Artist: David Vaccaro of 'The V-Project'
Interviewer: Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS (via telephone)
Date: 24th March, 2002
David Vaccaro as his biogrpahy states is an unsong hero and it's a major crime if he doesn't get noticed by a decent Rock Label. His Acoustic come Electric Project, known as 'The V-Project' is simply a gift from god - a bit like th first 4 Led Zeppelin albums were and features standout vocalists like Robin McCauley (of McCauley Schenker Group fame) and James Christian (House of Lords).
Find out all about it - I begin the long distance Interview (Boston, USA to Sheffield UK) by asking about the cover.
Glenn: The album sleeve of 'Lost Demos' reminds me of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'.
David: I actually sent a couple of copies to George Lukas because I wanted to get one autographed. (laughing) It's obvious that's the influence but it's not an exact rip-off or anything like that.
Glenn: I know because you've got a tape machine on there so it's as though you've been searching high and low to find the demo's and get them released.
Did you have to any permission off George to be able to use that sort of design at all?
David: No, not really. First off, I figured that if George Lukas looks at it, I think he's gonna think it's more cool than anything else. To protect myself, the guy on the cover doesn't even have a bull-whip.
Glenn: Yeah, cause he's got the hat the fire-torch.
David: Well actually that's a picture of me - I can't draw people so I used the computer.
Glenn: Do you have a 'V-Project - Volume 2' coming out soon?
David: Yeah - definitely. I have got a lot of demos that I did - kind of like this (as on The Lost Demo's CD). Most of them are with Singer, Chris Post - the guy that did 'Trippin' Away' and 'All Over Again' on the album and I have got a guy from 'The Jon Butcher Axis' - they were out back in the 80's and they were signed to Polydor and Capital and it was like an early version of The V-Project with Chris singing and the drummer from the Jon Butcher Axis we used to open up a bit for the clubs around here. I told this drummer, his name's Derek Blevins - I said, 'Hey, Chris and I are puttin' ideas down on tape, do you want to drum with us?' He was up for it.
It's always been a studio thing because Chris was living in Los Angeles and Derek and I were here in the Boston area. You get some interest but logistically it makes it hard to work with.
Glenn: That's it - you've gotta travel 2000 miles to put a drum track down.
David: Right - or do a showcase!! It's like, 'Where can you guys do a showcase' and I'd say, 'Well I guess we can fly out there but I don't have any money'
Glenn: Yeah - you just can't do and the fee for the showcase probably won't even cover your travelling expenses.
David: You just can't do it without somebody supporting you. So you just have to play locally. With that early version of 'The V-Project' it was just a studio thing. I would just take my tapes and go out to a studio in Los Angeles and do what I had to do. I have a lot of other stuff for a volume 2 that I have to weed through. I've got some new ideas that I gotta find singers for - I gotta see what I can come up with.
Glenn: Have you got any ideas of singers you would like to feature on the next one?
David: Well I want to see if Robin (McAuley) will be up for doing some stuff and then I'm trying to find some people in the Boston Area, for obvious reasons (we both laugh), I live there. I'm still looking at trying to finish up with this CD - I mean it's been out basically since the fall (of 2001), but when you are doing everything kinda on your own it's very slow. I have had interviews to do for various magazines and websites in Italy and Finland etc. It took me a couple of weeks to get 'em all done.
Glenn: I guess it takes a long time due to time and logistics.
David: Yeah, it kinda comes in wades, I get a bunch of e-mails from reviewers who wanna do interviews and at other times it's quiet. It's usually a few a days in regards to the CD but it's all time consuming to give good quality answers.
Glenn: Are you planning to tour the album or does that again depend on financial logistics and getting a good backer, a promoter or on a bigger record label as such?
David: I'm trying - I'm really trying. It's hard though because you send it to labels. First off, you've got to be able to get it to 'em because that in one is just a big step. When a lot of people hear it they say, 'Well it's a good album but you're not a band, you're not playin' any places so I don't really think it's anything I can work with'. Which I feel is a bit of a cop-out. I mean, when was the last Tal Bockman concert you went to - he kinda hits on but I don't know where he's playin'.
Glenn: It makes it awkward for you doesn't it.
David: Yeah, a little bit but this CD is really more just to get my name out there and thanks to Robin McAuley and James Christian being on it, it got people's attention. If I had the sent the CD out with just me and Chris it probably wouldn't have got half the attention.
Glenn: I guess it's down to name dropping a lot of the time - if you have certain well known names on there - the ears start pricking up on certain people.
David: That's right. My neighbour, (just a little story) out in California was what they call a corporate magician, a kind of a strange job, but he was real forward and was promoting himself all the time and I'm not really like that. We got talking and he told me, he said,
"Dave, if you're gonna be in this business, you can't be shy - when you get the opportunity to talk to somebody, you gotta let 'em know what you got going".
So that's what I did - I put Robin's name and James Christian's name right on the front of the CD and the V-Project is just in small letters - you know, who cares what the V-Project is.
Glenn: Will a 'Volume 2' be similar styled stuff to the first one?
David: Well yes and no - it's gonna be a bit heavier - a little kickin' a little bit more and the tapes that I have are all 24-track so it'll sound a little bit better as well. But I don't wanna go real heavy because I think I'd get some decent tunes out of the acoustic format.
Glenn: And you don't wanna lose the feel do you?
David: No - it'd kill it.
Glenn: And you don't wanna sound like just another melodic rock band. Like I said in the review - some of this stuff is very Led Zeppelin in a folk sort of style - it's really got something. I get so much sent and this album really stood out - it's so different to the usual melodic rock band format. I could see where you are coming from with it.
David: Well I have to thank you for that great review of it. Anytime somebody puts me in the same sentence as like Led Zeppelin 3 or 4 without saying he ripped it off - the way you said it - that must be one of the best compliments anyone has ever given me and I thank you for that.
Glenn: That's no problem - you deserve it.
David: Well thank you. You know a lot of people have said kind of what you were just saying in that it has an authentic sound or it has a genuine heartfelt, it's coming from like a different place to a lot of the bands that are out there right now.
Glenn: Yeah, that's what I liked about it - it's not a rip-off, it's been brought up to date, the sound is just so fresh and that's something that really did stand out. It's not like a tracked album, it's like you've all gone in the studio and just done it - it's so lively a feel with all you guys just vibing on it. That is one of the main differences I found and it's like the old Led Zeppelin thing when they did everything live and you can tell - it just works.
David: Well that's like one of the bands that I grew up listening to - Led Zeppelin I, II and III and James Gang - and everybody must have the first Boston album, that's for sure and just Deep Purple, Cheap Trick and all the early Aerosmith. Those are the bands that I used to listen to. I'd just sit and listen to them. Some people put music on to clean their room or whatever. I wouldn't do that - I'd come home and I'd have a new album, you know, whoever it was and I'd put it on, put the headphones on and listen to the whole thing while I looked at the notes. I just kind of scoured the whole album. That's kind of how I listen to this stuff. I guess if that's what you do, then that's gonna come back when you start to play guitar or whatever. It's bands like Boston and Aerosmith that did it for me and (me) coming from Boston, I mean, they're right hear. I saw Boston before they went out on tour at Bentley College, here in Boston - it was a warm-up in front of about 300-400 people, so that's kinda cool.
Glenn: It'd be good to get Steven Tyler and the singer from Boston to throw a few vocals on.
David: Yeah - that'd be pretty cool. I'd get noticed as well - at the moment I am not being played by the commercial stations -maybe I could get airplay then.
Glenn: Yeah it's mad, how can good artists get noticed if nobody plays 'em on the commercial radio stations?
David: Exactly. You know what, I just send the CD out to 227 college radio stations and it's not really a college radio CD but still even with that in mind, because college is more alternative than mainstream that this it's playin' in over 50 stations and some of 'em. It's reached a couple of stations where it's reach no. 11 or no. 25 on their play-list - so that's a good sign.
Glenn: When 'Iron Maiden' played 'Run to the Hills' live recently on 'Top of the Pops' - the kids went crazy and I've not seen that for so long - obviously some were Iron Maiden fans who came down special for it - but if any band gets enough push and promotion - then any band can do it.
David: Yeah - I think that at the moment they (the Kids and the Music Industry) are looking for the next big thing and I really think they've had it with the homogenised manufactured bands. Not that I don't dislike them or anything but I don't need to hear 'em all the time.
Glenn: Yeah - it's about time that other types of music were given a chance to be heard.
David: That's because it's all computer driven - what will give the station the highest no. of listenership for the advertising interest - so thank god for the Internet. I never realised that AOR and Melodic Rock had a big following, well not as big as it used to be but there's still a big following out there and you'd never know that from listening to commercial radio.
Glenn: On the album, 'The Lost Demo's', how did you get in touch with a lot of the guys that are singing and playing on it? Have you known some of then quite a few years?
David: No - well Chris Post I've known for a long time. Like I said I was in a band in an early version of The V-Project with him back in the 80's and we've always kept in touch. I guess sometime in the mid-80's Chris moved out to Los Angeles and I was here in the Boston area. So when we did this early version of The V-Project, I said, 'Chris, do you want to sing on it!", and he was up for it so I flew out to Los Angeles, did vocals with him and just from being out there (and) talking with him he kind of convinced me,
"Dave, like if you're really serious about your music, then you'll have to come out here or New York or whatever. You gotta go to a music centre".
So, eventually I did move out there and that was in 1989 and just through hanging around with Chris (because) he knew Robin, he knew Dennis Gresham and I just got to know them through hanging out and things like that. Then James Christian - it was just kind of a stroke of luck for me. I was recording the song, 'Rattle Your Cage', well actually I was playing it with a band called 'Siberia' which I put together - my own band with a singer from a Russian band called 'Autograph'. The Russian band Autograph who had a hit with 'Tear down the walls'.
So I was working with that singer in 'Siberia' who could belt it out but when it came to actually writing the lyrics because he was still basically learning English, so I got this girl who writes lyrics. She teamed up with him and they came up with the words. So she happened to know James Christian - I didn't know it at the time but she was also kind of shopping the song because she had written the lyrics to it and she ended up getting it onto a studio soundtrack. They said, "We like your song but you've got to get a singer on there who's more American sounding." So we said 'Sure" and she said, "I know this guy James Christian. I think he'll come down and put a vocal on it." So sure enough, he did.
David: So other than that, I wish I could say that we are buddies and hanging out and drinking beer but it's not the case.
Glenn: Some of the songs that have sung by Robin McAuley and James Christian etc, will they be doing some of the songs in concert as well or are they just for the V-Project.
David: Well Robin, he was gonna use three of the songs on his solo record and that's how his tracks came about. He was collecting material from all his buddies - more than just me. Every time Robin came over to work on a song that he liked, I'd feed him another one. I'd say, "Robin, what do you think about this one". He'd listen to it and give him a thumbs-up. In total we did the six that are on 'The Lost Demo's' but three of those 'Only Friend', 'Feelin' It Now' and 'Can't wait any longer' were gonna go on Robin's solo record. He was gonna use them but he's not doing a live band right now, so I don't know if he ever put a band together and was playing out. I don't know if he used them or not. Obviously, he's welcome to use them.
Glenn: What was the reason for putting two versions of 'Feelin' it Now' on the album?
David: A different (guitar) solo. I said, 'Hey, I like that one too'.
Glenn: So you thought - 'I'll put 'em both on'.
David: Exactly. I probably should have put the other version of 'Rattle Your Cage' with the Russian vocalist on because it probably would have been a little wilder. You look at it now and say, "You should have done this, you should have done that at the time".
Glenn: Have you had really good reception for the album so far?
David: I've been so impressed; I don't think I've received one negative review. There's been certain songs when people say, "Well, I don't know why he put that one on there" or maybe somebody doesn't like one song, like "Trippin' Away' is a little too country for me" and then another guy will say, "I love the song to pieces".
Glenn: It's all personal opinion - some person might not like a song and another person may love it.
David: That's why I put them on, whether they are good or disappoint and are pointed out because if someone reads on they'll say, "Gee that guy didn't like the song but this guy really liked it. Overall, if you look at all the reviews in general they've all been in conclusion of like "hey, this CD is pretty good, check it out". You know you can't ask for more than that.
Glenn: It's a pity some of the big labels haven't read the reviews and said, 'Let's give him a chance and have a go with it". It's really annoying when it is as good as it is because you've got so much talent.
David: Yeah it is. It's like, "What else do you want - the way I see it is if a label picked it up and we re-did the tracks and made 'em sound better - more professional recordings, then who knows how many you could sell when you get another artist to record some of these. But if they took the CD and ran with it the way it is, well you could sell a few thousand of 'em. I don't have the money or the time or piece or assistance resources to try and market it the way it needs to be. But in just sending like it out to college radio, (which is) not really that kind of format, it's doing well.
Glenn: And if you can do well there - the sky's the limit if you get the right person behind it.
David: And Glenn, it's kinda funny, you're damned if you do and your damned if you don't. I kinda gave up on record companies and that's why I decided to do it all myself. So I put it out and it gets some attention and I approach record companies with it and they say, 'Well you shouldn't have put this out (Laughing). You should have come to us first (laughing).
It's like, what do you do for the best? It's crazy !! What cool stories
have you got through doing the recordings in the studio?
One thing I can tell you in the beginning of 'Be there for You" you can hear a radio station - that's a real radio station. There are three large antennas down the street, near my house and I guess sometimes at night they punch the power up and my equipment would just pick it up and I couldn't get rid of it. It was all stuff like Ray Charles, Andy Williams and all that kind of stuff (laughing). So the DJ actually runs all the way through the song and I kinda like the way that sounds.
Glenn: What would you say your favourite song is on the album?
David: Probably 'Only Friend'. I think that's pretty cool but depending on the mood, I like 'Be there for you' - it's kinda cool, 'When I'm drunk' is kinda cool.
Glenn: What I like about 'When I'm drunk' is that Robin McAuley has gone back to like an Irish voice - it's like wow, he's got this big balls-out voice and then he goes back to a traditional Irish voice and that's so cool.
David: Yeah - I was surprised when he came up with that.
Glenn: Yeah and it works - it's the same with 'Coupe Deville' as well. You can tell it's real and it's a real reminiscing song and it works.
David: Yeah, I thought his vocals were really, really good. I mean, he talks from the line, he says, "Remember when gasoline was almost free". I mean that's a great way to say a few years back.
Glenn: Because now it costs a fortune. Will you be playing many gigs or doing a tour after the second release?
David: You know if it's another V-Project with multiple vocals and multiple singers on it - probably not. I'll put the thing out and see what happens. I mean I'm not opposed to playin' out because I love playin' out but it's basically a small-time guy and a tour like the G-3 with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani - the logistics for that must be pretty wild.
Glenn: Just for 1 gig.
David: And for those guys, yeah - it's incredible and they are big names.
Glenn: It's just so expensive to get it all together.
David: It is. I don't see a need to even go out and play until there is a demand and not just that, it's kinda cool to build on it. If something happens with it then it's kinda cool to build a little bit of mystery to it. I mean MTV I thought it was great but in a way it was one of the worst things that happened to music because when I was listening to bands like Led Zeppelin or whatever, you know the only way you could see them other than live was maybe in a magazine, like still photos or on the album. They had a bit of an aura - a mystery to them. Nowadays, MTV, you know, it's like 'this is what you're gonna see because this is what we want you to see'. If I did end up getting a tour or something like that, I probably wouldn't want to do it until there was demand - until it was playing on the radio.
Glenn: I noticed that some of the songs have been around for quite a while? Have there been many songs that you have had to put on the back burner?
David: Yes - the early stuff that I did with Chris and Derek Blevin's which was a five-song demo tape. I'll probably pull one song off of that and then I'll just go through what I have and listen if I think it will go over and translate to today well. My only worry is that a lot of these songs were done on two-inch tape and I've heard nightmare stories about what happens to this stuff when it sits around for ten years.
Glenn: When you get dropouts and such like.
David: Yeah - when you've got oxide coming right off the tape. If I can get one take through and get it transferred onto protocols or something then that'll be good. I have other sons that I have done with vocalists that nobody's heard of. They got a little bit of attention in the Boston area when I was playin' out around here and I think if I can spruce them up and re-mix them and give more of a current edge to them, I think they'll do well.
Glenn: What tracks can we expect on volume 2?
David: There's a song called 'All I want' which is a pretty cool rocker - it's mid-tempo and another one that's kind of a Journey'ish thing - it's called 'Now's the time' but there's always the chance that I might pull the vocals and get somebody else who's like a name artist. I wouldn't mind letting them see what they could do - in which case I always take the vocals off because you don't want the singer to hear anything - it kind of contaminates their thought process. Once they've heard the original vocal it makes it hard for them to work on it - so I make sure to take them off. One I idea I had for an album was to take the same song and have ten different singers to do the same song - put it out onto a CD - What would radio do then?
Glenn: It'd be like a bootleg, like when you have ten different versions of Led Zeppelin doing 'Stairway to Heaven'.
David: Right. But could you imagine if you had like Robert Plant singing the song then Brad Delph, Steven Tyler and Lou Gramm etc - I mean, the music track is gonna be the same but they are all gonna do it a bit different.
Glenn: It'd be interesting but a bit mad - it could be a commercial killer couldn't it? It could murder the people who put it together - it could go one way or the other I suppose.
David: (jokes) Yeah -don't give my idea away. Anyway 'All I want' and 'Now's the time' are a couple of the songs and I may end up doing a cover. There's a lot of songs that I like that I'd like to put a different spin on and it comes out kinda cool. Well it was good for Van Halen and a bunch of other bands.
Glenn: Are there any covers that you'd consider?
David: Well. Beatles covers are always cool and Robert Palmer's got some cool stuff.
Big Thank-you David for a most enjoyable interview.