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the works

Part Two

Michael: “I just took up running. I’m run about 20 miles a week."
Victor: “Wow.”
Ray: “how much do you run?”
Michael: “I’m up to about 20 miles. I’ll do like 2 fours, and about a two and maybe a seven or ten."
Ray: “How long is your show at night? How long is your set?
Michael: “Well, we’ve been opening for Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow, so we’ll get the 45’s. We just did a headlining tour in the fall where we just did clubs and radio shows. Joe won’t stop playing until somebody tells him to. You hit the last note, and he’s already going into the next song. You’re looking at the set list and going “ok, this isn’t on the list.” Fuckin’ Rocket Man by Elton John. Joe’s a loose cannon."
Marco: “I was at a party the other night with him and he tried to pound in anyone’s face who didn’t like Fields of Gold by Sting." (Laughter).
Ray: “Vic brought up a great point about going on the road now to make dough. I found out, that’s a lot of my income now. You guys are probably way more into the session world than I am. Especially yourself (Victor). The road to me, is more of a dough maker than back (home). I moved to LA in ’89. Back then, you’re record still counted. Income was coming in from that, but now days, if it wasn’t’ for the road paying my bills…
Jerohn: “I know for me and a couple other drummers, from the church background, there’s some churches in southern California, that are like mega-churches. 25,000 to 35,000 members. I know some church musicians that are making $2000 to $2500 a week, playing at Church. (laughter). I’m talkin’ ‘bout full medical benefits, on top of that doing sessions, writing and producing. Myself, I’m at a pretty large church. I’m not making $2500 a week, but I make enough money to where if I didn’t go on the road, and if I didn’t do anything but play at church, that would be sufficient.
Michael: “(My bass player) in church is making 2000 to $3000 a week!"
Jerohn: “It gets pretty insane. You know $200 per service. A service is about 2 hours or so…
Marco: “Sundays, for like years after I graduated from college I was doing 2 church gigs. It was literally $50 for a four-hour service. But you do it ‘cause it’s like “well at least god’s on my side!” (Laughter).
Jerohn: “Then you have some churches who will pay $200 to do a 5 minute little worship service. Come in here, play for 15 minutes, $200. Alright.
Marco: “You do the little Baptist churches and it’s different than doing the Presbyterian and Protestant Churches or whatever. Its real standard, you come in and you do it. There’s like an hour rehearsal, you do an hour service and you leave. They pay you like $75. Do a gospel service, it’s like 3 hours, 15 people will do the Holy Ghost dance and then the Pasteur will come up afterward and go “God really wants you to do a rehearsal on Thursday”, and I’m like “No he doesn’t!” (Laughter).
Jerohn :”The church I’m at now, I do 8 o’clock morning service and 11 o’clock morning service, and 6 o’clock evening service, and I do service on Wednesday, and 1 rehearsal on Saturday. That’s pretty much the consistent schedule. It’s pretty cool you know.
Waitress: “More beer anybody?”
Marco: “Let me raise this question to everybody. The big myth, once you get the cool road gig, is that you never have to worry about work or hustlin’. When you come up or as a kid you think “wow, I bet that guy never has to worry about money.” Then you get a couple of cool gigs and you’re like “fuck, where’s my rent coming from?” I’m sure even doing sessions and stuff, you’re (Victor) still like where my next check coming from?”
Victor: “All the time. I try not to worry about it. I was just on the road from the summer and I got finished in December. A month before it ended I was already worried about what I was gonna be doin’. Mostly because I have a kid. Things do work out. It is funny. I remember when I was 18, the first band I was in, we got signed to Atlantic records and I thought that was the end. I was like “ok, ya know what, where’s my house on the hill?” It’s just not like that. Even if you get signed, that’s where the work just starts. Like I said, you gotta be in it for the love of doin’ this. You just keep swingin’ the bat.”
Ray: “It’s a big stress point right there. You keep saying it, but it’s the truth. You gotta love it.
Victor: “You do gotta love it, ‘cause if you don’t you end up real bitter, and I know guys that are great musicians but they’re bitter.”
Marco: “And they’re not that old probably”
Victor: “Not even that old and they’re pissed. I go through moments where I feel a little pissed. I look back, like this last year, I played on some big records. But I still rent a house, I still lease a car. A lot of it’s my own fault through things like when I was younger. Taking certain things for granted or when I did make some money I thought it would be there forever. I made my own share of mistakes, for sure. I think when you’re young, hopefully if a younger drummer reads this they’d realize the reality is that you gotta keep doin’ it, and keep sluggin’ away. Keep workin’ because you love it, and then hopefully, maybe you do get lucky and you make a lot of money and you’re able to retire or do whatever on it. But if you do keep on doin’ what you love, I think things do work out for ya regardless. I’ve had times where I do make a good amount of money, then I have months where I’m worried about where the money is comin’ from. As long as I remain true to myself and what I’m doin’, it all seems to kind of get taken care of some how.
Michael: “Just find a rich girlfriend.” (Laughter)
Ray: “And don’t loose her, man.” That’s a great point. I taught at PIT 8, almost 9 years, and I get punks, I call ‘em punks ‘cause they’re 19 year old kids who think they’re gonna make it and they’re gonna do exactly that; making a ton of money. I actually had a kid who wouldn’t play, wouldn’t participate in a class, and one day about 6 weeks into it I asked “are there any questions on today’s lesson?” Johnny or whatever his name was raises his hand and says “yeah, how long is this gonna take?”. I said “what do you mean?”. He goes “this rockstar thing. I told my mom I was gonna be a rockstar.” (Laughter) The whole class starts laughing and he’s like “what?” So I go “why don’t you see me after class. We’ll talk and we’ll just chill out.”. He came back and he was just dead serious. He said “how long is this gonna take? I’ve been here 6 weeks now.” I said “yeah, it might take you 6 years, it might take 60. What are you thinking right now? How much do you love playing?” He’s like “I like it, but I heard on TV you get chicks and money.” (Laughter). I swear to god he was dead serious. I was trying to explain to this kid that he could luck out and you could meet somebody that takes you to that signed band that sells 3 million records right now, or you could struggle for 20 years and not make that much money. It’s amazing how blind some people are when they come out. He came out somewhere from the Midwest. His mom gave him money. Sure enough, in the seventh week he was gone.
Jerohn: “I wanted all the endorsements more, so I could have all those drums!” I wanted a closet, a garage full of snares you know. I don’t need to spend my money on drums, just give me a bunch of drums. That’s what I wanted.”
Greg: “That’s another good point. There’s a lot of misconceptions out there. I get this all the time, and I know Jack (Mayer, Mayer Bros. Drum) does too; e-mails, phone calls, guys who approach me thinking they are gonna get an endorsement and get this free gear! (laughter). The reality is, you’re not gonna be getting the free gear, usually. There are companies that do it, but you gotta be way up there.
Michael: “Especially now days. Back in the 80’s…”
Jerohn: “They’re (kids) probably looking at Tony Royster “ah, he’s good, he’s good. They gave him drums!” I know about 3 real young cats who are phenomenal, they play better than everybody, and people give them some drums.”
Ray: “Like Brooks Wackerman…”
Michael: “I grew up with Brooks.”
Ray: “Did you? He’s great.”
Michael: “I studied with Chuck, and I played in the jazz band in high school under Chuck Wackerman. That’s a weird family, man. They know I love ‘em. I studied with ‘em in sixth, seventh, eighth grade. Brooks used to be like “lets go down to Balboa Island” which is in Orange County down by Newport Beach. “We’ll go pick up chicks.” I’m thinking I wanna hang and listen to some Zappa with him and pick his brain and shit. He was doin’ all this shit on my dashboard, and he just wants to go skateboarding and pick up chicks. He was in eighth grade and I was a senior. So I was hangin’ with a fuckin’ 12-year-old! (Laughter). But at the same time, he always brought CD’s for the car and shit."
Ray: “It was the Infectious Grooves gig in ’92. It was me and him. It was down to me and him. I was 22, he was like 17 or something at the time. Beat me out of it! He got the gig! I was like “a 17 year old beat me out?” When I saw him play I was like “yeah!”
Greg: “How many of you guys are married?”
Victor: “I’m married.”
Michael: “I’ve been engaged twice.” (Laughter).
Jerohn: “I’m getting married in 5 weeks.” (applause and congratulations from all around the table).
Victor: “I’m on number two.
Greg: “So how does being on the road effect having a family?”
Victor: “Well, if you get married you should start your alimony fund now. (Laughter). Save money so you can start payin’ that. It’s hard, but I’ll tell ya, this year was the coolest. With technology, I bring out a little Apple laptop with a webcam. I was in even in Poland and they had high speed Internet. So we could do like a web cam thing and see each other.
Ray: “That’s awesome!”
Victor: “I’ve done the dumbest shit you could ever possibly imagine. Like bringing my cell phone out to Europe, and then come home to like a $3000 phone bill. Just some dumb shit. But it was hard, because my first marriage definitely suffered from it. Subsequent relationships suffered from it. If you’re gone like a year and a half on a big tour, it’s kinda hard to keep things goin’. That’s why I’ve really tried to stay at home in the last couple of years. But it’s that thing with the steady paycheck that keeps drawing me back out on the road. I love traveling, I love touring, but I like to be at home too with my family now.
Greg: “You have kids too.”
Victor: “yeah. It’s changed for me. And I wanna have more kids. So it’s hard.
Michael: “Do you ever have it arranged for them to meet you somewhere?”
Victor: “Oh, absolutely! My son came out with me over the summer. The band I was out with, everybody had kids, so it was pretty kid friendly.”
Ray: “Where did they put the kids? On the bus?”
Victor: “Oh yeah, on the bus. We had a blast. All the guys were around my age, or older, and everybody had kids. There’s no partying or anything. We’ve all been there, done that. It was a pretty easy environment.
Ray: “That’s cool. My situation is different, ‘cause Dave Roth, he’s 50 now, and he doesn’t go for the girlfriend thing, let alone family. He doesn’t have a wife or kids or anything. So even my girl comin’ out on the road is like a secret thing. Like if I’m backstage, I gotta watch what time she’s there. He’s very eccentric, he’s out there.
Marco: “It bugs him if your girlfriend comes out?”
Ray: “No, as long as the gig’s getting done, as long as business is taken care of, obviously it’s fine. But, never on the bus.
Victor: “I would say other gigs I’ve had, I couldn’t imagine doing that. Like the Macy gig, my kid came out a couple times, but there was a little too much going on there. And like other times, if you’re with a big band, the Beck band was a huge band. Like you (Ray) said, you gotta get the job done, and that can be an interference.”
Ray: “It can be.”
Victor: “This thing I did was definitely an exception. An exception for sure. I’d say these are all decisions you make when you’re younger. You work on your career. Me, I always wanted both. I wanted to play music and I wanted to have a family. I just said “I’m gonna make this work however I can do it.” Unfortunately sometimes it means sacrificing things. It means sacrificing time with my son. You just do the best you can."
Michael: “I was just in an argument last night. Not an argument, a “discussion”. (Laughter).
Marco: “A “discussion” is when she’s right.” (Laughter).
Michael: “We keep getting dates, and our dates keep going like this, creeping into fall. Already I’m into next year. I know were gonna be in New York, she lives in New York, so I’m seeing those little points (open dates) right now. So were cool, ‘cause we got at least every 6 weeks for the first half of the year."
Ray: “You fly her out to see your shows?”
Michael: “Yeah. Joe did 2 weeks with Jewel at the end of November and I had 2 weeks off. Got paid. It was great. So I flew to New York.”
Ray: “I fly mine out to see shows.”
Jerohn: “I had my fiancée out with me on a gig I did with Darrin Hayes from Savage Garden. I think I had her out, I believe, for maybe about a month or so. It was beautiful. They loved her! But it was kind of a special situation. We did some promo, and I said “I’ve had enough. I’m not goin’.” Came home and, Darrin is from Australia, so the tour kicked off in Australia. I’m at home (in LA). I’m at church, and I get a call from Darrin. He says “Hey, I need you to come out here. The show starts in 5 days.” So they had been rehearsing drummers for 3 weeks, and now they got 5 days. So I thought “alright, this one gonna cost you.” (Laughter). The budget wasn’t that big, so I said “bring the fiancée out with me.” They all “perfect. Do it. Sure, let’s go.”
Michael: “That’s quick thinking. I’d be like… $500 a week? Ok….” (Laughter)
Jerohn: “And luckily, they loved her. They like her more than they like me. They're like “Does she sing?” It worked out wonderful even though she got sick a bunch of times. Took her to Mexico, got food poisoning. Spent a whole bunch of money, had to get the IV thing. Having her there was beautiful."
Michael: “You guys have done a lot more than me, but it might be good to talk about money. I’ve always settled for less and I’ve never made big money."
Jerohn: “Money is just goin’ down and down. Like big gigs, they would say “dog you really making a whole lot of money.” But its “no, I just doin’ all right.”
Ray: “The David Lee Roth gig, in ’86, when Bissonette had that gig, cover of Modern Drummer pow! House, bam! Porsche, bam! It’s a whole lot different when I got the gig in ’97. I get treated well, but it’s nothing like it was."
Jerohn: “I have a guy, did the Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation tour. Huge. Wonderful. That’s a big fame to glory, right? We got the drummers come after him, and we like “you making the huge money”. No, no. It’ still better than the average R & B/hip hop artist, but it’s still not as big as you thought. I mean, I hear stories of like Madonna’s drummer getting’ $10,000 a week, somethin’ insane like that, I’m just like “ok, I’m playin’ with such-and-such, 15, 16, 10…”
Ray: (I’ve heard stories) like $22,000 a week!"
Jerohn: “Some of these cats they got like the signing bonus. Just for saying you’ll come out on the road, here’s 50 g’s.”
Marco: “Even things that are supposed to happen, like at the end of a tour, an end of tour bonus. Those things don’t even happen any more.”
Ray: “They don’t.”
Marco: “The two things I learned really quickly, don’t think about it in terms of numbers. Take whatever number you want and subtract 33 percent. Negotiate after taxes."
Ray: “It’s true. That’s a good point."
Marco: “$1300 a week, that ends up being $900 after taxes. Not even netting $1000. It’s not really $1300 a week. So I always negotiate after taxes. And the other thing, if you low-ball ‘em, they’ll treat you like shit."
Ray: “That’s exactly it.”
Marco: “No, it’s true! The more you ask for….”
Ray: “See I used to be afraid of that though. I used to think like I just want the opportunity. Hence the Shrapnel records thing. I did 13 CD’s, but I didn’t make shit. I have a stack of CD’s to show for it, but made nothing. Everytime I go to his house, I look at one of those beams holding his mansion up, goin’ “I think I paid for some of these.” (Laughter). It’s a touchy situation. You want the opportunity, cause sometimes if you ask for a high number, they say “so-and-so will do it for a lot less.”
Jerohn: “I respect you (Ray), Victor, and the other veteran cats who are just like “I’m not leaving my house for less than…” I have a comfortable church gig, so I can sometimes say “no.” $1500, $1600 that’s the average R & B wage these days. It’s really declining. These managers and these cats, they see these young church cats who are hungry to get out there and play. $800 a week. They’ll do it. They don’t care. Let ‘em play drums and tell ‘em what to do. That’s why so many cats in R & B are doing writing and producing. Real solid musicians who have been out there and made all these beautiful tours work, made it great for the people, they like “write me some songs, collect me a check in my bed.” Not go out and do all this work for this little bit of money. And then you get a lot of cats who say “if I’m gonna work that hard, I’m gonna do it for myself. Start my own band.” If I’m gonna suffer, it might as well be for something I’m gonna benefit from."
Marco: “That’s another point too. When someone comes at you with “a band”, they’ll say “we don’t have any money, but…”. It’s like, let me get this straight. I didn’t write any of the songs, I’m not getting any of the publishing, and this is supposed to blow up? Yeah, that’s a band… They don’t owe you shit. They can hire or fire you whenever they want. I would much rather just be a sideman, so “this is my price, take it or leave it. If something happens, they really need you, then you negotiate."
Michael: “What about showing conviction and faith? Commitment. Like in my shoes, with Joe Firstman, he’s a baby band or a baby artist. In my eyes, I’m going “stick this little period out, it’s like yeah…” I love the music, and like you (Victor) were saying, it’s about loving what I do. If I was to quit because of what I was making, I’d be fuckin’ hustlin’ here in LA.”
Marco: “For me, it’s totally a personal choice. From my aspect, even with Liz, and I have a great relationship with Liz. She’s totally cool and in the down time I’ll talk to her on the phone. She’s totally great, but it’s like she doesn’t owe me shit. I have nothing that ties me to her success. If all of a sudden the record goes platinum, I’m not gonna get more money. It just doesn’t work that way. You’re always looking out, making sure you have an exit route. In case this thing goes south, in case the whole record pans and they cancel the last eight weeks of the tour that they said you were gonna be on, you gotta have an exit route."
Victor: “Expectation is a mother fucker right there. You can’t really count on things. It is a hard thing. I played on a lot of these records, and they did really good. But I don’t make any more money. I get my session fee and I’m done. What a great point (Jerohn), there are so many guys that will go out and do this stuff for so cheap right now. That hurts guys like me who have been doing this for a long time. They’ll ask me how much I want and go “uhhhh, I don’t know…” I don’t charge that much. I’ve definitely never made six a week. Never. But I’ve done pretty good on a couple of tours. But now it’s weird. The business is in a weird place. You gotta adjust to what’s goin’ on. Be ready for things. It is hard being a drummer when you didn’t write any of the songs. You’re not gonna get anything else, and you’re expendable. I think if you don’t put an expectation on something, and you know what you’re doin’, you make a decision like maybe it could end tomorrow or it’ll do a little bit better. When you start thinking in terms, like when I was younger I thought when you get signed “fuck, this is it.”
Jerohn: “Don’t get too comfortable in a seat that’s not really yours."
Marco: “But that’s always a challenge. To make that seat yours. Musically anyway.”
Ray: “Build a relationship with the artist.”
Marco: “Liz’ gig is actually, you wouldn’t think it, musically its actually very challenging. If you listen to her new album, which is all top session guys, and the old stuff which is really Stones-ey (Rolling Stones). It’s two totally different things and I have to make it all sound congruous. So the whole challenge with that gig, is to try to make everything, like a cohesive sound. Trying to make sure that whatever I’m doing is right for the music. Trying to make yourself indispensable to the show. It’s hard to make it so that it would be hard for them to bring someone else in."
Michael: “Last week I was hanging with Shaun Pelvin, and in his words, “the only thing you can be responsible for is being a mother fucker.” That’s like be as bad ass as you can all the time. Own the shit."
Jerohn: “That’s always a compliment when you left a gig and someone else has come on, and the band members are like “he’s just not sitting in there the way you did.” I make it a point to just lay it in there real good so that when somebody else comes in there, they gotta work real hard to make it feel as good.”
Michael: “Then you got the band leaders goin’ “ well Ray used to do it like this…he did the fills like…"
Jerohn: “Yeah, I got a lot of that with Victor.” (Laughter). The band always like “Victor laid it in there like this…”
Michael: “Then there’s that rehearsal where you’re actually cursing Victor.” (laughter).
Marco: “I think one of the hardest things about touring, especially with Liz’ gig, that I found out early on, it sounds stupid, but making it sound fresh. It actually can become really difficult. You can play the show in your sleep. Liz will change the set list or spring a song on us that nobody knows 10 minutes before we go on. You know, like hit songs, making it sound fresh and stuff. Not just going through the motions."
Ray: “I’m playing songs from ’77 with Dave that were hits then, up until (songs from) now. So I know your point well. He doesn’t like to change the set list that much."
Marco: “How long have you (Michael) been playing with Joe?”
Michael: “13 months.”
Marco: “Some of those songs you’ve been playing at least that long. Like Breaking all the Ground, all those ones."
Michael: “Also Joe is one that, he’s of the Allman Brothers school of playing a show. He never wants it to be the same, ever. Tonight were doing Subway Boy, and you don’t know who’s taking the solo. It’s eyes up at the end of the second chorus you know. If he looks up at the guitar player, ok, guitar solo, and it’s cue into the final hurrah chorus. That could be 32 bars, it could be 64, it could be 8. (Laughter). I’m lucky man. There’s so much musical freedom. I get a solo almost every night. It’s over like a vamp and shit."
Jerohn: “That wore me out. Macy gave me a segment where I just played by myself as long as I felt like it."
Michael: “Interesting…”
Jerohn: “Man I got tired of that. We did one show where the bass player had to go to the bathroom! It was “keep goin’, keep goin’.”
Michael: “That’s a challenge in itself. Trying to get an audience just with you."
Jerohn: “I stopped playing chops. I started standin’ up, walkin’ around, hittin’ the bass drum from the front. Doin’ stupid stuff just to get the crowd…”
Ray: “It’s all about entertainment man.”
Jerohn: “Well, they don’t know chops.”
Ray: “What’s the percentage of musicians in the audience? Some of those kids can barely tap their foot. Dave taught me that it’s all about the entertainment.”
Jerohn: “If I twirl that stick or somethin’ they gonna be like “whooo!…” (laughter).
Ray: “One of the biggest compliments I ever got is when I throw it (stick) up and it almost hits the light rack and I catch it."
Jerohn: “They talk “Oohhh, throw that stick and catch that thing. It come right back down…” That’s the comment right there." (laughter).
Michael: “I’ve taken that thing to a whole other level. I intentionally miss it. (Laughter). I got the other one waiting. People laugh."
Ray: “We were in Henson recording not too long ago. I got done with this thing, and I’m like man, we played down four songs and I’m just layin’ down stuff. I hear fills, there’s stuff coming up. I started doing some stuff, and all I hear is the talk back button “Luzier that’s great. I imagine all the PIT guys would love that. (Laughter). But the people in the front, back to about row… 85 don’t give a fuck what you just played. Make it girl friendly. Play me some girl friendly fills.” (Laughter). Play some girl friendly fills. I like that. Simply that a little."
Michael: “Roy Burns told me, on that note, “what’s gonna pay your car bill and your mortgage is 2 and 4.” That’s what he said, and it hit me. I was like, that makes sense. From then on I was this pocket Al Greene. I went back to Otis Redding, old R & B. Ok, that’s cool too."
Marco: “It seems no matter what style of music you’re playing, it has to have some blues in it. Whether it’s like rock or playing R & B, there has to be some kind of a feeling of blues in it. Even playing straight eight notes, it has to swing a little bit."
Non-drummer Al: “I have a question. It’s often said that you work to live and you live to work. Musicians have the best of both worlds I would say. Given that to some extent, all of you have taken that mercenary gig, how do you gear up for something that you don’t particularly enjoy playing or where you’re not a fan of the music yourself? As a hired gun, you have to take things that you wouldn’t play."
Victor: “I can take that one. Let me speak on that. I have done a lot of things. Like I ain’t gonna go buy the Hilary Duff record. (Laughter). But there’s a great quote from Ray Charles I remember reading; “there’s something beautiful in every type of music.” The older I’ve gotten, I try to remember what I like about playing drums and how I felt as a little kid. And I try to approach everything I do with that same feeling. I don’t want to be loaded and go on stage, I want to feel everything I feel. Be it angry, be it happy, be it sad. And like, put everything I can into what I’m doing and know that I’m doing my best. Even if I’m not down with the music, I always seem to find something even in the cheesiest shit sometimes that I can lock onto. I try to get excited just to play. Which sometimes is not the easiest thing to do. But it’s weird, I’ve been finding the older I’m getting now, that I’m getting’ back to that same place. Like about warming up. I’d only warm up before I played a show usually. In the past couple months I went and bought myself a practice pad again. I’m sittin’ around the house practicing again. I keep trying to remind myself what it is that made me fall in love with it in the first place, and then have the perspective that damn I’m lucky to be doing this. Lucky to be doing this. What a gift. No matter where you do it, whether you’re making money or not making money doing it. Anything you do, if you’re heart’s really in it, that’s when you’re gonna do your best."
Ray: “That’s goin’ back to doing what you love to do. I deal with this agency called Perfect World Entertainment, we do Boogie Nights. I don’t know if you guys ever heard this kind of gig. I had a guy from Finland, I’ll never forget, he saw me play with Dave in front of 40,000 people at a rock festival. Then he saw me at the Viper Room in front of 300 people with a wig on. A disco wig! Full John Travolta. Kick, snare, crash and hats. He’s like “I don’t understand , how can you do that, then do this?” I’m a working drummer and I’m happy to play anything, whether it’s that (points left) or that (points right). So that’s another thing too. Those guys(other band members) that are bummed out about that! I love it man. Like you (Victor) said, you find the good in it. I found out. I played to a click track every night and that kicked my ass ‘cause I never played to a click track live before, only in the studio. So that, with the adrenaline rush from the crowd, you gotta stay in control cause you’re playing to horn samples and keys."
Victor: “That’s a whole other thing that should be talked about. The best thing I ever read when I was a kid was a round table interview like this, in Modern Drummer, and it was all the session guys. They were asking them like what kind of advice could you give? I remember somebody said “get yourself a metronome, and fuckin’ go to sleep with this thing.” Like set it in different tempos and go to sleep. Just imagine yourself playing different things to it. I did that! It was the best thing. When I finally got a real recording session, I wasn’t scared of the click. A lot of the gigs I get as a session guy, are because there was a drummer in a band who showed up at the gig and was afraid to play to a click."
Marco: “My practice set up at home, is a kick, snare and hi-hat. I’ll just practice along to records, and then I will practice along to a click at 45 beats a minute. I’ve done that for years. It’s literally the best thing I’ve ever done for my playing. And getting to the point where you don’t even think about it. Where it’s like there’s this other guy in my head. (Laughter) You know what I mean."
Michael: “I think I read that same article. Was Jeff Porcaro?…”
Victor: “Porcaro was, yeah.”
Marco: “yeah, the one with Vinnie and Keltner and Porcaro…”
Michael: “They said pretend it’s a cowbell player."
Victor: “Somebody hitting a cowbell, yeah. There’s gigs now where you gotta do it live and there’s sequenced tracks in the background.”
Michael: “And you gotta learn how to hold on to the adrenaline.”
Jerohn: “I’m telling you, that’s all R & B.”
Victor: “You gotta learn how to use that shit.”
Jerohn: “I promise you, now days, if you go to an Usher show or Janet Jackson, every song is on some type of pro-tools. Brian Frazer, every song is playing them pads. Vocals on pro-tools probably. I’ve seen pro-tools set ups, 200 tracks! I’m like, what is all this stuff? You got guitar, bass, and drums on this track! What is all this stuff? You gotta lock up with it."
Victor: “ It’s sessions too. Most of the sessions I do, it’s done. Drums are the last thing to go on there. There are so many things in there. All these 32 notes all over the place, and you got about 2 minutes to be throwing down. If you walk in there and your first track isn’t slammin’ out of the gates, their on the phone (to someone else). So you feel the pressure. You better know how to play to the click and make friend with that thing."
Ray: “I agree with all this 100 percent, but I’ve had some situations where, like with Dave Roth in 1998 with his album called DLR band, there’s only two songs on the whole record to a click track. I was freakin’ ‘cause I play everything to a click. I didn’t dig it. He (David Lee Roth) walked in and it’s like “rock and roll, fuck the click!” Just me and the guitar player. No bass. I didn’t even know how the words went. I didn’t know how to compliment the song because I didn’t know how the vocal went. To this day I listen to that record and I’m like “oh, I sped up, auhh, I slowed down.” You got to have the concept. Build your internal clock."
Victor: “Absolutely. And also I think another great point is that you gotta be well rounded. You can’t be a one trick pony and keep working. I’m probably more guilty now of not knowing new things, but when I was a kid, I listened to everything. I would listen R & B, hip-hop stuff, whatever rock stuff… As many things as possible so I could rap my head around it. Whatever situation I was in. And of course you should definitely be able to play without a click ‘cause that’s a fine art too."
Ray: “I told my students at PIT, I say 85 percent, maybe 80 percent (of the time) play to a click but don’t do it 100 percent ‘cause if you get asked to do without, all of a sudden you’re relying on it.
Jerohn: “Another thing is when you’re playing a pocket where you laying back on it, you can’t lay back on no click! You gotta be able to just have an internal thing where you know the beat is right here but you just right there (off the beat) and making that thing feel crazy like “Ohhh, wow”. You wanna just sink down in the couch and don’t get up ‘cause it’s just layin’ in there. Like you waitin’ for that snare to hit, but it don’t quite come when you want it to, but when it comes it’s like “Oooohhh… yeah…”
Ray: “I had session calls like that where it was play the verse back yesterday, and then push the hell out of the chorus.
Victor: “That’s the fine art of it. Learning how to play on back of it and then still making the chorus’ go on top.
Ray: “yup.”
Victor: “It just comes with being familiar with something so much that you don’t get intimidated by it. That’s what happens a lot. You get intimidated by it. Even still, I get nervous going to a session.”
Ray: “I still get it (nervous). Big time. On stage as well”
Victor: “Me too. I love that. You can use that in a positive way. Not letting it trip you out.”
Michael: “My first recording session I did with a click, they had a Dr Beat, and that’s the one I had at home. I lucked out. That was a good first experience for me.
Ray: “You were familiar with that sound right?”
Michael: “I was actually, “can you put the beep, on every beat?” “Cause that’s how I practice. It was cool ‘cause I knew how to do it.
Jerohn: “But you know one thing, I’ve played behind some drummers where their click is like CLICK, CLICK, CLICK. I’m like “how do you concentrate with your click that loud in your ear?”
Victor: “See, I’m that guy. (Laughter)
Jerohn: “It’s all bleeding in the snare mic…” (laughter). “What’s that sound coming from that channel.”
Greg: “let’s talk groupies.
Ray: “It’s not like it used to be with Dave. Yeah, they’re there for the taking. The buffets always open. I’m faithful to my girl. With Dave you get all generations, from 18 year olds to Grammas. Think about it, Van Halen I came out in what? ’77? Their (groupies) there, but I’m not the guy who partakes. Sorry to be boring. The parties are there, trust me. There’s anything you want. Dave’s got so many friends. He’s sold so many records. Been around the globe so many times. It’s all there. There’s always stars that visit the show, celebrities are always there. I’m one of those chill guys. I just lay back. I do my gig well. Sorry I don’t have stories…I’m a geek man. I love playin’ so much. That’s just what I do. I’m the geek in my (hotel) room with the 16 track Roland hard drive with my guitar and my pod writing stuff. I’m kinda the outcast in the band.
Jerohn: “Me, I’m a big church boy so I’m not gonna go out and party. I’m goin’ on the bus.
Greg: “Outside of groupies, there’s always hard core fans. How do you interact with these fans?
Michael: ”I have something to say about that. There’s a mystique about it because… I always wondered the girls were always so easy to get. (Laughter).
Greg: “It’s a big misconception that’s out there.
Michael: “When I was growing up seeing Madonna; she’s a chick. She’s fuckin commanding her shit. She’s hot. I’m talking about all these old ladies. Who’s hot now? Cheryl Crow. I watched her for 7 weeks last summer, well she’s old too, but she’s hot. She is talented. She’s playing bass on this song, piano on this song, guitar, acoustic, electric, sg on this one, singing like an angel. I realized that’s attractive to see somebody up there. So the girls are seeing us up there.
Ray: “It’s a fantasy world to them. You’re untouchable almost.
Michael: “I have 5 sisters, so I feel sorry for them (fans/groupies). I’ve never done well on the road. I’ve had some fun, but (laughter). I’m goin “yeah, come on, you’re smarter than that.” My lead singer’s goin’ “ok” and he’s goin’ to the back of the bus with two. (laughter). I feel sorry for them.
Ray: “I do too man. It’s bad. There’s a lot of people waiting for the next national act to come through.
Marco: “I think it’s different touring with a woman. There has never once been a another woman that has set foot on our bus. It would not happen.
Greg: “Not even mom?”
Marco: “Oh, mom came on one time. There’s never any girls. Everybody in the band either has a wife or a girlfriend. There’s literally none of that.
Michael: “It depends what kind of man you are. What you want. After the show, bus call might be 3 in the morning. The bar is right across the street. You go over there with the bass player and just get a beer. It’s there for the taking.
Marco: “You’re in a band, so people are watching the band. No gives a shit who we are. I’ve never even had someone recognize me.
Jerohn: “It depends, ‘cause kiddie-pop, they just love you ‘cause you get to ride on the bus with such-and-such.
Ray: “But it all comes down to responsibility, even with Dave as wild and crazy as he is. I’ve seen people get fired from a gig. Techs, musicians. I’m the only one left from ’97. Literally, management, accountants, everybody. I’m the only one left. That’s kind of scary when I look back. I brought all the band members in. I even recommended techs, the whole bit. It comes down to responsibility. I look back and I think; “I’m the only guy who made bus call that night.” You gotta be responsible if you want to keep your gig. I ended up being the MD of the band. I’m calling all the guys, arranging all the rehearsals. For the readers, you gotta be responsible man.”
Marco: “yeah. I never drink before the show. After it’s done, you can do what you want.
Jerohn: “We were out with Macy, and on this particular tour, we only had two buses. Crew bus, and the Macy bus. Myself and a couple other people stayed on the bus with Macy. So we go into this town, Atlanta or wherever she’s from, and after the show we get off stage and we tired. Her freakin’ cousins, brothers, aunts and everybody is on the freakin’ bus hangin’ out! I’m like “what the piss is this?” They got real comfortable, telling jokes and everything.
Ray: “That’s your home.”
Marco: “Yeah. People don’t get that. That is your house.”
Jerohn: “I wanted to really snap on all of them. It’s Macy’s family, so I ain’t gonna offend too many people. They in there drinking my soda, eating my food. They in there drinking and smokin’!”
Ray: “I had one of the light guys sister laying in my bunk. She wanted to see what it felt like. (laughter). She said “how do you sleep in these coffins?” I’m like “get out, that’s my bed!” (laughter). I got stuff to do, that’s the only space I have.
Marco: “It’s amazing, you’re on a bus with 7, 8, 9 people. That little curtain becomes so important. This is my space, I do what I want here.
Jerohn: “I got so much stuff piled up in that little footlocker. All your backpack, all your books. Can’t even stretch out your legs. It’s your spot though.
Victor: “I’m really excited about having an I-pod on the road though.
Ray: “I’m the guy with the big old case of CD’s. A couple years ago, our bass player got one (I-pod). He’s like “hey Ray, see all that stuff? And he pulls it (I-pod) out. Thousands of songs right here.”
Greg: “Let’s jump to gear, and talk about back line stuff. We got back line gear for some of this stuff, and sometimes maybe taking your own gear. You’re (Victor) smiling over here.
Victor: Well, it’s funny. On a lot of tours you usually get to bring your stuff. But I remember with Macy we did a lot of stuff over in Europe and we didn’t get to bring our own gear. Luckily, growing up, my family was pretty poor and I didn’t have a drum set until I was like 16 or 17. So I collected the most rickety-ass drums and I played on different people’s kits. So I was playing on different things all the time. That’s a hard thing. Once you get used to your set up, to go play something else.
Jerohn: “I’ve also got pretty accustomed to playing different kits. I was doing En Vogue for two, two and a half years and we never toured. They were the type of group that just spot dates. Spot everywhere. Spot day gig. Spot day gig. Different kit every time. Somedays I get the old Pearl Export stuff, I’d get a decent Masters sometimes, sometimes I’d get a Yamaha, then they’d give me a Pearl drum set, DW snare, and Yamaha hardware. Everything everywhere. (When I first started) it was “Oh, I got a Pearl today. Oh, I got a DW today.” I was happy ‘cause I got all these different kits. It was cool for me. Then I took out my stuff n the Macy gig and did the overseas stuff and had to pay rental stuff and I was happy. I was playin’.
Ray: “I’m fixing that right now, ‘cause I go to Japan on the twenty-third. Orange County Drum and Percussion, there’s only 10 OCDP kits in Japan right now. So I have to use DW over there, which I’m fine with. I’ve been fortunate enough to have my own kits out with me.”
Jerohn: “I did a gig, in Russia…”
Marco: “Was that the Coolio gig?”
Jerohn: “No, Darrin Hayes. I was playin’ a DW on that tour. The tom was green, the kick was a burgundy, and the 2 floor toms… I was playin 10, 12, 14, 16… the two floor toms were burgundy, the kick was burgundy, and my rack toms were green, and my snare was green! Got me a Christmas set! (Laughter).
Michael: “The thing that changed me and made me not care, my Uncle is a drummer, and the CB700 drum set I had when I started out was his.
Ray: “Everybody had one of those.”


Part 3