How did you come to select David Z as your producer for ‘Detonation’?
Well, I’d met David Z in Memphis a few years ago, and the second I met him he struck me as being such a nice, easy-going guy. I liked him instantly. He was very approachable and didn’t have a weird attitude. That’s how he is: just a great guy!
So when my manager and I were looking for a producer he was one of the first people I thought of. It was a process of weeding out people, and he kept bugging me, he kept calling me. He’d say: “Hey, I’d really like to do this!” He kept in contact with me. So he ended up getting the gig! He was persistent with me, and truthfully he’s the perfect blend of blues, rock, tradition and innovation. He’s got that long career of working with all these people; he worked with all my heroes. Also, he’s a fabulous engineer…and he’s an Aries like me (we both start laughing)
Honey, it was meant to be!
It was meant to be!
Yeah, it was meant to be. Kismet!
‘Addicted to Your Fire’ has been described as the stylistic bridge between your previous album (2007’s ‘Time’s a ‘Wastin’ and 2008’s ‘All Wound Up’) . Would you say that is a fair assessment?
Yeah. Absolutely. That’s one of the songs that has the ‘inner Jimi Hendrix’ coming out… guitar-wise at least. Musically if not lyrically. It made sense for me to go into that direction because I’m kinda leaping away from the blues world into the rock world. Being that I came from this ‘Hendrix school’ among so many other musicians, and not just guitar players, it just felt right to me when I was writing it.
Track number three ‘Doin’ Hard Time’ features the guitar and vocals of Grammy and Blues Music Award winner Joe Louis Walker.” I’m told it was a special thrill for you working with him on that track.
Oh yeah. As I tell everybody it’s always a blast playing with Joe. I get so much hanging out with him; he’s like a kindred spirit to me. It’s weird, I feel like he could have been a family member to me, someone I grew up with. He’s tells me: “Dave, you’re just another manic guitar player like me!” but I’m not really a ‘manic’ guy, he is, lol! It’s so funny because I’m gonna see him Saturday, I’m opening up for him. I just look forward to hangin’ out with him so much. I can feel what’s in his heart whenever I’m with him: whether he’s sad or funny or whatever. I love the guy, I really love him!
You’ve been quoted as saying: “I still consider myself a student of music and guitar.” Do you feel that attitude helps to keep you music fresh?
Oh yeah! I get inspired by music and listening to other musicians. Not just music but artists, by humanity, by life! Music is the thing that has kept me going when I was sad and when things were darker. It inspired me to go to higher places. One of the things I tell myself when I wake up in the morning is ‘What exciting things can I do today? What exciting music can I hear today? What exciting music can I write today?’ It’s innately in my character to constantly challenge myself that way.
Speaking of being a “student” I think our readers will be surprised to learn who your very first ‘teacher’ was: your father Sammy Fields! Would you tell our readers a bit about your famous dad, and how he helped to shape your talents and career in music.
He was an amazing teacher! He was from the South; grew up just outside of Jacksonville, Florida. He moved to New York when he was still young. He would come home and say: “David, I just got this new CD and I need you to hear it! I really like this band and I like these chord changes right here!” Then he’d play me whoever it was, and then he’d go to the piano and play it for me, explain it to me.
Then when I was old enough to play instruments he wouldn’t buy me a guitar; I had to play a piano first. So I got my hands on a bass. He said: “You can play bass first before you get a guitar!” So I took it with me to all my gigs-it’d be a wedding or something that he’d be doing-and I had to move all the equipment. So that was part of my training:to be a roadie! That first gig I played bass. I could play just enough bass-it was kinda simple what he was doing-to get through the night. He’d tell me the changes in the song. Then when we got to the third gig he told me: “OK, now I’m not gonna tell you the changes!” I then had to memorize things and I figured out how he was thinking about things; how the harmony would go. It was amazing ear-training.
So many things he did! I would miss school to go to recording sessions. After he’d been up all night writing a score for an orchestra or a Big Band-whatever it was he was doing-I’d sit in the studio with him and listen/see what he had written. I’d hang out with these great engineers, see the mics and everything! He recorded in the best studios in New York City and he had the top musicians of the time. After the gig, he’d tell me: “That was great, but you don’t play with any dynamic! I’d really like you to work on your finger-picking.” I was playing with a pic all the time. So today that’s something I do: play with my fingers all the time.
Eventually my dad built himself a studio in our house, like a killer studio, like where Barbara Streisand or Stevie Wonder would record. A serious studio! Part of my training was I had to wire all the lights in the studio (laughs) so I paid my dues! But I guess that musicians are always paying their dues, that’s just how it is.
Back then, artists seldom built private home studios for themselves, unlike today.
I was very fortunate to be around him and all that. That’s why when I got to be a grown man I decided that this was the direction I wanted to go into, but more of a producer and part of a music service rather than just being a performer. There were books of things he would say to me! I was so lucky to have that, oh my God!
You can’t get that kind of training out of a book. You have to get it from human experience and intuition.
It was all an apprenticeship, and I think that’s a great way to learn music. You can go to school and learn stuff, but to actually be there and live it with somebody who’s done it all. My dad was a genius!
With your enormous body of work in such diverse genres as film, radio, Broadway and studio albums do you have a favorite genre?
That I’ve worked in? I don’t have a favorite genre. There’s ones that I like more than others. There’s been a time when I played a certain style of music and I kinda overdosed on it. I’d have to say that the blues has always been the lynch pin of what I’ve loved. It started with that as a young kid, and like my dad I’ve always tried to find the good things in music.
The most important thing with me is people being sincere with me. If they’re real with me then they can almost do anything. They don’t have to be necessarily good musicians, but if that’s how they feel and it’s real then it’s great! I don’t like people trying to fool me or trying to impress me with something that’s cerebral, although sometimes people have these amazing musical minds that think of exercises that are amazing. If it hits me in the heart then I like it.
How would you like future generations to remember you as both an artist and a man?
I would hope that I inspired people to go to higher places by having them watch me play or buy my music. I hope I have the opportunity to contribute to the world by making people happy. I know that’s why I’m here: to bring happiness to people. There’s nothing more amazing in this world than to see another human being smile, and if it’s because of something I’ve played or sang or performed then that makes it even more special to me. The older I get, the more I realize that one of the most amazing human things, one of the things that humans need the most, is to connect with other humans. That’s what I’m about, even when I get mad when somebody cuts me off when I’m driving (laughs). Living in New York City is about connecting with human beings; that’s why we’re here. It’s one of the most beautiful things that you can experience as a human: to connect with other human beings!
‘Detonation’ is available at Amazon.com and CD Baby:
Be sure to check out Dave Fields’ Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/fieldsmusic?fref=ts