Dave Weckl joined the Special Edition of the fusion band
Metro for their Summer of 2008 tour. At the concert the band
gave in Peñíscola (Spain), bandleader and guitarist
Chuck Loeb introduced him as “the best drummer in the
world.” Just before the sound check the former Chick
Corea Elektric Band drummer talked to Isabel Pastor (Castelló
Cultural) and Arturo Mora (Tomajazz.com.)
Isabel Pastor, Dave Weckl and Arturo Mora
ARTURO MORA: Tonight’s is the second of
two concerts in Spain with Metro. You just played yesterday
in San Javier. How did it go?
DAVE WECKL: The concert was great, but I lost
my suitcase coming to Spain. Really crazy, I had to get buy
clothes... but the concert was great, people was great.
ARTURO MORA: What can you tell us about your
DAVE WECKL: [It's being] a lot of fun, I’ve
been doing a lot more sideman work lately playing with different
people. I first played with Mitch [Forman] back in 1980-81
in New York, and later on I played with Chuck [Loeb], I actually
played on his first record, called The Shining Hour,
I think, that was in ’84. But this is the first time
that I get to play together with Mitch and Chuck... the group
is great, the compositions are fantastic, so wonderful.
ISABEL PASTOR: You’re paying homage to
Michael Brecker. What would you like people to remember about
him as a musician?
DAVE WECKL: First of all he was a really really
sweet man, a very very nice person, a gentle giant as far
as his ability to obviously play the saxophone, try the EWI
and all that kind of instruments. Just an incredible musician.
I was first influenced by him when I was growing up in St.
Louis playing to Billy Cobham records, I was sixteen or so.
I got the opportunity to play with him a lot, both in his
own projects, in the Brecker Brothers, and I had him on my
own records as well. He’s very very much missed, both
as a musician and as a person. He’s unfortunately one
of many that have recently passed, it’s life, but it’s
not fair sometimes.
ISABEL PASTOR: And how are you going to make
a tribute with music?
DAVE WECKL: Well, the best way to give a tribute
to anybody is just play with the feeling that we all know
someone likes to play with, playing together that way with
the spirit. There’s not really way to write special
music for somebody like Michael Brecker or anybody else who
was such a genius.
ARTURO MORA: You’ve been a key reference
in modern drumming for at least the last two decades. Have
you felt some kind of pressure being at the top?
DAVE WECKL: There used to be a pressure when
I was younger, you know. I don’t really care anymore
[laughs], because I learned a lot of time ago that you can’t
please everybody. There used to be a whole thing about this
guy being better or this better, people liked to say, you
know. The bottom line is: as musicians we’re all trying
to create good music, to have fun playing, to communicate
within ourselves as a group, to communicate to the audience,
to give something positive. That’s why I do what I do.
So for people that have negative things to say about, it’s
crazy, it’s so unnecessary, because everybody has something
to say. These people that find what’s wrong instead
of listening to what somebody’s actually doing, that’s
human nature: “oh, that’s wrong, oh, that’s
I didn’t put
myself at any level or placement as far as whatever you think
that might be, or whatever magazines say. I didn’t put
myself there, I’m not trying to keep myself there, I’m
just playing music like I always did. But for me actually
at this point in my career I don’t think about it anymore.
When I was younger there was definitely some pain going through.
Now it’s like: “whatever”. I’m just
here to play, and stay healthy. As you get older that becomes
the most important thing: to keep the body healthy and to
be able to make the music that you took for granted making.
I’m just happy to be able to keep on playing, and everytime
I get on the stage I think it is my last time, and that’s
ARTURO MORA: It seems that there was a special
point in your career when you studied with Freddie Gruber.
How did he influence you?
DAVE WECKL: Yes, that was in the mid-nineties.
I’ve had a lot of teachers, but he was really the one
that actually showed me the physics of drumming. He taught
me how to understand the way things work naturally applied
to drumming techniques and drumming approaches. It helped
me to understand my own playing better, and other players
that I had admired, like Buddy Rich, Steve Gadd. It enabled
me to really see things that I hadn’t seen before. It’s
a more natural approach to playing, more in tune with the
body, the way the body moves, to not have to move the body
in unnatural ways to keep things, and that’s actually
because of him and his approach concepts. It really has allowed
me to do what I do at my age now as easy as I can do it, because
it used to be harder, so it’s easier now than it used
ISABEL PASTOR: I heard that it was Michael Brecker
who suggested Chick Corea to hire you for his Elektric Band.
DAVE WECKL: That’s correct. Michael Brecker
was among the ones that mentioned my name to Chick in the
very beginning of Chick’s search of musicians for the
Elektric Band, which was 1984-85.
ISABEL PASTOR: How was that experience?
DAVE WECKL: With Chick it was great. I grew
up listening to his music, playing to his records, mostly
because Steve Gadd was playing drums with Chick. When I had
the opportunity to play with him it was phenomenal, we had
a lot of fun, it was a successful band, it was a thing.
ARTURO MORA: There was a recent reunion of the
Chick Corea Elektric Band. How was it to join the guys back?
DAVE WECKL: There’s been a reunion almost
every year since 2002. Generally speaking every time we get
back together we get a lot of fun, whatever musicians there
are. The bass chair usually revolves, John Patitucci is pretty
busy with Wayne Shorter, so he hasn’t been able to make
all of the reunion stuff, but we found some good bass players,
like most recently Victor Wooten, that has been a pleasure
to play with.
It’s kind of
like sitting in an old rockin’ chair, you know, playing
the old stuff, but everybody has grown fifteen years, there’s
a whole other level of maturity, and the musical and personal
experiences that we’ve all had are huge, so it’s
a lot of fun.
ARTURO MORA: As a drummer, what do you look
for in a bassist and who are the bassists you’ve felt
more comfortable with?
DAVE WECKL: Depends on the gig, depends on the
music. Sometimes a more functional bass player is necessary,
that has a really big sound, that plays the notes, that doesn’t
play too much; but sometimes I need a bass player that plays
more the ghost notes, that plays more of the vibe that’s
going on with the music, that responses more, that doesn’t
just play the parts, so it really comes out of the musical
situation. But regardless of what it is I like the bass player
that understands the function of the bass, that understands
the bottom of the band has to be carried from that instrument.
But it’s a big question, it’s not so simple.
And I’ve played with a lot of great bass
players, and they’re all different, they all have great
things that the others don’t have. I’m very fortunate.
ISABEL PASTOR: You’ve just been talking
about your career, but I’d like to talk about future
drummers. What would be the most important thing you would
say a future drummer?
DAVE WECKL: Everybody has a different idea about
what that is. My personal take on this, what I try to teach
and what I try to tell young players that I see coming up
is to tend to keep the music important in their drumming,
so it doesn’t just become a display of drums. A lot
of drummers today come off playing licks, not playing with
the band, having the fastest feed, or controlling the sticks
the most, you know, stuff which is part of the entertainment
of, you know, of being and entertainer. I’m more of
a purist when it comes to playing the drums or playing jazz.
I like jazz so much, because I don’t approach it like
a purist, I’m more open-minded in a sense to create
within that label of jazz, to be free to create, and bring
other influences of different styles or other cultures into
A lot of young players today are more focused
on how much stuff they can play instead of playing with other
musicians. There’s not a lot of bands out there like
Metro, or... I did a lot of touring with Mike Stern, I’ve
toured with my own group for years, there’s not a lot
of this out there anymore doing this kind of music, and we
have to, in my opinion, keep this at a level, ‘cause
people still like to come see live music, and I think it’s
an important part of the being of humanity, in a sense that
people need that kind of thing, we’re so blastered with
all that stuff, Internet and TV, and people forget about the
real essence of communication throughout and what music can
do as a positive inspiration. I mean, I got so much of my
positive inspiration as a kid from listening to music, and
it created a better environment for me to exist in. I think
a lot of kids are missing that, they don’t really get
The young drummers that are playing well, to
specifically answer your question, must reinforce the idea
of making music, try to play with the musicians and support
the music whatever it is. It’s still a musical statement
instead of a drumming statement.
Dave Weckl and Arturo Mora
ARTURO MORA: Are there any upcoming plans for
the Dave Weckl Band?
DAVE WECKL: At the moment no. I’m kind
of going through a phase right now where after the last inception
of the band it was time to stop that, I kind of needed to
stop. The responsibility of being a leader is kind of hard,
it’s a lot of work. It’s hard to do on your own
without management. I don’t have management, I have
great booking agents, but as far as managing and like doing
all of the work it’s all on me, so a lot of work.
And then it’s that thing of being a musician
to have change and variation and variety, and I like being
a sideman as well, I like being able to play with different
musicians, so I can’t say what’s gonna happen
in the future, but right now I don’t have that pressure
from a record company to do that work or anything like that.
I’m sort of in the middle of everything, you know, kind
of a transition period. I don’t know about the next
step, but right now I’m happy playing with different