Interview with Dave Reffett
- Welcome Dave to Indian Music Mug
Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
- How has been the journey so far?
My journey has been very cool. I’ve had ups and downs in life just like everybody else but I’ve been very very fortunate. I’ve gotten to do a lot of really cool things in my life and live out a lot of my dreams. I’m very blessed and I don’t take it for granted.
- What were your influences growing up and what inspired you to take up the guitar?
When I was very young I dreamed of being a professional baseball player but then I discovered music. I grew up in the South here in America. And actually the 1st artist who really blew me away was Gustav Mahler, the classical composer. My sister Amanda, who is 3 years older than me, was very into music and couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like music too. So she gave me a tape of Mahler and I really enjoyed it! It opened my eyes. Some of his compositions sound like they are from another planet. So I loved hearing something that sounded so foreign to me. That led me to play Tuba, French horn in the school band. I tried saxophone and the trumpet first but I was dreadful (laughs). Then I saw artists on TV, country artists like John Michael Montgomery and Garth Brooks and I enjoyed how their music videos were like little movies. I liked the way that their songs painted a picture in the mind. But then when I saw Metallica on TV I was totally blown away and I had to get a guitar!! So I rushed out the next day with some money that I had saved, borrowed some from my grandmother, and some more for my parents and I got a cool little Yamaha acoustic and never looked back. Then I started hanging out with kids at school who were into rock n’ roll. They started turning me onto all these bands that I’ve never heard of. That’s where I found out about Megadeth, Pantera, Kiss, Iron Maiden, and all the greats. Music changed my life, and now it’s such a huge part of my life that you could practically say, it is my life. I’m very grateful to have made my mark in the music world. Music means everything to me.
- You have a degree in music business management from the prestigious Berklee College Of Music and you took the course after the advice from Dave Mustaine. Tell us about the incident.
Well Megadeth is one of my favorite bands of all time and Mustaine is one of my big all time influences, so what happened was, when I was living in Denver, Colorado, there was a contest to see Megadeth live in the studio at this radio station. I entered the contest really late at night, maybe like four the morning just surfing around the Internet. Then later the next day I was listening to KBPI, which is the big rock and roll station out there with my mom. The DJ this guy named Uncle Nasty said “our big winner of the meet Megadeth live in the studio contest is Dave Reffett”, so of course I was on cloud nine for like a week. So I go to the studio and I watch Megadeth play about four songs. They were touring behind ‘The World Needs a Hero’ CD and they played ‘Dread in the Fugitive mind’, ‘Angry Again’, ‘Use the man’ and maybe ‘Trust’ and then Dave came out into the hallway and a few other contest winners were there but everybody was very nervous to talk to him. But I figured this was my only chance of ever going to get to talk to him so I went up and introduced myself and he was very cool. I told him all about my music and my situation which at the time I had been in a bunch of bands and was kind of burnt out on the whole dealing with other musicians thing and I had just gotten a scholarship to go to the Berklee College of Music and I didn’t know if I should take it having just gotten out of high school. I didn’t know if I wanted to waste 4 more years going to school, so ‘I asked Dave what he thought: should I take Berklee up on their scholarship offer or should I just start another band? He told me’ don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, you’ve got a really great chance here to do something cool you should do it and go learn everything you can about the music business so you don’t get ripped off. ‘Looking back on it, it was such great advice because anybody can start a band but you really do need to know a lot to be successful in this business. You have to wear many hats. You have to know the law; you have to know about management, you have to know how the game is played. I’m very grateful to Mustaine for the advice, and I’m grateful for all the amazing music that he is made over the years. He’s brought myself and millions of people out there a lot of enjoyment through his music and he has gotten a lot of people through a lot of hard times.
- You have worked with Sanctuary Records, Virgin Records and EMI Music. How was the experience
That experience was fantastic I wouldn’t trade it for the world. At Sanctuary I worked in the legal department and got to read record contracts and learn a great deal. They had amazing artists at that time so it was a very proud thing to be a part of. They had Anthrax, KISS, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Lynyrd Skynyrd the list goes on, but it was cool to be a part of that. It became painfully clear after a while that they were going under; so then I went over to Virgin records and EMI. That opportunity presented itself at a perfect time and so I went there and that was incredible. I worked 60 to 80 hours a week and basically had no life! But I learned so much in that time and I got to work on albums with artists like Janet Jackson, Meat Loaf, and The Rolling Stones etc. I learned so much about what to do and also what not to do. I couldn’t keep doing it at the pace I was doing it because as much as I loved it I knew I had to get back to making my music and playing the guitar again because that took up my whole life.
- Tell us a bit about your album ‘The Call of the Flames’.
That album has been out for a few years now and got amazing critical acclaim. There was a huge magazine in Europe that gave it a 9.5 score out of 10. I was also truly flattered and honored to have people like Jeff Waters from Annihilator write me and say ‘dude your album is really great, it’s been playing in my car for over a week’ ! And it ruled that it was in the running for a Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category among others. It was just a great experience and I still am really really proud of the album. Now I’m working hard on new things that I hope to have out soon.
- How was it working with legends like George Lynch, Michael Angelo Batio, Chris Poland, and Glen Drover to name a few.
It’s really great to work with guys like that. It’s a true blessing. It’s good to work with people that you respect not just on a musicianship level but also on a human level. I’ve gotten to know some of these guys really really well and it’s an honor. I knew by having people like that on the album it would make me play to might utmost capacity.
- The significance of the name ‘shredding the envelope’ as your band/ project name.
The significance of the name was simply that I had a song called that. Some people took that name as ‘shredding’ like on the guitar, and I could see how they got that obviously, but to me I named the project that because of the song ‘Shredding The Envelope’ which is the last track on the CD. The lyrics are all about believing in yourself and going for it, and not being afraid to fail. So many people are so afraid to fail that they never end up doing anything. That’s sad. You have to go for it and take chances in life. Even if you fall flat on your face you can say that you accomplished something. I finished something and I gave it everything I had and people responded. It has been a great ride.
- Some of your favorite artists and some of your favorite guitar works?
My favorite artists would be people like Megadeth, Ozzy, Anthrax, KISS, Motorhead, Michael Angelo Batio, Metallica, AC/DC, Bad Company, Pantera the list goes on and on. I also love people like David Allan Coe, George Jones, and Hank Williams Jr. Basically with me I don’t like to categorize music. To me there are only 2 kinds of music ‘good’ and ‘bad’. I love Slayer and I love the Bee Gees (laughs). I’m an equal opportunity listener.
- Instruments and equipments you prefer?
I like my Esoterik DR signature model guitars, Peavey amplifiers, as well as the Fractal Axe FX II, Ibanez overdrive’s, Mogami cables, Planet Waves ‘black ice’ guitar picks, and Jazz III’s, Ernie Ball and D addario guitar strings, Seymour Duncan pickups, and Eminence speakers. I like to keep it pretty simple. I like just a nice raw in-your-face tone.
- Any Indian artists/ bands you have heard or like?
Well there is the great Ravi Shankar of course! Shankar’s daughter Norah Jones is fantastic too. I wish I knew more Indian artists. Feel free to send me some I’d love to hear them!
- Any plans to tour India?
I would absolutely love to figure out a way to bring me there. One of these days for sure.
- What advice would you give to young budding guitarists?
The best advice I can give you is to practice your heart out! Give it all you got and play for you. Make yourself happy. Don’t listen to anyone who’s a hater or a naysayer. Bob Dylan used to say about people who were hateful and said mean things ‘that they are just trying to pull you down into the hole that they are in’. I could care less what anyone thinks. If I like it and I know it’s good that’s all I need to know. My other advice would be, listen to many different artists. You don’t want to sound like one person or be limited in the scope of what you can do. Play from your heart play from your soul and learn your craft! Learn how to tune the guitar properly, and get the best equipment that you can afford. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, just make the best of what you’ve got and put time into what you do. Practice and don’t ever give up.
- What can your fans expect from you in the future?
I’m working on a couple different things right now. One is a new band with some killer players. We’ll be announcing something about that as soon as possible. I also wish to do an instrumental guitar album at some point. I’ve also just been trying to enjoy my life and treasure the things and the people that are important to me. I’m also very excited about my collaboration with Dangerous Guitar. They’re an awesome website that features video guitar and bass lessons from people like me, Billy Sheehan, Ritchie Kotzen, Tony MacAlpine, Gilby Clarke, George Lynch and many more. If you want to learn to play, this is the place! I’m shooting a DVD for them very soon that is going to rock. They are very affordable and offer a wealth of information from top notch pro players.
- Thank you Dave..
Thank you very much my friend. I really appreciate the support. It’s an honor to be featured by you guys. Rock on!