand was always showing up, which is, yeah, one of my heroes from my Berkeley days. And Yeah, totally by Nuno bandcourts. Of course they're often. So would have been like your favorite lineups over over that? Well, there's there's lineups, there's certain nights, there's certain guest curated sets and I'm a few themes. The the first amazing one and probably in my top three or top two, was our prince night. Oh, yes, you know, I think it was. I think it was a couple, like to two weeks maybe after he had passed, and I don't make it, I don't and I strongly dislike racing to do some kind of show right after something like that. But for this, I'm not lying to you, I cried for like five days, like I'm a grown man. I I had such a connection to prints all through my entire life that just the the prospect of that happening. I know that that's it's different for different artists, for people, but like literally, I was literally like and then that night I'm crying on and off or whatever, but everybody involved in that had a similar connection. In those are the people that I wanted and that would do that night in those songs justice, and I really feel that that was the case. The craziest thing true story, I guess. Apparently, one of the last songs the night, obviously, was purple rain. HMM. Swear to God, we started the song and it started raining, ha ha, and it hadn't rained prior to the right so that was crazy, so that that it'd be one another really crazy ambitious night. was doing the wall, yes, I think, and tired it. Yeah, Oh, yeah, you did. Yeah, from from top to a bottom. We had Roger Waters Son. We literally brought a Bethree in, you know, and I had the horns, the strings, the background singers. It was amazing and that's that's that's another, you know, favorite band of mine, Jackson Brown. Yeah, I mean entire set of Jackson, but like the dude is Jackson Brown. He came in and we just backed them up and he was incredible. He was incredible. And then, you know, there's been no less than probably three of new no sets, because I've known you know, going back to Boston prior to extreme even being signed. I've known him for many years. He's a great friend. I was in a band for five and a half years with...

...them and I knew when I started sound check live and wanted to have this whole guest guest curated set and and I knew exactly in my mind how I how I hoped that certain artists would approach it. Hmm, he was the epitome of that. Like I don't believe to day we've ever done one extreme song and ever, because the whole idea was that's your day job. Like I want that set to be something that you've always wanted to do, but they're just wasn't the right venue, time or place. And I you know you, you can bring in whoever you want, but I will do whatever is needed player wise to make that vision happen, right, you know. So, yeah, there was a lot of amazing performances. You know, there was one. It was new know, Steve Vy, Tom Morello COPs in on Guitar, Stu him on base sobowl on drums. You know, it was just it's it was incredible. And not even just those kinds of moments, like you know, another even just a song that stands out, doing mama by genesis with Jude Cross and singing one of my favorite, my favorite performances. I mean he's a great, great vocalist, whatever he's. Yeah, there's there's just been so many, you know, and I'm just fortunate and blessed that somebody lets me put these things together. Right, that's a matter with them. Ha Ha ha, oh man. Well, Son Day and and I drink for free, and that's mine. That's the key right there. This is called the dive Bar Rockstar podcast. So yes, free drinking is all, is what I'm all about. Nice, Nice, so what some would say, what's wrong with you for wanting to do all that work, is amazing because, like I said, it's so organized you. I mean, I can't imagine the time that you spend on it when you were doing a weekly especially, but it always had was a killer, dude, that that it was. It was just killing me. I mean it was like fifty hours a week, every single week, and I wasn't getting calls like because it was weekly. And then I went to month and everybody's like, how come you're doing it monthly, because I don't make money at that GIG. I'm I get a small amount, but it's I can't pay my bills off. That right, you know. And because I was spending so much time on that, people wouldn't even give me the benefit of the doubt of calling me for a Gig because they just automatically assumed I was too busy. It's kind of like being on the road too much, you know. Yeah, out of sight, out of mind. And then I went monthly and inside of the first month I started getting calls. So everything panned out, so that's great. Well, the other thing that's amazing about is that you're not from La and you're hosting this amazing La Event, which is, you know, cool. But you you grew up in New York, right, and then you would you were in Boston. I. Yeah, I I was raised in New York and then I left there to go to Berkeley and I, you know, spend whatever years that you call them whatever from it's funny because I came from a small town in Schenectady. Oh you're yeah, so like me, getting to Boston, you know, was everything that I wanted, because the alternative was dragging a keg into the woods for a bonfire. That that's not me. That's you know, I never had that sort of towny mentality, but I was that. But I knew that I wanted more. Yeah, and I knew that, you know, that as soon as I got to Berkeley, that my path was going to be learning, observing, adapting, learning how to socially interact and knowing that, you know, it's starts with the ability. No question, it gets overlooked, but that needs to be a given prior to write. Adding all these things on top, you know, the plate. Yeah, yes, a hundred percent there. And then, you know, from there it's like how do you become hireable, marketable, or how do you get your message out or what you have to offer? You know. Yeah, so I...

...love Boston. I mean, yeah, it's it's a shell of what it was. HMM. And they're there. There was a great scene there. There was a great vibrant scene there for for quite some time and you know, it's not there. You know what I mean? There's there's still a couple places here and there. As a matter of fact, I think two of the a jazz clubs are still hanging on scholars. Oh Yeah, riles, got you. Yeah, he's a place close all the time. There you go. I was kind of the same way, but I came from Broomfield, Colorado, where I book at anytime. You have broom and field in the name of your town. Dude, go star. I have to confess something. I love books, but I don't love reading and it's been something that I've wrestled with since I was a kid. You know, I can read, I have read books, but they're very time consuming and I've spent most of my time trying to build a music career it which takes a lot of time. But one thing I definitely do a lot of is drive in La traffic on my way to a Gig, and there's a solution that combines those two situations and that's called audiblecom Itt has thousands of audiobook titles and you can listen offline anywhere, anytime. The APP is free and can be installed on all smartphones and tablets, and they have just a ton of music related titles, like all you need to know about the music business by Donald has passman, how music works by David Byrne, or music production secrets by Calvin Carter. And you can get a free thirty day trial right now if you visit audible trialcom dive Bar rock star. That's audible trialcom dive bar rock star. I'd like to take a second to thank you for listening to the dive, Bar Rockstar podcast. As a new podcast, getting the word out as a vital part of what it takes to keep the show on the road, or off the road, as the current case. Maybe if you would like to support the podcast, all you got to do is subscribe wherever you listen and if you have an extra minute or two, please leave a review. You can also share and follow the podcast on your social media APPS. Okay, enough begging. I hope you're having fun and once again, thank you for listening. But I was the same way. I was like, I couldn't wait to get this because I was born at p Keepson, New York and my family was all that. So I was kind of my whole life's quest was just to get back to New York, you know, and like top any so Boston was like the the kinder, Gentler New York at the time. You know, sure, sure, yeah, yeah, I really really loved it there. And did you get a lot out of Berkeley? Did you enjoy your time there? I did. You know, it's it's I I didn't graduate, which is not an uncommon thing there, but it's funny, man, I got more war than I possibly could have realized as the years passed. You know, when I first got there, my very first term or semester there, there was a lot that I tested out of because I had had a lot of training and theory right. So initially I tested out of a lot of stuff, but even the stuff where I started at at that time it came pretty easy to me. All Right, and I'm not going to lie, at that age and just getting there and coming from where I was to the big city, not the a big apple, but you know, as far as I was concerned, this is it. And you know, the hair and and and I'm not going to lie, I want I wanted to be a rock star. Man. I I got in, you know, and I was like, okay, so we got this going on, that going on. Gear. What gear do I you know what I mean? And the funny thing was, a month into being in Berkeley I ended up getting into the band that I was in and remained in until grunge destroyed at all. Right. But yeah, no, I just in terms of the social interaction at the school, not even just that, but you know, the the amount of classes is that I had had up until I left and things that I kind of like math in a certain way, like things that you don't think that you're going to use and tensions and subdominance and and all this and circle of fits and pass in all the all that sort of theory. I realized later I was using it the entire time. I just wasn't using it as in I'm writing a chart,...

...and the reason why I'm going to this chord is because it functions as a subdominant. But my mind just knew that, you know, from that training and theory. And it's funny because later I sort of not not to relearn, but I reacquainted myself with all that specific theory, you know what I mean. And then, because it was like I was like, you know, you take what you've learned and then you develop it or whatever, but then, you know, it's like I kind of wanted to go back and resort of realize why I'm doing this and that. And it was funny because I had saved my my books. Yeah, a harmony one through four, jazz harmony counterpoint, arranging all that stuff. Yeah, I was in the early stages of the ascent program okay, I was going to ask you because, yeah, a programming that's kind of one of your things. And Yeah, so you so, Berkeley, I did, and at the time we were learning off of an Arp two thousand six hundred for like, you know, showing a visual of how that sort of subtractive stuff works, and then there was like an Oberheim expander. Trying to remember the other since that were there. But then, and it was funny, at that time. I don't even know if there was pro tools. Man, no, it couldn't have been vision. Vision that. No, no, exactly vision. What became digital performer, marks, Unicorn right company that is still based out of Cambridge. Oh Wow, so they actually they had all that software. So yeah, yeah, I I was definitely into the programming and sound design thing very early, early on. So and then what brought you out to la? Was that a no, Oh, so, I'll I'll let tell the the shortest story version of stories I can. So again, I had just finished producing and Co writing a record with Gary Jeromee, which was his first album right after van Halen. Gotcha. So he had left Van Halen. He won to do something different and at the time I was, and I still am, but I was very much into nine inch nails and industrial and I had produced a couple of artists in that vein already by that time and I've, course, had known Gary as well, and he wanted to have a certain like half of the record. was that half that was more acoustic, organic type kind of thing. So anyways, so I had done that and we had done some touring and that and that had ran its course. At that point new know had moved to La and he assumed that the easiest thing would be to put together a band of musicians from La. So he started. He had just finished a record called population one, where he sang and played everything on the entire record, and then he had a decent sized tour in Asia and he had to put a band together. So he had all these auditions and he was auditioning keyboard players. Already. His drummer was already from Boston or from Hudson mass he had moved out and the Bass player that we used on that run was filled by no Phil is in La Guy now he was. He was a Boston guy. One of the most notable things is he toured with Steve for quite some time. Him and Mike Mangini. Got You, got you, yes, so and Phil was also from the East Coast. So already he's trying to put together in La Band he's he has a Massachusetts Drummer, a Massachusetts Bass player and that tour we also had a rhythm guitar player he was also from Massachusetts. So anyways, so now he's trying out keyboard players and then he auditioned for like a couple of days and then I ended up getting a call. He's like, listen, I need I need you to learn thirty songs, to program all the songs,...

...learn all of the background vocals. In a week and a half, I'll send you the tracks. Here's the keyboards I used. Go and rent that keyboard and get all the sounds, come out. will do for rehearsals and then go wow. So at that point I wasn't living in La, but for the next two year, two and a half years, I was still touring with new no, while I was still I was on the East Coast and I would fly in for rehearsals and then go. But each time I went to La, you know, I'm like it's got to happen, and and and it's funny because the only reason why I hadn't done it sooner as I had known so many people from the east coast that had moved out to la just thinking they were going to be rock stars in six months, and I just heard all these horror stories from them. Yeah, but these, these, these were their stories, you know, Heys, and it was. It was kind of unfortunate for me, only in the sense that I let their stories stop me from doing what I had should have done many years prior. Right, right, you know. And and of course, saying that, the bottom line is things happened when they're supposed to happen and if it hadn't happened exactly how it did, who knows, you know what I mean? Maybe things could have been exponentially better, maybe things could have been exponentially worse, I don't know, but the bottom line was, you know. So that was that. So then finally I'm like I gotta, I just gotta move to La Kim didn't want to do it initially. Tim had already lived in Los Angeles prior did not have the best time in the world. MM, but I was like, look at you know, this is where I need to be for us to have the kind of life doing what I do to have the most impact moving forward. So, you know, she agreed to do it and I wanted to be smart about it. I didn't just want to come out here hoping things were going to happen. So I think there was like a four to six month lead period before moving out. Started making all my calls in advance for like work. Moved to La December twenty three, December twenty six. I was in my car heading to Desmond Child's office to pick up a track for Hillary Duck. So I'd started working with a writer who was who was working on her record and I started doing production work. They're like as soon as I got here, wow, I i. I had been doing that for like six or seven months and then it kind of came to the point where the studio guys were like, well, if this is what you want to do, you need to let that other thing go. You're going to do great if you come in this world. HMM, at that particular juncture, because I'd already started Asia and Europe and all that and it was like finally happening, like I done touring in the states, you know. Yeah, and at that particular juncture I was like, you know what you're you're definitely right, and I love this world, but I still see myself as a player and as a performer. So I had made that choice at that time. And Yeah, you know, and I did to records with new know, it was great. We did we did an EP called sessions from room for and then we had to change the name from population one to drama Gods and then we put out a full length called love and it was just this dough vintage Retro Bell Bottoms Using Mogues, melotron's whirlies and distortion harmoniums and Yeahousto. Yeah. And so you see, you worked with Gary Shrun and new know after extreme had kind of broken up. was there any like was that? They were obviously still civil. It wasn't like a bad yeah, it was weird because like for a while I was the missing link because so the the the record with Gary, the Band was Gary Pat Badger from extreme and Mike Mangini. Now Bear...

...in mind Paul Geary had already been out of drumming for a while and was managing and is still doing that and doing very, very well by that. So at that point extreme was was broken up and the last drummer on record was Mike Mangini. So did that and then after the Gary thing, it it was new. No, but the interesting thing is I've I've never, I've I've never toured with extreme. I've I've done some things with with extreme, but you know that bands as much as I've known all those guys and I get along extremely well and I've written with new know, I've written with Gary. Extreme is extreme. Yeah, right, now. So, yeah, but you know, I've I've been fortunate to be involved in a great number of projects with new no since. That's cool, because you guys did the Perry Farrell the seund yeah, it's well right, what a cool record that is, man. I was just lead is it again today, because I like it's the weirdest, like fun unkey rock. Yeah, so cool. And Carlo Restivo, Yep, is part of that as well. Right. Yeah, Carlos Band that. He's in the house banded. Look at soundcheck live. Yeah, Yep, and and he's great in in in that context in that band. I believe he was playing bass and that that originally was kfig on drums from extreme new no on guitar, Perry and his wife, myself on keyboards, and Tony Canal from no doubt. Wow, that's cool. So my involvement in that was was short. The the album still wasn't done yet, but it was summertime and Perry wanted to debut that project at Lallapalooza. So we did a warm up Gig at the key club and then we did Lala a couple of weeks later. Lot, a lot of fun it was. It was great to play that show and do that. But then after those two shows Parry Neu know went back to finish the record. So there was nothing else going on. And this was in two thousand and six. And then in October of two thousand and six I got a call from Barry Squire saying that this pop vick was auditioning for a whole new band. Wow, and that was Avril Levigne and that's been my gigs since. Man, wow, that's great. So you came out here and just took off pretty much. All right. Wow, so you've been with Avril for a long time, since since January it. Well, I'm officially since Jane, January of two thousand and seven. Wow, that's great. So she's obviously pretty loyal to her her band and to her it's yeah, yeah, that's well at now, having said so, yes, and that's very much true. At this point I'm the only one left from that original band, which that was Steve Faculty, Jim Mick Gorman, Albury and Rodney. Howard Rodney was a New York guy. Albarry, Bass Player, had had done a few tours with Kelly Clarkson, got to you and he tired of that. He just left recently. Yeah, yeah, Yep. So how is she to work with? Great, she's extremely cool. She's she is an extroverted, introvert. When when she's around the people that she knows best and feels comfortable, she is an absolute blast and, you know, always the best time, always have a great time on tour, you know, but she's very protective of her brand. MMM, which she should. Good. Yeah, that's good. You know. And and on top of that, you know, the the the whole thing was our our last tour before...

...this new before her latest record head above water. The last tour is when she got limes disease and so, you know, she kind of had to take things easy. So it it was five years almost until she put out the last record, but from it, you know, the songs and lyrics and all that speak strongly to what she had dealt with and what she was going through and all that. You know. So it was it was a different kind of vibe. It was the record was a little bit more kind of serious or whatever. It wasn't like hey, hey, you, you, you know, like pomp's cheerleaders. M But the music had evolved and it was a blast, you know, putting those tracks for a live band. I was just so bummed when the at tour got canceled. Man. Yeah, but yeah, she's great to work for, is she really? Is She hands on with the music? When it comes to the records, of course she's extremely hands on. So in terms of the the arrangements on tour and all that. So basically the process starts out before any of the other guys in the band. I get the stems and because I've been touring so long with her, I kind of go back and I look at past tours and I look at setlist. I'd look at at arrangements that have worked. I especially look at arrangements that have been the same for eight years and then try and turn those on their head because I I'm I'm I'm conscious of wanting her to give a performance in an experience for her fans that is familiar but not punched in. Got You so so Theda starting process is I'll will start on master list of songs for the a tour whatever, and then will narrow that down a bit and then I'll start to work on arrangements and do mock ups for the whole show. Go back and forth with her and then, once that's good. Then I start sending, you know, the stems to all the guys in the band, like a base up stem or, you know, for for a guitars. Just to save time, it'll be one guitar on left and one guitar on right or whatever. And and I'm I'm very picky about tones and drum sounds and bass sounds, and this was the first tour that had no amps. Who got you? Yeah, so yet now, especially our our bass player, Maddie, had a helix, ore lead guitar player had a helix and our rhythm acoustic guy had a kemper empyem and my rig was insane. So basically, you know, I was I was playing keyboard, singing backup vocals, emptying, running the backing tracks and sending video out. Oh Wow, all that from my stage position. And then had an md Mike with a few switches on the ground. One is just to talk to the band, one's just to talk to Avril and want us to talk to everybody. Wow. So it's like mission control. That sounds like you. It definitely plays into my my, my madness. It's good to have like, you know, those gigs at last a long time, like that because, specially with the pop thing, it's they come and go fast. Yeah, Dude, I I never, you know, coming into it, I never thought I I. You know, I. You know, you just figure. So so this this pop kick comes or whatever, or the next kick comes up, and you know, if it happens that this one's going back out and you're around and it works out great. You know, it's odd because it's not like she's constantly busy, right, but there has been a certain loyalty that when she's ready to do something,...

...it's like, I want to make it happen so that I can do it right. You know. Sure. Yeah, well, shoot, man, you came out to la you took over the town and it's it's pretty awesome. So what do you think, like, what's the key to your success? What would you tell an upandcoming person? I mean, it's such a different world now than when you, we both came out here. But what do you think? Um, why do you think people hire you? I don't know. No, I'm I. You know, I'm I'm I'm very meticulous. I I know how to get things done. I'm extremely efficient, you know what I mean. I I only get involved with gigs that I know play to my strengths and you know that's that's kind of one bit of advice or whatever. But you know, especially now, I think you know, being able to adapt is key. One GIG might call for this, the next gig might call for that. So one of the main things for me is I built up a wide range of skill sets with the hope that, whether it's touring or whether it's a studio Gig or whether it's an intown Gig or whether it's a sound design Gig or whatever, that I have those different sort of skill sets, because I just look at you know, I mean I'm at at the best. I'm I'm not a star whatever. I'm not going to be the focal point. I don't desire to be that. I just want to be the guy that's always working, that people know if they hire me, that the job is going to get done, it's going to get done well, it's it's going to exceed their expectations of what could have been done. You know. Yeah, and those are the main things. You know, and make make sure to keep your chops up, because that's always the first part of it. And you know, not that the whole social thing and networking and social media. These are all important things which, by the way, I've been slacking on totally because of this time. I'm not, I just it's that's that's been the hard part, because I know that, despite all this, I still need to work on having some sort of presence. Fortunately, I've been working a lot. Yeah, barring the use of that, like I've I think that I've at least worked myself enough into a position where people who know what I do call me right, you know what I mean, and I don't. I I'm not saying that I don't need to, because we all need to, but I there's there's not as much pressure that I need to be posting for things a day or or showing my cat or me doing improvisations on piano or whatever. Right. Yeah, I think sometimes it's okay to coast, you know what I mean, once you got the work going on, you know, you could take a break from that stuff. I have to every once in a while and just but just a coasting, just in terms of social media. Yes, it's not like coasting musically now. I mean like I mean like, okay, I'm working, so I don't have to go to the club every night. And yes, Yank hands and be in front of people all the time, which it's not not the most fun thing to do all the time. Or the and the think the social media is kind of taken the place of of that of shaking hands and smoothing and yeah, you meeting people, but once in a while it's like, okay, I got a Gig now for for for a year, I'm just going to chill on the and then, you know, as that gig starts to end and maybe I'll go start shaking hands again, you know. Yeah, so, I know, totally dude, when you know, just to I know we're winding down. But like you know, leading up to the sound check live cover the Beatles thing, I was doing a lot of social media because that was something that I that I was putting out, that I was promoting. I mean, when there's something to show or you know, to show the the a free roots of some kind of thing I'm involved in, you know, then I'm there. You know, but I I just, at least for me right now, I just and whether it's right or wrong, I don't know, but...

I just choose not to be a part of discourse the way things are going because, first off, not that my opinion doesn't matter, but for better or worse, I do not believe that anything that I'm going to say, outside of specifically related to music, MMM, is going to impact, effect or change anybody. Right, change somebody's opinion, and I don't want to change anyone's opinion. That's not I have my beliefs and things that I hold dear and things that I think are right or wrong on any of those spectrums, and the biggest and best thing that I can do is show to show for that is election day. Yeah, right, yeah, so the only thing that I would like, if I had to say anything to anybody, I don't care where you fall, just vote right. If you're dead set. That your guys, the guy. Just mark it on the ballot man. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and you know, I'm let's all get along, you know. You know, it's you know it's interesting about that is that the night that I sing those two songs, it was the night after the election of a way. Yeah, it was the two thousand and sixteen election and you know, I guess it's no secret La was was pretty much devastated, you know, and I went in and I really didn't know what to do you know, I because I'm like it was the first time I'm going to sing a song. I have a voice here at the lucky strike tonight, you know, and like and you came up to me and said, you know, let's just not talk about it, let's just give people a chance to escape, you know, and like, and I was kind of glad you did, because I was just like, okay, the pressures are you know, not that I felt pressure necessarily, but I was just like, I don't know how I'm going to not say something, you know, but I just got up and I said, you know, I just said before I started, I was just like thank God for music, you know, and like, you know, and I think, I think that's a big positive energy that comes off of you this to sleeve the opinions away, leave me at home now and let's let's make some music and and have a guy I'm in provide some entertain for entertainment for these these crazy Hollywood people tonight. You know. Yeah, yeah, that's how yeah, you know, they're there. There's plenty. Again, if there are other people that have a different take on that, no one's wrong. I just, you know, in terms of that night and some people may disagree. I didn't want it to be a social platform. Right. Want it to be a nun of escapism. I wanted to be a night of popcorn and and and Pepsi, you know, and bowling, ha ha ha, and bawling, ha ha. Well, it always is and it always will be again, I'm sure. I mean, I'm, like you say, Lucky. Strike is a big company, so hopefully that's going to continue once we can all be normal. But I really appreciate your you take it the time and talking to me and this has been awesome, I think. Thank you so much for having me and asking. I saw that you had to had Derek on. Yeah, I still need to listen to that one. I just haven't had time, but I will. And you had Jen oberly and Chad right, right, yeah, D Chad and I Berkeley man. Oh, I know I forgot about this story. Chad and I played in the same cover band, not at the same time now, at this time, but it's really funny. I didn't know Chad Well, uh, chat dad was a little bit before my time, but I but there was some friends that we had that were mutual and the the one thing I took from him, I swear. It's so bizarre. I remember him saying, you know that, that he was in this cover band called the cat tunes and it was like the highest paying cover gig in Massachusetts. And that was like seven years before I got a call and then I'd gotten a all about it. And I hate to keep going on, we're finishing up, but it's funny story. So at the time I was living in Massachusetts. My wife and I had just bought a house and Providence, Rhode Island, okay, with the intent just to flip it. The intent wasn't oh my God, Providence, I'm stoked, but, but, but, anyways, just prior to that was I think at the time I had done I was still doing stuff with new no, but it was like tours in the summer whatever. So I had taken a Gig, very shortlived at the Guitar Center on Camm AB guys...

...and like, and it was funny because I didn't particularly like it, but I was very knowledgeable about gear. So I came in and like in like two months I was the top selling sales guy, but not because I was a good salesman. I can't even speak well. I just knew the care, not very passionate, passionate about the gear. So I'm so yeah, so, so I'm working a guitar center and then I'm moving to Rhode Island. I was, you know, I told measure, I'm looking at it's like hey, guys, thanks a lot, I appreciate it, you know, but I'm I'm moving and they're like well, you know, we've got a location and I'm like your location and Rhode Island is going to be nothing like calm ab so I made the move and then a manager makes one last ditch thing to like call me and he's like look, it okay, you don't like Providence, why don't you still work at Com Ave? Will pay for your gas, will like pay you a travel stipend. Wow, and and then he's like, Oh yeah, by the way, some dude came in was asking about you. There's some cover band that was looking for a keyboard player, and I was like I'm not taking the GIG. Give me the dudes phone number. And I I did that cover GIG for pretty much up until I moved out here, when so like pretty much, I don't know, for the past twenty five years. I don't think that I've done any work that hasn't been directly music related. Wow, that's amazing. That's so funny. Yeah, we talked all about it on his podcast. Talk about mention you, but he talks about, you know, his his time with them and how much of paid and stuff. It was pretty crazy already. He didn't that. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, well, bunny thing is that I don't remember the year, but I was playing its colors with with Kiko want sue one time. Yeah, Dad and his brother Shay as a twin brother. Yeah, of course. Yeah, and his wife Mariko were playing a Gig in Boston as well with the Richard Street from the temptations. Yeah, so used to play with but anyway, so I get know my gigause those there. We all get in their rented car and drive out to Quincy, mass to see cat tunes, and I'm pretty sure you are still in the band at that point. All. Yeah, Oh my God, I totally was. I remember. That is deep. That the GIG, that the venue was a place called the beachcomber, I think. Yes, Beach Ober, that's exactly right. Yeah, he's covered quincy. Oh my God, I don't remember. I remember meeting you necessarily, but I saw you guys in here, but it's great. Yeah, so we go way back. Yeah, man, awesome. anyways. Well, thanks again, man. This has been totally great and I can't wait for things to start back up again. Obviously the same here, man, and you know, we just got to stay busy. This this podcast is great, you know what I mean. It's way to stay connected. So it's awesome, man, and once again, thank you so much for having me appreciate it. Well, that was just jam packed with lessons, I thought, but a couple of them that stuck out to me. The first one was don't let other people stories stop you, and that's such a big thing because, you know, La can be a very scary, awful place, but it's not necessarily going to be for you. Everyone's set of circumstances and likes and dislikes are different and and maybe their personality or what they enjoy, maybe they just they missed winner, you know, but that's not necessarily going to be you. And and believe me, before I came out here I heard horror story after horror story, especially if you live in a smaller place, that's more likely what you're going to hear. But it's been wonderful for me and it's an amazing city. It's a tough city. Be Prepared, but don't be scared. The second thing that he brought up that I really enjoyed was the playing always comes first, and he said it often gets overlooked, which is true. You know, you know you got to have a look, you know, you got have a good personality. We talked about all that other stuff a lot on the PODCAST, but at the end of the day, if you can't play, you can't play. You know, like the play and has to be number one. And growing up in a small town I always heard things like, you know, you'd see somebody on MTV and you but, oh, I could do that Gig. Well, yeah, you probably could do that Gig, but the guy that has that gig is Badass, you know. or or sometimes people call from other places and hey, you know, if you know anybody who needs a good rhythm guitar player, let me know. And the thing of it is people aren't looking...

...for an okay guitar player. You know, we're in La there's hundreds of great guitar players to choose from and why would you pick a mediocre guy? Not that you don't have something to offer, and that doesn't even mean that you won't be able to get a good gig if you come here, you know, at whatever skill level you're at. But if you want to really give yourself the best chance to succeed, you need to be the best player that you can be. I always use the mantra the best players get the best gigs, and it's not always necessarily true, for sure, but if you think that way you'll have a much better chance at working because you're going to, you know, be motivated to be the best player that you can possibly be, and that's really your insurance. I've never heard anyone say I didn't hire him because he was too good. The charity that we mentioned is called music cares and it was actually established in one thousand nine hundred and eighty nine by the National Academy of Recording, Arts and sciences, which are the people who give out grammys, and they've given away forty eight million dollars over the years to artists in need. So I will include a link if you'd like to donate, since there are at this point, many artists in need. The kings of Leon Song that we couldn't think of is called use somebody that I sang at the sound check live jam at the Lucky Strike and Desmond Child. In case you don't know who he is. He's a hit songwriter. He Co wrote like living on a prayer by Bon Jovi and dude looks like a lady by Aerosmith and tons and tons of other heads to look him up. And Barry Squire is a guy in town who finds players for recently signed artists or like also big artists and puts two puts bands together for them, and so he's a great phone number to hunt down when you first moved to town. It's not necessarily listed. You're going to just have to meet people and get it. Years ago he called me to audition for Robin Thicke before anyone had heard of him, but I didn't get the GIG. Well, I hope you enjoyed the show. Wow, you've made it to the end. I'm hoping it's because you completely enjoyed yourself and are now filled with knowledge and inspiration to move forward with your dreams. If that is the case, and you would like to stay informed of new episodes, live events in general news, please go to dive Bar rockstarcom and sign up for the mailing list. If you have any questions, comments, corrections or complaints about anything you here on the show, please email me at fan mail at dive Bar Rockstarcom and you may even end up on the show. We at the dive Bar Rockstar podcast with all of our hearts. Thank you for listening and remember it's all about dreams.

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