Dave Meniketti, The Y&T vocalist/guitarist called me the other day to talk about his new solo album (simply titled "Meniketti"). I must admit that I've always been a fan of the man ever since I heard the Y&T album "In Rock We Trust" (my first meeting with the band). I had a splitting headache and I didn't expect him to call until two hours later (my mistake)... so I guess I sounded a bit weird, trying to get a new tape in my recorder at the same time as I tried to find the paper with some of all the excellent Q's I had written down. I never found the darn thing though, but I think it went... ehh... OK anyway :-)


U- First of all... congrats to a very fine album! Are you pleased with the outcome?

D- Thanks! Very much so!

U- Do you think it's better than the last one?

D- Well, it's different than the last one

U- Yeah, this one is more melodic...

D- Yeah exactly! The previous record was more sort of... my take on sort of a bluesier kind of thing and this is more 'sort of' back to the roots of what I'm used do doing. You know, a sort of a more melodic hardrock kind of edge to it.

U- Absolutely... but you've always been inspired by the blues right?

D- Yeah, I think that is kinda something that I've always had in the background of my playing. Even if I didn't necessarily know it all the time. I've always been a fan of rhythm & blues kind of playing and singing and I think it's always come out in my playing to some degree. Of course on the previous record I made a point to explore that a little more deeply.

U- Absolutely [again? I really must stop using this frase - Urban] What about the album title then? Just "Meniketti"?

D- Well, that was just to...

U- Make a fresh start?

D- Yeah exactly! That was the whole idea.. you know to make a statement that this is what I'm all about, this is where I coming from now and make it very simply ha,ha. It was always a thought in the back of my mind that I was going to just, you know, make it something like this... where it would be really obvious to everybody on the outside. Who it was that I was (obviously) and where I was coming from, and I thought that just making a simple title with my last name and a copyrighted Les Paul in there, would be a good idea.

U- Absolutely [here we go again - Urban] What about the lineup on the album, who's playing with you this time?

D- Well my live band, which is Myron Dove (ex. Santana, Robben Ford etc.) on bass, Chris Miller on drums and Tony Stead on keyboard. These are the guys who've been with me for about... well, all of them have been with me for a year and a half or two years almost. Playing in my live band and Myron the bass player, played with me on my first record "On The Blue Side". He played on almost all the tracks on that one, so he's been playing with me for probably about four years now.

U- So, Can you tell me a little bit about the first track "Messin'With Mr.Big". Who's this Mr. Big anyway huh?

D- Well... I mean realisticly, it's like a double meaning kind of thing...

U- Yeah, I noticed that the lyrics are kinda'... ;-)

D- Yeah, but the main point of Mr.Big was just the relentless big-man-boss-guy. That always seems to get his way with things, and that was where that whole idea came down. Than at the last minute when I was talking to Phil Kennemore, who was the bassplayer for Y&T, I asked him to write these lyrics for me. I just said 'You Know, let's make this a fun kind of thing so it's not just depressing about a big-man-business-man. Let's make it a little sort of double meaning', you know he,he... to the lyrics too and he's very good at that kind of lyrics.

U- Absolutely he,he... [oh crap, once again - Urban] I'd like to ask about a couple of the other tracks here. Tell me about the song "I Remember", it has almost some kind of "Forever" [classic Y&T song] influences included here.

D- Right! Yeah that was actually started... the writing for that song started out of a jam. It was my bassplayer that started coming up with the code pattern for the verse. We were just jaming actually, we weren't really supposed to be songwriting at the time. We were just supposed to be rehersing for a upcoming show and we just started to jam that idea down. I put it down on tape and about six months later, I listen back to it and said. Man this is a good riff, I'm just gonna' finish the song up and make a song out of it. It kind of had that 'Y&T classic rock' feel to it and I didn't try to make it go that way... it just ended up sounding similar to that kind of feel to it. You know, those are the kinds of riffs that I suppose I start to lean towards when I write faster sort of "rock songs". Lyrically it's simply about anybody that's lost or been away from a loved one for years.

U- What about "Storm" then?

D- Yeah, you know... it's funny! That was one of the songs that I had written for the previous record. But it was different! I had played it slighty differently, when I tried to come up with it for that record [On The Blue Side]. I never finished it before the record was done, I just kept it in the background. One day when we where rehearsing, I played the riff for the guys in the band and started to jam on it. It started to feel completely differently than the original idea that I had and I really liked the new way it was coming across. That inspired me to go back to that riff and really revisit it one more time. I re-wrote the song and now it's turned out to be one of the favorite songs on the record, to a lot of the fans who've heard it so far.

U- Good song it is! Finally, Can you also tell me a little bit about the "All In This Together" song too? It has this huge sing-a-long chorus going on there.

D- Yeah! That song came to me, when I was actually writing a song to my wife's band he,he. I was just sitting down, playing the acoustic guitar, it was late at night and the idea just came to me. I really didn't think much about it until six months later or so, when I pulled that cassette tape out again and started listening back to all the ideas I came up with. Then it hit me, that if I were to play that with a electric guitar and put the groove down. That was a really good rocking kind of groove and I just said 'You know what, I can't write this for you guys, this has got to be for me' he,he... and I started putting the song together in the studio. It's got a catchy kind of chorus and it got such a great groove to it, that I couldn't stay away from coming up with the rest of the song. Of Course lyrically, it's sort of a statement on some things... there are many... but just a few of all the things, that really bother me of some of the people out there. Some of the attitudes that are going around in the world.

U- What kind of attitudes are you thinking about here?

D- Well, a few things are racism and people that only think of theirselves instead of the people around them. Also what the effect is what they have on other people in the world. A world consciousness attitude, so many of us just go by our day and only think of the world that surrounds us. And we don't really care, or listen to, or get involved with, all the other issues that is goin'on around the world. Also just the simple fact that each individule has an impact on the total picture of what kind of world, we build for ourselves. Just to beware of that and try to have an attitude of helping each other, rather than: 'I want everything for me and to hell with everybody else' kind of attitude. Those were just some of the themes that I thought, all sort of incompist this "All In This Together".

U- We're all citizens of the world!

D- Yeah!

U- Tell me a little bit about your wife's band then! I'm not sure I've heard anything about them... uhm... yet :-)

D- Yeah, actually my wife's band is totally different than almost everything I've ever seen before. She started playing harp you know? a string harp? [U - yeah] and then we found out that there was these electric harps, that plugged in like a electric guitar. One thing led to another and I had this great idea about... well, at least I thought it was great ha,ha! About her getting in a band with a couple of other harp players and playing all electric harps with bass & drums. Doing sort of non-traditional music that harp players would play, more like rock stuff, pop stuff, maybe jazz and things like that. Rather than sleepy, beautiful music that you would expect harps to be playing. One thing led to another, she found those other harp players, they put this band together and they've got this independent record they put out already and they're working on another one. They play a lot and people just love'em because it is beautiful, but in the same time it's also completely... more like a pop band of some sort. Not many bands out there with electric harps are playing almost like thet were guitars or something he,he.

U- Yeah, I can imagine that! When did you find out, that you could actually sing then?

D- Well, I first started singing out of necesserly! Simply because we didn't have a person in the band at the time, that were disognated as 'OK, You are the singer! You just got that voice!'. We all started sharing the singing duty's when Y&T first started playing together. It just kind of became one of those things, where my voice seemed to be a little stronger than some of the other guys. So I ended up taking most of the lead singing duty's at first... but it wasn't until quite a few years later, that I really started concentrating on trying to become a better singer you know. Because I always felt about myself, yeah I'm the singer in the band, but mainly I'm the guitar player ha,ha. I just happened to sing and that's a completely different attitude than looking at yourself and saying 'Hey! I'm the lead singer in the band' you know.

It was really strange how I just let that slide for a long time and I really didn't concentrate on it. Somewhere I would say... for me... about maybe -83 or -84... somewhere around that range, I started concentrating more on my voice and trying to improve myself as a singer. I really didn't feel I was singing up to my potential until about -85 or -86. Now I think my voice is better by leaps and bounds, way better than I've been able to sing before. I just feel very competent with my voice as I do with my guitar playing now, so both of them has come into their own I think at this point of my life. It actually gotten much better rather than... you know, the older you get you start losing things. I've actually gained quite a bit especially when it comes to my voice.

U- I read that you started playing guitar at the age 16... [D- Yeah!] that's a bit late isn't it?

D - Yeah it is late... I was always into music and like all good Italian boys, I played accordion when I was like in second grade ha,ha,ha. I used to like it'cuz when I was young, it had so many knobs and bottons and stuff that it was really cool. But I only did that for a couple of years and I was always really want-ing to play guitar as soon as I started hearing people like Hendrix and all those new guys that were coming out, playing all these really heavy rock guitar with great solos and stuff. It just inspired me! I had to wait a couple of years because my dad wouldn't let me buy a guitar, cause he was mad at me for quiting accordion lessions ha,ha. I finally bought my own guitar and it was like a Stratocaster copy in a local store, a really cheap guitar and I never put the thing down from the time I picked it up. I think even though I started at 16, I actually became quite good fairly-quickly. By the time I was 18 I was pretty darn good ha,ha. That kind of made up for the slow start I think, just probably because it was in my bones. I really felt the guitar and it was a part of me and it was such a natural thing to pick up.

U- If we go back to your new album a bit... will you be able to tour in Europe this time?

D- I sure hope so... I tell you

U- It's been a while

D- Yeah, It's been a long time! In previous years in the early to mid 90's, I was really burned out on touring because we toured for seventeen straight years for Y&T. It just knocked me out but I've been gone for a long time and now... with this new record, it's very inspiring and I just wanna get out there and play a lot. The management knows that, the record company knows that, everybody knows that. So the push is to get me out there to tour in Europe and in Japan and in the States and really go for it. I'm gonna make every effort on our part, to make sure that we get out there one way or another. I'm hoping it will be my band and if it isn't my band, Y&T is also considering going out there and playing some shows. One way or the other I gotta'get back into Europe and I really wanna'get out there with my band this year. But it will probably happen early next year.

U- What about Y&T? Will you be able to release a new album in the future?

D- Hmmm, Not likely to happen for a while! We don't have any plans whatsoever getting together and writing new songs. We have been thinking about possible recording some of the upcoming shows we'll be playing. We'll be getting together in November and part of December to play a few shows! We're thinking about possible recording a few of those for a live record and also releasing some previously unreleased songs [U- wow!]. Stuff of like 'Black Tiger' that never got put on the record and some songs, that we never got around to put on other records. We have some great tapes from rehearsals and stuff like that, some interesting stuff that we might get together at some point. We don't have any plans for writing new material at this point, because we don't really get together that often... we just get together to play once in a while.

U- Is Leonard Haze still a member of the band? There's been some rumours about him lately!

D- Yeah that's right! We just did... after not playing for over four years together. We just did a swing in November of last year, we played some three weeks together. It was interesting! First time I played with Leonard in many, many years on a daily bases, when we were out there playing. And it was really good! You know... Leonard is still Leonard! He still got that fire within him you know! I thought it was really cool and the fans dug it a lot! To be able to see Leonard playing with Y&T again. We decided to try it again one more time this year and play another bunch of shows. It looks like it will mainly be southern California, northern California and possible a little bit of the east coast. And as I've said, I've heard rumours of some possibiletys of even going to Europe at some point to do a small swing. I don't know how serious that is yet, but just at the moment we have the California thing that we'll be doing in November.

U- If you compere Europe with US! Where do you get the best response nowadays?

D- Ahm, That's really hard to tell! I mean... as far as record sales goes probably Europe! Just because it's very tough nowadays to get this style of music to be released. I guess it's kinda' tough to get this style of music to be released anywhere in the world nowadays! Especially in the US it's a very hard market, even though all the fans are still there for it. It's just very difficult...

U- To get the labels behind you!

D- Yeah exactly! It's just the reality that people like us... that really still enjoy playing, you know, rock music of this style. Have just had to hid our heads up against! Before, you used to have 10-15 possibilities of record companies that would be interesting in releasing these kind of thing and really getting behind it. Now you have maybe one or two or three and than you have a handful of others, really, really, small lables that... chances are you could do as well just releasing it by yourself than giving it to them. It's really limited your possibilities and it's too bad, cause I've always felt that music is music! It really didn't matter weather or not one style or the other, was always the thing that was popular at the moment. There can be a popular style of music at the moment, but that doesn't mean that you forget about all the other 100's of styles of music out there. That are also very popular with many people! You don't always throw everything out, just because there is one thing that is selling really well with the young kids. But that's just marketing and business, I personally don't agree with the philocephys of the music business world at this particular point of time. Things can always change! But the bottom line is that the fans, that really like that kind of music. If they really care enough about it, they usually spend a little more time to try and find out about, what's out there and what's available and they find you eventually ha,ha.

U- Yeah! And the Internet is always a good thing!

D- Yeah! Thank God for the internet I tell you! For me it's been great! I've got a forum on my website: www.meniketti.com where fans go there all the time and talk to each other, and talk to me, I always answer them when I can. It's a great relationship to have with your fans right on the website, plus they get to find out what's going on with you on a updated basis. That you never had a chance of doing before, having that personal contact with the people, who are actually into your music. It's a great venue to have and I'm really happy for that.

U- Dream Catcher is releasing your album here in Europe... what about in the states?

D- Right now at the moment, my manager is trying to find the record deal in the states for me. He waited until my record was finished before he decided to shop a deal for me, so he's just newly going in to that now. We know it's going to be well behind the European release and the Japanese release... but nontheless, that's how he felt it was going to be the easiest way for him to get a record deal. To have a finished product and hand it to the record labels and say 'Here, release this' ha,ha. We're looking for it at the moment and we have one company in particular, that have shown some interest... but it's still early yet. We don't know what is going to happen! We're hoping that we can find somebody that is going to be, you know... a supportive part of this record and not just someone who's going to give us a little bit of front money and say 'yeah, we'll do something' and just throw it out there. It's too good of a record to just be thrown out there he,he.

U- Why should the regular record buyer buy this CD then? [not talking about your fans here then]

D- Well... I think because there are so few bands out there... that I see that have a lot of integrity with what they're doing. That really cares about what they write and how they play and it comes from the heart and soul. Not something that has been put together, because they think it's the popular thing at the moment. Or because they used to play this kind of style of music and they're just trying to re-create one of thier old records, or something like that. I mean, this is a real record, this is the real deal! Just me getting deep inside myself and coming up with the real goods and it's played with intentionally passion and reality.

It's all the real thing so I think from that stand point, people usally... in my many years of playing, releasing records and seeing how people react to things. They usally get it when you are serious and when you really mean something and it comes from the heart. I think that's one of the main things about this record, it just comes across like something serious and something real. The songs are great and the performances are great and if you're into this style of music and even if you're not, there may be something here to bring you in. I'm really, really proud of this record! I think in the scope of things... from the very first Yesterday & Today record when it was brand new and we were just playing like a bunch of kids. We didn't know any better, except to just have fun and play with all of our hearts and souls. This is right up there with the best stuff I've ever done.

U- [You know the word by now] Absolutely! I really enjoy the album! Which Y&T songs do you still play live? What can the fans expect to hear?

D- Well... We do, sort of the classic one's that we know the people wanna hear! Such as 'Black Tiger', 'Meanstreak', 'Rescue Me'

U- All the classics

D- Yeah, I mean to me they are classics! They are the one's when most people think about Y&T, they start talking about that. One of my favorite songs that we play live... actually a couple of them are the ballads like 'I Believe In You' and 'Winds Of Change', we kind of switch them off between some sets. But we keep an open mind because we don't wanna do just only certain basic one's, we wanna try and throw some one's in there, that maybe didn't get as much attention too once in a while. That we really like to play! Back in November we played basically only songs that Leonard was to play on. So that would have been the albums from the late 70's to -83 or -84. On this swing I think we gonna play songs from the whole career of Y&T.

U- Great and it's been really great talking to you! If there's anything else you wanna say to our readers, please do.

D- Well, Not of the top of my head! I think I said the main thing that I wanted to say, just a few minutes ago. Just how I feel about the record and how I really and seriously, searching to get some tours happening in Europe. Not only it's been frustrating for me to think about that fact, that's it's been 15 years or better since I've touched my feet down in Europe. It's just a personal goal for me you know, I wanna get out there and I wanna play for the fans. Besides the fact that I think the band I'm playing with right now, is probably one of the best bands I've ever been in. What we put out live is like it's the first band I've ever been in, it's so real and so fun and so cool ha,ha. I can't even describe it you just have to see how cool this band is live. Knowing that and knowing that I've really got a great record out there, I just can't wait to get out and play. I hope to be in your part of the world really soon...

U- Hope to see you here soon then!

D- Thanks

U- Thank You!

D- Bye!

U- Bye!


Interview by Urban "Wally" Wallström,
Thanks to: Dave Meniketti & Suzan Kverh