The Quiet Year
I started this year with one goal and shortly after it got under way, I switched goals and went inward on myself and everything else with Christmas music. The first bit goal that switched was more of a continuation of a project I had revisited towards the end of 2021. It took a while to get that finished, meaning it carried over into the beginning of 2022. That was a remixing project for the very first album I had wrote, recorded and released. The end result will end up being a special digital download, though I can’t give a timeline for release.
The shifting of gears came when I was playing some Pickleball at a Christmas party roughly this time last year in 2021. A Pickleball Christmas party! One of my older friends who is notorious for bringing a portable speaker to the courts was looking to play Christmas music while the party was going on. I mentioned in passing that I had a whole bunch of Christmas music available for streaming (surprise surprise). He immediately logged it in and proceeded to play thru all 30 songs during the party. People dug it.
More Sleigh Bells Please
For some reason as I was playing Pickleball and listening to these songs, I got a wildly stupid idea. I wanted to remix these as well, but in addition to doing so I wanted to add sleigh bells. Because what better way to denote a song is a Christmas song than to slather a good dose of sleigh bells on them? Enter my over estimation on the time it would take to do this…
30 songs in 30 days. That’s what I initially thought to myself. Of course that isn’t how it went down. Yes, I did acquire a sleigh bells instrument (actually I already had it). However, being the musician that I am, it went further than adding the sleigh bells. I also updated my orchestrations with more modern sample libraries. Which further required some slight tweaks to make sure they didn’t come off odd. That took more time.
I went over each song with a finely made reindeer hair brush. Cue the cheesy sleigh bell to snare ending. For each song I had to make the tweaks. Put it away for a few days, then listen again to make sure I didn’t really miss something important. Then came figuring out methods of playing the sleigh bells so they weren’t the same on every song. A much harder prospect than it would seem. Why? Because sleigh bells are really hard to distinguish in the audio spectrum. They’re super brash, and can quickly overpower a song like nobody’s business.
Let The Remix Commence
I tackled the adding of the sleigh bells and orchestral tweaks for each song based on the album it came from. Thus I did all the Future songs, then all the Present songs, then all the Past songs. Though for reasons unknown to the Universe, I did them in alphabetical order for each release. Don’t ask, I don’t truly have an answer as to why I did it that way.
Getting to the actual remixes proved to be another avenue that required more thought. This is where I get nerdy as hell, so be prepared. I was working to learn a new DAW (Digital Audio Workstation – a fancy name for recording/mixing software). I already knew this DAW, called LUNA, was better sounding than my trusty old DAW that I still use to track everything I do when it’s new music to write and record. However, I wasn’t super versed in all the little ins-n-outs of the DAW (I’m still not, but I’m quick with it).
I made the artistic choice to do each album on a different console. A console is the old-school term for the hardware desk musicians, producers, artists, used to record and mix on before the digital versions came along. Now there are a plethora of emulations of classic consoles that can be gotten for pretty much any DAW these days [** I do believe there is one DAW that is an actual emulation of a console 🤷🏼♂️]
Pick Your Fancy
What this means is that I could now choose which console to mix a song with. Something that isn’t super common yet with DAWs and mixing engineers. I did a little research and made the determination to mix Christmas Past on a Neve 88rs. A console that was a large format desk meant to be an update to an older Neve design thus a cleaner but classic sound. A very vibey console that I believe gave great character to our beloved public domain Christmas songs.
Christmas Present was mixed on a Focusrite. This is a very rare console created by the Focusrite company of which only 10 were made but have been sought out to be used for many a popular song or album you may already know. It’s a low noise, low distortion console that I felt would really tackle the songs people are familiar with.
For Christmas Future I chose the SSL 9000 J. A very modern sounding, super clean, console for all the songs that are destined to become Christmas classics! (hint, hint – you need to add these songs to your playlists and get all your friends to do the same, or at least tell two friends to do the same).
The end result you can now hear for yourself. The albums have more character. They have more life. They sound fuller. Plus, a vast majority of the songs now have proper sleigh bells in them. What more could you possibly ask for?!?
Not all people reading to this point will be Spotify users, which is why I did link to the releases on my website. Those links will take you to updated release pages that contain links to all the major streaming services (Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube, etc). For the truly bold, I implore you to go pick up the deluxe version of Christmas Brought Me You which includes some extra goodies. Or if you’re getting cold and need a great jacket to help keep you warm with that special Christmas feeling, I do have a lovely Christmas Brought Me You jacket.
Thank you for reading all the way to here. Have a wonderful set of holidays no matter what you celebrate or who you celebrate it with. See you next year with more new music, cause yes there is a lot of music I have coming.
When your peers start to recognize you, it’s an intoxicating experience. Especially when those peers are much further up the ladder of success than you are.
When I started getting better performance slots it was a kick in the pants. I did some shows at a place called Martini Blues. Several were styled after songwriter in the round style setups. Where they put 3 to 4 songwriters in a row on a stage and they take turns playing songs they’ve written and talking a little bit about the stories behind the song and it’s creation.
Particularly this is about the 2nd time I got invited to do this. I was on stage center left, to my left was Dee Biggs, to my right was Warren Sellars, to his right was James Grey. All these guys had been working with bigger artists as songwriters – I was the “odd” man out.
It started with James, then went to Warren and then to me. Because of the songs James & Warren had chosen, I opted to kick off with a song called Falling In. [if you’re paying attention to my emails, you know some history about that one].
I proceed to play the song and as the last note is ringing out Warren immediately said (I’m paraphrasing a bit because it was a bit more swearing than this) “Holy shit, did you see the way he was playing that?!? Not only is that an amazing song, but damn his fingers!”
Mind you, he blurted this out in front of an audience.
I may have blushed a bit at that statement. Because now the spotlight is on me and someone the audience is familiar with has exclaimed something to another of the more famous songwriters on stage in front of them.
Of course it made me feel amazing inside. Aside from the blushing I was feeling really energized as well. These are the kinds of things that give me a huge boost to perform even better.
For the 3rd time I was invited back, it was a similar situation but it was Warren, James, and instead of Dee it was another writer by the name of Kevin Fisher. You’ve likely heard music that Kevin has written – he’s had cuts by some very popular artists.
This time around, no one made massive exclamations from the stage, but then Kevin was on the opposite of the stage from me. What did happen is that when we finished the set, Kevin came over to me and asked for my phone number so that he and I could get together and do some writing.
That right there was a really amazing shot in the arm to me.
Yes, we did get to write together. I look forward to writing with any one of them again in the future.
There’s no doubt that anyone and everyone on the planet can relate to the hurt of rejection. Unless of course you’ve got a screw loose and have no concept of E.Q.
I don’t outwardly show a ton of emotion, but that doesn’t take the sting off of any rejection. Here’s one of the biggest stings I ever got in my music career…
As a fan of the show Heroes, I ended up writing a song called Hero Unexpected. This was a turning point in my songwriting and production chops. I knew I had a really awesome chorus. But the verses initially were translating to people if they didn’t know the TV show. I agonized over that and had nine rewrites of them until I was finally happy with it and other people could relate to it without knowing the show.
The recording process went equally as painstaking for me at the time. I really spent time thinking thru the arrangement. Making sure every layer of every sound I put into it would fit nicely with all the others. Most of the time up to that point I was winging it and sticking to primarily a two guitars, bass, drums, vocals thing. Expanding my potential was the goal.
What made the recording even more fruitful was having a good friend of mine, George Leger III, who wanted to help me record the vocals. He really wanted to produce the vocal recording. He felt he could draw the right performance out of me to really make the song shine.
We spent an afternoon into an evening as his Glendale studio where he guided me thru recording the vocals. Take after take, part after part. The lesson I learned from that session was valuable. He had a sheet of my lyrics and as we were recording it, he’d be taking notes on which take had the right inflection for each word, or phrase. Mind you I didn’t see him doing as I was singing in another room. I saw it after.
When we finished, I took the tracks back to my studio and spent a good deal of time working on the comps and mix of the song. I may have spent close to a week, then took a little time off and would come back to it.
As fortune would have it, in the months leading up to the finished mix of Hero Unexpected, I had befriended a mastering engineer who had won several Grammys. If I haven’t written about the lead up to that friendship, it’s probably being saved for a book on my career because it’s pretty damn random.
Gavin Lurssen and I spoke about the song for a rather lengthy bit and talked about what I was hoping to get out of the master for it. However, the best bit about the conversation was his reaction to finding out that I not wrote and performed it, but that I had also recorded and mixed it [minus the vocal producer George]. It was a two word response that started with F and ended with U.
Gavin did a marvelous job with the master and I was super happy with the end result.
Fast forward some months later when I find out about Iron Man. Since people up to this point were telling me how awesome the song was for anything superhero related, I made a valiant effort to get it in front of the music supervisor for that movie. Major brownie points to the lawyer that helped make that happen, Steve, you know who you are.
Anyway [enough of the long preamble], we were fortunate enough to get a phone call with the the music supervisor. He proceeds to tell us that he really loves the song and that it would be perfect for the movie. But… [here comes the brutality and I will quote this]: “You are not famous enough for us to be able to use it.”
Zing. Bang. Pow. Zowie. OUCH!!
Up to that point, I had never given a moment’s thought to a song getting rejected due to lack of fame. Usually they will pick a song because it’s the right song for the part. Then to be told that it is essentially the right song for the part, but you lack the fame?!? Oophff. That stung.
It came back to sting me again when the movie released and multiple industry people told me Hero Unexpected would have been the better pick over the famous song they did use. There are things you can’t control. I still hold out hope that it will one day get used for a superhero movie.
That moment really taught me rejection can hurt, but I can’t take it personally. No matter how much it hurt, I had to soldier on.
Once upon a time I had a discussion with a friend that ran a songwriter’s group. During that discussion we spoke about another mutual friend who was a bass player and how he sang and played bass at the same time.
Part of that discussion led to the idea of slap n pop, which is a technique used by some bass players to create more interesting rhythms for bass lines. I had mentioned the same technique could be used for guitars and be quite interesting.
The response was that it wouldn’t be possible.
Of course, I decided to grab a guitar and started messing around with playing a slap n pop style. What came out was a little progression that I wrote a song called “Falling In” too. Where obviously I’m singing over a slap n pop guitar part.
The irony, it won me an award a year later.
During this same time I was attending a large amount of songwriter events. Some were performances, others were song share type things, some judged, some for fun. One particular event was at a coffee shop in southern California.
At this event a song consultant guru type from Nashville was the moderator / leader for the evening. He was having people get up and play one song and he’d give some feedback. Kinda a performance thing, mixed with a little judging coupled with fun for hanging with other songwriters.
Everyone up to that point that had played, had played their song and gotten some great feedback on their song. Not much was said about anyone’s performance. Pretty standard fair as these things go.
Then I got up to play Falling In.
I proceed to play the song and something was very different about the venue once I got to the first verse. The room went dead quiet. For everyone else, there was some minor banter, not the kind of din that a musician couldn’t be heard over – but now… Silence.
When I got done, the moderator / guru / leader, aka Marc-Allen Barnette took a moment to think and then said “You are quite possibly a victim of your own coolness.”
I sat there for a moment wondering what the next words would be as I waited, like everyone else to hear what he had to say. Because what do you follow that up with?!?
He went on to explain how lovely he thought the song was. How the melody was really catchy and was already stuck in his head, but he was overtaken from enjoying the song itself by getting mesmerized in how it was being played on the guitar. He felt the actual performance of it was just as amazing to watch. Specifically with my hands, the movement and the stretch required to play it.
That was the first really wild thing said about that song, but it wasn’t the last. Though it was far from the craziest thing ever said about any of my music.
Needless to say, Falling In has been one song that tends to elicit some pretty amazing results with audiences. Whether it’s their rapt silence or their exclamations about how it’s played. Never ceases to amaze me how people react to it.
All because I was told it wasn’t possible to do something.
If you’ve ever seen the movies 20 Feet From Stardom or Hired Guns, some of what you’re about to read will not sound all that outrageous. However, if you’re not familiar with these two documentaries, then it’s possible you’ll think my veracity is suspect.
A few years back I was doing auditions for bands signed to major labels. There times when they’re about to go on tour and need a musician to replace someone.
There’s a couple of guys in the LA area that are the main sources of getting these auditions out to the musician community. Now quite often it’s the musicians who want to go on these tours that are scrambling to get the auditions by any means they possibly can. That wasn’t my method.
I started getting called up to do these types of auditions. I didn’t know it at the time, but a friend of mine that I had gone to music school with and was now working A&R for a major label told me: “If you’re getting called to do an audition, you are on the A-list.”
Apparently it’s rare for a musician to get the call. Remember, a moment ago I wrote that most guys are calling and scrambling to get these things.
I was driving down Melrose Ave when I got a call to do an audition for an artist. I had heard of him. And I thought, that’s cool, but why would he need a guitar player? He is one, and a damn good one at that. Either way, I was in the middle of a call with another musician friend, a bassist. When I got back on the line with him, I mentioned the audition and he freaked out. He pestered me to find out if they were looking for a bassist too. I told him I’d ask.
I got home that afternoon and a CD was messengered to me. I called to thank the person in charge and put the feeler out for bassist needs. Answer came back they were only looking for guitar players who could play keys or keyboard players who could also play guitar. See it really helps to be a multi-instrumentalist. As you know, I’m primarily a guitarist, but I can play piano too. Which is probably why I got the call.
I had about 48 hours to learn 3 songs and be ready to play them for the audition. Which for most auditions I’ve been called for is 40 more than normal. Those are other stories for other times.
Did my homework, got the songs memorized and went off to the rehearsal spot for the audition. Come to think of it, there were several of these auditions in that exact same room.
When I showed up and was shuffled into the room, there were other people there besides the band. I was quickly introduced then got my guitar out and strapped on. As I was grabbing my cable, the bassist walked over and asked me about an item I had on the headstock called a FatFinger. I explained to him that it was there to help tighten up the low end of the guitar and increase the sustain. He thought it was cool and wanted to get one.
Shortly after he turned away, John walked over and started counting the number of strings on my guitar. He found that I had 7 of them on the guitar that I brought with me. He mused “Seven! We don’t have enough seven string in my band.” Then introduced himself. Yes, that is how I met John Mayer.
We all hopped on stage, plugged in and proceeded to play thru the songs as he called them. I had an immense feeling of satisfaction while playing with him and his band. I was smiling and having a good time. I know that I nailed that audition. Everyone seemed quite pleased. But the best part about it was – I didn’t dwarf him.
See most artists that I had auditioned for were actually not very tall. So at 6’4″ it’s often the height difference that can be the reason for not getting a gig. However, John and I – same height. Whew.
I was told they’d get back to me.
Not long later I did get a call about it. They had gone with a keyboard player who could play guitar, but if he didn’t work out, I needed to be ready. Unfortunately I never got a third call. However, I did enjoy that time and getting to jam with John. He’s a super talented guy and the band he had that day was amazingly solid. Playing in a situation like that is pure joy. The reason? It makes playing easy. When everyone is a monster player, it’s like magic. It’s rare.
The saying says that the man who does what he loves for a living will never work a day in his life. For me I get the joy of creating music as my living. Which is meant to say that I don’t apparently work.
If I were to tell other musicians that I’ve played with or produced, that I don’t work, they’d call bullshit. More often than not the most common phrase I hear is that I work super hard and I expect the same from them.
Wasn’t Always Pop
I wasn’t always into pop music. Before I became a musician I actually avoided pop music like the plague. There was a terrible belief that it lacked authenticity and real talent. Both concepts couldn’t be further from the truth.
I can’t give you the exact date when I dropped that bullshit theory into the trash. However I can say it didn’t happen overnight. It took months. Possibly even a year or two.
The first song the really started going into a more pop route would be Falling In. One of the more popular songs from my release Practical Insanity. Though it’s not a pop song in the traditional sense. Not buried in synth sounds, which is a common falsehood.
There’s a simplicity to the underlying music that took me a long time to make sound super fluid. I have posted about the impetus behind how I created the song, but the hard part was making it sound fluid and dynamic. That took practice and to sing it at the same time – took even more.
The next song in my catalog that really started me on the path of wanting to sound more accessible and popular was Hero Unexpected. This song went thru over nine re-writes before it settled into the finalized form it got recorded into.
I should specify that it was not the chorus that got that many re-writes. No, that pretty much was nailed in the first draft. It was the verses and some of the musical content that got all the tweaks. Got all the parts of the music tracked then worked with my buddy George Leger who played the producer for recording my vocals with me.
Tracking done, I spent a good deal of time working on the mix making sure it was delivering the song in a fashion that powered the song beyond anything I had created prior. Fortunately for me I had also recently befriended Gavin Lurssen who is a major mastering master. We had a good long chat about the goal of the song and its sonic destiny.
The fork in the road was complete. Once I released Hero Unexpected I was fully on the road I never that thought I’d find myself on.
As I continue making all kinds of music, I do find myself doing additional turns in the road but always keep coming back to the pop world as it seems to lack boundaries of what can be done sonically. That lack of boundaries is what allows me that joy to be creating popular sounding music.
To most musicians, being unknown is the kiss of death. Especially if no one beyond your family and a few friends know who you are. To that end, a lot of musicians are constantly working to expand their network and often get a little boost from instrument and gear makers. This is often called getting an endorsement.
I have multiple musician and producer friends who look at me and admire my ability to secure endorsements. It’s all perspective really. I don’t think I do it all that well. But I’m not on the outside looking at me. Part of the reason for that is because of how long it took me to get a particular endorsement from a major guitar maker.
Playing a bunch of shows around the LA area, and getting a little award got me feeling like I was on the right path for a bit more name recognition for my music.
For three years I was attempting to court Taylor Guitars because I really loved their guitars. Each time I was able to talk to them and show them what was going on, I’d get a we’ll get back to you response.
One night I was at a venue in San Diego for a songwriter’s event and performance with a bass playing friend by the name of Seth Horan [he’s one talented motherfucker if you ever look him up].
We happened to see a guy named Steve White who was playing this awesome acoustic blues stuff with a box on the floor for his feet for percussion. In turn, he watched each of us play too.
Steve, Seth and I were sitting next to each other shooting the shit for a while during that event. Somehow the subject of Taylor Guitars came up as Steve had one and Seth and I were interested in them. As it happened Steve was endorsed by Taylor and told us he’d help us out in terms of getting in the door, provided we’d be at NAMM.
A couple of months later NAMM rolled around. As it happened, Steve was performing at the NAMM booth. I showed up to catch the tale end of his performance. As he finished, I walked over to him and he walked right up to me and said it was nice to see me again. At that very moment Taylor’s A&R guy, Bob Borbonus, walked up.
Before things went any further Steve immediately introduced me to Bob. We shook hands and at that moment two other friends of mine that I didn’t know were Taylor Guitar endorsees walked up. Now the 5 of us are all standing around chatting and I’m sorta the odd one out. I did have a press kit to give Bob, but instead he asked if I was performing somewhere during NAMM. I mentioned that I was playing at the Marriott Hotel in the lobby that evening.
Bob said that was the hotel he was staying in and that he’d stop by to check me out. He didn’t want the press kit, he wanted to see me live.
That evening rolls around and I’m about halfway thru my set when I see Bob walk into the area. He stops for about 30 seconds and walks off to the bar around the corner. The song I was playing at the time “Sex (everybody ‘s talkin’ ’bout).” Yes, I very specifically remember that. As in my head I thought, fuck I must sound like shit for him to not stick around. Mind you, I was also playing a borrowed acoustic guitar, not a Taylor.
When my set finished, I walked over to the bar area to try and find him.
I found him and the first thing he says to me is: You need to be playing a Taylor!
We started chatting about life and some music related things. Bob is a really cool guy and he’s really easy to chat with.
While we were chatting the Australian Taylor Guitar rep came up to us [mind you he was pretty toasted and drinking] and says: “Mate! Your fuckin playing is brilliant! But stop playing that shitty guitar and get a Taylor.”
To which Bob interjected: It’s already taken care of.
And just like that, I was inducted into the Taylor family and have been very happy ever since.
Video games are big business. As a kid I was a master of quite a few video games. Then I got into music and never thought of combining my musical skills with the creation of video games. Not until a friend of mine, Robert Navarro, put it in my head that I should find an agent get into it.
Robert was busy courting a major agency that represented more well known video game composers. He finally got someone’s ear and landed a spot with the biggest of the big. Being the super helpful dude that he is, he offered to have me meet an agent that was courting him from a much smaller agency. Her’s.
She wasn’t actively looking beyond Robert, but decided to take a chance on me and took me in. It’s one of those moments in a musician’s career that makes you feel real good. To have someone who’s supposed to actively find you work is a wonderful concept. One that was foreign to me.
One of the first gigs she gets me is as a singer for a video game. Not exactly the composing type thing I was looking for, but the pay was good and it was a moment when I got asked to do it, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
The job entailed singing 7 songs on the soundtrack, several with me as the only vocalist and a few that I was to duet with a female singer. She introduced me to the composer of the songs who sent me the demos which included the melodies and lyrics I needed to learn.
Always do your homework before going into the studio. That’s a lesson I can’t stress enough to green musicians. I’m a master of doing my homework for gigs. The music was fun stuff for the game. The melodies were all within my vocal range, but some of the lyrics were a bit out there in left field. Some didn’t make any sense. The reason? They were translated from Japanese.
The fortunate thing is that the composer Norihiko Hibino was more than happy to have me help give some lyrical help so that it wouldn’t be complete nonsense in English but still remain close to their original Japanese meaning.
I got to the session a few minutes early and they shuffled me into the vocal booth. The plan was to record the four songs that I would sing solo, then duet the other 3 with Aubrey Ashburn when she got there. What transpired was a little different.
Because I had done my homework, I sang all the songs including triple tracking all my vocals in various styles in substantially less time than they had allotted to get it done. So we decided to track all my parts for the duets as well. We got all those done before it was time for Aubrey to be there.
The studio engineer at one point joked and wondered out loud where was I 6 months prior when he was tracking a singer singing soundtrack stuff for a Sylvester Stallone movie. I thought about it for a second mentally going over where the studio was in relation to my house and replied, about a mile that way [as I pointed in the direction of where my house was from his studio].
I didn’t really think much about the game afterwards. I never actually got a chance to play it. There are videos of gameplay online. Which is as close as I’ve gotten to playing it. Though I did get a copy of the soundtrack that still sits in shrink wrap.
Once in a while I get a fan of the game who will reach out to me via email or social media and ask if I’m the guy who sang on the game. There’s a wikipedia page for Go Vacation and my name appears on the page. However, I do not have a wikipedia page so it doesn’t link to me anywhere. [If you’re a wikipedia wiz, you should start a page for me.] 🙃
People will tell me how much they enjoyed the game and/or the music. How it was a major influence on them as a kid, those kinds of things. Hearing stuff like that is super flattering. I didn’t compose the music, but I had a hand in bringing it to life. Knowing that it made people feel good to play it and listen to it is a wonderful vibe.
How did I manage to live with a famous singer in Los Angeles? A question I tend to get when people find out one of my good friends and former roommate is Jeff Scott Soto.
Getting disappointed living in Boulder Colorado after graduating from music school, I was looking around for places to go. Two things happened. First, I was still friends with a musician named Julie whom I met at school and we would chat on occasion about music and life. Second, I got an offer from a guy who had a teaching situation that he was wanting to give up in Los Angeles.
Item two gave me a good reason to get out of Boulder. Another reason of wanting to leave was I was having a difficult time finding players that were into the music I was into and had a strong sense of musicality. I didn’t fit in there. Despite loving the area.
Back to item one. At the same time Julie and her boyfriend were living in Florida and wanting to move to LA. I had briefly met her boyfriend the winter before at NAMM and again a few months later in New York. Anyway, he was from LA and she knew the area fairly well.
The plan was for me to meet up with Julie in LA to have help looking for a place to live. Timing wise, she flew out and I drove down. For several days we’d go tooling around the Burbank & San Fernando Valley area looking at various apartments. Mainly for her and Jeff, and by proxy, I might get lucky and get an apartment in the same building to have a couple of friends nearby.
There was one moment of frustration when we were driving south on Laurel Canyon. We were coming up on an apartment complex she wanted to check out, but traffic was rough and she got a tad demanding. I ended up turning too sharp to get into a parking spot and popped my front passenger tire on the curb. FUCK!
There’s a whole story behind the adventure of getting the tired replaced. Maybe it will appear in a book about my life.
The apartment complex where I popped my tire ended up being a bust as well.
A day later Julie finds a condo in Burbank. We go check it out. She totally digs it, but the price was beyond what her and Jeff could afford. Jeff at the time was in a u-haul driving across the US with their belongings and was going completely on her word about the place.
She’s so enamored with the condo that talk comes up of asking me to be a roommate. I liked the location and the condo as well. I decided I’d be willing to split the rent 3 ways and live with them. Jeff arrived a day or two later. We signed the lease and moved into the condo overlooking Burbank and the entire valley.
It was weird being the youngest tenants in what seemed like a retirement neighborhood. It was quiet, it was safe, and we all got along.
That’s how I ended up being roommates with Jeff. The rest as the saying goes, is history.
Based on my upbringing, I’ve never been one to freak out over meeting someone with any kind of celebrity status. Gotta thank my parents and their friends for that. Cause they had some super famous friends and to my sister and I, they were just people.
When I first started living in LA, I was living with a singer that fans of the metal genre would worship. To me, he was Jeff. So yeah, I don’t really freak out. Jeff turned me on to a band called Jellyfish in a big way. He wasn’t the first to get me to listen to them, but he was the first to really insist that I pay attention to their music.
That’s how I became aware of a musician by the name of Eric Dover. Eric was a guitar player and background vocalist for some of Jellyfish’s tours. Any student of the Jellyfish knows you had to be a monster musician to be in that band.
There are stories of Eric going home from Jellyfish rehearsals in tears because they were so hard on him.
After Jellyfish, Eric went on to front Slash’s Snake Pit for a while. Fronted Imperial Drag and a band called Sextus. I admire Eric for his voice, and his tenacity. There’s a quality to his musicianship that I really think is special.
There’s the preamble…
My first gig as a solo artist in LA was at a place called The Gig. Located on Melrose Ave. Don’t bother looking it up, it’s closed down now.
The Gig was a super nice club. Good atmosphere and the people booking it were actually nice. The woman that booked me there liked me enough to give me a decent slot on a Friday night for my first chance. Which isn’t how it normally worked in LA.
My band had the second soundcheck as we were the second to last band on the bill, soundchecks always run reverse order of the lineup. Or at least they usually do. Anyway, we were in the process of loading our gear in and about to be called up to the stage when this guy walks by me, and I think to myself – damn he looks an awful lot like Eric Dover.
“Eric!” I say.
The guy stops and turns around.
“You’re Eric Dover!” I blurt out.
He got a look of being flattered that someone would recognize him and suddenly we’re chatting and geeking out about guitars and music. It was really cool to meet someone who’s musical talent I really respected and he was super cool.
As it happened, his band was the headliner for the night. They had just finished soundcheck and were leaving.
My band and I were getting shuffled on to the stage to do our soundcheck. We got setup, all set to play. The sound guy is dialing things in when all of a sudden thru the monitors we hear, hold up. Looking over to the sound guy he’s scratching his head and says “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… Both of you guitar players can turn up!”
So Chris and I turn up and we finish the sound check.
As I’m getting off the stage Eric comes over to me and tells me how much he liked what he heard. I thanked him for sticking around cause in reality he didn’t have to do that. Usually the headliner takes off and goes to relax somewhere else before they come back for the show.
Inside I was jumping up and down in excitement that a musical hero of mine listened, enjoyed and complimented me. That really made my day. The gig itself was icing on the cake.
What an introduction to my solo career.