Sat. August 9th, 2014
Written by Lee Hebert
WHERE I'M FROM
Love Underground: The Dave Gutter Story
My 'Music Lover' friends and I feel so good when we can introduce each other to an artist or band. Not just any band, but one that deserves to be shared. A band that blows us away. We will pass around the CD after enough listens that we can part with it. Before you know it your CD is returned. "So how'd you like it?" "I loved it. I found their webpage and ordered this one and their first album." That is about on average what happens, and we're old school, we prefer hard copies, the way we prefer our cash in our pockets. We respect each others opinions and taste in music, and it is a privilege to turn each other on to something pure and real.
This piece is about an artist that is pure and real, devoted to a life pursuing that perfect moment. This is about a big fish in a small pond. It isn't someone just breaking out, I am certainly not at the cusp of it this time. You may have heard the name. Someone could have got to you before I have, considering this artist has been playing music for thirty years and has released over a dozen albums, winning as many awards. The first EP released still sounds fresh, as does the entire discography, the way most great music does. I hope you'll enjoy this read, I enjoyed writing with anticipation of turning you on to some music by an artist 'where I'm from'. This is the story of a true luminary, and his name is Dave Gutter.
Fortunately enough, Dave Gutter was very gracious and found multiple times to be interviewed for this story. We attempted a few times but agreed we would only do it when we both felt like it, and not because we had to. He said that if he weren't talking music with me he would be talking music with someone else because it happens to be his favorite subject.
Lee: Hi Dave, I want to thank you for joining me for this interview. Dave, when did you get your first instrument and how old were you?
Dave: I started banging on the drums when I was about eight, but didn't really latch onto them, so I got a guitar, and I think the reason why was because it was portable. I would go with my mom a lot, grocery shopping or the doctors or doing whatever. I had my electric guitar in the car and I said lock the doors, I'm going to stay here. I started off without guitar lessons so I couldn't even fathom playing someone else's songs. I didn't know how to go about that. So even from the very first few months I had my guitar, I would make up these little songs on it. That's how I learned. I thought I was terrible, I wanted to be able to play AC/DC songs and Metallica songs, but I didn't know how to play that, I just played my songs. And I didn't know there was any value to that. I thought, "My songs are lame." I kept doing that and that's how I learned, by making up these songs. I never thought that it would turn into what it has become.
Lee: So you were listening to AC/DC and Metallica at ten?
Dave: Yeah, I was. I listened to a lot of heavy metal. I started playing music that was loud and the guitars were at the forefront of the music. Now I find myself regressing for more subtle guitar. I started out very hard rock, punk rock and the ruder the lyrics were the more I was all about it.
Lee: When did you decide you wanted to be a musician?
Dave: I think it was understood, we got the band together when we were ten. Jon Roods and Matt Esty and myself, we were all best friends. We said 'Let's start a band'. I became the guitar player. Matt became the drummer, he bought electric drum pads and Jon took his guitar and put really thick strings on it and tuned it down low so it sounded like a bass. That was the first incarnation of the band.
When we were twelve we were playing out in bars and in night clubs. Our parents would chaperon us while we played in beach bars and the Old Port. They hired us to play their friends parties. My dad worked for a supermarket and for the parade they would have a float. They said, "Hey, you get to ride on the float and play through the parade!" So I think because our parents were so proud of us, they were booking us all the time, getting us gigs whenever they could. Sometime it would be at an ice cream shop, sometime in a night club or at someone's birthday party.
In Junior High school we began recording and dubbing these albums on cassettes, selling quite a few albums in school. It was that early encouragement, that early support from our family and friends that made it happen. And for me I really wasn't good at anything else. My dad was a star athlete in school so he pushed all these sports on me that I never took to. I was super clumsy. I was super slow. To find something I was good at really kicked it in for me.
Lee: How about the local music scene. Did that have an impact on you guys and were you listening to anybody else locally?
Dave: Oh yeah, for sure, we were listening to all the local bands. Bands like; The Troubles, The Whigs, and there were a ton of bands then in Portland, -we would listen to all of it. We would get an opening gig for them. The music scene was always really great for us, we were very enthusiastic. Thirty years later we're still very enthusiastic, we're very excited about music.
"There is camaraderie in the Portland music scene that's really cool. It's not a bunch of people trying to get a record deal, or trying to look like their favorite artist. There's no fashion, there's only music. Every one would play everyone else's music just trying to take it to another level. There was nothing to cloud your vision. You wanted your friends, musicians to be impressed but no one cared about a top forty song because that music sucked."
It didn't take long before Rustic were a ferocious seven piece band, with a three piece horn section, recording and playing its own brand of rock music. After a couple of EP's and their third full length album, Rooms by the Hour, the band was signed by Clive Davis and Arista Records in 1998. Clive Davis was directly responsible for signing Pink Floyd, Whitney Houston, Chicago, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Boz Scaggs and countless others. Clive Davis is one of the most respected and successful music men in history.
With its members only a few years out of high school, The Rustic Overtones had already become a 'not to miss' live act in the state and its record sales were gaining speed with each release. Davis sent the band into the studio to record their first album to be released on Arista.
Producing the new album was Tony Visconti, who had produced records for David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, T. Rex, The Moody Blues, and Crowded House, among others. Visconti had also worked on the string arraignments for Paul McCartney's Band on the Run album. Visconti began making records with Bowie since 1969, so while in the studio with Rustic, one day Bowie stopped in. He liked what he heard from the band and agreed to sing on a track. "Sector Z" sounds like it was written for Bowie and he uses a familiar vocal to maximize the songs message. He made many visits during recording and told the band he really thought he could do something with another track "Man Without A Mouth."
"When I was signed to a label I was working in a warehouse, I was pushing a broom cleaning out the warehouse, moving boxes and wrapping pallets of boxes. I went to record with David Bowie and came back to Maine from New York to work on Monday and guys I worked with asked me what I did all weekend. I told them, I went to New York City actually, to record with David Bowie he sang with me and did two songs I wrote. They laughed their asses off and said, ' What ? David Bowie, sure' , because I was working in a warehouse. No one anywhere would think someone signed by Clive Davis from a label as big as Arista and working with David Bowie, and Tony Visconti would be working a day job." Davis was personally mentoring and handling the band, as he had with each of the Artists he signed.
The Rustic Overtones were set to perform at their 'Introduction Party' for music executives and insiders. Clive Davis and Arista Records hosted the introduction party and Davis personally wrote the set list for Rustic. "I never had anyone else write my set list for me before." explained Gutter. " He said 'Play THESE.' I threw it in the trash, wrote my own - and that's what we played ." " I respected Clive Davis very much, he was one of the few label guys who could communicate with musicians. That's why I was forthcoming with my musical intentions as an artist with my own vision."
"We went from doing two hundred and fifty shows a year to a standstill, because the record company didn't want to overexpose us, they wanted to set up the promotion just the right way. Our loyal fans couldn't see us play, we had to find loopholes to get our music out to them but we couldn't put out a record."
Davis' contract with Arista expired, and at that point the band had no advocate with the label. Rustic's album for Arista was pulled from the release schedule and the band sat in limbo. After two years Arista released Rustic and allowed the band to leave with master tapes of all their studio work. The budget for recording the album was one million dollars. Clive Davis had realized the potential, and so did another record company. The album became Viva Nueva and was picked up by Warner Brothers to be distributed by Tommy Boy in 2001.
With the momentum gone and the band members back home in Portland, each was doing their own thing to get their groove back. "Everyone took it really hard, the wind got taken out of people's sails, they were thinking that they wanted to do something different. I never let something like that, as devastating as it was, get me down too much, I knew that was the music business, I contemplated what the next move was."
Gutter and Jon Roods had been writing to head into the studio with the band, armed with such songs as "She Gets Me high", "Save Me" and "Paranoid Social Club." Dave explains,
"" Paranoid Social Club" was the name of a song I was writing for Rustic, it was a brochure, you know, the world sucks but it's safe here. We were just waiting for Spence to come in and lay his keyboard part, and the horns to come in and lay their horn parts, and no one came. Tony had left and we auditioned about 30 drummers from all over the country. Marc Boisvert won the audition, joined the band, and he was gung ho. So Jon, Marc and I started Paranoid Social Club, because we were in the studio to start the new record and everyone else was not as interested or was just too busy. It happened by default really, I think if I was the only one that showed up in the studio - I still would have made a record."
The [Rustic Overtones] band had a highly publicized breakup in 2002. Rumors circulated, turmoil ensued, while strong friendships and bonds of brotherhood were tested. Various members worked with new people, wrote and recorded in bedrooms and basements. To most fans it seemed as though every member was doing quite well without The Rustic Overtones. Paranoid Social Club immediately began with a strong fan base, writing songs that were more sarcastic and edgy than Rustic's music, but the quality remained intact.
Keyboardist, Spencer Albee, was writing and recording his own album, Popsicko, which got rave reviews. Drummer, Tony Mcnaboe, started a solo career, also releasing an album, while members of the horn section joined bands of their own, including the soul/funk bands: Lettuce and Soulive. All members were producing work for other artists as well, and hosting local theme nights at some of Portland's rock and blues clubs. Mcnaboe was hosting 'Soul Night" at The Big Easy, and had a musician friend that had never played out. Mcnaboe convinced his friend to play there for his first performance, the friend was Ray Lamontagne. When Ray was signed by RCA records and got ready to hit the road with a tour he asked Mcnaboe to be his drummer.
In the years that followed Albee also toured the U.S. with his hot band, As Fast As, opening for O.A.R. As Fast As got signed and had an album, Letter for the Damned, produced by Matt Wallace. Wallace was the man behind the boards producing records for The Replacements, Faith No More, John Hiatt, Paul Westerberg and Maroon Five. A song from Letter for the Damned, "Florida Sunshine" was featured on an episode of C.S.I. Miami. The bands live shows were dynamic and a 'must see'. Paranoid Social Club released a few albums and their song "Wasted" was tagged for the movie, 'Beerfest'. Paranoid Social Club also had a regional hit with major air play for "Two Girls," which HBO adopted for a very memorable threesome scenes in both 'Entourage' and 'The Cathouse'.
If it seems that this story about Dave Gutter has become as much a story about The Rustic Overtones, then so be it. Without Rustic, each and every member and their influence, Gutter may not exist as we know him . Considering all the years, the experiences, all of the road miles and work they had shared, their influences were insurmountable. R.O. had been at the center of Gutter's life since high school. Without his personality, his family and upbringing, his work ethic and his will to succeed to be the best, Dave Gutter may not exist as we know him either. Every piece of this story contributes in some way in the making of a real artist, a strong figure and consumate frontman.
Paranoid took a hiatus and Gutter stopped playing music, "I quit touring and I quit playing, I sold all my equipment. Down to everything. I hadn't played guitar for like a year. I ran my parent's business for a year and I had a kid. He kept a guitar in the trunk of his car and would sneak off to play. Eventually selling that last guitar and he didn't pick one up for another year.
Tony Mcnaboe was attempting to get Rustic together again. Gutter tells us; "John and I were kind of hesitant to get back together again, Paranoid was signed by Go Entertainment, part of EMI, we kind of felt it was like beating a dead horse. Tony Macnaboe lied to everybody, to get everyone. He said that everybody else would do it if they would do it, no one had agreed to that at all."
Mcnaboe tried again. Gutter explains; "Everyone else is in if your in, Gutter, we need you, so are you going to do it ?" Rustic reunited in 2007. Their fans were elated at the announcement. It now seemed the band consisted of a rock royalty, Maine's own supergroup. "We said 'let's put out an album of 'B' sides , we'll do one big show, we'll all make a big bunch of money and then that'll be it!" But we decided to write one new song for the album, that turned into five new songs. When we started the writing process, we were reminded that there was something special about The Rustic Overtones. The break was essential because we needed some time to regain focus.
The album was called Light at the End and stands among some of Rustics best work. Dave Gutter was borrowing guitars at this point and continued to for a few years. "It wasn't until AO Guitars, Andrew Ollson, made me a guitar that I actually owned my own guitar. I borrowed guitars for like the first three or four years of the reunion. I would have friends open for us so I could use their guitar and guitar amp for my set." The fans were coming out in huge numbers. The first show, on the patio of a Portland Rock station overlooking Monument Square, had numbers estimated at 5,000 fans; they had responded and were determined not to lose R.O. again.
Due to that response, the band added shows and then more shows, conflicting with a few of the members' solo careers. Albee was the first to leave the group, then Mcnaboe. The friendships were intact but demands of two careers was not what everyone had agreed to. Rustic continued on, and replaced both Albee and Macnaboe.
Rustic won many allocates, among them; in 2009, voted by The Portland Phoenix, Best Male Vocal for Gutter and Best Live act for R.O. In 2010, again by The Phoenix, Album of the Decade, Best Male vocal, best live act and album of the year. In 2012 Best Male Vocal and The New England Music Awards counted Rustic as the Best Live Act in New England. The Hartford Courant says "Dave Gutter is an absolute monster of a front man, and his raw energy makes the band a must-see live act". The Portland Press Herald announces in 2007 that the bands new album, Light at the End, is the fastest –selling local disc in Maine's history.
"There was a new feel, a new theme, a hopeful theme. We were really psyched to come back and bring it to a level just us and our fans We didn't have to wait for a call from New York, telling us they didn't like the song and that we'd have to work harder. We just felt like let's just be a band and make music for us. We didn't have to record "Check" eleven times to see if we could make it into a pop hit. There was a great weight lifted off our shoulders, we were back to just kids that loved to make music."
How was Dave Gutter responding to all this? He and The Rustic Overtones played an entire set with fellow Mainer and friend Ray Lamontagne at The Machigonne Festival held in their home state in 2009. It is Lamontagne that proposes an idea to Gutter; let's tour together solo, just two men, two guitars. For the first time Dave Gutter had become an artist with a solo career, opening shows for Ray Lamontagne. If it was not enough to have commitments with Paranoid and Rustic, he now had a solo career to keep up with, he was doing over 200 shows a year, once again.
Along with all of that Gutter has been writing songs for other artist as well. He and writing partner Eric Krasno have two songs on the Tedeschi Trucks Bands second album, the Grammy nominated Made up Mind. He has been in the studio with Krasno and Aaron Neville collaborating for Neville's new album. Neville phoned Dave's mother on her birthday to sing 'Happy Birthday' to her. Gutter has also co- written 'Torture' . a song done by Gramatik, which has downloads topping three million. These are only a portion of side projects for Dave Gutter. Surprisingly, while writing for the Tedeschi Trucks album Gutter was homeless at the time. Dave looks at it different than most of us reading might, " the curse of an artist, the curse of a songwriter. The more bad experiences, the more good songs come out."
Author and Filmmaker Crash Berry says this of Gutter and his writing abilities:
"I'm pretty friggin' lucky to have Gutter as a good friend. When we hang out, he often recites new lyrics to me before they are set to music, so I get to view Gutter as a wordsmith and poet rather than a rock n' roller singing words into a microphone. His lyrics are packed with imagery and accompanied by clever turns of phrase and layered meanings reminiscent of John Lennon, Kris Kristofferson and Leonard Cohen."
Lee: What are some of the high points you have had in your career, Dave?
Dave: I don't know, to be honest, there have been so many. The ones that really mean the most are these little quaint moments. These really small moments. The really big moments like where we were recording with David Bowie, going to a-list parties with P. Diddy, that was really like a blur. We didn't even get to take that in. When we would put on a show ourselves and it would be as big as the national band that came through. attracting the same attention as the national band. Those are the triumphs in my mind. It seems to me the high points in my mind almost seem insignificant if I say them now. It is the very simple beauty of the music, the moment where the sound is perfect and everything clicks.
It doesn't matter where I am, it doesn't matter how many people are in the audience. It just clicks, it's like a high. That's what you keep going after; you keep going after that moment on stage where you have this communication with the other musicians on stage, when it's all working.
Usually the high points would be a great spot to name drop and say all these things I've done and all these great artists I've worked with. To be honest, all that, it's like your in fast forward and it's over before you even know it.
A high point could be being in a practice space with some friends. A high point for me is when I write a lyric and I see someone in the audience mouthing it back to me during the show. The fact the words went in their head then came out their mouth and they processed it. That goes back again to communication, there is communication within the band and there is also communication between the band and the audience. And when that communication of music, it's something you can't explain. That's the moment for me that has been euphoric and very powerful to me, almost spiritual.
Lee: With all of the people you have worked with, whether it would be guys in town or in New York, who have you learned the most from?
Dave: I would say one would be Eric Krasno.
Lee: He's your songwriting partner.
Dave: Yeah he is, Eric Krasno is the one that pulled me out of a rough time I was in by asking me if I wanted to write with him. I go down to Brooklyn once a month just to write. And also Ryan Ziodis from Rustic. He showed me very young to listen and he showed me guitar parts in a Prince song. He showed me how to listen to a Bob Marley song and he would point out everything. He'd say 'you hear what that guy is doing with the shaker, way in the background, you hear that shaker? You hear that rhythm? And how the vocal wouldn't even be sung that way if it wasn't for that shaker pointing out that rhythm.' He taught me to listen, before I met Zoidis it was feedback and distortion and a big wall of sound that was right in your face. He showed me how to listen to the nuances of music, he broke it apart for me and that helped me with music production and arraignment and dynamics like playing loud and soft. Before that it was just loud. He showed me how to play quiet so when it was loud it was moving.
Lee: What's your favorite show ever, Dave?
Dave: We played a show for The Cumberland County Jail. It was for the inmates around Christmas time, they were dealing with suicide and depression that happened around that time of year. As a solution they decided to have us play a little Christmas party. This may seem insignificant when I repeat it but it is one of the high points of my career. There was a magician that opened for us, the show itself was amazing and it was super fun. The people really, well I' don't want to use a horrible pun but they were really a captive audience. They hung on every word, and they were so grateful for all of the music that we played for them.
The magician that went on before us had lost his Dove. It had flown high up in the rafters and the Dove would not come down. The magician hung around trying to figure out how he would get his dove down. Well we started playing our show and when we got to this really high point, in energy and dynamics and like fire, the audience was super amped up. Well Spencer held out his hand and the dove came down from the ceiling and landed on his hand. At this really high point in the music. It was just like this most beautiful thing, it almost physically hurts you, it's just so crazy and powerful. It's things like that, and the shows we do for Nick Stanley, who used to come out to our shows all the time and then came down with this spinal disease and became paralyzed. And we played in his living room for him. Anytime you can take music and make something powerful with it, those are my favorite times. Those are my high points and those are my favorite shows. Any time I do something, no matter how small or how big, but it has this essence of reminding everybody that is present how powerful music can be.
Lee: Comparing from when you started in the music business to now, how important is it to get a record deal?
Dave: When we started if you got a record deal it was a validation that the band or artist must be good and you weren't a legitimate musician if you didn't have a contract. We didn't realize how good we had it when we were doing it independently. So you got a big advance and you would have to recoup that big advance, but it was that giant advance that was like a carrot dangling. But it was a bad system for the artist. We got the advance and a publishing thing and we got some fans, and the new fans were not there after. There are people that come out when someone is on the radio, we got a lot of disposable fans. Now an artist is not only signed but are the president of their own record company, doing everything, their music goes directly to the fans.
Now we communicate directly to our fans, about the music, we keep them updated on what we are doing musically. It's not this manufactured thing, it's a very natural thing. It's not a middle man, this corporation that is going to communicate to our fans for us. The whole time we were in the industry they gave us all these tools. They paid a million dollars, our tab for Viva Nueva was a million dollars. They spent a million dollars on having us spend the summer learning about songwriting and arraignment and recording from Tony Visconti and David Bowie. When you come out of that you have this thing a lot of people don't have the chance to get. So there's this David and Goliath, where bands realize they can make their own record in a basement or a bedroom with out a huge studio budget and get it to your fans. Now bands are doing that much more efficiently than the labels. I think that's how we got this huge internet revolution happening."
Lee: You have had songs from both Rustic Overtones and Paranoid Social Club in Motion Pictures. You just finished playing a rock star in a movie, Sex, Drugs and Blueberries, are you writing music for the film as well?
Dave: I am actually, it is in the first stages of editing right now so I get the first three or four scenes at a time, so I score to that. The song from Lets start a cult 2, "High on Everything" is in the movie, but as far as the score it is coming together as we edit the movie. There is no time limit , Crash Berry wrote it and directed it and is his own boss. He had a vision from working in the blueberry fields and is pretty immersed in the authenticity of all the acting ,actors and characters. These are people he actually knew as is the case in a lot of his stories, it's a pretty cool thing. I got the book from Crash and let my Mom read it and she called me up and said 'David you know what you're going to have to do?' The story's centerpiece reveals the underbelly of blueberry rakers, sex and drugs.
Crash Berry explains, "In the fall of 2012, soon after we decided to turn my novel Sex, Drugs and Blueberries into an indie film, I had the idea that Gutter would be awesome as Ben, a failed rock star from Portland who moves to Down East Maine. Not that Gutter is a failure, but I knew he was intimately familiar with the trials and tribulations of the rock lifestyle. Plus, with all his tattoos and his big eyes, he's got the right look for film and could easily play the role by just acting like himself. So I gave him a jingle and he eagerly accepted because he was looking for a new challenge, except for full frontal nudity he did everything I asked him to do during filming."
" I didn't do the full front nudity because of my Mom. I had recently met Ron Jeremy on a trip to L.A.. My mom saw a photo of us together. Can you imagine what she could have been thinking?"
Lee: This past week you posted on Facebook that you actually had a free weekend, asking if anyone have a gig offer for you. It was like BANG, in a matter of minutes you had to choose between a dozen or so gigs. A few were just back yard b-b-q's.
Dave: That's exactly what I was looking for really. Something different. I grew up in Gorham , Maine and it's just a small town. There was no way to see a live act or get your hands on a new album. There might be Karaoke, which I might even get up there. So I know what it's like to be on the outskirts and if I go play in their town it's exciting for them. I know what that's like, 'he's at the bar that I hang out at.' They don't have to drive an hour or stay at a hotel, so I love to do that for people that really appreciate music. People get so psyched that you're in their place. I like to do that last minute and just pop up somewhere, it's a blast and I like to go anywhere that people appreciate music. So I'll be playing for some people that have mutual friends. They have this really old looking bowling alley straight out of the fifties, it's beautiful. So we landed on there for the show and I'd like to apologize to any backyard b-b-q-'s. I might have time to crash a party somewhere on the way, so it's not out of the question that I'm going to do that.
Lee: Ray Lamontange invited you to go on tour with him as a solo act, how was that without the safety net of the band?
Dave: Well the cool thing about Rustic is we always had about seven or more members playing on stage at one time. At any given point if I am singing or whatever, I can just stop, and most times it's even better. Acoustic I have to be playing the whole time, I have to be singing the whole time, it's kind of like patting your belly and rubbing your head. Playing solo acoustic really got my sense of rhythm and dynamics, Now where I would have cut out I need to play something like what the keyboard player would be playing or what the bass player or drummer would be playing. Putting something in there to fill in so it was really weird to be me making the noise the entire time. It was a blast and was definitely a privilege opening for somebody as talented as Ray Lamontagne .He's one of my favorite lyricists, he's one of my favorite performers. I just saw him on tour for the new record and I thought it was amazing.
Lee: Do you think that musicians don't necessarily write the same kind of music that they listen to?
Dave: Oh yeah, very much so. If I listened to music that was similar to mine it might put me in a box, it's good to get different ideas and incorporate it into what we do.
Lee: You seem so comfortable jumping off the stage and into the crowd. When you do that what do you get out of it and what do you want the audience to get out of it?
Dave: I just like to crate energy, I like to get people to have fun and be on their level and come out and perform in the audience. The guy at the party that's freestyle rapping with all the other guys, that's my personality. So being in the audience is fun and exciting. Anything you can do to effect people in the audience, whether it's talking to them after the show, have a beer with them or interacting with people, that's the way it should be, it shouldn't be impersonal, you know what I mean.
Lee: What do you have on your Bucket list? What haven't you done yet?
Dave: Gee, I think I did it all Lee.
Lee: Ha-ha, I Love that, ha-ha.
Dave: I think I just might have done it all.
Lee: Well, you know what, you'll find something, I know that. When you write what's your method? Do you come up with an idea, something you want to write about?
Dave: I write things down all the time ,on coffee cups, on napkins , my hand, I write ,write ,write all the time. I usually come up with a subject matter I want to write about first. I'll write down all the words I associate with that subject matter and come up with a chorus. I'll make up different metaphors using all those different words and see what kind of connection I can make to something that everyone relates to. I'll usually try to have two meanings to every song, I don't like to make songs that are ambiguous, I don't like to paint an abstract picture that you have to interpret in your own way. . I have appreciation for lots of writing in that style, it's just not the style that I write in. I write a very literal style, my goal is to make people understand what I am trying to say. There are metaphors but the message is more out front.
Lee: You've worked with some great producers and you've also produced some on your own, what's your preference?
Dave: I am not efficient enough in the studio to really produce anything on my own, I always collaborate with somebody. Sometime it just comes down to me letting someone else take the reins and I can say, Hey, that sounds awesome. Saying no is as important as saying yes in the studio. There's production like that, and there's ideas and I love batting around ideas a lot in the studio. I also love collaborating with producers, I like learning from people and I love working with people that I feel are always better than me. Then I can walk away with a deeper understanding.
Lee: Playing in two bands and solo must help keep every one of those fresh for you?
Dave: Yeah, it does and if you listen to older Rustic albums, the early ones, every song was a different style. One song would be like some straight up heavy metal thing and the next one might be some lounge jazz samba thing. It's not like that as much anymore because I've distributed the music through these different projects and I can make a song that's totally out of character for somebody else. I like that hopping around from style to style, I like pushing myself to try stuff that is a little different.
Lee: A lot of musicians enjoy playing another instrument too sometime, just for a change.
Dave: Tony Visconti told us this story of when he produced some record for Bowie and I wish I remembered which one now. Anyway, he had the very best musicians in the studio, the best drummer ,the best keyboard player, the best bass player, and so he took each one and had them play the instrument they were the worst at, and made a record like that.. So I think there is definitely a value in an innocent perspective or a fresh perspective. I think that's why kids have such good ideas.
Lee: What are the advantages and the disadvantages to living in Maine?
Dave: Well the disadvantage to living in Maine is there is no music industry here and the advantage is there is no music industry here. Like I was saying about the early years of Rustic and the camaraderie within the scene and how everyone would rather one up their friends than play some corny ass song off the radio. Although there are a lot of us who make some corny ass songs for the radio, just because it is fun to play pop music sometime. The thing for me, a huge part of it, I think that when you get geographically around the country and your getting music from different parts and your in a place that is really nice out all the time and sunny, the music becomes kind of mundane and lacks personality, for me it's almost too much fun. Then when you get to Maine people are different, they are hard but they are friendly and nice. When I am in New York I listen to rap music, and that rap music sounds like bitter winter and if you listen to California rap music it sounds like the west coast, sunshine and fun. In the south, there's a lot of poverty, and it's darker in a lot of those place but it's nice in a lot so it's kind of a mix between California and New York Rap. I notice these different things, like where the music comes from it changes the way you perceive and regurgitate what goes down onto the paper. I like being here because in the winter it gets really kind of strange. The cabin fever makes me go through a cycle of writing like no other time. I go through the seasons in the summer I write Happy songs and in the fall I write reflective songs, In the winter it gets dark but then in the spring there's this new found hope. I wouldn't want to move from here because the sugar and the salt is equally important to making something that's real.
Lee: So how do you feel about the Maine music scene today, has it changed or stayed the same.
Dave: Well today it seems as though cover music has been taking over a little bit and it's kind of discouraging. There are a lot of nightclubs that emphasize live music, a lot of DJ stuff and a lot of cover bands and some original music .There is still a lot of people making original music, and really good music, that has never faltered. The cover scene can put a chip on your shoulder. Some time you want to be able to compete with that, and that's the underdog, I attribute my entire career as being the underdog. That's a good thing because you have something to prove at all times, I've never been at the point where I felt like I could rest on my laurels and relax. If I want to eat I have to work hard, and that's a good thing.
My intentions for writing this were to share someone pure and real, I hope it came across and you've felt that. Dave Gutter is the real deal, and we're fortunate to have such a big fish in our small pond. Every one familiar with him instantly relates his name and his face with music, he is a valuable artist, 'Where I'm From'. ~Lee Hebert
About Our Author: Lee Hebert is a music lover and fan first, sharing his passion and knowledge of music through his experience as a writer for FACE Magazine. Lee lives in Maine, and is married with five children, who live throughout the U.S. and Italy. The basics of life for Mr. Hebert? Family, Live Music - and Playing Gretsch Drums!