Interview Reprint Part I
Here's an interview I did with Dave for Hard n' Fast magazine a while back.
Thought it deserved a repost...
Dave Meniketti, better known for his blistering vocals and guitar-hero riffs in YandT, has released a new solo CD entitled MENIKETTI. The disc takes Dave back to his roots musically, with a much harder edged tone and in my opinion some of his most solid songwriting. I caught up with Dave hot on the heels of the CD's release to get his thoughts on the disc, the music, the band, and the life of Dave Meniketti.
~ Interview By Jeff Kehr.
HARD N' FAST: Dave, your new solo CD entitled MENIKETTI is quite a departure from your initial solo effort, 'ON THE BLUE SIDE' which was released a few years back, in that it really goes back to the full blown rock n roll that we're accustomed to hearing from you. Did you intentionally plan to do a more straight-ahead rock record this time out?
DAVE MENIKETTI: It wasn't entirely intentional. I started writing for this record with no particular direction in mind, but as things progressed, the rock side just kept being the thing that was inspiring me and the guys in the band. As more rock tunes emerged, it just fed on itself and became very clear that this was the way it was going to be for me. It's just like riding a bike.
HN'F: Tell us a little bit about your solo band and how you met up with each of these talented musicians.
DM: After YandT broke up in 1990, I knew I wanted to pursue a solo career. I took a few years off, built a studio and started to dive into it. Right at that time, I met my bass player, Myron Dove, while engineering a few tunes for Stef Burns' solo record in 1992. They tracked half the record in my newly finished studio and Myron and I hit it off. I asked him to play on my first solo CD, 'On The Blue Side,' and it went from there. When we started putting the live band together, he introduced me to Chris Miller (drums) and Chris brought Tony Stead (keys) in to the band.
HN'F: I just caught your show in San Jose, CA recently and immediately noticed the on-stage chemistry between yourself and Myron Dove and was just blown away by the improvisations that seem to just "happen" when you guys are playing together. Can you elaborate on what energy is happening up there?
DM: Besides the fact that Myron is simply an amazing player and fun to be in a band with, we have a great vibe together, musically and personally that just makes things natural and energized, in both writing and performing. We just play off of each other like we're connected. He can sense just where I'm going and he's right there, and vice versa. The kind of emotional backbone that he brings to the band just sets me off completely to incredible highs. The jams we allow ourselves to get into are absolute magic. Every night is a different performance and we all just allow each other the space to bring something to the table as individual performers and as a band unit.
HN'F: The cover of the new album is definitive and to the point, with the Sunburst Les Paul that became your trademark over the years adorning it. I think fans really connect with that image. Is that why you chose it?
DM: Yes. Over the years, my Les Paul has been a very recognizable part of my career, in both live shows and pictures. It's kind of connected to me like a third arm and it just made sense to make it part of my logo.
HN'F: You recorded this album in your home studio. Can you elaborate on the tools that you used to get the job done? The sound on this CD is excellent!
DM: Thanks. I have a cool setup with a great sounding room for tracking drums and guitars. That, along with using 2 inch 16-track analog tape for the basic tracks, helped to get a fat drum sound. All the drum tracks were transferred over to computer and the guitars, keys and vocals were all tracked through tube preamps, directly into the digital audio workstation, using Nuendo software. I'm always striving to get the best gear for the sounds I like to get and I've amassed a good collection of toys through the last 10 years in order to make it easier to get there. That all helps, but it doesn't mean much if you don't get the performances or mixes right. Luckily for me, Tom Size, a brilliant engineer that I have worked with on a few other CDs, was available to help me engineer the tracks and he also mixed the record.
I REMEMBER is classic melodic, in-your-face rock n roll and is one of my favorite tracks on the CD. Can you enlighten us on how that song came about?
DM: It came about when the band was setting up for a gig rehearsal. Myron started playing a bass pattern that would end up being the chorus pattern, as I was tuning up. Then we all started to jam along and I went in the control room and started a recorder. We jammed around on that pattern for about 10 minutes and developed a few more ideas from it, then went on to practice. I listened back a few months later as I was preparing to write for this record and was inspired to work it into a song. That's how Y&T used to write a lot of times. We'd just jam until something cool started to form, then one, or 2 of us would take it the rest of the way. So, in reality, this was the first song idea for the new CD.
HN'F: I can't help but notice some Jimi Hendrix influence in tunes like "Storm" and "Take My Time." I know you've stated before that he was a huge influence on your life. Did you really attempt to catch that vibe on these songs, or was it totally unintentional and Jimi was just channeling through your fingers?
DM: I guess I must have been channeling him, 'cause it certainly wasn't intentional. I truly fly by the seat of my pants when I'm playing and writing and whatever happens is usually completely spontaneous. When I listen back now to the finished product, I suppose I can see a hint of it, but it certainly never hit me that way as I was writing, playing and singing for it.
HN'F: I notice Phil Kennemore, your good friend and bass player in YandT wrote the lyrics for "Tough Luck Avenue" on the CD. How did he get involved?
DM: I brought Phil in to the project at the very end as I was finishing lyrics for the last few tunes. I asked him to give a stab at a few tunes, to help me out and he was happy to give it a go. He wrote the majority of the lyrics for Y&T, so I knew I would be in good hands. Phil's a creative guy and he knew the vibe I was trying to get across on the 2 songs he helped with and he nailed it.
HN'F: What can you tell us about "Messin' With Mr. Big," the first cut on the album? This song has that classic Y&T feel to it, not to mention the "hidden meaning" in the song.
DM: This song was just one of those fun up-tempo tunes that came out as I was writing some last-minute ideas at the end of the record project. What usually happens when I write is that I sing melodies that pop into my head as soon as I start playing chords and licks. The majority of the time I'll start to sing, with fake words, or vowel sounds, or phrases. They almost always end up being the chorus or name of the tune. It's truly spontaneous. And as you can imagine, as I started playing these chords, I started to sing along and "Messing With Mr. Big" came out of my mouth and it stuck. This is the second tune Phil helped me with lyrics on and we wanted to give the lyrics a double entendre and you can guess what that is.
Cutting 'em down to "sucker size" since 1996.