King_leer's Videos Playlist....Summer 2015

Sunday, 16 January 2011

HERSHEL YATOVITZ - " I love my job !"

This was one of the most peculiar interviews I’ve made until now. By the last months of 2009 I’ve tried to contact Hershel and after a couple of e-mails I was lucky enough to get his attention. So, as usual, questions were sent and……….that’s the odd thing, nothing happened until the 2010 4th of July. It was a Sunday and I was having lunch with family at home. Suddenly the mail “rings” and it was Hershel. He was at the tour bus driving into Portugal from Spain. Chris Isaak would perform the next Monday at Cascais, south Portugal. Hershel was kind enough to reply to my initial questions (the ones you can read bellow) and invite me for the show. So, this is the story and the beginning of a non-stop trip from North to South to see Hershel and Chris in a great performance. I´ve got some miles on the show business but as I confessed to Hershel, it was a special night as I never saw Chris live and his music has a peculiar effect on myself so, I was a little bit nervous but, I was nice to meet them and Hershel is a great soul off and on stage. It was really a pleasure to be there.

I hope you enjoy the interview, even with the gap between questions and answers and that you learn a little more about music with Hershel´s words and find some interesting lines on Chris Isaak´s Wicked Game and the 20th anniversary of this timeless tune.


# 1 - On your new CD:


I know you’ve got a CD out now. It's called "Hy Time". Talk to us about it, who's joined you in this project and how do you manage to finish it between the work with Chris last album, the shows and everything else.


HY Time was really fun to make. I picked some of my songs I think are uplifting but cool, and although it might sound corny, I just sort of let the songs tell me what to do each step of the way. I believe a song is finished when it stops "yelling at me" so much, so when they calmed down I knew it was ready for release. Each song has a very different feel; it just felt good that way. I have had a great response to it, and now a second album is in the works. I was blessed with some really great world class players who really kicked up the record many notches. Some live near me in Portland, Oregon, and some live in Los Angeles and sent a few tracks back and forth over the internet. It is so easy now; I can have my favorite session players go into a studio wherever they are and send tracks to me, and I can send guitar or bass tracks to them.

I do get some time off and I have a nicely equipped Pro Tools Studio at home where I work when I'm not out with Chris and the guys. I do production, mixing, and session tracking on guitar and bass for bands, singer/songwriters, etc. there. I have some overseas clients; we just send the files over the internet. It is a great time we live in with all of the options available. So it is easy to work on my own projects as well, it just takes some time to complete them since I work a lot with Isaak and others. I just completed the theme song and some others for a new film called Trooper, and the other artists on the soundtrack are Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, I'm happy about that.

# 2 - On your teaching experience:


I know you were a teacher before joining Silvertone. Is there a real advantage/difference between being a musician with college studies or not? Is it just a question of skills, you either have it or you don't?


I think there are big differences, but there are pros and cons to either. I studied privately and then taught for years and wound up teaching Jazz at Stanford University, working with some very studied musicians and I wondered, "how did I wind up getting to work with these guys?” When you get down to it, it just depends on what type of work you want to do. Since I developed my ear playing lots of different styles in live performance settings without written music (other than occasional chord charts) I can 'fake' songs I have never heard before fairly well, and learn most anything I need to by ear. If I had gone through a traditional college education it would be much easier to learn complex written pieces, but my on-the-spot instincts might not be as well developed. And my whole musical path would also be very different since all of the influences you pick up in your daily life as a musician and the gigs you get create your path. I wish I had some of the literary knowledge I would have gotten if I had a degree, but then I'm sure I would be a completely different person artistically.

Regarding "either you have it or you don't", I believe there is always some qualities people shine at, and others not so much, so it's just a matter of finding your place in the world and being realistic about where your strengths truly lie. Beyond that, whatever makes you happy! I don't recommend choosing to be a musician as a career unless you just can't help yourself. In my opinion finding some joy in what you do every step of the way is essential. But music is a great hobby as well.

# 3 - On Working with Chris Isaak


You work with Chris since 1995. You've travelled around the world with him playing and also acting on his TV series. As far as i know he is a very talented guy and above all (taking from his interviews) he has a great quality. He's very committed to his projects and his band mates. How it's really the day to day work with him? Does he writes almost all the songs or they are worked among all of you?


Chris is a great guy with a vibrant personality, like the rest of the guys in the band. We generally get along quite well and laugh a lot, I'm happy to report! Chris writes the song melodies, chords and lyrics and the rest of us make up our parts on our respective instruments. Once in a while he will work with a producer out of town and use local musicians, so there are a few songs with other players on a couple of the records, but most of it is the band.

# 4 - On Wicked Game:


I believe this song is making 20 years now. You're not in the band at the time. How many times did you played it? Have a clue?

Honest question for an honest answer: What's the sensation on playing it in so many shows? How does a musician feels about this. I know it's his job, he' a professional but honestly, do you get tired?


Somehow I never get tired of playing it, or any of the other "must play" hits, I don't know why! I have recorded multiple versions and played it live, I don't know; let's say 200 times a year for 15 years? That is terrifying, thanks a lot, Luis! I guess I like it because there is always room for growth, and there is room for making a song 'my own' a little bit by playing it differently as I feel it. A song like Wicked Game is not suited for a lot of improvisation of course, but I do play it differently than the original, and a little differently every night. Other songs, well, we have a lot of room to be creative and have a great time interacting with each other. I am really glad I get to be in a real band, playing totally live music with no backing tracks. We get to really have a fresh and different show every night and still play some of the songs our fans really want to hear. When it is all live then every moment there is the possibility of magic or disaster, and that's where the human connection occurs between the audience and the artists.

# 5 - On Episodes:


Tell us what was the strangest episode you had while on Tour with Chris Isaak?


Oh, it seems like every day something crazy happens, sometimes truly absurd, I'm afraid to start... Well here's one: I have played in such extreme conditions, severe heat, rain, you name it. But one show in Vail, Colorado, USA really pushed the limit. It was supposed to be an outdoor celebration in the sun for the end of ski season, but a full on blizzard came through, pounding us with snow. The interesting thing about snow is that it does not care if there is a roof over the stage; it moves sideways covering everything and making the stage very slippery. We were the slipping snowman rock band with a crew of shovelers and sweepers on stage, hoping our numb fingers would land in the right place. A woman came on stage to dance and slipped towards the edge of the stage. I reached out my guitar and she grabbed it by the neck and I pulled her back up. And we don't stop our show for anything, so we played a long show. I played with gloves for a song, but my favorite part was watching the explosions each time a drum was hit. And the crowd was used to the snow and rocked out with us all the way. Another day at the office, I love my job!


Hershel's photo on this article by Mike Lloyd.

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