Samuel: As a member of the Houston music community, what do you see as some of the major obstacles for bands/musicians to overcome if they wish to make it?
Dave: It really depends on what part of the scene you're in. Bar and cover bands usually do well, regardless of how good they might/might not be. Probably, the hardest scene to deal with right now is the punk scene. Here in Houston, it seems that not a whole lot of people are willing to go to a local show, instead saving their money for the big label bands coming through. If you stick around long enough, people might start to take you seriously and give you a look, but there aren't many bands that have that kind of patience. The bands I see most around houston now all have some kind of schtick going for them (most notably, Groceries),so that's probably another way to get noticed. I wouldn't personally subscribe to that way of publicity, but to each his/her own. I guess the bottom line is to be content with what you're doing. That's the whole reason why we learned how to play musical instruments. It's always nice to play in front of a packed house every time, but really it all comes down to how much you love what you're doing. If you love playing music, then 10 people turnouts or garage shows are just as gratifying as big stage shows.
Samuel: After spending so many years as a member of the Latch Key Kids, was it ever difficult to move away from that or make the transition into Thanx But No Thanx?
Dave: The only really difficult part about joining thanx but no thanx was the fact that I hadnít played a drumset between the latch key kids split and the tbnt tryout. their previous drummer had his own style that i wasn't too familiar with. so i kind of had to learn his style while shaking three months worth of rust off from the break up of lkk. eventually, i figured it out, and i started adding my own style into tbnt's music, and it's working out really well. it was a lot of fun playing mach speeds, but it's not anything i'll miss dearly.
Samuel: Seeing your resume and all the instruments you play, did you ever have any formal musical training?
Dave: Nope. Got my first guitar in 95 (62 gibson melody maker for $25), learned the police and helmet songs, picked up a bass at a friend's house not very long after, played my first show 6 days later, bought a used drum set off a friend the next year and listened plenty to the police and sunny day real estate, keyboards at garage sales, hacked audio software, yada yada yada. Not one lesson. I did pay for a library book on reading music that I kind of never returned, though, but i never got past chapter 3. I don't have patience for books.
Samuel: When did you decide you'd fix the problem of LKK's revolving drummers by getting behind the kit?
Dave: We had auditioned several folks for bass and drums, to see which one we could settle on. The music by then was getting technical enough to where you HAD to have a better than average drummer to play the songs. No one stepped up, and I moved over there because I was pretty much the only guy who could do it that was available. Another note with Latch Key Kids: The band never had a solid final lineup. When they were a four-piece, they had bassists coming and going. When they expanded, it rotated from bassists, to guitarists, to drummers, to guitarists, and so on. We had a couple of guys who could play more than one instrument, but you can't do that at the same time live. The lack of a dedicated final member was what eventually killed the band.
Samuel: How long did it take you to get all the songs down?
Dave: Not very long. More than half the songs I had a hand in writing the structure (Too Soon, Chance, 6/28, and Promise were some of the songs that I had originally written drums for anyway), so I already knew what to do and when to do it.
Samuel: Being a drummer in all your bands that are currently playing shows, do you ever miss being out front running, jumping, and going crazy?
Dave: Actually, I feel a lot more comfortable behind a kit, because I know I can play the songs accurately and actually put on a pretty decent show sitting down. People go to shows for that reason: to see a SHOW. Wherever I'm at, I'm going to put on a show, and the fact that I can put on a show on an instrument that's not normally a visual point of interest makes it that much more gratifying. I do have Wishing For Lorri, though, and if that ever gets going, then I'll be returning to my righteous position at the front of the stage, undoubtedly bouncing off the walls like some madman on a 6 pack of jolt (don't try it kids...bad news).
Samuel: What are some of the future plans for your musical efforts?
Dave: All of my projects are currently on the shelf right now due to label interest in Thanx But No Thanx. The first one to get moving when time permits will be Wishing For Lorri. I've already badgered Jeff Hazen and Greg Griesser from Crash 81 to play guitars for me, and we're scouting out a couple of drummers, but until we find a definite one, that plan will continue to be on the shelf. However, I am planning to put out a full length CD for Wishing For Lorri, with Jeff and Greg playing guitars and piano, and myself doing the rest. Because the purpose of WFL is to raise money for the Lorri E. Ng Memorial Cancer Fund, I feel itís better to go ahead and just put the product out there now and try to sell as many as I can before we actually finish staffing the band. The Fund is very important to me, and WFL is a way that I can help out cancer research. There's another project called the WARZEKA VERDICT that is me playing guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, singing, recording/engineering...pretty much doing everything. It's all the ideas I finish that don't fit in with Thanx But No Thanx or Wishing For Lorri. It's a glorified song dumping ground with a snazzy name. I've been asked to play in a couple of other bands, as well, so there might be some other things going on.
Samuel: Who have been some of your greatest influences over the years?
Dave: Individually, the only people I look at are drummers. Stewart Copeland is obviously an all time favorite. William Goldsmith and Dave Grohl mash. Phil Collins, Carter Beauford, Neil Peart, the usual names. Most of the time, though, I look at the whole picture. I'll probably get hate mail for being a Goo Goo Dolls fan, but if you can find me another band that utilizes a string section in a pop/rock song as well as these guys do, then I wanna hear from you. Their songs are damn near perfect, dark yet very touching. Verve Pipe and Foo Fighters/Nirvana are also in that group. I've always been a big Police, Men At Work, and Gary Numan fan, too. Lately, I've been listening to everything from classical to new age to grindcore to jpop to indie, and pretty much everything in between.
Samuel:I know you have established the Lorri E. Ng Memorial Cancer Fund, is there any place people can send donations to help M.D. Anderson with their research?
Dave: Yes. You can send any donations to:
The Lorri E. Ng Memorial Cancer Fund
PO Box 297153
Houston, TX 77297
The Lorri E. Ng Memorial Cancer Fund was set up in 1997 after my mother passed away from skin cancer. Itís purpose is to raise money for cancer research for the MD Anderson Cancer Center, based in Houston. The money will be utilized as deemed fit by MD Andersonís president, Phil Mendelson. While my motivating factor is obvious, there are several people I know that have been directly affected by cancer in some way, so itís a much bigger problem than credited.
Samuel: I understand you are now adding producer to your resume, how's that going?
Dave: Difficult. At this level, people really don't want to be told how to run their show. I'm not Andy Wallace or Butch Vig or even Dan Workman. Unless you have a big product or a distinguished name under your belt, most people aren't going to take much stock in your ideas. But that's just part of being a musician, I suppose. That's where the WARZEKA VERDICT comes in...
Samuel: I like the story behind the name, did you know the girl?*
Dave: No...I was just thinking about how someone fucks up as a kid and ends up paying for it for years to come...it's kind of tragic, so I figured it'd be like a "lesson learned" type concept for the name. So that's the story behind the name
Samuel: Is it fun being able to do all Warzeka Verdict on all levels: songwriting, music, and production?
Dave: The WARZEKA VERDICT is around for the same reason i keep designing all these web pages (btw: my own page is at http://www.independentcommunity.com/d just in case you're interested...sign the g-book and give props to mr sam barker for the maaad domain hook up!). The more ideas I come up with, the more I can work with my audio skills. So the more I have a chance to work with production, the better my product will be later on. The WARZEKA VERDICT improves my skills on all instruments just by working with each instrument on a more intricate level, while allowing me to experiment with other things that my other projects normally wonít allow. Itís a lot of fun and not nearly as time consuming as one would think. Maybe one day Iíll get good enough to start actually making money doing any of these things, but for now, Iím happy with everything Iím doing...wouldnít have it any other way.
* The story behind the name is as follows: Melissa "Lisa" Warzeka was one of the self-proclaimed "Queens of Armed Robbery" when she, along with 3 other Kingwood girls, held up several convenience stores for cash in 1999. Once a part of Kingwood High School's volleyball team, Lisa pleaded guilty of two counts of aggravated robbery, and was sentenced by jury to two consecutive seven year terms for her part in the robberies in January, 2000. She is eligible for parole in three years. Lisa Warzeka was 17 at the time.
You can never live those days again.
Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.