SKF NOTE: This exchange is from my 1983 feature length with Dave Weckl that was never published in Modern Drummer. Well, some of the interview was published in MD as a profile of Dave Weckl, but that’s it. Here’s the back story.
Weckl was age 23 when we met. He was living in Bridgeport, CT getting ready to go on tour with Simon and Garfunkel — arguably the first major gig that put Weckl on the map.
Weckl’s own web site says of the ’83 Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour: “After this tour, it was not long before Dave was regularly being called for radio and TV jingles, sound track sessions, and top recording dates with such artists as George Benson, Peabo Bryson, Diana Ross, and Robert Plant, to name a few.”
I will make the entire interview transcript available in the future. Meanwhile, here is 23-year old Dave Weckl telling us about his audition for the Simon and Garfunkel drum chair.
Scott K Fish: Were there other drummers who auditioned for the Simon and Garfunkel gig?
Dave Weckl: Not that I know of. Anthony Jackson was basically responsible for that. That’s the one thing of getting people to respect you for what you are. You can’t act like something you’re not. Basically, try to form yourself to be something that people will respect and like. You’ve got to work at that. You’ve got to look at yourself from the outside in. The more people you have on your side, obviously, the farther you’re going to go and the better you’re going to do. This business works on recommendation.
SKF: Do you think your attitude is as important or more important than your technical ability?
DW: It all works hand in hand. And at times, attitude can outweigh your talent. And I’ve seen attitude work against somebody who is an outstanding player. They’re great, but for some unknown reason they’re not working. You ask, “Why?” And the answer is oftentimes, “Ah, he’s got a strange attitude.” That’s really it.
Once you get to know these people, and they know you as a person, and they can see that you’re not a jerk — that you’re a responsible type — then, of course, your ability has to be able to back you up. That’s when all the years of woodshedding come into play. When you’re thrown into a situation of, “Okay. This guy trusts me. He’s going to recommend me and put his reputation on the line.” That’s when you have to be able to back up what everybody’s talking about.
SKF: What was the audition for Simon and Garfunkel like?
DW: Well, Anthony [Jackson] recommended me to Paul Simon. I was working downtown with Barry Finnerty. Paul actually came down to check it out. The office had called me a couple of weeks before and said that they were looking for a drummer and there wre a couple of people they were interested in.
So I expected somebody to show up, but I didn’t expect Paul to show up.
It was funny, because I didn’t say anything to him. I didn’t go up to him. He was there for a purpose. He was there to see if I could play or not. He was there to see if he liked my style.
I figured if he liked me and wanted me to work for him, then I’d get to know him then. I just didn’t know what to say to him.
SKF: How did you feel when you saw him walk into the club?
DW: I felt good that he had showed up. I thought that was really nice. I didn’t want to scare him away or play a lot of shit because that ain’t what his thing is about. My main concentration was just playing musically for the music. We were playing some funk stuff and a little bit [of] fusion-oriented [music], but not really. It was a good thing for me to be playing with, and it was a good band.
I was mainly concentrating on groove, feel and time, and sensitivity.
SKF: And Paul never said anything to you that night?
DW: No. We never exchanged one word. I felt wierd about it, but I was just in that position where I didn’t have anything to say. I figured if he liked what he heard and wanted me to work for him — then I’d hear from him.
I think it was a week or a week-and-a-half before I heard anything. I was walking around in nervous anticipation trying to figure out what was happening. I was talking to Anthony in the meantime. And he didn’t even know if he was going on the tour yet.
But about a week-and-a-half later the office called and said they wanted to use me for the tour.
That was the audition.
— end —