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Voice Coaches Radio #455 – Introducing Dan

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And welcome to this week's edition of Voice Coaches Radio. I am Josh Heller, delighted as always to have you joining me here from the mothership in Colley, New York at White Lake Music and Post. So thanks so much for tuning in. Got a special guest with us here today.

Now he's a man who we have talked about having on the show for some time, actually, and Never did it, and the reasons why are, I don't have any, to be honest with you. We just never really managed it. But today, we've done the impossible. We have, for you, Mr. Dan Zavadil.

Whoa, this is what you're doing here, hey?

It is, it is, it is. Dan, Dan! So anyone who has gone through the Voice Coaches program, I'd say over the last couple years, if not more? Yeah, two, probably two plus years, um, has done a demo here and has had their demo edited and put together. And in all likelihood, Dan has his fingerprints on it. His grubby, nasty fingerprints all over it.

The truth's come out. So Dan edits. It's, uh, edits most of, uh, most of our demos, uh, here, in fact, all of them at the moment. And we're, we're certainly going to talk about that a little bit, but I just want to, wanted to, to first of all, welcome you and thanks for taking some time to, uh, to sit and chat with us.

But, uh, I guess, you know, your background is fascinating actually. And um, you know, just talk a little bit about you, introduce you to the, uh, to the fans or fan, whoever's listening. Hey dad. To, uh, to our listeners. No, I know we have a few. Um, and, and just, you know, about yourself. So, so, you know, your background, Dan, is, is as a musician more than anything else.

Correct. Correct. And, and, uh, this is cool to finally be on here. And like I said, we've been talking about this probably for well over a year, uh, to do this. Now we finally have some, some time in the schedule. But, uh, yeah, so I started out early, uh, playing music. My, my parents are both musicians. And, uh, so it was sort of, uh, um, a happy inevitability that I would wind up playing music.

And I started on piano, I was very young, uh, maybe when I was Six, seven and then yeah played and pick up some instruments through high school marching band and all that kind of good stuff My dad was a music teacher. So he was always out, you know doing gigs as well to playing on on weekends and stuff, in like big bands and stuff.

And so, uh, that was just what was going on in my house. And so that just seemed to be the natural progression. Um, I have an older brother who played as well. Three years older than you, if I'm not mistaken. Right, still three years older than me. What's up, Matt? And, um, he, uh, he started playing guitar, um, maybe when he was like, you know, 14, 15.

And, uh, you know, started playing, um, you know, Ozzy and some Motley Crue. And, um, I have to mention, you know, some, some Van Halen. Obviously, we just had the, uh, the passing of, uh, Ed. Probably one of the, the greatest of, of, uh, Almost, probably all the time. And, uh, so, my brother's playing guitar, and I'm like, well, that looks cool, but you're playing guitar, so I'll play bass, right?

I think that's the story of just about every bass player, is we have a guitar player, so you can play bass, right? So I did that, and um... Fell in love with it and, uh, just started playing that, uh, kind of in, in junior high and, and he and I started playing with, with, you know, different drummers and having some jams with some other dudes.

And finally getting to play some gigs, yeah.

I have to ask when it comes to bass, and, and we've talked about, you know, um, Whether or not, you know, you're not big into slapping so much, though I know you can. But what are your feelings on a very controversial topic, and that is playing bass with a pick? And I love bass picks because they are comically hilariously large.

Yeah, uh, right. They're super fat, right? They have to be because otherwise they break.

Oh, sure, sure. So are you a, do you play with it? Because I've talked to some bass players and they're like, Oh, gross, never. I would never do that.

Yeah, right. You're a purist, right? Yes, of course. Um, no, I'll do, uh, I think there's great, um, Advantage to doing whatever is going to get the tone or feel that you want.

It was funny, so I've, I've... That is a political answer, Fiverr.

Well, you know. I, i, I probably play 98% just fingerstyle. Um, a little bit of pick stuff when it calls for it and I want that certain tone, that kind of crunch in a mix or something like that. And slap stuff, I just did when I was at music school, it was part of what you did and kind of as a bass player you have to do a little bit of it, but there's probably, I would say most of the five year olds in the world that play bass probably can slap better than I do.

Um, I do it just as part of a, a, you know, it's just sort of par for the course. Um, but, um, I was going to say something else and I forgot. So sorry. I was, uh, no, that's all right.

You were taking us through your illustrious career and I, I

Oh, yes, please. I really bad. Um, so then , um, after I got outta high school, I went to, uh, b i t, so, uh, musicians Institute in Hollywood, California.

Are you, are you originally from California?

No, just from this, uh, I'm sort of upstate New York area. Um, not too far from here, uh, moved around a little bit, but, uh

Did you move out there for, for music?

I did, got accepted to school out there, and, uh, my brother did as well. So he went to the so, so, it's Musicians Institute, and then there's the Guitar Institute of Technology and the Bass Institute of Technology.

So like BIT, GIT, there's vocal, there's percussion. I think now there's recording. I think now they have a since I've been there, when I was there, it was just a one year sort of certification program, but now it's actually an accredited school that you can go get like a four year. in, you know, music business and entertainment and stuff like that.

Um, so I went there and what was really cool about going there and, and why we, we chose to go there, sort of the holy grail of, of performance music schools, was you had, you know, all your instructors and, and, um, everybody teaching you were guys in the business doing it, either they were sort of adjuncts at the, if you will, you know, they were, weren't touring at the moment.

So they were, they came in and, uh, you know, would, would, you know, teach for three months before the next two were picked up. So I know what, I know what I was going to say.

No, any, any notice and notable?

Yes. We had, excuse me. One of the guys, um, when I went there, uh, Alexis Sklarevsky has one of the best, actually one of the best slap bass videos you'll ever see.

Uh, it'll make you want to quit almost, but, um, he does some stuff, he was a teacher for one of my classes, and he did some things technique wise where, kind of, I had never seen before. And so that sort of, sort of really opened, you know, expanded my horizons. Like, wait a minute, you can do something just because you want to get a certain tone or because you want to try something new rather than, you know, okay, you can play with a pick, you can play with your fingers, or you can slap, right?

He was like, no, you can do this stuff too. And sort of really opened up. You know, my thinking and I think a lot of people that went through there and of course nowadays with the you know This is all remember this was all pre internet. You couldn't just go to YouTube.

Wait, there was a pre internet? What?

Hard to believe you actually had to go seek information out that it took longer than three seconds. Um, so now you can go on and see guys doing a myriad of amazing different things with, with instruments that you were inconceivable. Um, so that's what, when you asked me about the pick thing was like, wait a minute, you can do whatever you want as long as you can make it work and it conveys the message you want.

There are no real rules, I suppose. Right. And, 19, you're like, Whoa, what just happened? Uh, with this kind of stuff. So Alexis was great and he actually, um, toured with, uh, Crosby, Stills, and Nash when they got back together, uh, mid 90s. Um, who else was there? Uh, Jan Alderete, who was in, uh, Racer X, and, uh, Mars Volta.

Most recently was with, is with, uh, Marilyn Manson. Unfortunately, he's, uh, had a, uh, uh, TBI earlier this year when he was riding his bike out in Oakland. So, a lot of prayers for him. He's, I've been watching his recovery because he, I took a couple of lessons with him, just a sweetheart of a guy, so, um, you know, wishing him the best.

Uh, Stu Hamm studied with him a little bit at his place, um, who's, you know, played with Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and a million other guys. Um, he, he was a real innovator with, with sort of slap and then also tapping techniques on the bass. Um, what else do we have in there? Um, you know, Paul Gilbert on guitar would come in and do some lessons.

Just, just, you know, Tim Bogert from Vanilla Fudge was on staff, right? You're like, Tim Bogert, this is awesome, right? So, uh, Jeff Berlin, um, just, and Ray Luzier was on staff with drums, and he's now, um, you know, now he tours with Korn. He got that gig. He played with David Lee Roth for a number of years as well.

So, just, it was just... guys in the business, either in the middle of it, or you knew they were on the precipice of something. So, that's what, going to school there was, was really awesome. Uh, got to, got a ton of contacts, um, I played in a band out there, we toured around sort of Southern California, recorded my first real CD out there, um, in a, in a real studio right on two inch tape, so that was kind of cool.

Ooh. And, um, yeah, just kind of hung out there for a number of years, and then wound up moving back here, um, you know, when I, when my wife and I started a family, uh, just to be closer to family, uh, primarily, and, uh, have been back here ever since, but I've, I've never stopped playing, uh, always played, always looking for bands, always playing.

You know, if I wasn't playing, I was going to work on my songwriting skills and, and, uh, you know, some networking type stuff. So always still been in the business and, uh, just, you know, super thankful and grateful to still be able to do it and then have this, you know, be able to be in a, uh, an environment like this too.

And, and still be in, uh, you know, the, the creative arts, uh, and entertainment, um, really is. If you can, if you can, if you're a creative person, just keep doing it. Keep doing it, keep knocking on doors and, and just doing it. Because eventually there's, there's people that want what you have and what you have to offer.

And it took me, you know, a decade to realize, realize that. But if you have a talent and you love it and you're passionate about it, there are people that want that. You just, maybe they aren't around you yet, but they are out there. So that's, I think, and I think that speaks, you know, volumes to this industry too.

Much like music, man, you have to make it happen. You can, you can go to school, uh, like I did, you can, you can meet the right people, you can do all this stuff, but if, if you're not making it part of your, your day, your week, and making time for it, it's, it's, it's rarely going to be handed to you. You have to work at it and just do it and live it and breathe it and make it part of your thing and, and eventually you'll find the right people and that gig will come in that will open the door to, to greater and greater things.

And if you're passionate about it and you still have that fire for it, That's, that's 90% of it. That'll get you up in the morning to keep doing it. And, and that's what you have to have. And, um, that's, somehow I, I just, look, I just gave a message out there. But, uh, that's what it is. Just, just do it. Just keep doing it.

Do not give up. If you love it, keep doing it.

I think is the main thing.

We're definitely going to spend some time talking about the, you know, what you do here as far as the, the editing is concerned and what our, our students can take from that. Uh, we'll, we'll probably do that a, a different week, but I, I did want to put you on the spot here before we wrap up.

You mentioned, uh, you mentioned, uh, the passing of David Lee Roth, and I'm, I'm sorry, whoa. Thank you. Eddie Van Halen. Sorry. Sorry, Dave. Sorry, Dave. Um, oh, the passing of Eddie Van Halen and saying he was one of, if not the greatest guitar player. Yeah. I'm not going to argue that. No. Um. Greatest bass player of all time.

Who is your greatest bass player?

Man, it's, I've never had a good answer for that. Um, It's tough. If, if you, if you were, if we're to look at just innovative, you know, you mentioned, you know, Eddie Van Halen. So if we're to look at who innovated the electric bass, you, the only name you can mention is Jaco Pistorius.

That's kind of where I was leaning as well.

That's the, that's it. Um, he, the, the electric bass is only 50 years old? I mean, it's a, it's a baby, um, and really, you know, not that I'm a million years old, but in the last decade, again, since, uh, you know, YouTube and, and, and, um, you know, TikTok and all these things, you can put these videos out there.

I have seen what people do with bass just, just grow, which is crazy, like. You know, uh, you know, when I started it was, you know, a four string bass, and occasionally that, uh, you know, a guy would have a five string bass. Now you got, like, seven string basses. Uh, so, so just that alone, that there's, there's, uh, um, you know, luthiers and manufacturers that are like, Hey, I'm gonna do this thing and, and, and really see what we can do with this.

But yeah, so as far as bass players, uh, Jaco, um, I'm a larry, I'm a Larry Graham guy. Okay.

Love me some Larry Graham. Larry Graham is awesome. And, you know, just last week we lost him. phenomenal bass player, uh, Rocco from Tower of Power, um, who, he did, unfortunately when I was at MI, he didn't come in, but he did a lot of, um, clinics there.

He would come in and do stuff, and I saw some videos. Um, MI has a great archive library of everybody that had come in, and you could just go to the library and check out, uh, of videotape back in the day. Um, so he just, he just passed last week and, um, he was just top of the, top of the game in his genre. Um, Stu Ham, who I studied with, really kind of brought sort of that solo bass, um, uh, technique to the forefront.

Now, have you ever played, or do you play upright at all?

I don't, um, I pray I probably have maybe three minutes of upright under my fingers in my, my entire lifetime. But it, it honestly, um, you know, in the last six months, kind of being home and, and grounded from, from, uh, touring and that and gigs. I've, I've been looking, I have my eye out, I have my eye out of, of picking up maybe an electric upright from, uh, and doing that and just to, just to do it.

'cause it's, it's such a cool instrument. Um, I do play a little bit of fretless, which is. which is fun. I'm not really in a live situation. Um, I just don't have a call for it right now. But I think, you know, playing some upright and, and, um, you know, taking some of that jazz stuff and, and putting it back home on its, uh, you know, original format would be really cool rather than, than on electric bass.


And, and what you were saying about, you know, with, with, with Jocko talking about the electric bass, that kind of precludes the innovators of bass, which was, you know, almost exclusively upright going back to jazz and to folk. Yeah. You could go back. You know, you said the electric bass is not that old.

You could go way back and those are Expertise that I do not possess, you know, those those innovators that you know did for The upright bass what we've seen guys like Jocko and Larry Graham and even even more, you know Recent guys like uh, like a John Entwistle or Flea Yeah, how they were able to kind of take it did that way way beforehand and don't get for it.

Yeah, it kind of gets lost in the, in the, the mix. Uh, the, the, the, the onslaught of information we have nowadays. You're right. You're right. Jockover is the first guy to make a fretless bass, right? He took his, his bass and ripped the frets out and filled it in and sanded it down. And so you have that, that'll work.

It's sort of the hybrid of upright and electric, right? You can get the power of the upright, but you get the smoothness and the really finite adjustments of fretless, which is really cool. Um, but there's just, and there's so much more to go. And it's, it's, um, it's just really cool to see. Uh, these guys, and yep, guys, and um, I can't remember the dude that plays with, uh, the Fearless Flyers.

Um, what a great, what a great bass player that dude is. I'm totally blanking on his name, I apologize. Um, but there's just so many out there now that it's, it's, um, it's incredible to watch. Well, and

I think we saw it, you know, with, with percussion and with drums, it went from... It's there because it's needed, because it keeps the beat, it keeps the, you know, and now it is something that is soloed, it is something that is featured, and it never was for the longest time.

It was just kinda, you know, moving things along a little bit, just kinda filling in the gaps, and now it's something that is actually, you know, featured, and deservedly so.

Yeah, absolutely. I think once somebody comes up with something that is, is a valid, I mean, you can say anything creative is, is valid, but something, you know, listenable and, and that, that the masses will, will do.

You know, I saw a, uh, a wind ensemble, uh, performance last year that featured a, a guy on drum kit. In a wind ensemble thing, and I'm like, Oh, this is something I've never seen before. Right? I saw a performance a couple years ago with my, uh, my dad. We went to a, uh, concert over here at the Troy Savings Bank and it, there was a, uh, tuba solo, right?

You're like, Well, that's cool, because usually it's the tuba you think is in the back, right? Oom pah stuff, right? Right? Yeah. there's stuff going on. I'm like, I didn't know you could do that with a tuba. That is amazing. So it's, it's really cool to see somebody take something that has a, um, you know, that is sort of, uh, uh, you know, traditionally think of like, Oh, drums, they play a beat.

And then they come out with this thing. That's just blows your mind. And it's, it's melodic and it's interesting and it's captivating. And it's, you can tell the person put their personality into it.

I think the idea that we have lost. Not only Eddie Van Halen, but also Neil Peart this year is, is absurd, and it is crushing.

Yeah, I think the two, the two really innovators that, that push their instruments, like, like I, you know, we said, Josh and I were talking before this, it's like, Eddie Van Halen played 300 years worth of guitar in, in, you know, 65 years. That's, like, that's how, how far it, it changed. And, um... Yeah, I could not, I was just, the other day I just could not believe it.

Yeah, and Neil played 300 years of drums in one solo. Right, right. And 300 different varieties of drums in one solo.

Yeah, it's, it's just amazing that, that we have a record of it. Yeah. Uh, that we, you know, I was, I was really bummed, you know, I drove home and, uh, you know, Eddie had, I just learned it at the end of the day, too, the other day.

And I'm like, man, so, you know, what do you do? You put on Van Halen 1 when you drive home. And it was, and I was kind of bummed. And I'm. You know, remembering my, you know, going to see Van Halen with my brother, and then I'm getting off my exit off the highway, and the car in front of me, the license plate has EVH on it.

And I go, we're good. We have all this music to listen to. And you just realize that, that yeah, he may have passed away, but he's going to live forever. Yeah. He's going to live for as long as there is music. He's gonna live forever, and, and I would not have been surprised if not even just that car in front of you, but how many cars on their way home that day were listening to Van Halen.

Running with the devil. So many. I was one of them. I was one of them. Yeah, you had to. I haven't listened to, to, to Van Halen 1 in a long time, but I, you had to.

Yeah, I think I listened to, I think I, I listened to the first, I think four albums that night. I mean, and, and so how many people took solace in that?

That's, you know, that's a gift. That's a gift.

It really is. And that's the cool thing with, with music, right, especially as you listen to it and all of a sudden I was, you know, 13 again. Yeah. I'm like, oh, you know, falling in love with these, these new things and, and, and when the, you know, the juices were flowing and you're like, yeah, I think I want to do something like this.

And, um, just, just hearing that it takes you back and, and, you know, forget about the, the sadness of it. We have all of this to, to look forward to, to listen to.

the greatest guitar solo. Of course it is. Oh, I don't know. I'm a bass player, so what do I know? I disagree. I disagree. I think it's close, but it's not my favorite.

I'll put it that way. It's not my favorite. My favorite? Yeah. Cliffs of Dover. Eric Johnson. All right. All right. This is, I mean, I, Eruption is amazing. Yeah, no, I love.

Eric Johnson. It is cool. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Hey, hey, I'm a bass player, man. What? What do I know? I'm a bass player. I sit in the back, right?

What's your favorite bass solo? Bum, bum, bum, bum. With the tuba in the background. What's a bass solo? Yeah, right? Never heard of it. Never heard of it. Get in the back. All right, keep your mouth shut. Play the bass.

Play ones and fives. That's all we need.

That is all we need. All right, man. Well, hey, like I said, we are going to, uh, Next week or the week after, we are certainly going to, uh, to have Dan back on here to talk a little bit about, you know, what he does here specifically, and how what he does can help, uh, you know, help students when they are preparing for recording, and once they get their demo, because that is what Dan does.

He makes the, you know, he, he, he makes demos that are... Good. He makes them unbelievable. He makes them network quality. And we're going to talk certainly more about that. But Dan, uh, you know, thanks so much again for, uh, for finally coming on with us and, uh, and, uh, it was worth, it was well worth the wait.

I'm glad it didn't disappoint.

Thank you.

This was fun, man. Thanks for having me on.

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You can always reach out to us [email protected]. Is the best way to get in touch with me. You can call Laura at the front desk as well. If you have any topics you want us to discuss or any guests you want us to get on, because just remember.

It's not just our show. It's your show, too. All right, so thanks for tuning in. Thanks, Dan, once again. And until next time, so long, everyone.

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In this episode, Josh introduces Dan Zavadil. Dan handles the editing and sound designing of the demo at Voice Coaches.