Adam Puchalski

Artist Focus

Part Two

Guitar, Song Writer, Recording and Mastering Engineer

https://www.windstudiomusic.com/

Adam: My first experience with digital audio was Voyetra. It was basically a MIDI orchestral arranger. Before Voyetra I was using Cakewalk for its MIDI capabilities.  Do you remember how you discovered MIDI?

Mackncheeze: Yeah.

Adam: A buddy of mine had a Yamaha drum machine.  I had a Casio CZ-101; I still have one.

Mackncheeze: We did an album with a CZ-101.

Adam: The sounds that you can get out of that thing, it’s the only place where you can get those sounds.  We did so much with that thing, so much. 

How I figured out MIDI was that the drum machine had MIDI in and out and I had a set of MIDI cables. The very first thing I did was use the drum machine controlling the keyboard.  From there it was like, “What else can I do?”

From that point on digital audio workstations would combine both the digital element and the MIDI element.  

I was already at the point where I was editing MIDI with Cakewalk, that was before audio was integrated. I was using every component of MIDI, I learned everything that it could do. If the performance wasn’t doing what I wanted I would look at another control to see how I could manipulate the response; that would get me closer to what I was hearing in my head, basically just playing around with numbers. You have the value 0 to 127  in about a thousand different places.  What am I going to do, what are the combinations of 0 to 127 going to be? At the time the possibilities were endless.  

Me: Do you manipulate audio transfer with MIDI?

Adam: Sometimes. One of my songs I took the vocals, I turned it into a MIDI file. I’ve got that file playing strings in unison with the vocals; and it’s dead on.  

Now I consider using MIDI like ketchup; it’s an accoutrement. I don’t like ketchup; I don’t put ketchup on anything but meatloaf. Sometimes I need to make a choice of which is the more direct route to accomplishing my goal.  Sometimes using MIDI is faster, sometimes manipulating the audio is faster. Mostly what I’m doing with MIDI these days is globally tweaking the velocities.  I don’t do the surgical shit I used to.  

I’m glad I know the surgical process because every now and then I’ve got to go in and just change one note.  

Mackncheeze: I’ve never had the patience to go to that level. What made you make the transition to multi-track recording?

Adam: It just kind of happened; probably very slowly. It was one of those things where I just looked back and said, “Ten years ago I was doing that and now I’m doing this.” It wasn’t a conscious process; my abilities would outgrow the equipment that I was using. I’m like,  “Okay, I’ve got to get more money to get more equipment.”

Mackncheeze: Awe, so you’re a gear slut. Tell me about your guitar processor.

Adam:  It’s a DigiTech GSP 2101 which I bought in  1992.  It was really ahead of its time.

This thing is not a modeling preamp, it’s a tube preamp. Every effect that is available is in there; wah to resonance to everything in between. If I could get it done with a tube amp I would use that.  The DigiTech has tube distortion so if I need that crunch it’s there, there is no solid state processing. It sounds like an amp.  

Me: What are your philosophies on recording?

Adam: You have to capture the mood as early as possible; without losing the mood. Get the best sound that you possibly can; get the idea down while the mood is there. The first impression is always the most important. Whatever made you want to record that idea in the first place, you’ve got to capture that, if you can capture that on tape you can recreate it.

You can learn that mood. If you can make it feel the same way, you’ve nailed it. I don’t know if I can actually do that but at least I can capture the mood, the groove and tone that inspired me in the first place. Then I get the euphoria when I do something great, now I’ve got something to build on. 

Mackncheeze: What is your songwriting process?

Adam: Pretty much what I just explained; it’s never planned. Usually I’ll be getting ready to practice, I’ll turn on the amp, I’ll put on a drum loop, drag the loop out for about a hundred measures, and I just start jamming. As I’m playing along something inspires me, I will stop and press record. Most of the songs that I write, if I write a song and finish it, it’s usually right then and there.  From beginning to end I have about 90% of it, the whole concept is there. Every single song is different. 

I have no habits when it comes to songwriting.  I could sit and just jam on rhythms for hours; work with a drum loop and just go. Why? Because it feels good and that’s it.  

Mackncheeze:  What are your current projects?

Adam: I’m working with John Wright, a great friend and great guy.  We first met when he came over to just to do a quick 3 to 4 singer-songwriter type demo. That turned into the Stone Lantern CD.  Nothing that I have written is on that CD. We took the project up to Paradise Sound in Index and had Paul Higgins lay down drums. I did all the mixing and mastering here.

https://www.windstudiomusic.com/stone-lantern

Videos that Joe O’Hearn and I are working on for the Wicked Snake Bite project.  

I’m working with Amy Turner. 

Working with other musicians, it needs to be instinctive. Practice is everything; if you don’t practice you don’t see the results.   

Mackncheeze: Some challenges you face?

These days everything takes time. The other day I was getting mad because I was thinking, “I have to work today but I have no errands to do.” I was thinking I was going to get 3 to 4 hours of practice in. It was 8:30 before I could sit down to do anything; I barely had enough time to warm up. I was too tired and not in the mood anymore. No one’s fault, it’s just the way life is.  

Mackncheeze: Where do you see yourself headed?  What are your motivations?

Adam: My motivation is the same that it has always been; it is to make me happy first. I don’t think of money.  The ultimate goal is to just have some fun and do it.  If I’m in a situation where it’s not fun anymore, if it’s getting too political, or people in the band or arguing the difference between an F or an F#, as far as I’m concerned, pick one or the other, we’re not cutting a Yes album. I refuse to argue about music; it’s not worth it, nor am I interested. I can’t motivate myself for something I’m not interested in.  

If there’s decent money on the table then I might be interested other than just doing it for fun. Money can be as much a motivator as a cool voicing you’ve never played before. “Triads, you want to pay me for triads? What kind of triads do you want?”

Mackncheeze:  So you’re running Sound Forge and Cakewalk? Is that a new version of Cakewalk?

Adam: It’s the new version; it’s the one that Bandlab took over.  Bandlab bought Cakewalk from Gibson after Gibson pretty much abandoned it; they just stop developing it.  I had paid a lifetime licensing fee for it and then Gibson dumped it.  

Mackncheeze: What is it you want to say?

Adam: Music is just for everyone to enjoy, it’s not a competition, it’s not a statement, it’s not a protest. I hate protest music, some great stuff has come from it but I’m not interested in messages.  I’m not against messages, obviously that would be very stupid. I just don’t need a message in the music. I grew up on Van Halen, Rush, AC DC, Judas Priest; I like instrumentals, I like jazz , there’s a lot of country I enjoy,  I love the early days of rap. I can listen to some old Judas Priest and say to myself, “That was pretty Neanderthal wasn’t it?” Did they do a good job of it? Damn right they did; not a lot of deep messages there.  

Good lyrics?  I don’t really hear the words as much as I do the syllables; it’s like I’m color-blind in that way.  I hear the syllable with the notes and if they flow that’s great. I could listen to a song my whole life and not know the words.

I don’t care what the words are, I just want the music to flow.  Someone could ask me what the words to a specific Zeppelin tune are and I’d have to say, I don’t know. If someone starts singing it and I’ll say, “Oh yeah, I know that song.”   If they speak the words I’ll have no idea what the song is. Music is about feeling good, I don’t care about the message.  

As far as my own playing? I’m probably like every other musician, I am my own worst critic. I very rarely like my playing or what I do. If I capture the moment, I like what I did right there, something I can listen back to a lot.  

Mackncheeze: Thanks Adam, that was good stuff.

Is there any way we can help you?

bryan@mackncheezemusic.blog

Adam Puchalski

Artist Focus

Part One

Guitar, Song Writer, Recording and Mastering Engineer

https://www.windstudiomusic.com/

Mackncheeze: My very first question, who are you?

Adam: I love music. I do what I say I’m going to do and that nails it.   If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it; I’m not going to tell you otherwise or act otherwise.

Mackncheeze: What got you started in all this?

Adam: Weed and Kiss. Seriously.  

A friend of mine had an old Sears guitar and a Vox AC 30 amp. We didn’t know what we had.  Before we knew how to make it work we would just turn up the amp feedback on the reverb and throw out  obscenities. We didn’t sound any better than my six-year-old nephew who’s right now trying to learn guitar. We were having a ball; we destroyed the amp and the guitar.

We were sitting in my friend’s bedroom, listening to Kiss and I had the guitar in my hand. I played seven notes, and you know that feeling you get when the music you’re performing is just perfect, you get that high, it was like, “Hey, these things actually work.”   From then on it was like, “Hey, that’s it!” The magic was there.

It’s like being addicted to a drug. Sometimes it happens in the studio, sometimes it happens on stage, sometimes it happens just thinking of an idea. I’ll be in bed thinking about something and telling myself I’ve got to record this thing.

For the rest of my life I’ve always been searching for that feeling. Ultimately, when you are playing music, you’re trying to please yourself. You hope everybody else likes it but if you please yourself then there is success. That’s what it’s all about for me. It’s such a rare occurrence and I’m trying to get back to that point again. I know it’s only going to last a minute or so, and then I spend the next three months trying to make it happen.  

The Younger Adam

The best thing that ever happened was Facebook because the people that really mattered in my life, we are now all back together again.  Most of us stayed involved with music one way or another. We loved every minute of it and still do. We share our projects with one another with a little more expertise than we had when we were younger.  

Mackncheeze: So your high school band experience…

Adam: We had different bands; we weren’t actually doing the high school dance scene or anything. There was a group of us and we knew we were good; we were having fun playing and we knew we could play. 

Mackncheeze: So tell me about your dad…

Adam: My dad is amazing. Growing up we used to hear him every single day just playing scales on piano; all scales and exercises everyday, four hours at a time. We grew up listening to virtuoso practice everyday. It was the way it was and that’s how my father lived.

We would go into Manhattan regularly and my dad would be working on some Off Broadway show. There were always good musicians and good music around the house: classical, jazz, Henry Mancini, Burt Bacharach. He would be listening to this stuff and then just rip it at practice.

I had to know where I stood on the guitar before I realized how astronomically good my father was. There was nothing he couldn’t do. Give him any tune and he could play it stylistically perfect in any interpretation: Fugue, jazz, classical, whatever he felt like doing.   That’s how he played all the time, it was amazing.

Mackncheeze: Did your dad teach you?  Did you go to school?

 Adam: No.

Mackncheeze: Where did you learn all your theory? You know theory backwards and forwards.  

Adam: We were sick of Reno and my friend Bob Knight, who is an amazing bass player, we both moved to Washington. My dad was already here and said there was a pretty good music scene going on.

After we moved to Washington from Nevada, I went to Bellevue Community College for  a year.   I had been playing guitar for four years and playing in bands for regularly three.

 Mackncheeze: What casino was your dad working at in Lake Tahoe?

Adam: His regular gig was playing dinner piano at the top of Harrah’s, but he would also get side gigs at other casinos. Before that he was the piano player and arranger for my grandfather’s band, The Al Tronti Orchestra, at the Sahara Tahoe.  My dad played with Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Sonny and Cher, The Jackson 5,  Frank Gorshin, The Carpenters, Phyllis Diller, with whoever. Think of the major acts of that era and he played with them.

The Al Tronti Orchestra

After that my dad had to hustle.  He came to Seattle in about 1982 or 1983 and did a 20-year stint at the SeaTac Holiday Inn playing the main dining room.

I came up in late ’84. When I had first moved to Seattle I took Bob with me to an audition for this band called The Earl White Review.  Bob was getting ready to audition for the band and I was talking to Earl and he found out I was a guitar player. He asked me to bring my guitar and amp to his hotel the next night and I sat down and played with some tapes.

I was playing along with a bunch of tunes he had and he asked me if I wanted to play in the band. I said, “Oh yeah, this will be kind of interesting.” I’d only been playing for four years; I wasn’t a seasoned pro by any means. I had been playing mostly 80’s pop metal, and now all of the sudden I’m playing covers like Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, a huge amount of Motown, some goofy hits from the 40s to the mid-80s.

That was a Tuesday that I took Bob to the audition, it was a Wednesday that I sat in the hotel room and played to the cassette. Thursday I showed up for rehearsal and by Friday the guitar player and the keyboard player were gone.

I didn’t know any songs on the set list and we opened on Friday at the Cotton Club on Martin Luther King way.  We were booked for a week. My plan was to follow along discreetly with the set and try to stay out of everybody’s way until I learned the music. But now I was told I had to carry the whole thing and I didn’t know any of the tunes.  That night we played a lot of Blues.  

I worked with Earl for about a year and then that ended because of extenuating circumstances.  After my tenure with Earl I went to Bellevue Community College.   

That’s where I learned theory. Because I was living with my dad at the time, if I had questions about something that didn’t sound right, he would direct me into the way I needed to go. My dad was an arranger and he was used to writing out music for an entire orchestra. He would do all the copying for each part for each instrument; every bit of it was second nature.  

Mackncheeze: How did you get involved with recording?

Adam: Before I even knew how to play I would plug my guitar into my dad’s stereo quarter inch input.  I didn’t have an amp at the time. It sounded like garbage.  I recorded onto a little Radio Shack cassette thing. I was farting around with the cassette player, I would play something through my dad’s stereo and record it and then I would jam along with the playback. I decided it would be cool if I could record me trying to play along with those cassette recordings; I bought another cassette player.

I had this cheap little mic, I had my little practice amp, I would play back the cassette recording and jam to it and record it onto the other cassette player via the little mic. 

I realized the cassette player had outputs, so I was able to accomplish a multi-track recording by recording one track into the right Channel and another track into the Left Channel. I was 15 years old and I realized I needed to do something else.  I utilized that for a while before I got a 4-track cassette recorder. It was a Tascam Ministudio Porta One, which I still have.  

Mackncheeze: You never got rid of it?

Adam: I keep it because I still have old recordings that I can play back. 

We recorded my dad at Kearney Barton Studios in Lake Forest Park.  His Studio was immaculate. He had a full size grand piano. Hendrix had recorded there a few times, among others, a veritable whose who.

I mastered my dad’s recordings on Cool Edit Pro which was freeware.   I paid 10 or 20 bucks for the pro version in about  1994, 1995. I didn’t know what I was doing; I just winged it and it turned out okay.

That was my first mastering experience.  For that time, it was basically a light version of sound Forge. That was my introduction to a stereo digital audio processing workstation; strictly working with stereo files. That’s when I when I made a distinction between recording and mastering. I was using DOS 2.0; this was before Windows even existed.  

End Of Part One

Is there any way we can help you?

bryan@mackncheezemusic.blog

Robert Brewer

Artist Focus

Singer, DJ, Songwriter, Producer and Guitarist

Part Two

https://www.facebook.com/RobertBrewerSeattle/

Mackncheeze: When you were at the Art Institute, did you study vocals? How did you learn to sing the way you do?

Rob: A mixture of church, singing by myself, with my quarter inch reel to reel, some vocal training; at the Art Institute there was a lot of recording. At that period of my life I wasn’t really into doing music. I wanted to be a producer and make albums. I had no interest in being an artist. There was no intention.

The first time I ever started singing was at a karaoke bar when I was stationed in Japan. At that time, most karaoke bars in Japan would have Elvis songs, some Beatles songs, Johnny Mathis. This is like 1988. Back then, in Japan, karaoke was cool because everything was on a LaserDisc. They all had videos.

Some of the most amazing bands I have seen were in Japan. This one band was a Zeppelin cover band. This Japanese dude looked just like Robert Plant, his hair and the whole nine yards. He was blind and he sang just like Plant. His pronunciation was spot-on. There was a part of me that was asking, “Is he really blind?” I’m just like, wow. A high energy, amazing show. I’ll never forget them.

So the cool thing was my Aunt Dee Dee knew Jay King who was the head guy of Club Nouveau. He was in the Army and he was stationed up in Anchorage. I was working at Miramar ( Abraxas Pool, The Storm, Steve Lukather ). I was doing a few projects for him that we’re not related to Miramar. It was more R&B and rap stuff and we hooked up a few times. The initial connection was through Japan. I was off and on in Japan for two years.

I was given the opportunity to go back into broadcast journalism in Japan and be a writer for the Stars and Stripes. The catch was that I needed to re-up for 2 years. This was right before the Gulf War. I didn’t go that route.

Mackncheeze: Please give me a history of being a DJ.

Rob: I started when I was in the Marine Corps. When I wasn’t in Japan, I was in Pohon Korea. That was a cold weather training, and I was also a part of the operation Team Spirit. North Korea’s leader Kim il-sung was firing missiles in protest of the American and South Korean operations occurring at that time.

So the club DJ did not show up.

Everybody knew I was a broadcast journalist and so they said, “Hey Brewer, you have to DJ.” I crawled up in this really small square cube glass enclosure. I’m sitting cross legged, the club is packed, all the heat is rising to the ceiling. I was in this tiny little room in my own world, just getting down , throwing down all the cuts, and keeping everyone happy. I did not know it at the time, but being a DJ would be something I would end up doing.

It was all turntables back then. I was having a good old time. That was back in the day, my first real experience with turntables. I got paid a bunch of free beer. I was happy, everybody else was happy.

Mackncheeze: I find it very interesting that you sing in two different bands, doing a DJ Act as well.

Rob: Being a DJ, I am my own entity. I control my own destiny, I don’t have to pay anybody else at the end of the night, I make my own decisions. Being in a band, you can not instantly take a gig. When a gig is offered you have to call everyone up and ask who is available. Many times booking agents and club Owners need to know right away.

As a DJ I’ve never had that problem; it’s just me.

Mackncheeze: You carry a light show?

Rob: Yes. I think ambience is important. Not only do I carry lights, I carry video as well. I have a philosophy that most people are pretty much wallflowers. I think they need an icebreaker to engage them to want to dance. If I can nostalgically take you to a period, or mentally put you in a happy place, have you visually see something that makes you think of someone else, makes you think of another time, it might engage you to want to dance.

Macknceeze: Have you thought about writing books on psychology?

Rob: I think it’s important to be a good DJ but I think you have to do a little bit more in order to get people to buy into what you are doing. Being a DJ, you definitely control the mood and the tempo of the Dance Floor. Technically, I’m not the greatest DJ ever, but I know what I need to do to make it work.

I do a little scratching, but I’m more into blending and overdubbing, I’m not trying to be a turntablist.

If you’re a turntablist, people are only going to your show to see you perform. If you’re a club DJ, people are going to a club to dance. It would be selfish of me to practice turntable technique to a packed dance floor of people trying to get their groove on. It’s good to show a level of skill, whether it’s taking a song and mashing it into another song, or recreating some songs. To me what’s important is creating my own brand and originality of style.

Mackncheeze: A technical question: if you were a DJ with a live band, could you take your discs, sans CDs, using correct tempo and scratch tracks into the band’s performance?

Rob: Oh yeah.
Mackncheeze: There are not many DJ s that can do that.

Rob: That’s where some of my time at the Art Institute came into this. During that time I was producing and engineering. Knowing how to lay tracks properly, knowing how to piece together songs and how to orchestrate and collaborate, that was very important on my education. It’s one thing to know how to play an instrument but it’s another thing to know how to work as a team and work together.

Mackncheeze: Tell me about the two bands you are working with…

Midnight Radio revival

Rob: Midnight Radio Revival, that’s a band I’ve been with for 7 years. I took over the lead vocal position around for 11 years ago. We’ve mainly been doing psychedelic Rock from the mid-60s to the mid-70s. We call it Golden Age Heavy Rock. We cover about 80 or 90 songs.

Over the past year, Doug, our lead guitarist, has written some amazing stuff. We could continue playing covers, but our new focus now is to take some of this music that’s been written, and do it in a classic rock style. We want to record it and get it out. Certain clubs do not want a cover band; they want bands with original content. There are radio shows and TV shows that love to have a bands like that. They can’t do it with bands doing covers because of licensing agreements.

I think for a lot of the people who come to the shows, they’re like saying okay, what’s next? You can only do so many covers. Our next step is to record about seven or eight original songs. We will still do covers and blend in original material. That’s our next big step.

Bands are like sports teams. At the end of the day, after piecing all the music together, it becomes a collaborative effort. In order to have success it has to be a team effort. It’s funny because music is kind of oxymoronic; a lot of it is based on self oriented concepts where there is no team.

Cold As Ice

The other band is Cold As Ice. We’re a foreigner tribute band. We have only been doing Foreigner covers. Foreigner is a 7 piece band. We have been covering all the parts as a four-piece. We have some amazing folks. We did a show together last year on the 4th of July. That was the last gig we did. We got together before this whole corona virus thing happened. We pieced together a song list of what we were going to work on. All this came about and that’s where we’re at now.

I almost had the opportunity to play in an Earth Wind and Fire tribute band called Kalimba. The manager approached me and during the interview I was told they do about 70 shows a year. Most of the shows are out of state. As a cover band they’re probably doing better than most national Acts. It was good; I was practicing all of that Philip Bailey stuff. It helped increase my range. To me, any opportunity is always a fun challenge. To be acknowledged or even thought of as being a part of that is kind of cool.

I pretty much enjoy all aspects of music. I’m always keeping my ear to the ground.

Mackncheeze: So Rob, what do you personally want to say?

Rob: Rob Brewer, aka, DJ Forrest Gump, still has a lot of music in front of him. I have a lot of things yet to accomplish. I’m looking forward to doing those things.

Is there any way we can help you?

Robert Brewer

Artist Focus

Singer, DJ, Songwriter, Producer and Guitarist

Part One

https://www.facebook.com/RobertBrewerSeattle/

Mackncheeze: Who Are you?

I am Robert Brewer, son of Shirley Brewer, grandson of Lula Bell Brewer, from Seattle Washington, born and raised in West Seattle, at High Point.

Back in World War Two, High Point was subsidized government housing for military personnel, all the way into the 90s. High point is now gentrified; now it’s $500,000 plus Homes.

I come from a family where music was a very important part of our lives. My older sister, Kathy, her father, was a local music icon in radio; his name was Burl Barer. He was on KJR for a long time. He is not my dad.

My life has jumped through a lot of hoops. I have been a radio DJ, on and off, for 25 years.

Mackncheeze: Really, what stations?

Rob: KCMU 90.3, which later became KEXP, and KLSY 92.5. My first internship was at KFOX. 1250 AM. That was when I was in college. Bob Wickstrom was president of Bailey’s School of Broadcasting. He asked me if I would like to intern at KFOX. I would run from The Art Institute to KFOX to do it. I stayed there until the station went off the air.

Some of the first records I ever had were from my mom and my dad. When I was three, I remember my mom playing Sly and the Family Stone. One of my first vivid memories is hearing the song, Stand.

Cold As Ice

Mackncheeze: That’s a cool memory man. I love Sly Stone.

Rob: Stand, I Want To Take You Higher, those are really the first memories of my life. As I grew older I would listen to more and more of my mom’s and my aunt’s music.

My grandma loved Hee Haw. So I watched Hee Haw, Lawrence Welk, and a little bit of the Grand Ole Opry. The folks from my mom’s side are from Little Rock Arkansas and St. Louis Missouri, as well as the Mississippi Delta area. In my back ground there is some Creole, Native American, and a little bit of Haitian.

Mackncheeze: You got the turntables, you got the vinyl, that’s awesome, man.

Rob: My mom had these records which I have kept till today. My mom and my dad wrote on the album sleeves. I cherish those albums because I really feel like I have a connection with them. Through these pieces of vinyl, to me, that’s really the only true connection I have with my dad.

As a child, watching TV, my grandma always used to record me singing Michael Jackson songs; ABC, I Want You Back, stuff like that. I pray those recordings have been destroyed.

In recording, if you don’t get used to you the sound of your voice, you are going to have to either accept it or forget about it.

My aunt Catherine was the music collagist of our family. She was an amazing woman. Her life and music, in a weird, chronological way, went along with the albums she collected. I have all these older Fats Waller albums. I have a Quincy Jones 78 disc. It is a recording of Quincy’s band when he was stationed at Fort Lewis. My aunt would not only give me vinyl but tell me stories that went along with each one, how they were purchased, how each artist inspired her and why she liked them. My mom was into The Supremes, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix.

https://www.facebook.com/MidnightRadioRevival/

Mackncheeze: What influence started you performing?

Rob: I was the only boy in the house. I grew up in a house full of women; me, my mom, my grandma and my sister. If I wanted to hang out in the house I either had to be in my bedroom or I would be doing chores. My other choices were down at the gym or down at the park playing.

My mom gave me all of her vinyl. Some days, Seattle being drenched with rain, I would spend part of the day at the gym and spend afternoons and evenings listening to albums.

One day, my mom got me a quarter inch reel to reel tape deck. I started experimenting with recording. I would take my record player and record sounds, just goof around. Those were my early recordings.

Through a buddy of mine I got a body of a Gibson SG. There was a record record shop called Zobrist. Zobrist is the first place Jimi Hendrix got a guitar. I bought all my guitar components there. When I was 13 or 14 years old, I built my first guitar, a copy of a Gibson SG.

When I started going to High School I saved up some money, my mom helped me and I took guitar lessons. I took lessons at a place called The Rosewood guitar. That was in the U District. After school and in between playing basketball I would go there and learn guitar.

I was a decent athlete and I wanted to play basketball at Roosevelt. In the early and mid eighties Roosevelt was the number one team in the state. I had been going to private school most of my life; I wasn’t part of the Seattle public school system. That gave me an option to go wherever I wanted to go.

I would get out of class at 2, basketball practice would be at 5:30. A lot of times I would go to a place on the Ave called Kennelly Keys. The Rainbow was across the street. I would go and jam out on different guitars. After practice I would go back to the Rainbow and listen to bands play. The one band I enjoyed and listened to a lot was Robert Cray.

After High school I played basketball at Shoreline Community College. We weren’t good; we went 8 and 20 or 7 and 21 something like that, we were really bad. That was the first time in my life I had ever played on a losing team. It was unfortunate, we had some really, really good players who got caught up partying too hard.

I went into the Marine Corps which really was not my first choice. When I first started at Shoreline I had applied into ROTC Army officer training program. I felt like the process was taking too long . I remember one day I went across the hall to the Marine Corps and signed up. That was in 1988. The day after my mom’s birthday I shipped off to boot camp. Believe me that was an experience and a half.

I was in the Marine Corps for four years.

I had decent scores so my original job was a broadcast journalist. The Marine Corps School of Journalism is at Syracuse University. Towards the end of boot camp I had to take my school of Journalism tests. I was just trying to finish boot camp and I wasn’t ready to take all these tests. In the middle of physical training I was not able to focus; there was no chance to study. The only thing I was brushing up on was cleaning my M16.

They decided to send me to Wire and Comm School At Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Part of Comm School is that you spend three or four weeks climbing telephone poles. Most of those poles are 40 or 50 feet off the ground. The pole yard had tons of wood chips spread across the ground so if we fell 40 feet down we wouldn’t break a neck.

Mackncheeze: Did you ever fall?

Rob: Hell, yeah, I fell down many times. We were provided boots and climbing gaffs; it was never a hundred percent free fall. Poles can be really slippery, especially in the rain, especially with a lot of humidity. Where I lived in North Carolina there could be days of 90% humidity. Five, ten feet off the ground, you’re drenched in sweat.

Towards the end of my time in the military, a really good buddy of mine who has passed away, used to work at The Improv. The Improv was a comedy club that is now the Showbox.

I was doing security there. I started doing that on one of the last times I was home on leave. Larry Harris, the owner of the Improv, he used to own a couple of recording labels named Buddha and Oasis. Larry and his first cousin created a record label called Casablanca. He used to manage Kiss. Two of his other bands were Parliament and Funkadelic.

I started going to the Art Institute when I first got back. I was studying music and video production. I was inspired by one of my good friends, Russ, a super great guitar player. His group was called Bitter End. They were a heavy metal band. They were one of the last heavy metal bands pre grunge in the Seattle area. I remember seeing them on MTV when I was stationed in North Carolina. It was really cool to see my friend on National Television.

The Art Institute was one of those organizations where people would come to the school because they were infatuated with Grunge music; people seeking a musical education for not all the right reasons. For me, going into it was for all the right reasons. I knew my limits; in order to advance I knew I needed a higher level of musical education. So a combination of me going to the Art Institute and working with my friend Russ in Bitter End, and also working at The Improv , having a mentor like Larry Harris, from Casablanca, really helped me connect all the dots of entertainment. Working with Larry was not just about the whole business of music, but included the whole business of comedy and the whole business of dining.

End of Part One

Can we help you?

Michael Clune and Moondance

Artist Focus

https://www.facebook.com/Moondance-Van-Morrison-Tribute-1851895661575428

Mackncheeze: Who are you?

Michael: I am my friendships and relationships. I am very blessed that my friendships are from all over the world. My glass of water, I can honestly say, is half full or close to full. I work hard to keep it that way.

Its music, or what I do to motivate myself, or sitting practicing scales, or whatever I want to accomplish.

I am well supported on the planet.

Musically, I have always been drawn to very good vocalists, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Michael McDonald. Motivationally, great jazz players. I’m like every other player; I need inspiration.

I really enjoy a great melody coupled with great vocals. I’ve always been partial to Black Music and Swing. Classic Rock, I would call a squared off sort of rhythmic structure. I have experienced those, and they really don’t do a whole lot for me. I’ve always had swing in my music, one way or another. I was born with a quarter note triplet in my blood.

I have been thinking about the bands I have been with through the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and Millennials and how much they have really defined what I was doing and accomplishing. The last twenty years I have been trying to focus more on being a singer/songwriter, more of a front line approach.

I am focused on producing videos for my first album, Easy Street, and for current musical projects. Its really the task at hand.

Mackncheeze: What is Moondance?

Michael: A Van Morrison Tribute band, comprised of five really solid musicians who really enjoy Van Morrison’s music. We have great respect for Van who has been recording since the 60’s and even today is doing it at a very high level of success, which is really amazing.

Moondance captures the essence of the really great vibe of Morrison’s poetic ballads and pop tunes. We are not an orthodox tribute band; we don’t play note for note, but we certainly capture the essence, intros and hooks. We also inject solos within the arrangements, because we have accomplished people who know how to improvise.

Mackncheeze: What are your passions?

Michael: As a Berklee drummer, I would like to be playing drums in some sort of intelligent ensemble. I grew up being a drummer and vocalist, for me, those usually went hand in hand.

I just wrote a song called, Say Goodbye, looking forward to recording that. I’ve also recently written a more modern, hip-hop kind of song.

Presently I’m feeling very creative. This year, after taking a trip to Europe and visiting friends in Germany, Poland and Iceland, I had a switch come on. I can be inspired to write music by walking down the street. I’m learning how to make it tangible. Its the combination of things; the video perspective of capturing an image, learning how to listen better, conversations inspiring a lyric or a feeling, something I can visually see.

I love singing. Talk about passion. These ballads, when I sing these songs, I sing them to the bone, I feel them and I think about my own life and how the songs interact with the lyrics.

Presently, it’s an exciting, creative time. Considering the lack of sun in the Northwest, this is a good thing.

Mackncheeze: You are your sun. Whats the most exciting thing you have ever encountered ?

Michael: Helping deliver my daughter. She was born in the back seat of Volkswagen Bug. I was in the backseat with a midwife, as we were on the way to a hospital after forty two hours of labor.

My passion list would actually be long; things that actually changed my life. Moving from the east coast in ’74, ’75. Playing in front of 85,000 people at Seattle’s Bumbershoot when it was in Pioneer Square. In 1986, playing at the World Expo in Vancouver, British Columbia . Bake’s Place, Moondance, August 2019, the only band to sell out the club on a Friday night. Being debt free and a home owner; anomolous for most musicians. There are alot of successes.

My health and my music are somewhat intertwined. Right now it’s about being in the trenches and disciplining myself everyday, everyday. I’m learning that more and more.

Mackncheeze: What are your struggles?

Michael: Writer’s block, that’s been a struggle. I’m trying to write down everything: documenting, documenting, documenting.

Mackncheeze: Anything else?

Michael: I’m really thankful for all my friends. And Jasper, my Maine Coon Cat. What would we do without our cats?

Mackncheeze: Alright, Buddy. Thankyou.

Is there anyway way we can help you?