A Few Words With...Dave Meros

Interview by John A. Wilcox

Spock's Beard is a player's band that just happens to write and play songs you love to sing! Look no further than the new DVD & double CD Spock's Beard Live. Energy filled versions of Beard classics like The Water and Skeletons At The Feast are infectious gems. The man on the bass is Dave Meros. A virtuouso among virtuousos, Meros keeps the bottom end down solid, while taking the listener on fantastic melodic excursions as well. Progsheet is pleased to welcome the wit and wisdom of this fine musician...

PS: What's the first record you recall buying & what made you want to buy it?

DM: I'm pretty sure it was Meet The Beatles. . I'm really giving away my age on that one. I had seen them on The Ed Sullivan Show and thought they were the coolest thing ever.

PS: Who was the first bass player that made you want to pick up a bass?

DM: I didn't start playing bass until I was 20, but I played lots of different instruments since the age of 9 so I had heard lots of great bass players by the time I actually picked up a bass for the first time. The ones that stood out in my memory when I was a kid were Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power), Chris Squire and Paul McCartney. Later on it was Jaco, John Entwhistle, Marcus Miller and many others, but Rocco, Chris Squire and Paul McCartney were the first that made me think bass was really cool.

PS: What was the first bass you ever owned?

DM: Actually the first bass that I played may have been the best one I ever had my hands on, but I didn't actually own it. For the first year or two that I played bass I was borrowing the guitar player's 1962 Fender Jazz Bass and it played and sounded just superb.
The first bass that I actually owned was a late 70's Gibson Grabber. .. yeah, the one with the sliding pickup. It looked pretty weird and had an uncomfortable neck, but it actually sounded really nice.

PS: What was the best bass you've owned in terms of feel?

DM: I had a 1974 Fender Jazz Bass that was very nice, that was probably the best one in terms of feel and sound.

PS: I saw you play some years back with Eric Burdon from the Animals. How did that gig come about?

DM: When I moved to LA in 1985 I started playing with anyone and everyone that I could to try to make as many connections as possible and meet as many musicians as possible. One of those things that I was involved with was a producer who was putting a band together for some actress that thought she was a singer. It was actually pretty horrible stuff, but the band was good and I kept in touch with that producer and wound up doing a couple other things for him. It turns out that this guy had worked with Eric Burdon a lot in the past, and a year or two later Eric called him up asking him to put a band together for him. So he picked a bunch of guys that he knew would work in that situation, and I was one of those guys.

PS: How long did it take Spock's Beard to find its creative feet & identity after Neal Morse's departure?

DM: I would have to give you two answers to that one. In most ways, our second CD (Octane) after Neal split was where we found our new identity and it came together. But in some ways, we're still searching, which is good in a way because we will most likely never fall into a rut where we're repeating ourselves CD after CD.

PS: Every tour has its own character. What, to you, stood apart about the '07 tour?

DM: That was the first time we'd been to Vienna and Budapest, and both of those shows were excellent, so that was really cool. We also recorded our DVD on that tour, in Zoetermeer, Holland. Doing any type of recording always is a stand out event.

PS: What aspect of touring do you enjoy most?

DM: Well, when I was younger I would have given you five or six things about touring that I enjoyed quite a bit, some of them a bit unsavory but still quite enjoyable. But these days it's mainly the actual performance. The camaraderie is also a good thing. But the traveling is a huge drag (especially these days with the airlines in the shape they are in), the jet lag kills me, and sound checks are mind-numbingly boring. But the shows are great. .. and I might add that I really enjoy the food in Europe, even at the level of local venue catering.

PS: What's the worst hotel you've ever stayed at while on tour?

DM: Oh, there are a few. One that really stands out in my mind is The Shangri-La Hotel in Cleveland. It's probably not even there any more. It was a nice Sheraton in the late 60's that had gone out of business. It had been purchased by somebody who opened a really nice Chinese restaurant downstairs but let the rest of the hotel go completely to seed.
I had to change rooms because the shower head was missing. . just a pipe sticking out of the wall. 35 year old blue shag carpeting, water stained curtains, holes in the walls, graffiti in the hallway, etc, etc. .. it was actually pretty amazing. I have pictures of it. What was also amazing was that besides the bad physical condition of the place, it was actually clean and the bed was quite comfortable (probably because it was used only a half hour at a time).

PS: What country has Spock's Beard found the most difficult to win over & why do you think that is?

DM: Our very own country, unfortunately. We do much better everywhere else. One reason is that progressive rock is more popular in other countries than in USA. Just a different mentality I guess. I think if we toured more here in the U.S. it might change to a degree, but that leads me to my next point - Another reason is geography. It's nearly impossible for us to tour the USA due to logistics. Super long driving distances make a bus tour really inconvenient and expensive. Flying is insane. There is a big gap in this country in the mid-size venue category, so we're stuck mostly playing in small places that aren't geared towards touring bands with lots of gear.

PS: What was the spark behind your writing Skeletons At The Feast?

DM: John Boegehold (the guy that I write with) came up with that idea, put down the initial parts for it and then kind of got stuck and wondered what to do with it next. . .should it be a part of a bigger piece, should it go into a vocal section, etc. So he sent it over to me, I added to it, we bounced it back and forth a couple times like we always do, and there it was, in all of it's sick and twisted glory.

PS: What was your inspiration for writing Ghosts Of Autumn?

DM: I had some chord changes that I had been fooling around with for a while and they struck me as being sort of melancholy, so when John and I were talking about the song I said that it should be about something sad or something lost. He came up with some really nice lyrics for that one.
That was an interesting one as far as production. I was there when the basic tracks were cut of course (bass, drums, piano), but I wasn't around for almost all of the overdubs and mixing of that one, and when I heard it I was actually pretty shocked. I had told the guys what I had in mind as far as instrumentation, production style, etc, but it came back completely different from what I originally had in mind. I almost became really upset, but told myself to give it a couple more listenings before freaking out, and it really grew on me. I still would have done it differently, but I like the way it turned out.

PS: Every tour, the band seems to pull out a surprise chestnut or two. How did Crack The Big Sky come to end up in the '07 set list?

DM: We like to mix it up a little bit. . try to do something from each era of the band, and also try to do great songs that we haven't done in a while. We have done lots of our older material over the years, and I guess it was time to do Crack The Big Sky.

PS: Have sessions started yet for the next studio album?

DM: Not yet, but we're all privately working on new songs. John and I have a few really cool things that are nearing completion and I'm sure the other guys have been working on new material as well. It's going slower than normal this time but I can feel the momentum gathering so the wheels should start turning soon. We had lots of distractions this past year, both individually and as a band. We were really involved in the DVD production process this time and it took quite a while to organize. Also we have been doing lots of things individually that have taken our focus away from new material temporarily, but it's all part of the crazy life of trying to be a musician these days.

PS: Do you have any upcoming gigs or recording projects outside SB on the horizon?

DM: Right now not too much. I've felt like I've been pulled in too many directions over the last couple of years so I'm trying to focus on Spock's Beard as much as I can right now.

PS: Please tell me 6 CDs you never get tired of listening to.

DM: Oh God. . .I hate this kind of question. (sorry!) There are maybe 200 CDs that I have never gotten tired of and there would be long lists for each of many styles of music. . I also get tired of everything eventually and need to give it a rest no matter how much I love it, so the lists would change over time. . . .but, to be a good sport, here are six that are on my MP3 player now that tend to keep resurfacing. I will also only put one CD of each artist, because I could fill up the entire list with Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, etc. I also won't put any Spock's Beard on there, that could also fill up the entire list. Also, apologies to The Who, Marvin Gaye, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Weather Report, Clutch, The Beatles, Muse, Al Green, Earth Wind And Fire, Genesis, Miles Davis, Audioslave, Pink Floyd, Aretha Franklin, Tower of Power, Kim Mitchell, Cream, etc, etc, etc. and many many many more who also have put out CDs that I will never get tired of.
Jimi Hendrix - Band Of Gypsies
Tool - Lateralus
Porcupine Tree - In Absentia
James Brown - Revolution Of The Mind
Led Zeppelin - 2
Jellyfish - Bellybutton


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