Dave Rude has it pretty good. He’s been killing it on guitar in Tesla since 2006, and the band is booked constantly, which is great for us fans. They always bring it live, and everyone walks out of a Tesla show sufficiently rocked. But what I, and I’m sure many of you didn’t know, is that Dave has his own project, Dave Rude Band, consisting of Marco Cuzman on bass, Josh Schmidt on drums, and Dave handling guitar as well as vocal duties. They just released their first album The Key via Rat Pak Records (Many thanks to Jen K for getting it to me so fast!), and it’s pretty kickass. So when the aforementioned Jen set up a phone conversation with Dave, I was pretty stoked. He’s a really laid-back, personable guy, and you can see that any band is lucky to have him. Here ya go:
Amps: Dave…The cover of Sledgehammer was an interesting choice. What made you go with that?
Dave: We tried it one night at rehearsal, and it just worked. Everybody likes that song, and it’s such a big song, huge in the 80’s and still on the radio now. It’s such a great tune. And I think what makes our version pretty cool, and different is that we took it and we stripped it down, and as a rock trio, played it through our medium, so by virtue of doing that, without all the production, we made it really bare bones and heavy. We kind of made it a heavy blues version. The core of the song is still there, so you automatically recognize it, but I think it’s interesting when you can do a totally different take on a song like that.
Amps: There’s a little hidden track instrumental at the end of Charlie Manson. No one does that anymore!! That was really cool.
Dave: That was something that I wanted to put on the record because it was really pretty and cool and I liked it a lot, but it was totally impromptu. It’s actually chords from “Afterlife” and we recorded all the basic tracks live in the room together, and we were waiting for our producer, who was moving mics around, and I was just fiddling around with those chords but in a weird, quiet version. Next thing I know, we’re playing with it, and Marc Kapetan, our producer was getting it all on tape, and I didn’t know. And later when I heard it, I knew I wanted to get it on the record somewhere, but not in “Afterlife”, or else it would’ve been a super-long song. There’s mistakes, guitar’s a little out of tune, but I left it as is, I didn’t wanna change a thing. You know a lot of bands today, they just don’t take chances, and I’m not saying that we were taking some big risk or anything, but we were just showing ourselves. Some of the bands today, they just wanna be perfect, and on the radio, and so they play that whole game of sounding like everybody else and everything is Pro-Tools to death. We used Pro-Tools, but we didn’t fix stuff, or tweak it to death.
Amps: The album is heavier than what you normally do in Tesla. Was this on purpose?
Dave: Yes and no. I noticed in Tesla, that some of the heavier songs, at shows the people just fucking rock, those were the ones that people really responded to, you could see it. So it just kind of inspired us to do a little bit more of the heavy stuff. It really worked for us. But it wasn’t a real conscious effort; it was just what we ended up writing. And there are a lot of half-finished songs, because I write a lot, and other stuff came out through just jamming at rehearsal. There were a lot of songs that never even made it, but by virtue of being the heavy ones that we were into at that moment, it was like, “Okay. Let’s finish that one.” I guess in that way, it made it sort of conscious.
Amps: And some of it would sound right at home on 70’s radio, I think.
Dave: Yeah, there’s a 70’s Eagles-y vibe on some of it, with the harmonies and melody. Even the heavier stuff has a lot of melody. Then you have a song like “On My Own Again” which is totally different than the rest of the record.
Amps: That’s one of my favorites, along with “Yours To Hold” and “Afterlife”. I wound up humming them all day while I was driving around last week.
Dave: Oh thanks, man. That’s great to hear!
Amps: Will you do any touring for the album?
Dave: I’m not sure. It’s a possibility. I really can’t say because the guys in the band are in all different places right now, and I’m pretty busy with Tesla, so I don’t really have time to do a full band like I used to. If I can, and something comes up that we think is worth doing, then yeah, we might do it. But otherwise it’ll probably be just recording. That’s not to say I wouldn’t love to, though.
Amps: Plus, you seem to be really having a good time onstage in Tesla, too.
Dave: Yeah, for sure. It’s a blast up there every single night.
Amps: You mentioned that you’re always writing. So you’ve got a ton of ideas on tape that you can always look into later, and some of them could wind up as songs?
Dave: I’ve got a great app on my iPhone that I can record onto very easily. I was doing that on the old school phones, too. You know, where you’re searching, searching, searching for that one idea you put down on a voicemail one night (laughs). I’ve got hundreds, maybe thousands of ideas, chord progressions, half-songs, just tons of stuff. I really love to write, and if something strikes me right away, I wanna get it down.
Amps: What do you when you’re NOT on tour with Tesla? I ask because you guys are always on the road. So what happens when Dave finally comes home?
Dave: I like to hang out with my wife and my baby. I have a 3-month old boy at home, which is awesome! He’s so cool. I also teach guitar lessons, in person, and I just started doing them on Skype, and I do a lot of writing for some country artists. I’ll go to Nashville and get together with some country writers, and we trade ideas. I do some stuff for some pop producers, too.
Amps: Congratulations on the baby! And those Nashville musicians are some of the best in the world, so that must be fun!
Dave: Thank you so much. Oh my gosh, they are. They put most of us to shame. Brad Paisley is one of the best guitar players around, he’s out of control. And it’s funny because “On My Own Again” is one I wrote in Nashville. If you look at the liner notes, I didn’t play much on that one at all. Troy Luccketta (Tesla) did the drums on it too, he lives in Nashville. I wrote it with my friend Doc Holladay, and we did a demo with me singing and playing acoustic guitar, I didn’t do anything else. Doc added all the other cool stuff, and Troy put down the drums, and we actually started pitching it to country artists, but the more I listened to it, the more I wanted it on the album. And it works real well as a rock ballad, or a modern country song.
Amps: Very true. Well, Dave thanks so much for calling in and chatting with me. I know you’ve got a show tonight with the Tesla boys, so go kick some ass.
Dave: No problem, Damian. I appreciate you having me. Take care.
At the time of this interview, The Key was #2 on Amazon’s new release chart, and there’s a very good reason for that. Get it and see for yourselves. You’ll thank me!