Dave Molter - 10 Questions Music Interview
An accomplished veteran of the Pittsburgh, Midwest and East Coast music scenes since 1965, Dave Molter counts The Beatles as his primary influence. "Foolish Heart," Dave's debut EP, has produced four No. 1 singles since its release in September 2019. Dave's latest single, "Oh Woman, Don't You Cry," debuted at #1 on Radio VGR in the UK three days after its release in December 2019. It quickly snagged the top spot on two more UK indie radio stations and as of March 2020 remained on the Radio Indie Alliance Top 40. Dave is nominated in the USA Male Rising Star and USA Male Single of the Year categories in the 2020 International Singer Songwriter (ISSA) Awards.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it. Like millions of people my age, I saw The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on February 9, 1964. It was a revelation, an earthquake! I played trombone, but the moment I saw Paul McCartney, I wanted to play bass. My brother played upright bass, and I taught myself how to play by playing along with Beatles LPs.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
This is a challenge! There are several. I can think of one thing that happened onstage involving a trumpet player and a female fan, nut it's NSFW. Another time, my band opened for Night Ranger and the guitarist almost fell into the orchestra pit. And in the Seventies, my band went to to the club in the afternoon and recorded "Stairway to Heaven" on a four track TEAC machine. Then we played it back that night and pantomimed playing. When the big guitar break came, we all switched instruments. The drummer grabbed the guitar and "played" the Jimmy Page solo. When we went on break a few people came up to him and said, "We didn't know you could play guitar!" And then there was the time our roadies claimed to have broken down with the truck and never showed up for the gig. We found out later that they had taken all our equipment and rented it to another band. It's only rock 'n' roll!
What has been the high point of your music path?
The entire past year has been a highlight! I released my first EP in August 2019, but I had released three singles from it previously. When the CD came out, the title track, "Foolish Heart," went straight to Number 1 on several indie radio stations. Since then, four of the five songs on the EP have hit Number 1, and "Oh Woman, Don't You Cry" -- a reggae tune I released separately in December -- also hit #1! I've had favorable reviews and also had songs chosen for "Best of 2019" year-end compilations. My Spotify numbers are also climbing. This is very gratifying, and far more than I expected!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I have no set pattern for writing. Sometimes I wake up with an entire song in my head. Most often, though, I'll have a snippet of a song appear out of nowhere. Sometimes it's a verse, but most often it's a chorus. I'll sing that snippet into my phone so I don't forget it, then flesh it out in Pro Tools. Most of the songs we've recorded were written within the past two years, but “Oh Woman, Don’t You Cry” is a rewritten version of a tune a friend and I wrote in the mid-Seventies.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I've talked with several of my indie artist friends, and it seems that the biggest challenges facing us are financing and getting airplay on mainstream radio. A lot of us -- probably the vast majority -- are self-financed. We do all our own publicity and send out music to stations we think match our style(s). I've had incredible response from most of the indie deejays I've approached -- they've been very encouraging, open to new music and supportive. Mainstream radio is harder to crack, but I’m just about convinced that we don’t need it. Having our music played worldwide certainly gives us exposure, but it doesn't really generate income. That comes from live shows and merchandise sales, but it's still a tough market. We can do crowdfunding to help finance recording and CD production, but unless you have a very large fanbase, it still falls far short. If I could change one thing, it would be to have Spotify and other streaming services pay realistically. Spotify is the main streaming platform, but it pays, per stream, by the hundredths of a cent. I think this is a common complaint from artists, whether famous or not. Taylor Swift took a stand to get royalties raised, but they still are laughable.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Paul McCartney, although I would probably be reduced to a quivering, blubbering mass of jelly in his presence. But just to be on stage with the man who literally changed my life would be amazing. If he'd turn to me and give a thumbs up, well ... blubber, blubber.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I’m always open to suggestion when I record, but for live shows I tend to be a perfectionist to some degree -- not as bad as some artists, but I find that when it's your music being played, you want it to be just right. I love to practice, if for no other reason than the thrill of playing. But I would want to over-rehearse. Luckily, the guys in the band will say,' Relax!" And I need that. When you find great payers, you really don't need to hammer the tune to death. As far as rehearsal structure, I give mps3s of my tunes to everyone. If I need to have a part played exactly, I will stress that, but give them leeway. There's only one time I can recall asking a guitarist to play a solo exactly the way it was recorded. We adapt as needed, because with a 6-member band, it can be difficult to reproduce what's "on tape." Luckily, the people I've chosen are professional and experienced. We'll run through a song, decide if any sections need to be reworked, and play it until it sounds good. Sometime vocals need to be worked on separately.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
"Foolish Heart" would be the one. I had the chorus for something like 4 years without being able to finish the song. Then I had an inspiration that it should have a "Bo Diddley beat" -- imagine the Rolling Stones' version of "Not Fade Away." So I did a demo of the tune and was happy with it. Then I played it for a couple of musician friends who liked the tune, but not the beat. I asked one of them, Wayne Somerville, to get together with me and work out some ideas. Wayne is a great songwriter, and it took us only 90 minutes to change the beat to what it is today and to slightly alter how we played the chorus. I sent the song to an old friend and bandmate, Steve Dudas, who has played guitar with Ringo Starr for more than 20 years. Steve added some incredible guitar work that took the tune to the next level. The week it was released, it debuted at #1 -- my first!
What's coming up in the future?
We had plans to release a full CD this year -- we have enough songs in the can to do it. But I'm starting to think that EPs are the way to go. So maybe we'll do two 6-song EPs as well as digital downloads. I did a survey on Twitter and Facebook to figure out what fans wanted -- CD, vinyl or digital. CDs won, but vinyl and digital were really close. Maybe I'll offer a very limited run of vinyl. With COVID-10 we're in a holding pattern. I haven't been able to get together with Buddy Hall, my producer, for a few months. I can't praise Buddy enough. His nickname is "Magic Budster," and he really is. I call him my George Martin. My songs would not be nearly as polished without his input and skills. We have several tunes that need to be mastered, then we'll go from there.
Tell us where fans can access your music?