Interview with: Dave Reffett of Shredding the Envelope
Interview by: ~ Downshifter
It is a pleasure to have Dave Reffett of Shredding the Envelope at Full Metal Rock...
FMR: Welcome to Full Metal Rock Dave, The Album Kicks Some Serious Ass!
Dave Reffett: Thank you man, glad to be hear.
FMR: I appreciate your time, So how's it going man?
Dave Reffett: I'm feeling great other than this damn cold. I've been sick off and on for 6 weeks. I have a lung infection but thankfully it's starting to go away. I also just confirmed major articles in Guitar Plus magazine in Indonesia as well as a feature in Guitar World Magazines "Betcha Cant Play This" column so I'm stoked. Lots of cool stuff going on to keep me busy.
FMR: Tell us a little about your band and the Story Behind Shredding the Envelope?
Dave Reffett: Shredding The Envelope is balls out Hard Rock band that sort of leans toward the Thrash Metal realm, which was a big part of my introduction to music and a style that I love to this day. We're all about making exciting music that comes from the heart.
FMR: You have quite the experience in the business, and have worked with some legends like Iron Maiden, now on your debut album you have some other legends like George Lynch, Michael Angelo Batio, Chris Poland, and Glen Drover on the record ...how did this all come about?
Dave Reffett: Well I started playing when I was 13 and I knew that playing music was all I ever wanted to do. At 17 I got a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston and there I got my Business degree and went on to work at Sanctuary Records in the Legal department which is where I got to be involved in the "A Matter of Life or Death" album by Iron Maiden. Sanctuary was a dream job for me because I got to read through contracts of Anthrax, Kiss, Megadeth and all my heroes. It was cool to see all the deals and to learn the inner workings of the business at that level. That was a fantastic company but they sadly went belly up. So then I jumped ship and went to EMI working in the radio promotions department at Virgin Records. I loved it there as well, even more really because the workload was way bigger and I really got to spread my wings. There I got to work on albums by Meat Loaf, Janet Jackson, The Rolling Stones and many more. It was a blast but sadly due to the state of the industry with piracy being what it is now and stuff there are no jobs left anymore. Even big wigs with 30 years experience are being let go nowadays, it's really bad. So near the end of my time there I could read the writing on the walls and just said to myself man "why work on stuff that isn't necessarily your cup of tea when you can make the music that you want to hear" Some of the music there I loved and some of it without naming any names was what the press referred to as ?mall punk corporate garbage. So when I returned to Boston I started to go through the hundreds of hours of riff tapes that I have been writing since I was 13 and started to form the songs that would become this album "The Call Of The Flames". The heavy hitters that play on this record were born out of sort of an impulse. I was a really big fan of this album by Annihilator called "Metal" which had some really great guest guitar solos on it and I said to myself "damn man, I'm going to do that but get all the guys that I admire". So that's how it all started and so I put together my dream team of who I would get if I could get anyone. And first off I wanted Michael Angelo Batio because I've been a huge fan of his since I was a kid. So I went to a guitar clinic he was doing near New Haven, CT and asked him to be on it and after him and his management heard the tracks and dug it then it was all in place. Then everyone started to return my emails like magic and then I had George Lynch from Dokken, Chris Poland from Megadeth and everyone else ready to rock on it. So its very cool that everything went so well and that?s how I have this brilliant new album "The Call Of The Flames". I played 95% of the guitars, sang, and played the bass as well on the album. Then for drums I enlisted drum legend Mike Mangini who I had played with once before and who also did the drumming on the Annihilator album "Metal" that I talked about, and he did a brilliant job.
FMR: How hard was the task of recording with these guys, did you do it via the net, or in person?
Dave Reffett: With Joe Stump he lives in Boston and is good friend of mine so he came in live into the studio and did it. Mangini came in live because he's in Boston as well. I recorded the album at this place called Sanctum Sound. It's a great studio out here and they also have one in Los Angeles where Stevie Wonder and a bunch of cool people have done some work. With everyone else I just emailed them the tracks then they would do their part at their respective studios and then just email me the files. It was a very smooth enjoyable process. Everyone knocked it out of the park on this album and couldn't have been more fun and easy to work with. It was like Christmas morning every time I would get a new guitar solo in my email box. It was very exciting to hear what they had brought to it.
FMR: Who would you say are your musical influences or mentors?
Dave Reffett: My favorite music and what I still consider to be timeless are bands like Kiss, Megadeth, Van Halen, Ozzy, Dio the list goes on. I just try to stay really inspired and in love with life wherever I can get it from. And I try to be appreciative of what I have and to strive to work really hard. There is so much amazing music out there so there is no shortage of inspiration. I work really hard to try and accomplish a lot so that keeps me going.
FMR: Is there anything you hope your listeners/fans get out of your music?
Dave Reffett: I hope that people can see a bit of themselves in the songs and know that someone understands what they are going through. Its tough trying to make it in the world, and trying to go after a dream, and the beautiful thing about music, is that you can listen to it and know that your not alone. That people feel and have felt the same way that you do and have made it through it. It?s very cathartic. Metal is a beautiful thing; it's like exercising the demons. We go to a show or put on our favorite record and just let it all loose ands its great. It's like electric church. I also hope it makes the listeners feel good to be alive. There's a line in one of the songs on this record that says, "I want to feel something, I want to bleed with the need to be by your side". If I can invoke some of that passion that I have into people lives then that would make me proud. Life is so hard and its easy to fall into a bad place, and as cliché as it sounds I guess I want people to make the most out of their lives and to really enjoy the time that we have here. I heard a great saying once, "everyday above ground is a great day", and so I really try to subscribe to that thought because things could always be worse.
FMR: How cool is it, to have your fiancée involved in this project?
Dave Reffett: It has been incredible. She's the coolest person on the planet; she is such a bright inspiring person. She really made this record what it is. Because when I would come home exhausted she would listen and say "you can still make it better, make this lyric stronger, or give it some more attitude" things like that. And I would say, "are you trying to kill me or what" (laughs). But I'm glad she really pushed me hard, because the proof is in the pudding and this album kicks fucking ass. She was the Rick Rubin of this album for sure. Or what I would call the quality control expert. Even with the mix and stuff like that she was relentless about how it should sound, how the vocals needed to be right up front, and I laugh now because she was right. I'll hear songs on the radio by major major bands and say, "damn our stuff is mixed so much better than this".
FMR: What would you say to any budding guitarists out there, and how often do you practice?
Dave Reffett: To the budding guitarists out there I would say study really hard and try to get into Harvard Medical School. Just kidding, but seriously though do it because you love it. Eat, sleep and breath it and if you want it bad enough you can be great. Make the music that you would be the first in line to buy and then you will always feel happy with what you've made. Don't follow trends or play it because your mom likes it or whatever, do it from a place of honesty and passion and it will never feel like work. You hear bands sometimes say, "This is just a job". I think that sucks because its not. Making music and performing should feel like going on the biggest ride at the amusement park, always thrilling. And if it doesn't, go be a plumber or something and don't waste our time. As far as practicing goes, when I was a kid I would play 10-12 hours a day. I lived in a very small town and I became obsessed with the guitar. I would never take it off. I would play along to all my favorite records and learn as much as I could by ear and from magazines. Then at some point I got good enough to say what I wanted to say and didn't really need to go nuts with practicing anymore. Nowadays with the busyness of life I'm lucky if I get half an hour in. But I love every second of it and when I'm working on something I really dive into like the old days. You can never know to much, so its still a thrill for me to pick up a guitar. I love it so much.
FMR: Tell us about some on the songs on The Call Of The Flames?
Dave Reffett: "The Call Of The Flames" is about that defining moment where you see the light and you know your destiny, where it hits you in the face plain as day and you know what you have to do. "Standstill and Scream" to me is about how people try to control you and keep you down. It?s about not buying into what your told and fighting for what is yours. You know it's like how as metal fans were often looked at as second-class citizens, and the song is about rebellion and not letting anyone make you feel like you're nothing. It's a metal anthem."Devils Roadmap" is all about the inevitability of death and sort of like my reminder to myself to get all I can take in this life while I'm here. Its like that classic Seinfeld episode where George is talking to this guy and says "What do you mean you don't think about death, what are you stupid?" It's a warning that all our clocks are ticking and you've got to seize the day. "Caravan of Cannibals" is all about the horrors of substance abuse. "Where are my real brothers?" is all about that never ending quest we all have to find out where we belong. The search for self-discovery. So we cover a lot of ground on this thing and a lot of the topics stem from my life and my beliefs and attitudes. I can't wait to put out future records. We have so many amazing songs ready to go, probably about 4 or 5 more albums worth of material.
FMR: What song is your personal favorite to perform live and why?
Dave Reffett: Lately I've been loving "Caravan of Cannibals" because people really dig that one. It has a really fun bouncy sort of Van Halen meets Randy Rhoads kind of riff and the lead playing on that one is bitchin. Also I really enjoy anthemic tunes like "Standstill and Scream" and "Ruby Avalanche Red Flood". So many cool guitar riffs on those two. Then the heartfelt bluesy solo on "I Just Don't Want To Say Goodbye" is a personal as well as fan favorite. I love all the songs for different reasons but these songs jump out in my mind today.
FMR: Your favorite axe?
Dave Reffett: I have a cherry red Gibson Flying V that has a Seymour Duncan Dimebag Darrell humbucker in it. I love that guitar it's a beast.
FMR: Vocals, Was this the hardest part, or easiest? They came out badass!
Dave Reffett: Thank you so much, that means a lot. Vocals were definitely the hardest part. I really trained hard and got into shape so to speak vocally and that is a very exciting yet draining process to go through. When you walk into a music store and pick up a guitar, that instrument has been perfected over the course of thousands of years by expert craftsmen. The vocal chords on the other hand as an instrument have a mind of their own. Their different from day to day, depending on how much you sleep, what you eat, what mood your in etc. So to nail the perfect take on command can be very difficult. But we finally nailed it and I'm really proud of the vocals on this record.
FMR: Describe for me a little of the creative process in writing your songs. Do you start with a riff, A Melody, or an idea?
Dave Reffett: It's different from song to song. Usually we will get the lyrics to a bitchin place that we really like then often times I'll have a riff that I've written that I'm really digging and then it will hit me, Oh that's perfect for "Standstill and Scream" or whatever tune it is, then I will start to thrash it all out and see what I like and what I don't. Some tunes write themselves and just fall into place once the riffs have been established while other songs like "I Just Don't Want To Say Goodbye" for instance may take way more effort due to the complexity's of the arrangement or what have you. So it's always an adventure and I have a real blast doing it.
FMR: So What can we expect from Shredding the Envelope in the 2nd half of 2010?
Dave Reffett: Hopefully a big tour opening for some cool bands like Kiss or Megadeth. That would rule. Also I'm doing tons of promotion, lots of radio interviews and magazine articles. I'm also really looking forward to doing these upcoming columns in guitar magazines. That's a real dream for me to be featured in there and I love to pass down what I know to the younger generation of metal fans. But hopefully we will play in Europe and stuff soon too. I can't wait to see the world and chill with all the cool fans over there. But so far the rest of 2010 for me is going to be working to let as many people know about the album as possible, and the reaction so far has been fantastic. The album is selling all over Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia and I feel so honored to have been embraced by music lovers the way we have, its great.
FMR: Where can people go to find out more about Shredding The Envelope?
Dave Reffett: The best place right now is myspace.com/shreddingtheenvelope . You can hear past interviews with me there, some of the songs as well as links and info on where you can pick up the CD. Also you can hear the now infamous clip of Bruce Dickinson the singer from Iron Maiden when he declared this album as "a must have" on his BBC radio show. As a huge fan of his for years I was shocked and honored by this, so of course I'm telling people about it (laughs). Also you can find me on facebook as well as myspace.com/davereffett . The official shreddingtheenvelope.com is coming soon I've just been to busy to turn around as of late, but keep your eyes peeled for that. And if anyone wants to play for me I'm still looking for official members. I need another guitarist and a bassist so hit me up.
FMR: Thanks So Much for your time man, is there anything else you would like to plug or add or any shout outs?
Dave Reffett: Shout out to my boy Old Dirty Bastard, no just kidding. Get the CD it will absolutely kick your ass. It's on:
As well as on iTunes
Coming soon to Best Buy or available now from any of your favorite digital retailers. And keep your eyes peeled for a Shredding The Envelope tour at some point as well as an instructional guitar DVD that I'm working on which will be out soon. It's going to be very intense. Thanks for having me brother! Rock on!