Dave Weckl: On Time
DW : I was six or seven. Guitar, it didn't last long.
AAJ : When did you start on drums?
DW : Right after that at seven or eight years of age I started with box lids and pan lids from my mother's cookware, which you can imagine didn't go over to well. So my parents got me a cheap drum set to beat on, which got set up in my dad's TV work room, and eventually moved to the living room. Yes, the living room, which is where they stayed set up for years. I played with my dad on occasion, and had behind me the huge turn table/stereo system that I could crank loud enough to play to records.
AAJ : Can you outline the progression of your skills on the drums?
DW : Not completely, that would take me quite a while because it's been so much study and practice over the years, that to retrace it all would be monumental. Let's just say that I had a burning desire to learn, and I constantly listened and copied who and what I liked. And I spent a hell of a lot of time practicing, and playing with other musicians from a very early age. I always strived to be very versatile, to try and have a grasp on different styles, sounds and textures, and be able to fit in to different musical situations appropriately.
I also went through a few great teachers when I was young (Bob Matheny and Joe Buerger) in St Louis MO that helped to mold me into the player I am today. During high school I practiced a lot, listened a lot, and the same in my early college years. On the east coast in College (Univ. of Bridgeport CT), with drum teachers Ed Soph and Randy Jones, and then privately with the late Gary Chester, which was some of the most profound study of my life. I was then on the road with no private study for probably 10-12 years until I started to see Freddie Gruber, which was life-changing for me, as far as how I approached playing the drums, and still, for the most part, the approach I use today.
AAJ : What was your first big break as an professional musician?
DW : I would have to say when I was playing on the East Coast with a band called Nite Sprite (while in college). We got a gig in New York City at the Breckers' club, called Seventh Ave South.. I invited [drummer] Peter Erksine to come and see the gig (had been in touch with him) and he thought enough of what I was doing to recommend me for a gig he couldn't do. That was with a band called French Toast, which later became [pianist] Michel Camillo's band. Anthony Jackson was the bass player, and we hit it off great. AJ started to recommend me for everything, including a tour with Simon and Garfunkel in 1983. Paul actually came to a gig I was doing (in that same club a year or two later) and hired me for the summer tour in the States and EU. That was really the beginning of my career on a professional level in NYC. Then, in 1984 I was playing with [guitarist] Bill Connors and [bassist] Tom Kennedy at The Bottom Line in NYC, when Chick Corea came to hear me, after being recommended to do so by [saxophonist] Michael Brecker and others. The rest is history, as they say.
AAJ : Do you remember your first paying job as a drummer? How old were you?
DW : Not exactly sure. I'll be safe and say it was when I was 16 and working quite a few nights a week with a pop band while in high school.
AAJ : Was there a specific moment or time in your life when you realized that you had a gift and the skill set and competency to play with the best? When did you know that you could hold your own?
DW : Not sure of that either but I most certainly had made up my mind by the age of 13 that playing drums is what I would do... nothing else. I was also quite a sports fanatic, and played organized baseball and soccer, but quit all that by high school as I realized I didn't have time for both sports and music, and I knew I was better at the drums than baseball I think by the time I was 15 or 16 I was playing well enough to know, or at least think, I could really do this at a high level with the best in the business.
AAJ : How would you describe your playing style and approach to music?