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Notes From The Coast

Dave Weckl: On Time

By Published: December 19, 2012
DW : Depends on the gig. My standard fusion setup Has one kick, two of my signature Yamaha snares (13" and 14"), four toms and a lot of cymbals. I like the melodic and tonal aspect of percussion, so I like to have lots of tones and colors to choose from. If I play a jazz gig for example, I would use smaller kit with less drums and cymbals to more assimilate the stylistic sound of the music.

AAJ : Is there anyone out there that you would like to work with if given the chance?

DW : Sting and Herbie Hancock come to mind.

AAJ : The creative process, can you describe your typical approach to composing and creating new music?

DW : It depends on the kind of music I want to write. It also takes practice to be in the correct mental state to compose music, which is hard to do sometimes when you're constantly working for others, which has been the case for me over the last few years.

My approach when I write for my own projects usually goes like this; I first spend some time thinking about the vibe of the project, then the song concept within it. I usually like to co-compose with members of the project or band, that way we can both (or all) put our heads and strong points together in the process, but that takes the right chemistry. Sometimes I will start on my own with the drum groove concept I want, and if I hear a bass line that suggests a certain vibe or harmony, I'll put that in, then offer that to the others and start jamming on that idea. The others may do a similar thing from their perspective. We record everything we do, then listen back to it and see if there is anything there to grab as a start point for melodies, or sections of the song.

This approach has worked well in the past, with the majority of my bands' music done in this manner. Sometimes I will also try and write something on my own, but my harmonic limitations and technical skills at the keyboard limit me and slow me down, and therefore are not as interesting for me.

AAJ : When you are playing live and find yourself in a \"creative zone or groove, are you thinking about the notes and changes or are things just flowing naturally?

DW : That really takes a lot of analyzing, and is one of the hardest things to talk about and answer. There are lots of variables live that play into what I'm thinking about. If I'm free, in one of those perfect scenarios, I am listening to the music as a whole, like I'm not playing it, so that the outcome is spontaneous composition; it is exactly what I would want to hear as I would listen back to it if recorded, and be able to say, "Yeah, that feels and sounds great," and has all the aspects of what I like to hear in that moment .

AAJ : To date, which artists and contacts in the industry have been the most helpful to you and have guided you in the right direction?

DW : I would have to say everyone that I have come in contact with that I have had a positive relationship with over my long career has helped to direct me in one way or another.

AAJ : What are your favorite venues to play?

DW : Wow, well, there are a few. In the States I would say Yoshi's in Oakland (probably number one in the country for me for various reasons), The Catalina Bar and Grill in LA, The Blue Note in Tokyo, the Culturehouse Viften in Rødovre Denmark—there a few clubs in Denmark that are really nice, names and places escape me at the moment, but they know how to do it over there—to name a few that stand out.

Generally I like bigger clubs that have a great sound system and can be used for all the instruments for fidelity, not volume. I am not a fan of small clubs, at least not with the music I mostly play, which tends to be high energy fusion, with generally healthy stage volume. Acoustic jazz can be nice in small clubs, or "unplugged" type gigs, but high volume bands usually don't work well in small places, either for the band playing or the listening audience.

AAJ : As you progress as an artist and a composer, does the creative process associated with writing new music, become easier or harder?

DW : A little of both. The more you do something the better you do it, and the easier it comes... but that also usually means you fall into your way of doing it, so your composing and playing can sound the same. I guess it's the number one challenge for any artist is to be different within those natural parameters of doing it like you know how and like to do it.

AAJ : How important has the internet and social media been to you as an artist?

DW : It's been, and continues to be a love/hate relationship. I've always tried to stay up on, and learn about technology, and use it to my advantage where possible; the internet being no different. I've had a website for years, and use it for promotion and sales of my products within my career, same with Facebook, and use it all to keep interested fans up to date with what's going on with me and my career. I also use it to search out and discover and learn more about great musicians from the past and present.

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