From rhythm guitarist to record producer, David opens up about the Heaven’s Basement and Roadstar days, being honest with musicians and taking care of elephants.
What is the best thing about working as a producer in today’s music industry?
You don’t have to have a big £1000 studio to make records, you can be a producer in your bedroom and it’s open to anyone. You know, there’s not really any rules anymore, so that’s pretty good.
How do you decide which artists you want to work with?
I work with bands through word of mouth or recommendations. I have in the past turned stuff down that I didn’t want to do, either because I didn’t think they were suitable for me or me for them.
“Everything you do is a reflection of your work.”
David (centre) working with a band in his Manchester studio
Have you got to be passionate about the kind of music that you’re working with?
Everything you do is a reflection of your work. Everything you put out has got to be representative of what you want it to be and that kind of manifests itself.
Lead singers have a reputation for being the most difficult members of a band to work with. Do you agree?
There are two types of singers, one’s that worry about their voice and one’s that don’t. We’ll be loading into the studio and the singer will tell you he’s got a bit of a sore throat or a cold beforehand. The other one is lead guitarists. They’re probably the worst because of egos. *laughs
How do you approach the sensitive subject of having to make changes to artists’ music?
Just be honest!
“…it was the best time of my life.”
Heaven’s Basement 2008 (Jonny Rocker, 2nd left)
You were known for a very long time as Jonny Rocker, rhythm guitarist for bands such as Heaven’s Basement and Roadstar. Do you miss being the one on stage?
No. I definitely don’t miss lugging 4×12’s up the stairs in the cathouse in Glasgow or trying to load a van at 2 am. I love my creature comforts too much now to get back on a bus with like 6 other dudes but at that moment it was the best time of my life.
You studied contemporary popular music at New City College in Redbridge. Do you feel like your time there gave you the foundations to do what you do now? Or have you gained more knowledge and better know-how from your experiences of being in a band and working with other industry experts?
Yes the second one because my college course was pretty terrible. *laughs
I was looking forward to getting in a studio but over 2 years it never got built. Also, I never really got taken seriously at the time because I was the youngest at 16-years-old. I think I probably minded then but looking back, it kind of made me get on with things myself.
Richie Hevanz (Left) & Jonny (Right) onstage at Monsters of Rock Festival ’06
Who is your biggest musical influence?
When I was a kid and first starting out it was, Slash but now I guess it’s probably The Beatles. One of my favourite albums of all time is Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can make pretty banging cocktails…
I don’t really like Turtle Bay though. It’s a bit like going to McDonalds for dinner I think. It’s definitely the McDonalds of the cocktail world.
Here’s a scenario. You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?
Well, I guess you just got to dig in and start looking after it haven’t you. I’d buy myself some land and start getting busy making it happy. Either that or kill it…
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