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Notes From The Coast

Dave Weckl: On Time

By Published: December 19, 2012
DW : Awake anywhere from 3:30 to 7 AM, drive to airport, deal with all the hassles of airports/flying, take two flights at least, go to hotel and try and sleep for an hour, go to setup sound check (I go an hour before everyone else to get the drums right), play the gig (most times two sets/show), go back to hotel and do it over again the next day, sometimes for as long as a month, with very few days off.

AAJ : Describe a typical day in your life when you are home.

DW : No typical days at home. Lots to do, catch up on, and make up for lost time when I was away. But I do get into a regimen when home. Every other day I get up and go directly to the gym, then usually back home for office work/email. If I have studio work I head there next. I usually try to finish by 8 or 9 pm so I can cook something and watch a movie. That's when it's pretty leisurely though. If I'm really working hard on a project with a deadline in the studio, I spend a lot more time there than anywhere else.

AAJ : How do you balance your home life and your professional life?

DW : The best I can.

AAJ : What is the most difficult aspect of your work?

DW : Being away from loved ones. And, the travel.... every aspect of it.

AAJ : When you are playing the drums live are there any significant differences between jazz, rock, fusion, or blues sets?

DW : Most of the music I play is either jazz/rock fusion, or occasionally straight-ahead jazz, or maybe a Latin jazz gig, every so often. So yes, the fusion kit is mentioned above. The jazz kit I will generally use a typical jazz set up, of small 18" bass drum, 12" and 14" toms and a snare, with less cymbals, but more rides than crashes. For the Latin gigs I use a timbale in place of the standard floor tom placement (and move it to the left side), and put bells and blocks all over the kit, and will also use a small bass drum.

AAJ : When I grew up people used to say that all jazz drummers could play rock but not all rock drummers can play jazz. Is there any truth to that?

DW : Maybe a bit. The guys who can really play rock (and that's all they do) are well-versed in doing that, especially from a dynamic standpoint. There are few or no subtleties when playing rock, whereas jazz is all about the touch and finesse of it. I guess you could say some jazz/fusion players can crossover to rock-oriented music a little easier than vica versa. But the other big aspect is feel. Jazz is based in 12/8, triplets; there just isn't a whole lot of triplets going in rock music, so that combined with the softer touch aspect I think makes it difficult for most rock players to play jazz. Then there's the whole understanding of the style and the vocabulary.

AAJ : It is not a secret that you are ranked as one of the best drummers on the planet. Have you ever found yourself in a position where the musicians that you had to take it down a notch or two because the skill level of the other musicians were not as high as yours?

DW : Sometimes, but that is just being musically responsible. And, if I ever have to take it down a notch it's usually in my soloing. But it has also taught me to be able to play things that are identifiable to others. I always tell my students, that if you are the only one on stage having a good time with and understanding what you are playing, there's a problem.

Photo Credit

Scott Mitchell

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