Q1. You worked with Jan & Dean from 1982 to 1986, how did you come to meet them and how close did you become?
A1. I originally met Jan in 1975, having newly arrived in LA . I was working as a street singer and he was out with a friend. The encounter is described in greater detail in my memoirs. I began to work with Jan in 1982 and over the course of several years and many tours became close friends. I didn't meet Dean until about 1984. During this first two years of working with Jan, he and Dean were mostly at odds with each other and did not talk very much. It was Jan’s dad, Wm. Berry Sr. that seemed to want to put the two of them back together again, as together they could make more money than separately.
Q2. Jan Berry in his prime was a genius in the studio, what are your thoughts on him during the period you worked with him?
A2. Jan and I spent some significant time both writing and in the studio. We spent many hours discussing the techniques he liked to utilize when recording with Lou Adler producing. We agreed that whatever it took to achieve a certain sound was fair game, citing that the drum track on the original Jan & Arnie hit "Jenny Lee" was played on the top of a wooden stool which gave the desired sound. When we went in to Gold Star Studios in Hollywood to record "Rock City" and "The National Enquirer", he absolutely knew what sounds he wanted, but not being a bonified "player, relied heavily on the rest of the Aloha Band to flesh the tracks out. He was fortunate that all of us in the Alohas were very competent studio musicians as well as road dawgs. The only beef I had with him was interpretation. Jan seemed to want to sound exactly the same as he had sounded in 1966. This also carried over into the writing and Roger Christian and I had a difficult time trying to drag Jan, screaming and kicking, out of that decade.
Q3. Dean has always come across as a cool guy, in my few chats with him over the phone he's been good fun. What was Dean like to work with during this period?
A3. I didn't do any work with Dean until 1985. That was in Miami and in a hybrid band, the only Alohas were Marv Allin, keyboards, and myself on guitar. Even in rehearsals Dean was very aloof and distant, possibly from former band rivalries, who know. There is another part of this story regarding our performance that I won't go into here, but reserve it for the book.
Q4. Do you still keep contact with Dean?
Q5. "Rock City" is one of my favorite Jan tracks, what are your memories of this great song, and what other tracks did you co-write?
A5. Jan, Roger Christian and I co-wrote "Rock City", "The National Inquirer" and one other song that we didn't record: "Surfin' Is Alive Again". Once again, I'll get into the nuts and bolts of it as the memoirs unfold in the instalments on your website.
Q6. What tracks can we hear your guitar work on that you recorded with Jan (or Dean).
A6. Only on "Rock City" and "The National Enquirer".
Q7. What was touring like with Jan & Dean (or just Jan or just Dean)?
A7. OMG! That question deserves at least two or three chapters in the book, and I will certainly devote a substantial time to writing it. There are way too many answers and reasons for answers than we have room for in this interview. To sum it up, touring could be exhilarating, demanding, rewarding, depressing, crazy making, arduous, hysterical, and so many more adjectives, you'll just have to wait and read about some of the tours, including Vegas to understand what I mean.
Q8. A lot of people say Jan was hard to work with on-stage and off, was this your experience?
A8. All of us in the Alohas had occasional friction with Jan, but as the time progressed we all realized that Jan's major fears and issues revolved around real and perceived respect and how comfortable we were with each other. If a band lives together on the road for months at a time, they damn well better be able to get along or they will surely crack under the pressure of the road. I'm extremely proud to say that as one tour led to the next, we became what we all liked to call "The Aloha Well-Oiled machine". I had already worked with the rest of the guys for years, and as a matter of fact had handpicked them all when I was offered the musical directors position by Bill Berry Sr.
It's an amazing story as to how Jan was almost forced to give up his "Star" mentality along with most bad habits when we first hit the road.
Q9. Given the chance, would you like to work with Dean now?
A9. Sure. That would be a lot of fun. I still have great lead and harmony vocal chops as well as "I can play a guitar like ringin' a bell". I know we'd both enjoy it. As a matter of fact, if Dean ever comes to Nashville, where I live, I hope he will give me a call and we can do some pickin' together.
Q10. Have you ever had the chance to play with The Beach Boys? If so, can you share some of these experiences?
A10. Once, on a main stage in Vegas.
Q11. Roger Christian, he was a great character, what was he like to work with?
A11. Roger Christian was a delight to work with. Along with a tremendous song writing talent he had an extremely wide range of knowledge of many aspects of the writing, recording and performance- production sides of our industry. He had written my personal favorite Beach Boys song, "Don't Worry Baby" and I held him in some awe. Jan totally trusted him, and when we would all write together, exhibit behaviours he hardly ever showed anyone else; not even to some members of his family. Roger and I were the principal writers of "Surfin' Is Alive Again". As I said, we never recorded it, but after talking about it now, I believe I'll record it just for the love of Roger and Jan, here in my own home studio.
Q12. Did you ever work with the legend who was Gary Usher? DO you have any stories about him?
A12. No, but I believe I met him through Gordon Waller of Peter and Gordon some years ago.
Q13. Back to Jan & Dean, what’s your favorite Jan & Dean song?
Q13. Undoubtedly "Deadmans' Curve". We watched and helped our frien Jan come back from it.
Q14. And your favourite Jan & Dean album?
A14. Not really sure. It's not like they ever recorded an album like "Pet Sounds" you know, where every cut is remarkable. Every J&D album had it's hits and misses, but all of them were highly likeable.
Q15. Finally, a few more questions about you. What are your plans for the future with your music?
A15. I have spent a career playing and writing music. I have had some small success in writing and this is one of the reasons I am living in Nashville TN. I moved here in the early '90's from LA, spent 6 years here, moved back to LA for another 7 years, then to Chicago, my original home town for another 5 until moving back to Nashville in 2010. I am continuing to write and record, but haven't gotten out to play due to having had a debilitating bike accident that left me in a wheelchair for nearly 2 years. I'll be back out playing live again soon, though.
Q16. What albums can we hear you on?
A16. Unfortunately, no famous albums. I have played on a bazillion tracks on minor albums and some film scores, mostly overseas releases. I also found out that there were a number of instrumental tracks that “The Aloha Band" aka "The Shake" played on while working at a "producer’s studio" that wound up as background for a number of porno flicks. Don't ask me how I found out. (HAW!)
Q17. Elvis Presley or The Beatles? Who do you admire the most?
A17. No decision here. The Beatles. Songwriters, man. Songwriters!!! If it weren't for the Beatles, I likely would not have had a career as a guitarist. The whole story is "in the book' as they say.
Q18. Can you recall us the first time you discovered the music you love?
A18. Summer 1963. This too, is coming in the excerpts from my memoirs.
Q19. Do you have any messages for the fan of this website?
A19. Yes. Friends, these rock & roll icons are divinely human too. They put on their beach pants one leg at a time, just as you do. The wonderful aspect is to make yourself aware of the character traits and/or foibles each of them have that you can relate to. I Jan I found a great joyousness that was sometimes over run by too much ambition. There was a great fragility there that moved me and that I related to. In one of our many late night on-the-bus conversations, Jan confided to me how hopelessly insecure he felt with Dean; this stemming from the belief that Dean viewed him as a total jerk. This dated back to before his accident in 1966 and centered on the resentment he felt Dean had from his (Jans) always running the show and being an arrogant ass. "Dave," he almost wept, "I know I was an asshole back then....but I'm not one now! I'm better now! Why can't he (Dean) see that I'm good?" Always be willing to admit your faults, even if they are mostly from the past, with humility. Find the good in yourself and make it a central part of your art. You'll never have to look back on your life or work with regret.
Q20. Finally, its been great sharing these questions with you, do you have any final words?
A20. Keep on surfing, singing and writing. In the cryptic words of a mentor of mine.."Beware of the wind that blows from above!" I'll leave you to figure out what that means.