Date: September 14, 2022
Name of podcast: Backstage Pass Radio
Episode title and number: S3: E8: Matt Starr (Ace Frehley Band) - Back In The New York Groove
Artist Bio -
Matt Starr is a drummer, singer, producer, career coach and public speaker. As a drummer, Matt has built a reputation for working with some of rock’s most influential musicians including Ace Frehley (KISS), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow), Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot), George Lynch (Dokken), and Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert in Mr. Big. He has also worked with members of Guns 'n Roses, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake.
In the studio Matt has recorded with producers Jimmy Bralower (VP A&R Atlantic Records, Madonna, Mick Jagger, Joan Jett), Toby Wright (Metallica, Alice In Chains, Korn), Mike Chapman (Blondie, The Knack, The Sweet), Dave Bianco (AC/DC, Tom Petty, KISS), Anthony Focx (Aerosmith, Foreigner) and Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray).
Matt's column The BIG Deal with Matt Starr in Drumhead Magazine helps musicians navigate the music business as well as understand the difference between "playing a drum roll and getting paid to play a drum roll'. His workshop Turning Passion Into A Career has taken Matt around the world speaking to musicians and non-musicians in both academic and corporate settings.
Social Media Handles:
Facebook - @backstagepassradiopodcast @randyhulseymusic
Instagram - @Backstagepassradio @randyhulseymusic
Twitter - @backstagepassPC @rhulseymusic
Website - backstagepassradio.com and randyhulsey.com
Artist Media Handles:
Website - www.mattstarrmusic.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/MattStarrMusic
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/mattstarrmusic/
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Sat, 9/10 7:16AM • 1:04:26
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Randy Hulsey, Matt Starr, Adam Gordon
Randy Hulsey 00:00
My guest this evening splits residential time between New York and LA and I have tracked him down out on the east coast this evening. Hey everyone, it's Randy Hulsey here with backstage pass radio, and I'm glad you're tuning in today. My guest is a singer songwriter, guitarist, consultant, motivational speaker, session player and drummer and has worked amongst Rock and roll's elite. He's currently the visual timekeeper for Black Swan, and for the Ace Frehley band, and I will have MedStar joining me in the crystal vision studios when we return.
Adam Gordon 00:33
This is backstage pass radio, the podcast that's designed for the music junkie with a thirst for musical knowledge. Hi, this is Adam Gordon. And I want to thank you all for joining us today. Make sure you like subscribe and turn the alerts on for this and all upcoming podcasts. And now here's your host of backstage pass radio. Randy Halsey.
Randy Hulsey 01:02
Mod what's shakin, man? Welcome to the show.
Matt Starr 01:05
Good to see you gallon look nice and cozy in wooded space.
Randy Hulsey 01:12
Right on. Right on, man. It's good to have you here. know we've been chatting a little bit back and forth trying to get everything lined up. But we're here and nice to see it. Nice to have you now. I had mentioned in the intro that you kind of split time between the East Coast and the West Coast. But from a birthplace perspective for Matt work. I was trying to read like, Are you a Connecticut? Were you born in Connecticut? Or were you actually born in New York?
Matt Starr 01:41
No, born in Connecticut. Okay, I grew up here. And then you know, once my band started going on, realized we had to get into New York, and so spent a lot of time there. And so it's always good to go back there, Sherman 2001 2000, to move to LA I lived there for 20 years, exclusively. And then pandemic time, we got two kids. So we started coming back here spending more time. So we got a place here and they go to LA and just kind of wherever I need to be for work. And a lot of my work is remote. Thankfully, like pre pandemic, it was most of my sessions were remote. So I was able to work with folks all around the world. And then my coaching work is always done remote. So I understand from that perspective didn't really affect things too much. So I just go where I need to be
Randy Hulsey 02:33
in that cool how we have the technology now to do things all over the world from a single room in our house. You know, I've been in technology all of my life. And you know, we've always had great technology, but 20 years ago that that was unheard of, to be able to really do what we're doing now where, you know, you have a high resolution video and good audio coming through and you can actually work and especially during times, like the pandemic when everything was locked down and everything was just kind of a shit show. You know, you were still able to touch clients to make music to make a couple of bucks. Right?
Matt Starr 03:14
Yeah, I think that's the best thing about technology is were able to stay connected in scenarios where we normally couldn't I mean, touring almost well now, you know, when I started first touring, you know, you got to get a phone card. So Sofia, Europe, right? And you were just Mia. But now FaceTime. I can see my kids every day talk to my wife check ins and videos, photos, it's really helps you to stay in touch, which is which is great.
Randy Hulsey 03:41
Yeah, it really is. And I had Joel Hoekstra from Whitesnake on my show, and it's cool. You know, they kind of they're out on the farewell tour in Europe. And it's, it's almost like they have you out on the road with him every day is like a blog, you know, Tanya, the bass player will blog about where she's eating and the things that they're doing. It's almost like you're along for the ride. So that's pretty cool. Because 2530 years ago, you know, when when I was a kid and listen and all my favorite bands, hell, you couldn't even bring a tape recorder or, I mean, well, of course, there was no such thing as cell phones back then. But no recording devices, right. So everything was kind of a mystery where the bands were, you know, you knew nothing about him except what you read and like circus magazine or, or something like that. So it's really cool. You're almost there with the bands these days, which is astonishing. Right?
Matt Starr 04:35
Yeah. I mean, it's definitely all about access. You know, there were bands in the past and Princeton's you know, certain people that wouldn't give interviews and the alt right, which I think is cool. I mean, you know, I'm an old school guy. And there's a lot about that, that I think is actually in a way better, you know, but as a human being and being able to connect. The technology is great. And I think it's cool for fans to because yeah, like most people will even musicians will never know what it feels like to walk onto a stage with 15,000 people. But if somebody from you know, one of those bands walks out with their cameras, right, alright, here we go with like
Randy Hulsey 05:16
that. Yeah. That's cool. Cool. It is cool. It is a cool experience. Well, I was trying to think where I stumbled across you. And I think that I had posted something on social media about having an upcoming interview that will go down with Robin McCauley. Even though I haven't got it scheduled. We've been in contact. And I think maybe you might have made a comment, like Robins the greatest or something along those lines. You and I was like, and you know, black swan is, for the most part, a fairly new band. I know, you've been around a couple of years. But I was like, Well, who? Who's MedStar? I let me let me check this guy out. And then I found out through just kind of looking at your page that oh, the drummer that makes sense. So you I guess you you meet people in the strange ways on the internet. You know, you're there's all kinds of connections, but you really don't. Sometimes you don't really know people. But I think that's how I stumbled across you. And I was right. Or was I on point with kind of the tenure of the band couple of years couple of two or three years with with Black Swan. Right. 2020
Matt Starr 06:32
we did the first record pre pandemic. So I get lost as far as so that was a year ago. Oh, no way plus two. We I think about three years ago was the first record that we did a Jeff studio and then I did the most recent record. Last year, right around this time, actually, I was cutting drum tracks on the East Coast. Okay. You know, a studio called On Deck Sound Studios in Connecticut. So yeah, that's how we did it. Okay. Well, we'll
Randy Hulsey 07:03
come back to black swan shortly. But I wanted to talk to you a little about the early years for you. And I think the listeners would would find it interesting to understand kind of what, what were rockstars doing in your, in your particular case? What were you doing before you became a rock star? Can you talk a little bit about the childhood growing up? And were you an aspiring musician? Were you not into it until a later time? Talk a little bit about the childhood?
Matt Starr 07:34
Yeah, I was pretending I was a rock star. So I was jumping around my room pretending I was ace pretending I was Paul Stanley pretending I was Jean. I get a pair of wooden spoons. And I'd take all the pillows and put them on my get my mom Oh, my parents pillows in them and have all these columns. Yeah. You know, pretend so? Well, I mean, I think when I discovered rock and roll, which was like, ah, eight, nine, that that was my thing. You know, I was never really into sports. You know, so when I got rock and roll in my life, that was it. You know, I just I never felt that way about anything before. Or since. You know, so yeah, I mean, it was it was literally just pretending I was in those bands. I come home from school and draw pictures of kiss like it's still tracing paper from the art class and then trace their faces and copy their signatures. Sure. And they all had different noses and I had jeans nose and pulling in all that stuff. So yeah, that's what I was doing and listen to the records. And something happened. I had a it was a it was like one of those briefcase turntables, but it was it was bigger, right. And it had two speakers on the side. They were pretty big. And one of them got disconnected. So I was listening to I think it was Aerosmith live bootleg. And I was listening to one of the songs and I'm like, what happened it didn't sound like the song and I realized the speaker was out and then when I connected I was like, Oh my God, there's like two different guitar parts. So I disconnected the other one and listen to Brad Whitford than he listened to Joe. And then I understood how they came together. You know, those were the seeds that got planted for you know, the producing that I do just understanding okay, this is one guy this is another guy there's the drums, kale, I hear the bass, just kind of hearing how that all fit together. So I wasn't thinking of this as my life solving or this is my career, you know, but that's all they wanted to do. You know, and then when it came time to like get jobs and stuff and just wash dishes and did landscaping and all this shit. I just put all my money into buying drums and gear and records and eventually was, you know when it was time to like, get out High school I realized I don't want to work a job. And I thought I was lazy. You know, but I realized I just didn't want to do those jobs. Right? You had dreams, right? I love you know, I'll go to a recording studio, and I'll be in there for 10 hours and think nothing of it. Yeah. So I just was, I only wanted to do what I was passionate about, which, you know, at times caused me problems, especially when I was younger when there's expectations of you. But I realized that's a real gift because I just could not bring myself to go get a job, a regular job, wake up at six in the morning and go do something that he just didn't care about. Sure. Well, I live in a box. I don't I'm not gonna fucking
Randy Hulsey 10:45
Well, I think you're one of the fortunate ones, though, that can, that had that early? We'll call it a pipe dream then Right. But it turned into a reality for you. And you can actually look back and say, I told you, so I told you what was going to happen, but how many how many people? How many guys or even girls out of 1000 can ever make that claim that they've hit that pinnacle? Like, you know, there's musicians or like, like myself, local, local, regional guy, whatever. And then you have the superstars that are like, be, you know, heard all over the world, they travel the world kind of thing. But, you know, out of 1000 No, I mean, it's rare. It's almost like being I'm becoming a major league baseball player, you know, how many kids aspire to be a major league baseball player millions, right? And how many make it 400 and some odd, you know, however many the the teams hold, and then the MLB, it's just, you're almost more likely to get struck by lightning, I guess, as my as my point. Yeah, I
Matt Starr 11:49
think the difference between music and this is something I talk about in my coaching is that in Major League Baseball, or any professional sports, you're not there unless you're the best church. And it's, you know, viewed by stats and performance. And then, like, with a sky, be a good or woman be a good fit for our team or organization. In music, there's room for DD Ramon, and there's room for Billy sheen. You know, and they're both the best at what they do, but they define what they do. You know, and so that's a, that's a great thing about essentially art. Right, where you've got Andy Warhol, who did what he did, and then you've got these impressionist painting painters that you know, the paintings, things that look like real life. And it's just you can find your place. But it's really about, you know, being in touch with that, I guess, your heart, you know, for lack of a better term, but I think like when I was a kid, it wasn't it didn't seem like a pipe dream, it just seemed like, this is all I want to do. Yeah, and I almost didn't care if I made it or not, although I just figured why I have to is what I'm gonna, this is what I do, like, you know, so I'm just gonna do it. You know, so it's kind of like, I burned all the ships. I never had other ships in Honduras. Once again, it wasn't like, I'm committing to this, I'm gonna, you know, be 100% I just couldn't fathom doing anything else, which again, was a real gift to have that because it was absolute clarity. And, you know, in a way it was naive, but it was really I was just totally in touch with that feeling. And I just anything that kind of took me away from that. I just, I wasn't interested.
Randy Hulsey 13:39
Yeah. Well, you were locked in at an early age for sure. And I know that you had mentioned some of the members of Kiss you know, putting on the makeup and doing all of that that kind of stuff but other than kiss who were who were you listening to? Who had you latched on to as a kid when you had got that music bug you know, when you were painting your face like Paul and and those guys was it just kiss at the time? Or were there others that were kind of leading you down that that musical path?
Matt Starr 14:10
I think kiss hit me completely, because they were this complete world that I could get immersed into so there was the music but there was the imagery and all of that stuff that went along with it but it was kiss Aerosmith, chi trick Iron Maiden and AC DC so that was like an specifically like, kiss alive to cheap trick a Buddha con Aerosmith live bootleg Highway to Hell. And Number The Beast such as I was getting into the 80s but that was like those were the records that I listened to again and again. The drummer's all were super inspiring and influential. I can hear all of bits of them in my playing now. And in those are records that I go back to and I'm like, this is like, this is the ground zero for me so late 70s and then getting into the early 80s with some other stuff. That was where I really got hooked.
Randy Hulsey 15:10
Did you have older siblings that kind of were influences like you heard their records play in or were you the oldest of the siblings? Or did you even have any siblings? Like I didn't have an older brother or sister I had a, I have a brother that's six years younger than me. It was music was kind of what I learned on my own. I didn't have that big brother, you know, play in the, the AC DC stuff, or the Eagles or whatever the flavor of the day was, did you have that growing up?
Matt Starr 15:40
I didn't, I was the first grandkid in the whole family. So. So I was used to getting attention, which I think is a good experience for someone to get on stage. So I'm just used to that and maybe comfortable with that. But um, there was a kid of the street soccer ball who was like, probably three years older than me. And he had an older brother Paul, where I remember put a pack of firecrackers in his back pocket and let him so I thought he was like the coolest. So they you know, that's where I heard the cheap track record. And that's where I heard some of those records when I don't know if those were like Paul's records that Scott was listening to that Scott played for me but so that that was like a bit of the introduction to that stuff. And then the rest of it was radio. Yeah. Okay. You know, we had wh cn in Hartford and later was WCC and notice turn on radio and they're just playing all this what is now classic rock but at the time was just current. And, you know, you you hear something and then they go that was a CDC Highway to Hell and I'm like, okay, CDC Highway to Hell, and then go to categories that shows are like, Walmart and Connecticut. Yep. And look for AC DC and you know, grab a record and take it home. Yeah,
Randy Hulsey 16:59
absolutely. Now, you are currently active with a couple of projects right now, one of these is the band Black Swan, which we mentioned earlier. And the other of course, is with the Ace Frehley ban. And when I say Black Swan and an Ace Frehley there's no doubt that some of the listeners might say okay, I've heard of Ace Frehley right kiss of Kiss same but I haven't heard too much or I've never heard of Black Swan. However, I'm sure that a lot of the rock people that will listen to this have certainly heard of your you guys you know all of you guys. And I don't want to steal your thunder but what I'd like for you to do is maybe run down the members of Black Swan and talk a little bit about previous projects that they may have because this is kind of a this is I call this kind of like a supergroup that was put together it's the kind of falls into that super group or famous people get together and form another band that, you know, kind of I think of Asia right back in the day was a supergroup. But share with the listeners the band's lineup and maybe what their backgrounds are.
Matt Starr 18:15
Yeah, sure. So um, Jeff Wilson was the one that called me about this. So Jeff, I first saw Jeff when I was I don't want to date Jeff, but I was probably 14 fifteens watching doc in the Hartford Civic Center, probably opening for Twisted Sister Iron Maiden or something. So Jeff is you know, originally from Dhaka and now he's been with foreigner for a very long time. I don't know if it's 20 years or well, but it's quite a long time and super talented guide, great writer and producer as well. And then Red Beach is a guitar player. So red started out with winger and now he's been with Whitesnake as well for quite a long time. Again, great writer like there's the writing in the stand is so good. And then Robin McAuley who's just got a such an amazing voice and, you know, the McCauley Schenker group and survivor and you know, a bunch of other projects along the way, but he's really the icing on the cake, you know, because it's, he makes it sound so effortless. He's like the I call them the Hard Rock Paul Rogers where it's just soulful. Yeah, super melodic. But it's it just sounds so easy. Yeah, makes it sound easy. And then you try and sing his parts and you go, that's not easy at all. No. Really easy.
Randy Hulsey 19:41
No, no. And the interesting thing about that is I Like You I am a vocalist I play in a duo here in Cypress, Texas and I do a lot of the singing and I won't say my age, but let's just say as you is, as we age, you think that the voice starts to kind of Lose range and to where out a little bit. But these guys like, you know, you've got Coverdale that's still out there doing this thing you've got, of course you've got the Keith Richards and I mean, Mick Jagger and these guys from the from the stones, and they're still, they still sound as good as they ever did for the most part. So it's cool to see guys like Robin who's not 30 years old anymore, right? He's not an old guy by any stretch, but he's still he can still hit the notes and he still sounds amazingly good. And I've listened to a lot of the Black Swan music lately. And you know, it's just it's straight on rock and roll. So nice work on that stuff, man. It's it's really good. And for the listeners, I really encourage you guys to to check out you know, there's I think there's, you can correct me if I'm wrong, Madison, what a couple of LPs one from 2020. And I think one from 2022 that you guys have out right now. So
Matt Starr 20:59
yeah, the current record is called Generation mind. Yes. The one before that was called shake
Randy Hulsey 21:05
the world. Yes, yes. So make sure you guys check that out. And you mentioned earlier, I was going to ask you again, you kind of already answered the question, but it was Jeff pilson That found you. And that's how you came into the Black Swan fold Correct? Yeah, I've
Matt Starr 21:22
known Jeff for four years and I've seen him around different events and things and I had played with Robin in reading the rock wall which is a Vegas Yeah. Rock Show. And then and I toured with red when I was playing Mr. Big and we we did a run a South America with winger Stokes. So we kind of you know, we knew each other but we I played with Robin, but I hadn't actually played with red before. Yeah, so it was cool. It was fun. I was really glad that they asked me to be burnin.
Randy Hulsey 21:57
It's kind of interesting the collaboration that goes on these days with with musicians, you know, 30 years ago, 35 years ago. I don't think it maybe maybe I'm just dumb, and maybe I didn't see it. Or maybe I didn't care about it back then. But you didn't see much cross pollination of musicians like Led Zeppelin was Led Zeppelin. You know, Van Halen was Van Halen like Eddie, Eddie in the in the guys didn't go off and, you know, play with other bands or whatever. Right? So it's, it's interesting to see all of the collaboration that's going on these days. Yeah. And I
Matt Starr 22:36
think, you know, to that point, like, back in the day, we see guys from dock and doing something with guys somebody cruise, but now everybody's a little bit older, maybe they're not in that band anymore. They just start doing stuff with with different bands. So you got 6am or bride's instruction that Nikki did. But you know, even back then there were bands like HSAs I think it was chega Hagar
Randy Hulsey 22:59
Matt Starr 23:01
It was just Shrieve and Aronson. So um, so there were things like that here and there. But yeah, I mean, if you're touring the world playing arenas, you probably don't have time to do anything else. Yeah. So once you're in between projects of bands splits up or you leave or whatever, then that that makes an opportunity for that, you know, but again, to also be your thing about the technology. A lot of times, you'll hear stories about, you know, oh, yeah, I always wanted to work with this guy, and we talked about it, but it just never worked out. Well. Now, you can go, Hey, I'm home for three weeks, I'm going to put some demos together, I'll I'll email them to you. You check them out, let me know what you think. Maybe put some guitar on it and then send it over to this guy. And you know, you can actually get some stuff going rather than back then, you know, do we have two months to you know, go to Los Angeles and lock ourselves in a studio? Sure. Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, I
Randy Hulsey 23:59
had mentioned earlier that you were a multi instrumentalist, and is it safe to assume that that drums would be the instrument for you? I'm assuming that it is right. But I don't want to put words in your mouth talk to us a little bit about you know, the guitar and and the drums and then the things that you play and how did the drums become so prominent over the guitar? Yeah, I
Matt Starr 24:25
mean, I started on drums. And so I ended up being best at drums you know, but over the years, I had fronted bands and I had different you know, projects and made records and toured as a singer and a frontman. But I think if I got a call that Hey Jimmy Page wants to get together and in jam with you, what do you want to do? Do you want to sing or play drums I play drums serve, feel more comfortable so that I think that's it, you know, just whatever. Whatever I can bring to the table. I will happy to do that. But I think The best tool I can bring as being a drummer.
Randy Hulsey 25:03
Yep. And I had an interview some time back with a guy named Adam Hamilton who's a big producer out in Hollywood, right? Yeah. So you know him you know his background bass player and drummer and Yan and and, and and right and he would say the same thing you know, and drums are it for me, you know, that's what I'm, I'm at home with, I can do the other stuff but the drums are where I'm, I feel the most comfortable, you know, that's what I do.
Matt Starr 25:31
And a lot of guys start off playing drums. You know, Steven Tyler a PA Yes, a lot of Joey Ramone has a lot of frontman that were originally drummers. You know, I've you know, I'm biased, but I think they, you know, the drums and the vocals are really the drums are kind of the sign of the thing. And the vocal is like the face and the head. And then everything else sort of fills it in. But those two there's a real special relationship between those two so absolutely. A lot of guys started on drums because that's the foundation now. There's a drummer, you know, which vague and a lot of guys are dead there. started out playing drums. Yeah,
Randy Hulsey 26:13
it was interesting to figure that out because I read Steven Tyler's memoir called do the noises in my head bother you? And he talks a lot about you know, coming up as a as a drummer and centipede New Hampshire and up in the northeast, right? So it's you don't you think of Steven Tyler you never would associate him with the drums? Have you not read the book? So you're just like, Oh, he's one of the best American rock and roll frontman ever. So it's interesting to see the background there. Talk to the listeners about the Ace Frehley band lineup and who's playing in that lineup with you? And then how did ace or who found you for for that show or for that
Matt Starr 26:57
gig? Yeah, so the current lineup when I came back with ace and a team, Asa taken Gene Simmons BAM so Jean was doing a bunch of dates. And he had a bunch of Nashville guys they had they played different bands and they had a thing called the shubman contest right at the Rock and Roll shows. Anyway, we listen event that would happen nationally and while these players sit in, so these guys have all played together for years and they're all super talented. So it was Phillip shots on bass, Phillip who was now out of acceptance. And Jeremy asked broccoli guitar and Ryan cook all Swiss guitar. So when I came back, it was all those guys from jeans fan, and then me on drums. And as of late because Philip is out with except Zach is playing Zach throne who's been playing with with stones or Corey Taylor from slipknot. And I also plays with Bruce Kulick. So we've all known Zach throughout the years. And so when Phil couldn't do the date, Zach Hume and start right in sixth grade. Oh, so So that's the current lineup.
Randy Hulsey 28:06
Okay. And I think you guys have a bunch of dates that are lined up in the Northeast that will carry you guys through the end of August, maybe. And then you head out later in the year to play a Vegas show. If my memory serves me correctly. Are there any plans to do anything down south? Or is that to be determined for Ace Frehley? Band specifically?
Matt Starr 28:35
Yeah, we keep getting date. So I wouldn't be surprised if the dates on the calendar now are the only ones that we do this year. But um, as of now, like end of July where we are, yeah, we're going to go out to the northeast and do a bunch of dates in August. And then yeah, we're going to do another day with Alice Cooper in the fall in Vegas. And then I'm sure there'll be a bunch of other stuff. Nice.
Randy Hulsey 28:58
Nice. And then what do you know, off the top of your head, but the dates are looking like for Black Swan? Anything coming up there? No, I
Matt Starr 29:08
mean, we've talked about it. It's a great band. It would be great to play with everybody. But you know everybody's schedules. Yeah. It's just the logistics, you know, so I think we all feel like Sure sounds great. Let me know, you know,
Randy Hulsey 29:25
yeah. And I didn't when I asked you that question, I had to stop myself. It's like, well, I know, Rebs out with Whitesnake, right and then I know that I had a message from Johnny joelly yesterday from from hardline and he was with Robin somewhere overseas or they had met up so I know Robins probably not even stateside right now. So it's probably a logistics nightmare. And I and I kind of asked Michael Sweet that same question. You know, he's got this iconic new band going on with Hoekstra and and uh Tommy Aldridge and slacker? Are you guys gonna get together? And it was kind of the same? Kind of the same answer, you know, like, well, logistically, we'll see what happens. You know, everybody's got so many different irons in the fire. It's it's hard to say so
Matt Starr 30:16
yeah, I mean, it would be great. If we did if we did it, you know, so we'll just have to wait and see. Yep.
Randy Hulsey 30:23
Now you've been with ace for the better part of a decade now as my as my recollection Correct. About a decade now. 10 years or so? Yeah,
Matt Starr 30:35
yeah. Started playing in 2012. And then 2014 to 18. I was with Mr. Big. So I was still making records with a split. Touring Mr. Big and we made a record while defying gravity. And then na team came back with a nice, yeah, but so as long as it doesn't feel like that long, but that's a long time.
Randy Hulsey 30:59
For sure. You all stand by I need to drop a sponsor link. And Matt and I will be right back. We're back with Matt star. Thank you guys for being here with us this evening. I mentioned in the introduction mat that you are also a session player. And we talked a little bit about that. Throughout the interview for the listeners, I'm going to let you define what a session player is I know what a session player is. But for the casual, non musician listener, what is a session player? Why does somebody need a session player.
Matt Starr 31:37
So obviously, you're working in the recording studio versus live, right. So most of us just start playing with friends jamming out making noise. And if it feels good, it's good. If people clap, that's good. But then when you get to the recording studio and start listening to what you're doing, trying to make it sound as exciting as it feels to you. Or as it feels to somebody who's there is a whole different world because it's coming out of you know, a seat or this big or even earbuds. So to put that kind of excitement in there, and make it sound exciting. And make it be something that you can listen to again, and again. It's just a different level of detail. And it's a it's a different skill set. Yeah. And again, when I like I said, when those speakers separated, and I started listening to what the left side was doing in the right, I started understanding how things fit together. And one of the big lessons I got, especially from ACBC, but really all those bands is less is more, especially when it comes to the drums. And especially when you're playing guitar players are doing a little bit of doing all that stuff. So really, it's a conversation. And we really want to be able to support that vocal more than anything else. You know, it's a vehicle to tell a story to get an emotion across. And so how I approach a drum track is really dependent on what the vocal is or what the what the sentiment is, yes, you have a song that sounds like a love song. But actually the Lyric is really bitter. And so I'm going to play that differently than a love song that actually is a love song. You know. So there's all kinds of little nuances that go into that. And that's a never ending learning experience. You
Randy Hulsey 33:29
know. And it's interesting that you say that, because I think that a lot of non musicians think of the drums, as you know, you got a guy back there that are hitting these things. And they're again, they're the visual timekeeper of the van that they're there the rhythm section of the band, but they don't think much by way of emotion, right? You don't think of a drummer as being an emotional player, like a guitar? You can, what did they call it crescendo or de crescendo, like make it louder or softer to get that emotion or the feel of the song? Whereas I think maybe the casual listener of music doesn't realize that you can do the same with the drums as well. Right? Can you talk a little bit about that? Yeah, of course. I
Matt Starr 34:17
mean, the drums are a musical instrument. So first thing is tuning them which, surprisingly, a lot of guys don't really know how to do that. They just put tape on it and put a pill on the kick drum and then loans they thought they're like, Okay, good. So yeah, I mean, the tuning is really important, you know, how you eat the drums, all of that adds to the the performance and the emotion and so like you're saying guitar, louder, softer. There's all kinds of things we can do. As drummers rock'n'roll is is a pretty confined box, as far as you know where you can go with things which is fine with me. But yeah, So you know, you just get your, your tools and your, you make your choices and, and then you can also just listen to what's going on around here. And that informs how you're going to play, which is something that I don't really do lessons anymore, but when I did we talk a lot about that, because I see a lot of drummers playing and then hear them playing in there. Can't wait to get to that fill at the end of the verse. Okay. And it's really the same thing as as me listening to you talk and then I'm like, Uh huh. Yeah. So anyway, I was just saying that, you know, like, I'm not really listening to you, and I kind of blow you off. And then to tell you about what I want it to say. In the conversation sucks. Yeah, no. So it's really about, you know, it is a conversation and really listening to what's going on. And, again, my, my approach is, what's the least I can do? And does this still work? Can I do less? Can I pull back more? Okay, well, it got bigger, okay, cool. And then you know, some point you go, you might go, Okay, now it needs a little bit of fire, okay, I'll lean a little more on it. But God, really paying attention to what's going on, and just recognizing you're just a piece of this bigger picture, you know,
Randy Hulsey 36:17
well, and I think the harder the softer, you hit the drums that paints an emotion in the song to write. So you have that. And I promise not to take you down a rabbit hole, because I think that it would be easy for a drummer to get in a rabbit hole with this question. But at the 50,000 foot level, you spoke about tuning the drums. Right? And I think, I think again, I go back to that casual listener, like, if you ask 20 listeners of music, that don't play an instrument, they just, they're just in takers of music. And you told them Did you know you had to tune a drum, they would have no clue what you're talking about why? We know we have to tune a piano, we know we have to tune a guitar string type of instruments. What and I asked this for my own knowledge, too, because I'm not a drummer, right? Why? What are you tuning to on the drums? Like? Is it just an A feel is a? Is it a tone in your ear that you know that you need to be at talk to us a little bit about the tuning of a drum and why that's important.
Matt Starr 37:32
Yeah, I think you know, every drum has a has a has a pitch that likes to sit at, sometimes you can crank them up, and you can hear that drum does really like that pit, sometimes it's got to go there and you just put it there. And that's how it goes. But, you know, they all have a pitch that they like to sit at, okay. You know, in regards to a particular song, you might tune the snare drum to the to like the main note of a song. Sometimes it's not tuned to the main note of the song and it works. You know, a whole lot of love is in E and bottom snare is D sharp, which is a half step. Technically, that would sound horrible, but it just sounds fine. So okay, cool. So again, I think it's, you know, having the knowledge to be able to make it right, but also not being like tied to some sort of, you know, concept and just listen, use your ears like shirts. Sounds good. That sounds great, cool, we're good. You know, you don't have to check the tuning and do all this stuff. It's just a matter of getting them to sound right.
Randy Hulsey 38:34
So when so when we talk about tuning, you're literally you're literally tuning to a note or a pitch Correct? Or not so much.
Matt Starr 38:45
Not if you just gave me a set of drums, I would you know, they're not talking about okay, I would just start tuning and get them to where I felt good to me, okay, and then if you go, Okay, we're going to play this song and I play and go, Okay, snare drum needs to come up or down or, you know, we need to deaden it or put a towel on it or whatever those ways you can treat it too. But um, yeah, so I'm not saying to the guitar player, hey, can you give me a D?
Randy Hulsey 39:11
Okay, okay, I'm following No, no, no, no. Do you learn that through just years of playing how to tune the drums? Or does a beginner drummer, sit with this teacher and the teacher says, This is how you tune the drum. And this is why you how you tune it, why you tune it, and this is what you're tuning to, like, do they teach you that? Or is that a feel thing over time,
Matt Starr 39:34
like, I don't know, I'm self taught. So it was just a matter of, from an early age, I was taking drums apart, I used to go to the fabric store and wrap my drums and like fur and all this crazy shit. literally taking all the hardware off. Okay, and then, you know, ruining the shells by gluing strings. And then, you know, put the hardware back on then you gotta tune them up again. Yeah, you know, so yeah, it's just by trial and error. And the more you do it, you know, you just hopefully you get better at it for paying attention. Okay.
Randy Hulsey 40:08
Yeah, and thanks for the explanation on that. And we got a little off because we were talking about your session work. And I wanted to go back to that so. So back in the day, before all of the technology, and correct me where I'm wrong, a band would go into the recording studio, and everybody would lay their tracks. So you'd go and do the drum tracks, you'd have the vocalist come in, whenever the guitarist would do it on another day. And then it would all be smushed together magically produced. And that's the outcome that we hear on the radio. Now, fast forward. 30 years later, we have this magic of, you know, Matt can be sitting in New York, I can be sitting here in Cypress, Texas, and I say, Hey, Matt, I want I just wrote the song on the acoustic and I'd like you to put a little beat to it. Let me know what you come up with. You're literally recording a file, right? In your studio, up in New York, and you're just emailing the file to me or Dropbox, sing it or whatever. Right. Am I on? Am I on point there?
Matt Starr 41:12
Yeah, I mean, I'd say you know, the, in the depends how old you are for your old days. But for me, when I started, we're all in the room together. Yeah. And if you've got a band that can play, like, when I produce bands, I, I don't let I don't like to work with bands, if they can't play if I listened to them live, and it doesn't sound fantastic. Probably not going to work with them. You know. So it's really about hearing a band live. And then hearing the recordings. And if I hear the recordings, and I'm like, There's stuff missing, that they didn't get in there, and I want to help them bring that to life, then that's where I can be of service. But if the band can't play, I'm not I'm not going to teach people how to play. I'm not going to spend a run my engineer ragged tuning vocals and trying to fix it. So if I can get everybody in there to play together, and we go do Q takes listen down, cool. Maybe you go, I like the second half of the song or the I like how you played the bridge. So let's take the bridge and drop that into that other take. Yep, which you would do a tape back in the day to you know, we'll do that. And then maybe the bass player goes like, kind of hit a couple bone notes, or I don't like the way that played this section. Can I go through it again. So yeah, good, strive to get better to pass. But then you've got it. And it captures this third thing, which is, you know, the performance is there. But then when people play together, there's something magical. Hopefully, that happens. And you capture that. And it's not about being perfect, you know, it's about capturing that thing. And so that's what I'm always going for that thing, you know, so that's how we would do it back then. And again, when I produce fans now, that's that's how we start with that. And then maybe, you know, then you got another guitar part. And then maybe the guy goes, you know, a lot of times you will do the rough track, and the guitar gets cut. And then he does doubles it. And that's a really good take. And they go, let's do another one to match that. Because now you're really in the song. And we might wipe that first guitar, but based off of that thing that hopefully add some excitement to and it just saves time. It saves money. And when you think about oh, yeah, the drummer playing to a click, I mean, the clip isn't going to be in the song. No. So it's like, oh, he's right, with the click Great. That says nothing about the emotion that says nothing about you know, you might typically were recording to it that track why you're not hearing that on the final, final version of a song. So I want to get a couple of people three people four people in there interacting and get some going so but yes, these days Yeah, absolutely. You can send me a file and you know, go song and then I cut the drums and then you put the guitar and then you send it to Joel and he put solo on it and then you send it to Jeff and he puts bass in and Robin sings vocals over in California and I hate it sounds magical. That's right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 44:16
I think it probably goes without saying but I will say it and I think it's important to note that you are for hire right for session work. If the if all of the stars align like I know that there's some like you mentioned earlier you know, if you if you can't play then I'm probably not going to spend much time with you. With all due respect, you know, your time is valuable too. But what's the best way for a musician that might be listening to this show? To to find you for session where
Matt Starr 44:49
they can reach out to me on social media, I'm super active, just send me a message. We don't have to be Facebook friends or anything, you know, just just message me or you can go to At star music.com and send me a message there. But yeah, I'm really easy to find and I'm super active. So,
Randy Hulsey 45:07
okay. And and it's also my understanding that you would do possibly in person work as well. Is that
Matt Starr 45:16
correct? Okay. Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, I just did a session. Yesterday, I had two sessions, I did a post about this were two very different sessions. One was for an artist, Lacey Dalton, who was Las Vegas space. Arena, I think bass was a country track, that's playing brushes was like a training to that kind of group. And they just sent me the track, they had recorded everything. So I'm, I'm coming in now it's, it's the recording is pretty much done. And I'm having to fit into that. So I do have a click track that they recorded too. But I got a really locked into them. Because again, you're not hearing the clip. And you heard something. So there was that. And then I did another session at a place called Red Room Sound Studios. And this place is all analog, there's not a computer in the whole room. So this is like how I started. So you recording live to tape. There was no clear track. You just play listen back. What's a good? Do another one? Anyone do? Yeah. No. And that was I love working there, you know, and I'm happy to work both ways. You know, but that was in the artists was there and, and the guitar player was playing live. And we, we got to thing, you know, so yeah, there's, there's there's two completely different ways of doing things. But I'm, I'm comfortable and happy to
Randy Hulsey 46:38
do both. Okay, awesome. Well, and so I would suggest to the listeners, if there's a need for that type of skill set certainly hit Matt up on social media, and you guys can line something up there. I mentioned in the intro, what I taught, you know, and the plethora of, of things that you do and that you have going on in your life, one of the things is the coaching portion. Talk to the listeners a little bit about Matt, start coaching and give us a high level of that. And then we'll get into a little bit more detail of it.
Matt Starr 47:19
Yeah, I mean, what I what I saw coming up was, you know, again, I had that clarity, since I was really young, and I just wasn't going to do anything else. But I saw a lot of musicians that were really talented, that truly wanted to make a career playing music, and they weren't able to make it out. And then they ended up getting jobs. And they end up doing stuff and then we get this together. You know, and that's just such a really sacred experience and for someone to come to another person and ask them for help to trust them with that. And for me, it took me till my like late 30s Before I really got my thing together and started getting gigs with people that you would know. Otherwise, I was just slogging it out in bars, and I was making a living playing music but barely. And it was playing fucking Bruno Mars songs and Led Zeppelin songs, you know, just anything to no applause, three sets a night carrying my own drums coming home exhausted, you know, not much. It wasn't working, you know. And so I had to figure out what the problem was, and see what I was doing wrong. And what the guys that were successful, were doing rights took a lot of humility, but I paid attention and asked a lot of questions and figured it out, and then started having success. And then guy started reaching out to me saying, hey, no offense, but I never heard of you before. And now I see you playing with this band and touring making records, what are you doing, and I started meeting people and talking about it realize, this is where I can really be of service, I can really share something with people that they that they they want to know, that they may need to know to know Yeah. And if they don't have this information, they're never going to get to that next level. And they you know, and as artists or musicians, we keep telling ourselves, I just need to be better. I need to practice more. And that usually has nothing to do with it.
Randy Hulsey 49:27
Probably a small piece of it, right?
Matt Starr 49:29
It's a piece Yeah. But again, there's plenty of musicians that are successful that other musicians would go that guy sucks. And it's like, Yeah, but he carved out his piece, you know? And so he had those components, the stuff I teach, so however good you want to be that's up to you. Right? If you want to play Dream Theater music, yeah, you got to have the skill set to do that. And if you want to play punk rock, you got to have that skill set. But that's up to the individual person but I Find typically people are about good enough to do what it is they want to do. And if they get an opportunity they to get around people that are better than them, then they'll step it up, they'll learn pretty quick, you know, but it's all the other stuff, if you want to be part of the music, business, the music, you got that you've been working on that since you were 10, but the business, all that other stuff, the mindset, the emotions that get in the way, how to network, how to connect, how to do business, how to set your array, all this stuff, those are all the pieces that are missing. And that's what I teach. And that's started out with musicians. And I got mostly drummers because drummers knew me. Then I started working with other musicians. And now I work with people in all different industries. So about half of my clients are musicians, and the other half are business owners, and people that are in all different kinds of businesses. And, and the principles are just universal. And I find myself connecting with other business coaches, who are completely immersed in the corporate world, or completely immersed in the tech world. And we just talk shop, and it's like, oh, yeah, exactly. You know, we just know, there's no disconnect, because it's all the same stuff. But just, I think, coming from me, I can talk to musician and musician who listen to me, because they trust me. And also, I don't know anyone else who's really doing this. I've seen other, you know, music, career coaches, and I google them, but all that comes up is their coaching. I don't see their careers. And I don't see their current careers. Yeah, so having someone who's in the business, because it just keeps changing, or technology absolutely wouldn't change things. It just keeps evolving. And I have to keep evolving with that. So, so I love doing this kind of work. It's super cool. I never envisioned I was going to be a musician and a coach, I had all kinds of judgment about Coach life coach, whatever, you know, all this stuff. You know what, I found a place where I can help people. And I'm happy to do that. Well, that's
Randy Hulsey 52:04
cool that you're sharing your intellect and your story. Because a lot of people that that have been elevated to that level of musicianship, like yourself, you know, out playing with, with a lot of the names that you mentioned, right, a lot of a lot of people that might listen to this podcast, have never got, or have been at that level, right. And it's nice to hear it coming from just a simple guy like you. I mean, you You're no different than I am, at the end of the day, you just happen to be in a different place, musically than I am. But we're all in different places. I'm in a different place business wise, then, you know, corporate America wise than you are like, we all have our our thing, right. But it's cool that you share that perspective, because I think that that's been missing for a long time. Like, how did Led Zeppelin get to be Led Zeppelin? How did Peter Frampton get to be Peter Frampton? Was it just because they got lucky? Or were they what were they doing? That got him to that level versus just, you know, continuing to play and dive bars all of their lives?
Matt Starr 53:11
And some of those musicians might say, Oh, I was just lucky. Well, that's very humble of them to say, oh, when you really look at it, from an objective perspective, there are specific things that happened specific ways that they did things or their manager did things or whatever, that enabled those those things to happen. I agree. And so all the advice I always thought was, Hey, man, just play great. Keep practicing. And when you get a gig, you know, get out there and give me your best
Randy Hulsey 53:44
I did that didn't work. It didn't get you any further. Right. It worked that
Matt Starr 53:48
much. But it didn't work this much. I mean, I didn't know anybody who was touring. I didn't know anybody that had toured Europe, I didn't know anyone who played with people that I had heard of. Right. So there was something wrong, but it was the good news was it was me. And I could I could fix me, I can't do business. I can't fix the world. I can't fix the local. Which a lot of guys get caught up in that. It is just about changing ourselves. And when we change ourselves and our situation changes.
Randy Hulsey 54:19
Well, I think this is an interesting conversation that could could go on for a while. But but the point that I wanted to make behind that is, I know musicians locally, okay, just local guys that have 10 times the talent of some of the major artists that you see on major labels, right, just from a musicianship perspective. But for some reason, they're not where those people are, and why is that they're certainly talented enough to do it. What's missing, right? So that's always that's always I've always said that for as long as I could remember, like, I have a buddy If that can play the guitar 10 times better than that dude over there that's playing, you know, in front of 60,000 people every night technically. But something's missing in that equation, that he's still a local guy and that guy is playing in front of 60,000 people, could it have been a break being in the right place at the right time? I believe there's a lot of that that happens. But you know, so your your whole coaching and it kind of ties it all together. It's it's an interesting conversation, to say the least, talk to me. And you can go into as much detail or as little as you like, but when you say removing the block, what does that mean, to Matt, as it relates to your consulting piece?
Matt Starr 55:44
Yeah, I mean, after doing 10 years of coaching, and also having my own career and my transformation that happened, I realized that everybody has a block, it's a single block, it's unique to each person has to do with how you grew up, and all that stuff. But it shows up in all different ways. So someone might come to me and say, I'm a procrastinator, or I never finish what I start, or, you know, I get to in my head, I overthink things. And so they think that's the thing they need to work on. But ultimately, what's underneath that is some sort of block. And I don't get too into the psychology of it. But you know, there's some pieces of it that are that are in there, but that's what's determining their outcome. And so it's kind of like being on a ship and your feet are getting wet, and you keep trying to dry off the deck and there's more water to keep trying the deck and you're you think like, once they get the deck dry, then it'll be all good. And it's like, there's a hole in the bottom of the ship. And if you don't address that, you can keep wiping off this deck as long as you want. And we start with chase these things, and I call them symptoms, they're symptoms of a block, but they're not the block. And so again, after doing coaching for 10 years, I realized it's the block, you know, it's the block, that's the thing, and if I can help people get in touch with that, then when they find themselves procrastinating rather than going on over procrastinate, I'm doing it again. Why do I do scope? All your block is kind of running the show? Yeah, that's fine. That's a symptom. Forget about the procrastination, let's address that block. And then the procrastination thing kind of goes away.
Randy Hulsey 57:23
So with the blog be like, basically like saying, or like being the root cause? Yeah, absolutely. Okay. All right.
Matt Starr 57:31
Absolutely. It's some, some belief that's not in alignment with your goals sense, you know, and again, we all have our own version of it. You know, I had, I had a guy I worked with from South America, and one of his wasn't really his block, one of his beliefs was if he was too successful, that his family would be kidnapped, and I was, wow, go, that's a great one. Because it's totally cultural, right? Like, an American person would never think that right? That was happened in South America. Now that not that that's a real, you know, reason to not pursue success. But that was in the back of his head. Yeah. And I was like, wow, it just goes to show it's completely subjective. But it's always the same thing. It's so reason why you can't be successful. If you're successful, then, you know, your friends won't like you, they'll think you're a phony. Or if you make too much money, you know, you're going to turn to a bad person, whatever, it all these things, and they just clutter and it's, again, back to, you know, when I was a kid, just that feeling, let's see, and I just saw we going that I want to do that. Okay, that's, that's the beginning. And that's the end. There's no more. That's it. Now do the work, and all the stuff that comes up, we'll talk about it in our sessions. Okay, you know, and you can address that. But we don't you don't get caught up in that that's not for you or the person who's who's doing the work to address you just go oh, you know, I was doing the work and then that this week, that thought that I'm a big phony and a liar. And I use people that came up on this talk about that, but that doesn't affect your work.
Randy Hulsey 59:11
Gotcha. Gotcha, gotcha. Now so what's coming up for for Matt star as it relates to music recording touring session work is there you know, giving you the podium here? Is there anything that you wanted to talk about as it relates to things that are coming up for you and all of the things that you have going on? Working on a new
Matt Starr 59:33
Ace Frehley record so that's in progress, I'm guessing that will be out sometime next year? I'm excited about that a project I'm doing with Mike watt who's basically are from being called the Minutemen. Please do just super talented guy, and Alex Kane who's plays with enough's enough and stars and with a band called live sex and death. So this is like this. There's more pieces of music and each one Honestly, about 10 minutes, there is no vocals, there's, it's completely reactive. And I sometimes don't even play, I mostly don't play a drumbeat. So I'm really exploring, like every sound I have and the rim of the drum and the disc, you know, there's all kinds of stuff. Or I can call it like space rock. But that's not even accurate. It's, it's very cinematic, and super cool. So that's been a lot of fun. And we're just finishing up mixing the last piece of music. So expecting that to be out this fall. And that's, I'm excited to see what we can do with that.
Randy Hulsey 1:00:41
Awesome. And where can the listeners find you on social media? What can you plug there from the matt star camp?
Matt Starr 1:00:52
Everything is maths or music. So facebook.com/matt Star music, Instagram, Matt, Star music, and then also not star coaching as well. So that's it's one of those two things, but you can just google me put Matt star into Google and
Randy Hulsey 1:01:08
stuff will come up. Awesome. One question I had for you, in your own words, can you define success? What does success mean to
Matt Starr 1:01:18
you? Well, I think it's for me, I've realized I'm 52 this year. So it's something that keeps changing, you know, but I think it's just realizing your goals, you know, living your life on your terms, and having your life filled with things that are important to you. And it's a constantly evolving thing, as it should be, you know, anyone that says, I just want to win a million dollars in the lottery. So I can just do nothing, you'd be broke in six months on end up miserable, right? So like, anyone who's actually successful and has that kind of wealth understands that, you get that and you keep that by pursuing things that are inspiring and exciting. So everybody has their own version of it. And so, you know, as it relates to my coaching, I have people that want to do what I do, you know, they want to tour the world and make records of other people that want to have a successful studio business or a successful teaching business, or they just want to have fulfilling musical experiences or creative experiences. Or they have a business and they want to grow their business. And then when we get into it, we're like, look at these pieces. Let's get this relationship doesn't sound so good. And also something that's real common with business owners, you're doing everything. Yeah, you're going to delegate. Absolutely. And that will allow it to grow. And it allow the unit of the owner to have more time to focus on on the vision and the bigger stuff, you know, so it's really about just having a quality of life that is fulfilling and satisfying. And it's not always easy, but man, the alternative is way harder. I agree. I agree.
Randy Hulsey 1:03:05
Yeah. Well, Matt, listen, thanks so much for spending time with me today. It's been a blast. It's been a treat for me to get to sit down and pick your brain a little bit chat about what's coming up. What's new, what's old, good stuff there. So thank you for that. I would like to ask the listeners to like, share and subscribe to the podcast. Also, don't forget to follow Matt on all of his social media platforms. A quick reminder that you can follow the show on Facebook at backstage pass radio podcast, on Instagram at backstage pass radio, and on the website at backstage pass. radio.com You guys stay safe and healthy. And thank you so much for tuning in to Backstage Pass radio.
Adam Gordon 1:03:50
Thanks so much for joining us. We hope you enjoyed today's episode of backstage pass radio. Make sure to follow Randy on Facebook and Instagram at Randy Halsey music, and on Twitter at our Halsey music. Also, make sure to like, subscribe and turn on alerts for upcoming podcasts. If you enjoyed the podcast, make sure to share the link with a friend and tell them backstage pass radio is the best show on the web for everything music. We'll see you next time right here on backstage pass radio