Dave Molter is an accomplished veteran of the Pittsburgh, Midwest and East Coast music scenes since 1965. Dave took time to answer questions for Tunebubble and give an insight into his career highlights, his love of The Beatles and why earbuds are ruining music...plus some great advice for artists out there!
Q. You’ve been on the Pittsburgh, Midwest and East Coast music scenes since 1965…you must have seen a few things! What advice would you give to musicians starting out?
The music business has changed so much since I started that it’s hard to know exactly what route to take these days. Certainly, you still need strong original songs that will appeal to the broadest possible audience. I encourage new artists to work on writing, either by yourself or in partnership. A great co-writer can often make a good song better. Develop your own identity. We all have influences, but in the end, if someone asks you “Who do you sound like?” you should be able to say, “I sound like me!” Find the best possible musicians, engineers and producers to record with. Make your recording sound professional. And … advice from an engineer friend: “Don’t put out crap.”
Q. What have been the highlights of your musical career? When I was 21, our band had a song released on Buddah Records (“I Hear You Knockin’”) that was played on local radio. We literally screamed in the car when we heard it the first time! But I was 70 when my song “Foolish Heart” became my first #1 single in 2019, it was even more exciting. After that, four of the five songs on my debut EP hit #1 on indie radio somewhere in the world. The EP made several “Best of 2109” year-end lists. “Foolish Heart” is a finalist for USA Male Rock EP of the Year at the 2020 International Singer Songwriter (ISSA) Awards. ”Oh Woman, Don’t You Cry,” a reggae tune that was not on the EP, is also up for USA Male Song of the Year at ISSA. I’m also a finalist in two categories at the 2020 Josie Music Awards out of Nashville – EP of the Year and Rock Single of the Year. All this was totally unexpected, and I’m surprised and humbled by the support I’ve received from indie radio deejays and fans around the world!
Q. It must have been incredible to work with Steve Dudas, who works with Ringo Starr and have that close connection with the band that has most inspired you - how did that come about? I’ve been friends with Steve since 1971, when he joined a Chicago-style horn band I was playing in. He was only two years out of high school and already had been on the road with Chuck Berry. Even then, it was obvious that he was head and shoulders above any of the local guitar players. I remember someone in the band saying “He’s national group material.” And he is! We hit it off immediately and even shared an apartment at one point. We last played together in a band that covered Yes and other prog rock. After the band broke up, Steve eventually moved to Los Angeles and hooked up with Maureen McGovern (“The Morning After”) and The Hudson Brothers, who became famous with their summer replacement TV show. Mark Hudson took Steve with him when he became the bandleader on “The Arsenio Hall Show.” Skip ahead a few years. I’m watching Ringo Starr on “Behind the Music” on VH1, and they cut to the guitarist. It was Steve! Turns out that Ringo had hired Mark Hudson to put together a band, and Mark brought Steve along. That band, “The Roundheads,” stayed together for about 10 years. Steve still records with Ringo, but he doesn’t tour as part of the All Starr Band. I’ve kept in touch with Steve and when we needed a killer guitar part for “Foolish Heart,” I asked if he’d play on it. He said yes, and we sent him the track minus guitar. A few weeks later, he sent back what you hear on the single. I still get chills when I hear his solo!
Q. What has been your favourite gig so far? I’ve had a few. I am privileged to have played in bands that opened for the Rascals, the Allman Brothers, Night Ranger, Lou Christie and The Impressions. But I’d have to say my biggest thrill was when I fronted my own band for the first time in 2019. It was a benefit and we did only four of my songs, but the audience reaction was great. I’m looking forward to getting a band together again after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, even though I’m not optimistic that will happen anytime soon. Q. Your ‘Foolish Heart’ Ep covers all aspects of love - from joy to agony! What can we expect from you next - any new music in the pipeline? I’m back to recording at a new studio with a new producer, Al Snyder (www.alsnydermusic.com), another friend I’ve known for almost 50 years. There still will be songs about love, but the the sound will be stripped down – a throwback to when recordings were made with everyone playing as a group. You’ll hear a few more of my influences on the next CD: Country, R&B, Power Pop. I think the tunes will be more commercial, too. Players will include Al and several friends and bandmates from Pittsburgh. We’ve tracked 8 songs so far and I hope to have an EP or full CD out before the end of 2020. I’m leaning toward releasing EPs. I have songs left over from the “Foolish Heart” sessions but need to have them mastered and, due to COVID-19, can’t access them right now.
Q. What format do you prefer and why? CD, Vinyl, Cassette or Downloads? Vinyl, hands down. I grew up with it, and I like the tactile sensations of opening a new LP, smelling the vinyl, and being able to actually read the liner notes and see the cover art without using a magnifying glass. If you have a good enough stereo system, vinyl sounds better, too. CDs are okay, and I have many. I’m not a fan of downloads because if you opt for MP3 format, everything is too compressed. If the artist offers lossless files – FLAC or ALAC – I always go for that. The music I’ve purchased over the last two years has all been either vinyl or CD. I think the great tragedy of the last 30 years is that almost everyone listens to music with cheap earbuds. Unless you spend big money to get an in-ear-monitor set of buds with multiple drivers, you’re missing half the music. I also think that because it’s so easy to listen on your phone while you work or exercise or whatever, music has become merely background noise for many people. We don’t really listen anymore. Q.The Spotify debate rages on - some artists think Spotify is the worst thing to ever happen to music, others love it - what’s your view? Are they helping new artists have a platform and potentially reach more fans, or just ripping off musicians?
I view Spotify as a necessary evil. If you want your music heard by the broadest possible audience, Spotify is the best platform. But what Spotify pays artists is laughable, at best. There are many articles online that go into great detail on what Spotify pays per stream. A widely quoted figure is that for 1 million streams on Spotify, the artist would earn between $6,000 and $8,400. Given that recording can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 and publicity can easily run to six figures, you can see that there’s very little chance the artist can recoup their investment from streaming alone. Real money has to come through sales of physical CDs through the artist’s website or distributor, plus sales of CDs, merch and tickets at live shows. But artists have never really received a fair payout for recordings sold. The Beatles – mainly Lennon and McCartney, who wrote most of the songs — famously made 1 penny for each record sold until Allen Klein renegotiated their deal with EMI in 1969.
Q.You have been hugely influenced by The Beatles - what’s your Top 10 Beatles songs? This is difficult. I love their early music, played live in the studio, but I also love their experimental period. After much thought, here is today’s Beatles Top 10. I might change my mind tomorrow!
10 You’re Going to Lose That Girl
8: She Said She Said
7: Getting Better
6: No Reply
5: Fixing A Hole
4: I’m Happy Just To Dance With You
3: I’ll Be Back
2: I Will
1: It Won’t Be Long
Q. If you could choose an artist to perform with on stage, who would that be and why? I’m torn between Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. I am who I am today because of McCartney – I became a bass player because of him. But I’d be reduced to a quivering mass of jelly if I met him – I fear I’d just freeze or babble on. I think because Steve Dudas plays with Ringo, I’d have an in with him. The man has received every compliment imaginable, I’m sure. But if we meet, I plan to say,” Ringo Starr! I always wanted to meet someone who plays with Steve Dudas.” Q. Is there anything else you want everyone to know about you and your music?
First, I’m eternally grateful to the people worldwide who play, buy and recommend my music. And that would not be possible without the wonderful worldwide network of indie radio deejays who play and promote my music. I’ve found the indie artist network to be welcoming and supportive. There is great, great indie music being played that mainstream radio never touches. I urge everyone to find Radio Indie Alliance on Facebook and check out some of their member stations. Second, although there’s been a lull in my releases, I’m not done yet! I hope to have new material — singles and an EP — out before the end of 2020. Follow me on Facebook or my website to stay up to date! www.davemoltermusic.com FIND DAVE MOLTER ON TUNEBUBBLE