How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
Well, it came about in a really funny way.... I was having breakfast with Eric Marienthal, and he said...'you are ready to make a record'. It is the ultimate lesson. You can hear wonderful compliments about your playing, your presentation, what and how you are communicating with an audience, but when someone with his kind of skill gives you that encouragement, it produces deep reflection. -- literally, 'wait a minute.... I guy who's playing I IDOLIZE, just said WHAT to me?'..... believe me it brought me up short. Then, he said that he would bring Jeff Lorber in on the project and since I have been listening to them both since the 80's, I literally dropped everything that wasn't keeping the family funded and running and dove headlong into the opportunity of a lifetime.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of recording a new album?
The need to create and perform surrounded by a LOT of machines, and very serious people. What is required to play as a recording musician versus a live player to me seems night and day. I have always wanted to connect and communicate with people with music. In a studio, you are very isolated. In many respects it is like the difference between a conversation on the phone, where you have to be very distinct, clear and precise.... and a warm conversation over a meal with dear old friends. To be the person you are musically, while isolated in a booth, starting and stopping, and really 'feeling' what you are playing is a LOT harder in my opinion than standing in front of a thousand people and emptying your soul.
How would you describe what inspires you to do what you do?
A need to say, and feel satisfied saying what I came to say. There is so much in music that is beyond the spoken or written word. I believe all cultures we have documented on our planet have music in some form or another (really, I would call this organized sound that isn't words) It has its own lexicon, form, and moods produced in each of the cultures it originated in. When I feel something about what I experience, or want to experience, it occurs to me as either a narrative (words) or as pictures with music associated. - no words, really in the second instance. So, what I find myself doing is illustrating a mood I am in with song. I have to get it out, really. I suppose this is why I play a couple of instruments.... some instruments suit moods better than others.
What artists do you feel akin to or in the same tribe with?
Those that are obsessed with learning and mastering a craft (musicanship) so that what they say is heard the way they intended.
Who would you say has been the single biggest influence in your life in getting you to where you are now in your career?
Well, I have had two careers: the musical one, clearly Eric Marienthal. One of my favorite human beings, and favorite musicians. The man that he is makes me really understanding what he is up to musically that much more rewarding. He is an intersection of phenomenal work ethic, talent, and humanity. I work to be more like him as a human being.
What in your life outside of your music drives you in a creative sense?
That I have children, and reflecting that if I am to survive in their memory and their skills, practices and souls, I need to be a good father to them, provide for them and most importantly teach them what is necessary not only to cope with the world, but to excel in it. The real accomplishment of making this record was that I now have something that will last beyond me, and that they can keep and reflect on a time when they were young and that dad did. I hope that it serves to inspire them to accomplish what it is that they choose for their own lives.