Hey,Dave. Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers at NeuFutur?
Hello – SLINGER is my nickname and the name of my defunct 80s LA rock band. I did the song writing, arraigning, recording and most of the instruments on the tracks before presenting to the band for live performances. However, I went into a self inflicted exile for over a decade due to the death our drummer and my best friend Donnie Reed. Recently sparked again when an artist Annie Stela was shooting a music video on some desert land of mine. Listened to one of the old songs and thought, you know- this would be a good way to honor Donnie releasing some of this material he liked. So I purchased another old TEAC 3340S reel to reel machine just in time to save the tapes from disintegrating and transferred the songs to digital, built a website and here we are. Actually very pleased and surprised that we are getting a fairly good “buzz” off the material considering it’s Lo-Fi in today’s Hi-Fi world.
Which genres and performers most influenced you during the creation the tracks on your album, Beat the Odds?
Man, I’ll have to think back on that. Naturally- Led Zepplin. early Pink Floyd, Sabbath, Cream, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, etc. My other guitarist Jeff Dostis would say Neil Young influences but I would go into spasms when he’d say it. Nothing on Neil but I just don’t hear it. I listened to that music when starting out but was unable to play any of it, the ear and feel was not developed yet and I’ve got some physical defects. In fact, instead of learning their chops, I was slopping through my own and playing against what they would play (looking for holes to drop something in). Had an old Sears Silvertone guitar and case with a built in amp back then. Went through several Strats (which for some reason, I never felt like we were one) to the Gibson Les Pauls. Dabbled in keyboards on some of the songs, unfortunately unschooled in everything- had to play by trial and error. Not one to play the same song twice with a different name, I try to make every song unique and take the listener down a different road. Some songs may have a “kissin’ cousin” but that’s about as close as it gets. I find this to be a blessing and a curse and I don’t think there collective “sound” for SLINGER other than the Lo-Fi recordings I guess.
Briefly describe for us the process of grouping the tracks on Beat the Odds. How does it compare to a theme album, and how do you move from initial thought to recording the track?
Well, I actually call it a pseudo theme collection of songs. I’m working on the story line but essentially the way the songs are grouped now- it’s starts off with a small town by who’s brother dies in the city (Take Me Away). He leaves home to find out what happened and he winds up in the city (On The Other Side). He meets a girl and falls in love in the next couple of songs. This start to go wrong in the instrumental (Boy And The Tiger) they try to stay “friends (It’s Alright, It’s Okay). Then it goes down hill and the break up starts in the next few songs. The all encompassing end to the songs and title of the collection- Beat The Odds (means a lot to me in more ways than one). Usually would start with maybe a verse of a line that I like and built from there. Guitar would usually be next, learn to program a drum machine, drop the bass in, vocals and leads. Also would mix it up and start with a different instrument and build up a song that way also. I think this helps to keep your mind open and experimenting. I’ve got some pretty strange tunes in the catalog “You’re In Danger” is a weird one.
What is your recording setup (hardware and software)? What devices/programs would you ultimately like to utilize in the future?
Oh geez, the analogs were done on everything from old Fostex multi-track cassette recorders to Teac machines. A rack full of reverbs and effects, Shure SM 57 and 58 mics (I still can’t find where I put those at) a coupe BC Rich guitars, Strats, Les Pauls, Kramer bass, Marshalls amps and some other stomp box effects. It was a fun time to lock yourself in a room and experiment for hours and days. In trying to move into the new digital world, I did everything backwards. Purchased some high end computer recording gear but got overwhelmed and frustrated with the learning curve. Where was my analog knobs patches and gear? Found the “friendliest” digital device for me to use was the TEC DP-02 and DP-24’s but I found the Audacity recorder to be the quickest way to get up to speed (go figure- a free program). I’m not dumping the pro gear yet, just need to be able to spend some time on it and get familiar with the process. Once writing again, I think the future material will be in Hi-Fi using current gear. I don’t know though, it seems like a lot of people like that warmth and feeling of the old days (sort of like an old tube amp).
Music (and the process of recording music) has changed considerably over the last twenty years. What trends have you noticed as someone intimately associated with the music industry?
Well, when showing some of the material and getting feed back on moving forward- I’ve heard several times that music is cyclical and we just might be rolling back around to the 80s right now. So maybe hibernation wasn’t so bad of an idea (but I can kick myself in the teeth for some other mistakes I made- like selling just about all the gear I had). Some of that equipment is like gold now, I could never replace it. The only thing I kept was my 80’ limited edition, candy apple red Les Paul standard (my baby Lil’Red) and a Marshall half stack. Again, I was anti-music during my hiatus and could not even listen to a song on the radio so I don’t know too much about what happened while I was gone. I am however, amazed at the clarity of what’s out there now as I backtrack and fill in the musical blanks. Radio is a bit disappointing for me though, it seems all corporate owned and they have to stylize it for the advertisers and tell the people what to listen to, how loud you can play it. Seems like they are basically leading us by the nose ring through different fads and flavors of the day. Check out Flacid-Rock.com for a different approach on some good tunes.
How has your style evolved and changed over the time since you first picked up an instrument?
Yeah, I think so. The early material was more Rock N Roll and I made an observation the other day- those were the “happy” songs, love songs, I want to be with you songs… Towards the end they became hard rock, bluesy undertows and they became sad / angry / mysterious and weird. I have one more collection of songs to put out there from the Lo-Fi days. I am very excited about three of the songs in that collection we dubbed- The Southern Set.” Some of the songs will be like- half analog and half digital. Overdubing and putting in some of the missing instruments as we speak. Drummer Bill Hartel is helping me with the project and providing the new “push” that I need and my old friend and guitar player Jeff Dostis is going to be featured on a brand new song (who I found after all these years by doing a Google search and right away I knew that was his guitar). To many things are strangely falling into place and I truly believe Donnie is behind it.
What has provided more of your fans – Facebook / Instragram / Twitter or traditional word of mouth? How have fans changed from yesterday to today?
Hmmmmm I think it’s crazy how the music industry got the crap kicked out of in while I was gone. Used to be you needed a label and a lot of touring. Now many musicians and artist are putting out killer tracks and self promoting it. When I came out of hibernation, again- I was doing it all wrong. Thought- gotta get a label and get back out there touring. Spoke to a film director (again while shooting a movie on the desert property) and he was in a signed band in the past and had typical band problems with the label (not supporting the act, not paying up, etc.). That talk with him changed my thinking and maybe if you can get the songs to the people, they can decide if they like it or not and help get your footing. Slowing building up this audience of support from people who have the ears to listen past the recordings and can see that there is something going on here. Most of the songs are true stories and come from the heart and because of that, I think there is a certain feeling from the instruments and the songs. I think, playing to the best of the abilities at that time and growing during the process is fun to listen to. Now-a-days you come out of the box smoking hot or they won’t play your material. You need a look a certain way, sound a certain way, fit a genre and be marketable the whole corporate machine has to be behind you. I think, our fan base may be old school, word of mouth. Someone will listen to a song and hit the “like” button or “follow” the project, then another and another. We truly want to give something back to those early listeners so we’ve been giving away free SLINGER stickers periodically just to say thanks and we appreciate you.
How can listeners contact you and find snippets of your music?
I guess this is the best site for now http://www.slingermusic.com/#!slinger–music—page—songs/c214y learning how do all this stuff- websites, FaceBook, self promotion is a pain in the butt. I hear it’s good to know though and familiarize yourself with how it works. I hate it and would much rather be working on songs. Hopefully there will be some help soon and we can turn it over to someone who likes doing it.
What are your plans for the rest of 2014?
Keep promoting the “Beat The Odds” collection, keep hammering away at the establishment. Depending on what the public likes- get a few of those tracks back in the studio for a re-recording. You can vote for your favorite songs on the website. We want to see ff that “feel” is still there in a Hi-Fi recording. If not, then may have to stay in the Lo-Fi world but under better conditions. We’re also working on releasing a new collection- here, I’ll announce the title: “The Hybrids” a collection of Hi/Lo-Fi material. I’m dying to get those “Southern Songs” out there for you guys to listen to. I plan on working more with Bill Hartel and Jeff Dostis on some old and new material. I also found a great outlet for testing the songs at MusesMuse.com. If there is enough interest, would love to get back on the road again. About 98% of the “Beat The Odds” material has never hit the stage I’m itching to pull the trigger on it live.
Do you have any final thoughts for our readers at NeuFutur?
As a matter of fact, I do. I made a big mistake turning my back on music. Reminds me of something a friend said long ago. “No matter how pissed off you get at learning your craft, you may walk away and say the hell with it. It’s okay to step away. Just keep coming back, don’t ever leave and not pick it up again.” Read an article on Elizabeth Cotton in a music magazine that also inspired. She did not play for years and years but when she did, it was remarkable- KUDOS to her. So go ahead and make that leap. If you believe in your material, don’t over analyze it to the point where your feet are frozen and you never get it out there. Take a chance- try to BEAT THE ODDS…