By: Rob Cavuoto
Dave Rude, guitarist for Tesla. delivers the goods with his latest hard rock offering The Key. This 10 song, riff laden extravaganza, captures the true spirit and essence of American Rock & Roll music and showcases both Dave’s solid guitar playing skills, and unique songwriting ability.
Along with bassist Marco Guzman, drummer Josh Schmidt and Dave’s signature guitar style, this release offers up a straight-forward mix of hard-rockin’ cuts that will satisfy any and all fans of the genre!
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dave about his new CD, and to give us an update on the new Tesla CD.
Robert Cavuoto: Tell me a little about how The Key came about?
Dave Rude: I had self-released two EPs with the Dave Rude Band, a self-titled disc in ’07 and Carry Me Home in ’09, and had always wanted to put out a full album on a good label.
We recorded a few songs with my friend, Marc Kapetan, at his studio in Fresno, CA, just to hear how they sounded on tape.
Everything sounded really good, so we kept going back down to his studio every few months to do a few songs at a time, until eventually there were almost enough tracks for an album.
Around the same time I had started going out to Nashville by myself and writing with country writers to pitch songs to country artists.
One of the tracks I had demo-ed up there, “On My Own Again,” written with Doc Holladay, had gotten a really fantastic reaction at some solo acoustic dates I’d done, and I felt the demo held up well as a rock ballad, even though it was essentially written as a mainstream country song.
So I decided to put that demo on the album too, which is the only song with other musicians on it.
Also, Troy Luccketta from Tesla lives in Nashville and had played drums on the song, so I thought it was even more fitting to put the track on my album.
Early this year I was approached by Rat Pak Records to make a new record for their label, which I was super stoked about.
In talking with them about what I wanted to do for a new album I mentioned that I had an entire album of material already recorded and they asked me to send it over.
They loved it so we decided to put it out as my first release on Rat Pak.
I’m already working on a new instrumental guitar album for RPR that I hope to put out later this year.
Robert: Did keeping things simple – just guitar, bass and drums – steer you down a certain creative path?
Dave Rude: We recorded all the basics, live in the room together like we would on stage, and the songs were all written to be played live as a three piece.
That definitely led us down a certain path of using space and trying to get the maximum efficiency out of sonic real estate.
Every part has to be great on its own and support all the other instruments without stepping on anything.
So there’s simplicity in that there are less instruments and tracks than your average hard rock band, but in many ways it takes more thought to make the three instruments work together to sound huge.
Another benefit of a three piece, especially in a live setting, is that everyone can always hear every note each guy in the band plays.
When you’ve got two guitars, keyboards, horns, percussion, etc. things can easily get lost in the mix and sometimes the audience doesn’t get to hear certain things as well as they’d like to.
I did record some double tracks of guitars to fatten up the rhythm tones on the record but it still retains the essence of a trio.
Robert: You did a rocking version of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” – what was the story behind that selection?
Dave Rude: “Sledgehammer” is a song that everybody seems to love.
Everyone knows it, can sing along to it, and probably can remember the video too.
It’s one of those classics that wedding DJs can always count on to get people dancing. But most of all, it’s just a great song.
I’ve always loved it and we tried it at rehearsal one day and instantly realized we could do something really different and unique with it.
I call our version a heavy blues take on Peter Gabriel.
Robert: I’m intrigued by the title of the CD, The Key, is there a meaning behind it?
Dave Rude: The first song on the album is called “The Key” and it’s about staying true to who you are in the face of obstacles, specifically in the context of being in a Rock ‘n’ Roll band trying to make it.
It’s kind of the flagship theme of the album and it’s a real “knock you in the face” type opening number, so I thought it made sense to give the album the same name.
Robert: Tell me what gear you used on the CD?
Dave Rude: The producer, Marc Kapetan, has an extensive collection of guitars and amps at his place–American Made Studios.
We made good use of it all–especially in the guitar department.
I added some really cool sounding overdubs and double tracks with his old Gibson Les Paul Junior double cutaway and a great Fender Strat he has.
I also used a lot of my gear–my Epiphone Shearaton II was the magic tone on the song “The Key.”
My Gibson Explorer and Les Paul are all over the album as well.
I recorded all the album on my old Marshall Slash Signature head,which is an exact replica of the old Silver Jubilee amps through a Marshall 4×12.
It wasn’t until after the album was recorded that I discovered Krank Amps, which are my favorite now.
I used my MXR EVH Phaser pedal on a few tracks–notably the solo to “Own The Night.”
My Dunlop Kirk Hammett wah pedal is how I got that cool harmonic overtone on the end riff of “Afterlife,” and the wide sweep of the solo on “Yours To Hold.”
Marco played a Hamer 12 string bass on “The Key” too.
Tons of stuff made it on the album–it was a real musical playground at the studio.
Robert: What is your go-to-guitar?
Dave Rude: I’d have to say a Les Paul is usually where I start. Although I have a really killer Epiphone Explorer Pro that I’m partial to these days as well.
Robert: Has there ever been a guitar that you sold or gave up that you would like to get back?
Dave Rude: I’ve only ever sold one guitar in my whole life and it was so I could have the money to buy my Number One Les Paul that’s been on every album I’ve ever recorded with every band I’ve ever been in.
It’s just a magic Les Paul Standard that I put coil-tapped Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups in.
The guitar I sold to get it was a black Les Paul Standard and it was a good guitar, but nothing compares to my Number One so it was well worth it.
Robert: Can you tell us any updates on a new Tesla CD, I read that you just tracked a new song “Taste My Pain?”
Dave Rude: Yeah, we are working on new songs on a daily basis at soundcheck and during time off.
We will be releasing it in the coming weeks or months and we’ll have a new album out in 2014.
Robert: Do you feel that you’re playing techniques changes from Tesla to your solo CD?
Dave Rude: I play differently in the two groups, but it happens subconsciously.
When I’m playing in Tesla I’m half of the guitar team so Frank Hannon and I work together to each play parts that support each other and the song.
In DRB I’m the only guitarist so I have to fill all the space.
Both mindsets have their own unique challenges, but I really love each of them.
Robert: What do you think has been your biggest challenge, both musically and professionally, so far in your career?
Dave Rude: I’ve been very fortunate to play with great musicians and be in positive musical relationships in my career so I’d say the biggest challenge is finding time for all the different musical endeavors I’m involved in.
Tesla is obviously the mothership and takes up most of my time, but I’ve also got my solo stuff including a new instrumental album which I’ve never done before and is really exciting.
And I do a lot of songwriting with country writers in Nashville as well as with pop producers in California to pitch to other artists.
And in between tours I teach guitar lessons at home in Oakland, CA as well as online via Skype.
So I’m very lucky to be very busy playing music.